So, imagine yourself as an airsofter in your mid thirties… Civilian life has made you soft and squishy, the thought of two nights in the welsh mountains with no bed (and possibly more importantly no signal) when only one is essential is enough to make you start looking at hotels.
So I look around, the usual Travelodge and Premier Inn along with a local YHA and a smattering of very expensive B&Bs pop up on my radar. I’m looking for something basic, something that doesn’t need a ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ Tripadvisor rating and most importantly something cheap. I really should have looked at trip advisor… If the title of this article doesn’t tip you off as to how it was, maybe review titles such as “the worst hotel in Wales” and “please god no, make it stop” should give you a hint. Seriously… Read them here. I was half expecting Rik Mayall and Ade Edmundson to jump out and start beating the shit out of each other.
I won’t bore you with the details but February is an expensive month for me, always has been and I’ve no chance at moving around birthdays and bills so I’m stuck with that fact forever more.
I see a hotel advertising a room and breakfast for two people, the price is a very reasonable £26 a head for myself and a friend who is known as “Monkey” to practically everyone (his own wife included). Now monkey is an oddball, there’s no real way to describe him without going into one of many long stories about how his lack of social filter has caused chaos… with him casually walking off, shrugging his shoulders and someone horrified at what’s just come out his mouth. Anyway, back to the hotel…
The Castle Hotel – Merthyr Tydfil
So we arrive at said hotel at around 6pm, now being somewhat used to hotels being booked for me by either my employer or wife I generally assume that hotels have car parks, in fact in my own home town the only hotel without a carpark is used as overflow for the homeless hostel (more on that later). It appears that this hotel doesn’t have a hotel, luckily there is a two storey carpark across the road. With that in mind we decided to park up, give the hotel a once over and then head into town for a pint.
Upon walking into the hotel, I was greeted by a scene I can only describe (with experience) as that is of a halfway house/homeless hostel. I take one look at monkey, he still seems eager… he’s not pulled me out the door yet so I walk up to the counter and tell them I’m here for my reserved room. I get the most surprised look, one like this…
So I’m thinking… I’m in Wales, I have a mild west country accent and this guy is from somewhere with Stan at the end of its name… maybe he doesn’t understand me. Anyway, so he shoves a card reader across the counter. I’m actually used to places that I’ve either paid for already or that ask you for your money upon check out but hey ho… I paid. Stupidly.
After making a key related joke that obviously didn’t translate well or wasn’t as funny as I’d thought we were shown to the lift… So monkey has had a few interesting career paths in his life, one was as a lift engineer. When he said “Don’t step there, you’ll die” I thought he was taking the piss, I then put my foot on the panel mentioned and it actually rocked about 2″ up, I promptly hugged the side and every journey after was via the stairs.
We got into the room and it was initially not too bad, but then you notice the little details… everything bolted down, anything not bolted down strangely absent, no power points in the room except the one the TV is being held to the wall by, spoon shaped burn marks in the bed side table (My Smackhead readers will explain) and an overall feeling of being watched.
So we head out into town, Which when looking for somewhere nice, If you’ve ever been to Merthyr you’ll know there’s a fantastic…
bypass that you’ll want to take until your either safely back in England or somewhere nice… Like anywhere but Merthyr. Seriously, after a night here i was actually looking forward to the amenities offered by a FIBUA site.
I’m sorry if you live in Merthyr, But that Friday evening didn’t really show me the best of your town. We grabbed an actually alright burger and pint at a little eatery that felt a bit out of place amongst all the closed and up for lease shops, it was like seeing 5 years of not a post brexit future, the divide between prosperous and fucked was never more apparent. After our meal we decided that the best course of action was to get “Too drunk to care about the shit hotel but sober enough to defend ourselves”.
I’d somehow not really packed anything for a social night out and decided that the local Tesco was my best plan for a new shirt, after realising that there wasn’t much choice I settled on an AC/DC shirt (well it was either that or welsh camouflage). I took the items to self scan, the only way of paying (immigration isn’t taking anyone’s job, autonomy is). So I walk out the door, and bun all the crap that comes with it. Only when I get back to the hotel do I realise that I’ve left the bloody security tag in the shirt and binned the receipt… fuck.
We make our way to the local bowling alley/cinema complex with me sporting a t-shirt with an additional ventilation hole, after a couple of cheap rounds and a couple of quid spent practicing my CQB drills we head to the nearest ‘spoons, now I’ll let you know something about Merthyr, on a Friday evening it’s fucking dead… but you’ll see a lot of doormen. No police, no paramedics… in fact not a lot of people full stop, but you’ll see about 120 door staff over 7 bars.
You’d think with all those door-staff that drug dealers would stay clear, but lo and behold we lasted about 2 minutes before we spotted two young lads wearing bum bags over their shoulder. Now I’m no fashion mogul but I know a dump and run bag when I see one, also by displaying more tradecraft than your average couple of lads by picking the only table with a fire exit either side and a clear view of the whole pub they screamed “dealer”… either that or they worked for MI5.
Anyway… We get back to the room after a few beers and managed to get some sleep… Cut to the following morning and we realise that breakfast is not included in the price and given the state of the hotel, it’s probably for the best that we headed northwards towards Senny with an empty stomach.