Most of the reviews I have written for Trip Advisor are positive in nature; intended to identify a hidden gem or confirm why a place has such a high rating. Rarely is a negative review of much use because there are already so many good places identified by fellow travelers, but occasionally a place is so bad that there is a real duty to warn others to stay away under all circumstances. Such was the case with the HoJos in Barrie. It was also a good lesson in using the technology available to avoid such mistakes in the future.
I was in Toronto for a one day golf tournament just outside the city in a rural area with no accommodations nearby. I wasn’t sure how long the event would last so I decided to play it by ear and not book a spot in advance, not being sure of where I would end up that night. As it turned out the event ended in the early afternoon and I decided to drive up the Barrie, which I remembered as a nice little city on Lake Simcoe from years before. Naively I assumed there would be some type of accommodation down on the extensive waterfront from which I could explore the area on foot and so I took the old highway into town rather than the 400 expressway. Wrong! A half hour of driving the waterfront revealed nothing but a small B&B which is not my thing. Deciding to head out the 400 interchanges where I knew there would be plenty of the usual chains I came across the HoJo by accident. It was within easy walking distance of the waterfront so I decided to give it a try – there were quite a few cars in the parking lot.
My first doubts were raised by the clerk who was on the phone on an obviously personal call. He didn’t seem to want to break it off so the check in took an inordinate amount of time with him writing down information that any other place would input into a computer. Getting my key, only after replacing my Visa with interact because the clerk didn’t seem to know how to work the former, I headed to my room on the second floor of the motel structure. After walking across an area of dead grass covered with dog feces I encountered a set of concrete steps that was so rotten and decrepit that I seriously considered not climbing them; having done so I now saw that the steps had set the pattern for the general state of maintenance of the entire place. There were broken chunks of concrete, gaping holes in the overhanging roof, unidentifiable stains that could have been paint, blood or bird droppings and air conditioners literally hanging from the windows.
Arriving at my room I noticed I was directly overhead of a crowd that looked like refugees from the Trailer Park Boys – beer bottles, bad music, smoke and profanity were the order of the day. The room was not as bad as expected – the strong smell of disinfectant drowned out what I thought would greet my nostrils, one of the lights worked, and the carpet stains and burns were no worse than any flophouse. However, the bed looked ominous. I pulled back the sheets and found the name of another motel on them. Suddenly, all I could think of was ‘bed bugs! In truth I didn’t see any, but maybe that was because I got out my computer and thanked God that the wireless internet worked, booked another place on Trip Advisor and got the hell ought of there before I found out.
The moral of the story is that all I had to do was look at the Trip Advisor app on my iPhone or stop at an internet café; this could have saved me the horrors of this place and I would be $85.00 richer.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Downtown location on site bar and grill restaurant walking distance to down town Barrie and beach. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Howard Johnson Express Inn Barrie Ontario Hotel Barrie
- Knights Inn Barrie Ontario