Corbigoe Hotel, London's Worst Hotel

We spent the night in London’s worst 1-star hotel

We ordered our newest recruit, the fresh faced and eager-to-impress Archie Brydon to sleep in London's worst-reviewed hotel on TripAdvisor. It was bad. Unacceptably bad. He insists he's okay. We're not sure.

We ordered our newest recruit, the fresh faced and eager-to-impress Archie Brydon, to sleep in London’s worst-reviewed hotel on TripAdvisor. It was bad. Unacceptably bad. He insists he’s okay. We’re not sure.


Green corridor in the basement, leading to three bedrooms in the corner.

I was greeted by the smell of regret. Nobody is here because they want to be. You can smell it. Regret permeates every wall, floor and surface of the Corbigoe Hotel, and has already introduced itself by the time you reach reception.

Regret smells green. Not green like basil, or freshly cut grass. Regret is the green of mould, of stale absinthe, of sickness.

Found at 101 Belgrave Road in Pimlico, the Corbigoe Hotel is, ostensibly, an impressive five-storey London townhouse. On the same stretch of road as a dozen other budget hotels, including Holiday Inn and Comfort Inn, the Corbigoe Hotel promises “a comfortable and convenient stay at an incredibly affordable price,” right in the heart of the UK’s capital.

Only 3% of customers give it a positive rating. The vast majority implore prospective holidaymakers to stay away, and regulators to shut it down.

Reviews say otherwise. Despite being inflated by a couple of suspicious five-star ratings, the Corbigoe Hotel scores just 1.5 on TripAdvisor, where 1.0 is the lowest possible score. On the travel website’s prestigious list of Dirtiest Hotels in Europe 2011, the Corbigoe Hotel narrowly missed out on the podium, finishing a respectable fourth. Only 3% of customers give it a positive rating. The vast majority implore prospective holidaymakers to stay away, and regulators to shut it down.

Bed bugs, loose wires, mould, blood, and other…bodily fluids are all said to have been found there, forming a general consensus that this is the worst hotel Central London could possibly have to offer. Still, I thought, how bad can it really be? So, on a quiet Wednesday with nothing to do, I snagged a coveted reservation at the Corbigoe Hotel and went to find out.

London's worst hotel bathroom in the basement

I meet Nabil at reception. He seems somewhat surprised to see me – as if guests are typically manhandled inside, rather than entering on their own volition – and he hurriedly produces a form requesting my name, date of birth, home address, passport number, etc. I’m half-surprised it’s not followed by a waiver, but Nabil is welcoming and we make pleasant enough small talk while I’m scribbling away my details.

I’m asked if room no.9 on the second floor will be okay. This sounds most suitable, only for Nabil to find that they key for room no.9 is missing. We share a chuckle while Nabil phones his colleague – an irritated, Slavic-looking woman in a maroon tracksuit – who eventually appears from downstairs and hands me a key. I make it to the second floor landing before seeing the key in fact says “Room no.8.” I head back to the reception desk, where Nabil assures me the room no.8 key is actually for room no.9.

Alright, if you say so.

It turns out the door for room no. 9 is open anyway. Suspicious, I peer inside – lights off, bed made, no luggage in sight. I enter, flick the light switch and close the door behind me. Except it doesn’t shut. The door seems too big for the door frame and won’t close all the way. I try slamming it. No luck. I try a delicate touch. Still nope. Not wanting to get myself trapped, even if it could close, I head back downstairs.

Dirty reception desk at London's worst hotel

The reception desk at the Corbigoe Hotel.

I find Nabil and explain the door situation. Nabil confirms the cleaner is already on their way to room no.9 as we speak.

“No, it’s the door. The room’s fine. The door just won’t shut.”

“Oh, okay, the cleaner’s up there, he’s coming to fix it,” Nabil retorts.

Various other shady looking characters pass by, the building creaking with their every footstep…

Bemused, but not entirely sceptical that some special technique was needed to close doors in this building, I thank Nabil and make my way back upstairs. The next half hour is spent waiting, delaying the cracking of a San Miguel until my door dilemma is resolved, but the mystical cleaner never appears. Various other shady looking characters pass by, the building creaking with their every footstep, but it’s never Nabil or the cleaner.

Broken door at the London's worst hotel

The broken door to room no.9.

I return to reception and find Nabil where I left him. He apologises and says he’s been very busy. He forgot to call the cleaner. He’ll call the cleaner now. He gets on the phone and explains the door for room no. 9 won’t shut. Just the door, he reiterates, smiling at me while speaking into the phone. Sir says the door won’t shut. Room no.9. Okay. He’s on his way up. 1 minute.

