‘Avoid at all costs!’: a Tripadvisor review of my family home

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I’ve been staying with these hosts for 20 years, and frankly, I’m unsure why I keep coming back. Based in an internet-less field in northern Italy, the property is known for its excellent rate of €0 per night, and its complimentary mini-bar facilities.

Unfortunately, this is where the luxurious amenities end. Upon my most recent visit to this establishment in December 2020, the sub-zero temperatures caused the pipes to freeze. There was no running water and I was informed by my hosts that I would have to gather snow from outdoors and melt it by the fire, should I wish to wash my hands.

Following this experience, I was reluctant to return, although my hosts assured me that the summer weather would be far more accommodating to my bathing needs. A firm believer in second chances, I was willing to give the Quarantine Hotel another try. That, and the fact that as a student who spent the entirety of her savings on sourdough toast at Riverview, I couldn’t afford to turn down a free, all-inclusive stay.

My host … got into her car and drove away, leaving me locked indoors, with a snake.

Unfortunately, my visit was less than ideal. I had anticipated that when my family left for work each day, I would be able to unwind in the recently refurbished living room, sipping on free Prosecco and binge-watching Netflix. Instead, on my first morning, I was awoken by the piercing screams of my host, who had found a grass snake in the downstairs bathroom. My host, who has a crippling phobia of snakes, got into her car and drove away, leaving me locked indoors, with a snake. A quick dive into Google proposed several courses of action that I might take.

  1. Remain calm and avoid disturbing the snake. I did not do this. I spent the best part of two hours sobbing. I tried to gently coax the snake with a mop. The snake did not cooperate and was, understandably, disturbed.
  2. If you can’t herd the snake — and it’s small or coiled, slowly place an empty pail or wastebasket over it, then put a weight on top to trap the snake until an experienced handler arrives. I mustered the courage to trap the snake inside a board game lid. I then sat sobbing for the remainder of the afternoon, with no experienced handler in sight.

I thought that the snake would be the sole obstacle during my traumatic stay, although I was sorely mistaken. I decided that given I was housebound, I would treat myself to some online shopping, and proceeded to splurge the dregs of my bank account on Gymshark. Unfortunately, my package did not arrive and instead, delivery upon delivery came for my hosts. On top of my duties as a courier, I was required to assist in cooking nightly meals, watering the plants and stacking the dishwasher. I was grossly disappointed and shocked that my hosts would treat a hotel guest in such a manner.

The snake did not cooperate

My stay drifted by slowly, but ultimately I survived the ten day isolation period. Although I hadn’t anticipated that I would need to charm a snake, the abundance of free Prosecco did help make up for the difficulties I encountered, significantly blurring my memories of the pain.

If you’re an experienced snake handler and/or broke, then this is the quarantine hotel for you. If not, avoid at all costs.

Image: T4Bevents via Flickr

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