Top Five Warning Signs You're in the Wrong Hotel

Everyone has been there: Booked what seemed to be an amazing deal online for a relatively inexpensive hotel in order to get away for some much-needed R&R. But when you got there, the place turned out to be less like The Ritz-Carlton and more like The Overlook (even those who never read or saw The Shining probably shuddered just then — it's pretty famous for a fictional place).

Even if the facility isn't actually haunted, there are still some pretty good indicators that you should either cut your losses and get out of there, or at least never, ever go back. Here are five telltale signs.

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1. Not a single lightbulb works
Nothing like checking into a room to relax, turning on the lights, and hearing a loud "Pop." Then you grope through the darkness to find the phone to call the front desk, get the assurance that "Someone will be right up," and wait anxiously for maintenance ... for hours. Bonus points if the TV and Wi-Fi are also on the fritz, so you not only have to wait in the dark, but with zero entertainment to kill the time.

2. There's only one working elevator, and it's a little scary
Not only does the elevator creak and groan like it's carrying the weight of the world within its little room, it also jerks and stops in between floors. It also contains a myriad of not-so-great smells that even the best chefs would be hard-pressed to identify.

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3. Random calls at strange hours
There's nothing like an unplanned (and early) wake-up call from someone claiming to be the night manager, stating that their computers malfunctioned overnight and lost your credit card information; would you be so kind as to read that number over the phone right now, to verify your payment is on file? Since you're groggy and confused, it's easy enough to believe the sincere-sounding voice in your ear and pony up the information requested. Back at home, when random emails start arriving thanking you for your "Paint Nite" reservation — in a city 1,000 miles away — then the real panic begins.

4. A whole lot of people in the hotel pool who don't belong there
Ah, the hotel swimming pool and/or hot tub: a great place to unwind after a long day of sightseeing. Even though you have to get towels from the front desk because they don't keep them at the pool like every other hotel, this doesn't seem weird enough to fret over. However, a few minutes into what should be some relaxing laps, small children start arriving — seemingly way more than you've spotted in the almost-empty hotel at any given point. It becomes apparent that the security guard has the outside door propped open and everyone in the neighborhood is filtering in, clown car-like. Bonus points if one of said clowns has an '80s-looking boom box and cranks it up to 11.

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5. The staff won't let you do stuff by yourself
This may seem an odd problem to have, but it can be annoying to check in to a hotel after a long drive and have a valet insist on parking the car, while the bellhop is required to take your luggage to the room. "Can't I just use the baggage cart myself?" you ask, to which the front desk clerk replies with an insincere smirk, "So sorry; only hotel staff is allowed to operate the carts." Even worse if the hotel is a little on the higher end, because you can't not tip well. Need towels, coffee, or toilet paper? No, you can't just get it at the front desk — housekeeping will drop it off. Have another tip ready. And make a mental note to actually start reading reviews before mindlessly booking places online.

Kimberly Mintz is a writer and voice actor who lives in the Buffalo area, and has had her share of sketchy hotel stays. Find her on Twitter @KimIsWriting.