Alrighty, thanks Nabil. Off upstairs, one final time. Nobody is there to greet me, as the phone call led me to believe there would be, and I decide I may as well properly explore my living quarters while I wait.

The mattress is flimsier than Vote Leave’s Brexit promises…

I find the TV doesn’t work, but the socket that it’s plugged into does. The mattress is flimsier than Vote Leave’s Brexit promises, but the sheets – at least without the assistance of a UV light – appear to be clean. The bathroom is covered, and I mean really covered, in mould, but the toilet works and the vent stops rattling as soon as you turn the light off. There’s no shampoo or towel, but the shower runs lukewarm and seems to drain. This could be worse. I just need a door that shuts and I’ll be alright.

Mould in bathroom at London's worst hotel

Mould growing on a metal surface in the bathroom.

Another hour passes without the cleaner/builder showing up, so I go in search of Nabil again. He’s been replaced at reception by a new bloke, decked out in gold jewellery, who’s arguing with two ladies. They’re complaining there’s no lift, and asking about towels and shampoo and hairdryers when they get upstairs… One of them comments on the smell, and it makes me realise I’ve grown numb to it.

Eventually it’s my turn and I explain my door predicament. The new receptionist doesn’t seem convinced – lots of beard stroking and ring twirling – but then the thought of dealing with a broken door washes across his face and he asks if I want to just switch rooms instead. Sure. I’m handed a key for room no.20 and directed to the basement.

In the bowels of the Corbigoe, I find room numbers 1, 2, 21, 22 and 23. No 20. Just some electric cupboards and laundry bags tucked around the corner. I head back upstairs and the new receptionist explains it’s room no.2, not 20, that’s why the zero has been Tippex-ed on the key.

Makes sense.


I open the door to room no.2 and am instantly hit by the heat. It’s thick heat. The room is a mouldy sauna. One imagines the basement of a ramshackle hotel as a cold, barren place, but there is a repulsive life to the underbelly of the Corbigoe Hotel. If I’d grown numb to the smell of regret – never particularly invasive but simply ever-present – I am abruptly reacquainted with it in room no.2, where the breathing green odour seems to primarily reside.

I crack a window and let the November air works its magic. Steadily the room temperature decreases and the odour wanes, though by no means vanishing. For some reason the bathroom is at knee-height compared to the bedroom – an awkward design which means I bang my head when entering – but there’s less visible mould than there was upstairs. The bed, meanwhile, feels a little sturdier, despite some moth/burn holes in the duvet, and there are only a couple of cigarette butts on the windowsill, rather than a whole packet. A room at the Corbigoe Hotel is never going to be perfect. I knew this. I can stomach it. At least my door closes. Time for bed.

My phone reads 4:35 when I wake up. I’ve got about three hours sleep – maybe three and a half – and soon realise this is all I’m going to get. Falling back to sleep is always a struggle, I find, so I can’t blame the Corbigoe Hotel entirely. I toss and turn for 90 minutes in vain, desperate for the emptiness of slumber I know will never arrive, before giving up once and for all and sticking on Seinfeld.

London's Worst Hotel dirty windows

Sunlight creeps through the basement window soon after 7 o’clock. It’s the moment I’ve been waiting for: proof to myself, more than anyone else, that I survived a night in London’s worst hotel.

A soap-less shower and clean clothes do little to remove the invisible sense of filth. I return the key to the now unmanned reception desk. It’s the fifth key already left this morning.

Only when I step outside do I realise how dirty I felt. Crisp, fresh, winter air blows the filth right off. I can touch my breath before me. I’m free.

Price sheet london's worst hotel

Sleep deprived and emotionally scarred, I’m suddenly quite sad. The Corbigoe Hotel was not the comical Fawlty Towers I went in search of. It was far more depressing. Like I said, nobody is there because they want to be. The staff, the guests – fuck, probably even the bed bugs – would be absolutely anywhere else if they could.

That is not to say the Corbigoe Hotel serves any sort of noble purpose. It is extortionate for what it is: a festering pile of regret. Somehow both still in business and deemed acceptable by regulators, that some likely aloof landlord profits off the business is an utter disgrace.

Outside London's worst Hotel

But fuck me I’m lucky. To live where I live. To know who I know. To have found it such a miserable night, when countless people would kill to sleep in a heated room, with clean sheets, in a double bed all to themselves. To have always known, even while hating every second of it – the doors, the keys, the mould, the shower, the sink, the sounds, the basement, the bed, the sleep, the stairs, the stains, the smell – that come sunrise I could just walk away.

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