What You Can Learn About Writing Description from Reading Bad Accommodation Reviews

You can learn a lot about
description from reading
bad reviews on accommodations

Description is important when writing. It helps characters and settings come to life in front of reader’s eyes.

IMG_0675When I was away for my writing retreat in Oregon, I read some of the reviews from the Captain Whidbey Inn, where I stayed. It was on the dot and quite hilarious, because it was frighteningly true.

1. Truth

Make your readers see the truth as though they are there.

Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 10.30.58 PM

2. What’s it smell like? Look like? Hear like?

The senses are important, because those will help people relate to your story world.

Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 10.32.27 PM

You have to admit sleeping on doorknobs is quite descriptive.

 3. Voice + Humor

Reading bad reviews will show you the writer’s voice. It’s important to have a unique voice. Make sure your characters have interesting and unique voices. Do they have good humor?

Even though bad accommodation reviews are usually about bad things related to the accommodation, you will be able to relate to it all. Because, who hasn’t dealt with staying at an unlikely accommodation before? Or dealt with a rude inn keeper one too many times?

Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 10.34.24 PM

Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 10.31.51 PM


After reading these reviews, I’m sure you have a pretty good image of what these people are like and what they suffered at The Captain Whidbey Inn. I thought I’d share my experience below. Just a note before you start reading it. I don’t usually write reviews on accommodations. Only when I have a very bad experience

My Review of The Captain Whidbey Inn: 

In July 2014, I called Captain Whidbey Inn to book a reservation in October for a Writer’s conference. The lady told me she’d send me a confirmation email to confirm my booking. I never got a confirmation email. I called to ask again why I hadn’t been sent the confirmation and she said it’s because the manager had to okay it for it to send. So understandably, I agreed and thought I’d get a confirmation letter the next day or so.

A few months later, I still realized I’d never gotten a confirmation letter so I called them up again and made a booking, while also making sure that I wasn’t charged twice. For some reason that lady I spoke to the first time didn’t ever put my booking through. I felt that was quite unreliable that they lost my booking.

I arrived at Captain Whidbey Inn on October 15th (and would stay till the 19th). At first I thought the place might be really great, because it looked rustic and beautiful as though it was straight from a story book. At first I thought it could have been from a fairytale, but by the end I’d figured it could have been from a horror-nightmare story.

When I booked in the man was rude and put me in an extremely loud room facing the garden. It was really close to the generator or engine thing above the kitchen. It was SOOO loud. I went back down and wanted to be moved to a different room… a quieter room. So I moved to a water side room. (room 3) It was much quieter. And had a view.

Then I went to the kitchen downstairs to eat, since I’d traveled all day. I waited at the front of the dining area for about a half an hour, before a waitress came. Normally, I would have left and gone elsewhere, but since I was stuck at the inn and had no way to get to Coupeville I stayed. She brought me to a spot in the Dining Room. I ordered the Salmon Sandwich, which I thought would be good. But then it took about an hour for me to get the food. And while waiting for the food small pesty bugs flew about the room. FRUIT FLIES. TONS of THEM. After paying for the dinner… which, was WAY TOO OVERPRICED. The Event Organizer and the new front desk lady came to tell me that I couldn’t be in that room that I had taken, because it was already taken. (Later, I’d found out that no one was in that room for the whole time I’d been there – except for one night.) They also said that I’d have to move to Lagoon Room 22 for the night, because of maintenance. At this point, I was upset and mad. Then the Event Manager rudely said that they’d give me an upgrade to that room for the price of the room I was in before, because they said I needed to go so they could do maintenance. (Which later I learned what the maintenance was for, which made me wonder… they should have given me that night free. Because it was a major inconvenience.)

The new front desk girl leaned in and quietly whispered, “The maintenance is for… fruit flies. It’s from the wine.” (That grossed me out majorly.)

I moved into the Lagoon room 22 and settled in for the night. Stomach wasn’t feeling well at all that whole night. Regretted eating the salmon sandwich.

I woke up the next day for breakfast at 8 am. When I walked into the grill/pub area (which is where there continental breakfast was.) I was about to grab some fresh fruit, but then stopped when I saw more fruit flies than I’ve ever seen in my entire life sitting on the fruit. It was disturbing. It was GROSS. I decided that the packaged food items would be safer.

I really didn’t want to eat at the restaurant again, but didn’t want to walk to Coupeville. So I waited quite a while to be seated again. The same waitress brought me to a table. For Dinner I ordered a burger at the restaurant. The waitress asked me how I’d like my burger done. I said, “Well done.” She went into the kitchen and told the chef my order. A few minutes later, the chef or rather cook… came out and stared at me strangely. He was kind of creepy.

“By, well done… what do you mean?”

I couldn’t believe he asked me that question. If he was a cook, you’d think he’d know what a well done burger would be like.

I said: I’d like no pink and for it to not be burnt. He went back into the kitchen and I couldn’t believe it when I heard him talking about me meanly to the waitress. I couldn’t believe it. I wanted to get up and leave. If I hadn’t been staying there… I would have left. Because honestly, I don’t like eating food that people have prepared with hatred. I mean… why was he talking meanly about me? I just wanted a good well-done burger. That isn’t too much to ask for.

I really tried avoiding eating there much more. For the rest of the retreat, I ate with the writing group and such, but I couldn’t handle it otherwise. Was so happy to go to town and eat there.

The housekeeping cleaned my room and put the pillows back on the bed. They weren’t very clean so I put them back on the floor. Later I came back to the room and found that the pillows were on the bed again. Either a ghost (I’m saying this part jokingly.), or the housekeeping was back into my room. I can’t believe it. Why would someone come back into my room. I didn’t want the pillows on the bed. Oh, and the bed was extremely uncomfortable. There were also fruit flies in the rooms. YUCK.

They said there was WIFI and such. But there wasn’t any good reception for phones or WIFI! When I checked out they tried charging me $100 more for the room. MAKE SURE YOU CHECK YOUR BILL at the end. You don’t want to be taken advantage of. If I hadn’t checked it, I would be short $100.

I’d have to say the best thing about it, was the writing retreat. Which had nothing to do with the staff. It was the people in our writing group that was awesome. Besides the writing retreat, the happiest moment I had was when the kind taxi man came to get me on the 19th. I was so happy to leave. They were so rude. The place prided itself in being 100 some years old, it would have been a much better experience if the staff were kind and helpful. It was a beautiful place, but the staff kind of ruined that.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *