Radio Drama
Science Faction

World Con 2007
"Stand By For Mars!"
World Con 2007

Hotel Horrors

The Commodore (aka Michael Sinclair) has been involved with science fiction fandom since the early 1970s. He's been sharing anecdotes about his fandom days, and here is his recollections of "Hotel Horrors."

Part of every fan's dining stories were the latest "horror stories" aobut hotels and conventions.


Index to The Commodore's Ramblings
The Ramblings

  • Introduction to the Commodore
  • Kublai Kahns and More
  • Hotel Horrors: A comedy of errors and more in the life of a convention-goer
  • Say Da to Moscow: The Tale of the 1995 Moscow Bid Masterminded by Mikhail Sinclair
  • The Commodore's Collection - Photos

  • Convention Badges
  • Convention Programs
  • The Trains
  • Nola Con Photos 1984, 1988
  • Say Da To Moscow - Moscow Bid for WorldCon
  • Miscellaneous Convention Photos
  • Disclave
    One of the more "interesting" (in the Chinese meaning of that word) hotels ever encountered took place at Disclave. This was a Sheraton Hotel located on the Beltway around D.C. We arrived in the afternoon to find a somewhat chaotic check-in at the front desk. There was a Tour Group direction arguing with the clerk. Seems that the hotel had overbooked and there was now no room in the inn for his 40 or so passengers. We found out that we, too, did not have a room for the night.

    Fortunately, Eva Whitley was helping to run things and said we could take S.P. Somtow's suite for the night as he was not going to arrive until the morning. We finally get up to the floor where the suite is located, only to find that wires are drooping down from the ceiling along the hallway. Also, we noticed once we got inside the suite that there were holes for one thing or another in the top of the walls facing the hallways. Streams of light were coming in through these holes. We finally sat down and had a drink. It was going to be needed, as we continued to discover the little joys of this hotel.

    The huckster hall was located in something called the bunker -- which must have been a parking garage in another existence. There was a coating of sprayed asbestos on the ceiling, and the lighting was a bit cave-like as well.

    The next morning, thehotel finally said that we had a room. We loaded up the baggage cart and headed down to the pool area where some of the rooms opened onto the deck. Christa went first into the room and as I was moving with the baggage cart, I heard her scream. When I ran into the room, I discovered that some of the walls had not been painted. Moreover, there were orange wires hanging down from the ceiling in the bedroom and bathroom. I went back up to the desk and demanded another room and wondered aloud to the manager, "Do you guys rent rooms in order to raise money to pay for finishing them?"

    To sum up, there were so many complaints to American Express that they sent someone to scrape their logo off the doors of the hotel. To top it off, in all the confusion of going and coming to the room, someone lifted our new Olympus camera. This was probably one of our more bizarre hotel experiences. Alas, there are always more.

    Attending a Chattacon one year at the Reed House, for example. Arrived late Thursday evening and the check-in at the desk was slow. Never could figure out why it took close to 30 minutes to check in and get a key. Get up to the room and decide to try to get some sleep. The rattling of the elevator next to my room was going to make that problematical. Then a pipe in the bathroom burst, providing a roaring sound. I called the front desk and told them there was a leak. The desk said they would fix it in the morning and I said, "I don't think you understand." I held up the phone so they could hear the sound of the rushing water. After about another 30 minutes, I got another room. Unfortunately I had paid cash in advance and could not give them to give a refund or credit. It was the last time that I ever paid cash for a room. At least with a credit card you can get some relief.

    One year at RiverCon we went to a motel on the outskirts of town and it was like a Skinner rat maze. That and the fact that one of the elevators was missing a door and had some 2 X 4s barricading the door to keep wayward fans form falling into the basement.

    Then there was the RiverCon down at the Galt House where some fans were playing some kind of roving game with plastic guns. Apparently, late at night they were wearing masks and roaming the large, underground garage. Some other hotel guest who was not attending the convention phoned in a report to the police and the next thing you know there is a SWAT team moving in on the garage. Fortunately, the kids had enough sense to freeze and drop their toy guns.

    Strange requests
    Then there were the strange requests. I once got a phone call from some fan in another state wanting to know if she could bring her pet python, which was part of her costume, for the masquerade. I told her that I didn't think the Galt House would like having a 15-foot python as a guest.

    Everyone on the RiverCon Committee acted as security. We preferred that to letting fans have a badge designating them as security. Seems that folks tend to act like the Gestapo when they are called a "security team."

    One time some drunk was acting up and giving the people who were getting ready for the masquerade a hard time. I came up to him in my blazer and white flannel pants (my uniform of the day), and told him the hotel didn't appreciate his behavior and could he leave the area. He was larger than me and said, "I suppose you are going to make me." Mike, who was about 6'2" and in his Society for Creative Anachronism outfit, said in his best Mafioso voice, "Boss, you want me to break his fingers?" The drunk promptly left.

    Then there was the time I was returning from London via TWA and noticed that there was a convention that weekend in Indianapolis, where I had to change planes. Told TWA to schedule me a layover for the weekend. Called a friend of mine who I thought might go if he had crash space, and told him I would have Amex to guarantee the room and for him to pick me up at the airport. Called the hotel and thought I had secured the room and told them to give the key to Jim Brooks.

    Well, Jim gets to the airport and says the hotel would not give him the room. We get to the hotel and to the front desk. I asked, "What gives?" The girl said, "Well, the only room in the hotel is a king-sized room," and I said, "That's okay." She says, "Well, it has only one bed and you are two men." I say, "I don't care how many beds it has, as I have been on a plane for about 10 hours." Finally, got the keys and went to register for the convention.

    It is about 6 pm, on the opening day of the convention, and normally that's when a lot of people arrive to register. There was a sign on the Con registration area saying that they had gone off to have a good time, and dinner. It sort of went down hill from there.

    Warning! Warning!

    Danger! You might miss intriguing updates if you do not subscribe to
    The Thunder Child mailing list!

    Warning! Warning!

    Recommended Reading

    Learn more or
    Buy Now