Psycho House and Bates Motel movie set (courtesy cliff1066 on Flickr CC)This past weekend, I stayed in a pretty heinous hotel.

I knew it would probably be a dump, and it was, but it was the only place in town where I could find a room so that I could cover the NHRA Fall Nationals drag race for Fast Machines.  Yes, I called six months ahead of time and it did not matter; everything was already full because race fans return year after year.

It was the Waxahachie, Texas America’s Best Value Inn, to be specific, but the exact hotel is really not all that important.  No, I did not go over and launch a fusillade of disgust on TripAdvisor; it wouldn’t change the hotel one iota because I’m not sure the owners really care what their customers think. Plenty of unsuspecting people will keep staying there who do not read TripAdvisor, and I was grossed out enough without running around documenting everything with my camera.

The issue is whether I expect too much from budget lodging, and whether I expect overly high standards from US hotel chains (since one would assume that a chain would want to maintain a decent reputation across its properties.) After all, the Holiday Inn chain was started in 1952 to provide inexpensive lodging for families; lodging that also adhered to consistent standards across all Holiday Inns. The founder didn’t like the wildly varying quality that he found across most Mom and Pop places.

Is it too much to ask to not have to look at gouged/stained wallpaper, cigarette-burned/stained carpet, chairs so blackened and filthy I wouldn’t sit in them, cheapo clothes hangar holders but no hangars in them, and a laundry list of monstrosities in the bathroom?

You will be pleased to know that the bed was decent and I did not personally spy any vermin running around. I’m a mellow, non-judgmental sort, you know.

There was free, functioning WiFi. The front desk personnel were nice – the young woman at the front desk on Sunday morning asked everyone checking out how their room was, then the poor thing stood there and listened to rant after rant. Maybe she was new, but she seemed genuinely surprised that everyone checking out reported that the rooms were a disaster. I gave her a rundown on my room but it seemed like piling on.

My room had a small fridge that worked, and a microwave that warned I would blow the circuits if I used it at the same time I used any other large electrical device.  There was a holder for an iron and board, but no iron or board.

The race weekend rate was $89 a day for this room.

I imagine that on a regular weekend, the rate is more like $50-ish, including taxes.

Is that what I can expect from $50/night? Really? Am I nuts to expect better?

Please, dear readers, enlighten me.  I want a basic but clean, well-maintained room to lay my head.

Do any of you stay regularly at one of the US budget lodging chains like Days Inn, Motel 6 or Super 8 that consistently provides an acceptable room for $50-$60 a night? As a point of reference, my favorite mid-range US hotel chain is the Hampton Inn.

I would love to hear from you in the comments. I hope you do not tell me to give it up and sleep in my car in the future. :)

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I'm a writer and speaker specializing in tourism, travel and social media. NHRA drag racing fan. Co-founder of Tourism Currents. U.S. Navy veteran. Caffeinated.