Sochi: world's media braves endurance test in horror hotels
From hazardous water to stray dogs and dubious stains, who would be an Olympics correspondent?
AS THOUSANDS of Olympians descend on Sochi to test their sporting prowess this week, the world's media appears to be facing an endurance test of its own.
Journalists arriving at the Black Sea resort town, ahead of the most expensive Winter Olympics in history, have expressed dismay at their new living quarters. While organisers insisted on Monday that 97 per cent of rooms were finished and the remaining three per cent were getting a "final cleaning", reports of horror hotels suggest otherwise – with journalists facing a series of challenges just to get a good night's sleep...
First challenge: finding a room
When The Guardian's Moscow bureau chief, Shaun Walker, tried to check into his hotel on Tuesday, he was told: "Your room is still under construction. They are literally finishing, the keys are literally coming now." Three hours later, the same receptionist offered him a different room "with no heating, a single bed, and permeated with the odour of industrial glue". Meanwhile, a German photographer found the first room offered to him to be full of construction debris and appliances that didn't work. The next room had construction workers still sleeping in it, and the third was home to a stray dog.
Second challenge: enduring ear-splitting techno music
Those lucky enough to get a room were apparently forced to endure techno music played at an ear-splitting volume from a courtyard overlooked by several hotels. One Canadian, who was trying to sleep off jet lag from his day-long journey, was said to be on the verge of tears as he begged the staff to turn the music down. His pleading was ignored.
Third challenge: locating missing furnishings
Almost every room is reportedly missing something, from light bulbs and heating to wifi and hot water. One American photographer was simply told: "You will not get a shower curtain." Meanwhile, the BBC's acting Moscow bureau chief, Kevin Bishop, had "no floor" in his hotel reception, and others were not impressed with the state of the bedding and furniture they did find – with one journalist discovering an "indeterminate amount" of suspicious fluids on her sheets.
— Kevin Bishop (@bishopk) February 4, 2014
[B]Fourth challenge: washing in hazardous water
In the Rosa Khutor section of the mountains, Stacy St Clair of the Chicago Tribune was told by the front desk that if the water worked in her room she should not use it on her face because "it contains something very dangerous". When it did come out of the tap, it was an ominous shade of orange.
— Stacy St. Clair (@StacyStClair) February 4, 2014
Fifth challenge: getting out again
Sports Illustrated's Brian Cazeneuve was one of the lucky ones to be given a room – but on Tuesday morning he found himself unable to get out of his hotel. The doors were unexpectedly locked and he had to clamber through a window to escape.