When Lucas told me that he booked us a room for 30€ (about $37USD) at the Formule 1 Hotel on Friday night so that we could split our drive north into two, I was sceptical. Driving along the highways in France you can see these hotels advertised everywhere, their signs proclaiming "30€ per night, during the week and on weekends! 1, 2 or 3 people!" How could that even be possible? Needless to say, my expectations were low, I imagined a total fleabag hotel, with ratty linens, dull lighting and cockroaches. You know, the type you see often in movies and on TV.
Boy was I wrong. The linens weren't ratty, and no cockroaches were to be seen. The room was very brightly light and clean. But it gets better. The "room" consisted of one of those metal bunk type beds you can get at IKEA, with a double bed at the bottom, and a ladder leading up to a sinlge bed. There was very little space around the bed, and from the door we could see a window, to the right of which was a small counter with a TV mounted above it. To the left we could see part of another counter with a wash basin. The rest of the counter was hidden behind a sort of panel attached to the bed.
We looked at each other in amazement. My first question was "Where's the shower?" At almost the same time Lucas said" Where's the toilet?" We both went to the other side of the bed and peered around the panel. I'm not sure what we were expecting to see, since we had to know that there wasn't enough space left in there for a bathroom. Maybe a fold out shower cubicle?
While I collapsed on the bed in laughter, (which I am glad was my reaction), Lucas went out to investigate. He came back dying with laughter to confirm that just as we thought, the showers and toilets were communal! ICK! If you know anything about me you will know that I am not the camping kind, the idea of sharing sanitary facilties with others, especially showers is just not my idea of a good time, and I avoid using public restrooms unless I really have no choice. Luckily I was laughing so hard that it didn't even bother me. Just the idea that this was considered a hotel had me in stitches. As Lucas said, he felt like he was in a caravan, just that it was a caravan with neighbours.
As we investigated the rest of the amenities we laughed even harder. We renamed it Hotel Binary because everything had only two positions. The shade on the window could either be opened all the way or completely closed. There was only one light in the room and it was either lit as bright as day, or off, leaving you in complete darkness. There were no pillows on the double bed, just a neck roll. A flyer on the desk proclaimed that they did their best to provide you with the cheapest accomodation available (check) and also they prided themselves on their high level of cleanliness. If for any reason you were dissatisfied you were free to complain and they would provide with a free night of accomodation that you could use at any of their hotels within the coming year. That one got us laughing even more. We wondered if we could claim that same night as our free one?
Needless to say we won't be using the Formule 1 anymore. Although as we had breakfast the next morning (available for an extra $5) we noticed a flyer describing their free wireless internet service. Only in 2006 would having internet access at a hotel be more important than your own toilet and shower!