4. Euro Disney
Look, I get it if you want to go to Disneyland or Disney World. Disneyland kinda fits into the whole Southern California, ‘Let’s all go to the movies!’ thing, and Disney World…well, you’re in Orlando, what else are you going to do?
But if you’re set on your tackiness having a vaguely international flair to it, go to Epcot. Don’t go to Euro Disney. (It’s actually been rebranded as “Disneyland Paris,” but I’m not going to condone that crime against one of the most culturally rich cities in the world.) I know it’s tough being a parent, but maybe take your kids to a real European castle, like the gorgeous Mont Saint-Michel in Northern France, or to Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, which the Disney Castle is based off of.
You’re exempted from my scorn if you live in France, and your kids won’t shut up about Mickey Mouse.
3. Any safari hunt
A few months ago, American television personality Melissa Bachman got into some deep shit for tweeting a picture of a male lion she hunted and killed in South Africa. She paid a hefty fee to kill the lion, and she did it all legally. Money from such hunts actually contributes a lot to local conservation and anti-poaching efforts, which are usually pretty cash-starved, so in that sense her hunt was a good thing.
But as a whole, this is an incredibly creepy, perverse practice you shouldn’t participate in. I appreciate that they try to make the money from these hunts go towards protecting the not-shot-in-the-head animals, but it feels less like conservation and more like demanding a pound of flesh for your money. Or however many pounds the lion weighs.
I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with hunting for food. It’s a hell of a lot more natural than eating meat from a factory farm, and it requires you to put at least some effort into your meal. But you’re not flying to Africa and paying $125,000 to get a square meal. You’re doing it because you want to kill something exotic. Which is, at the very best, super creepy.
Hunting for sport should be sporting — i.e., you should be on the same level as the lion. He’s got claws, you get a knife. And there’s just no need to be killing species that are listed as ‘vulnerable’ and have been on the decline for the last half century. Lion-focused non-killing safaris are a great way to appreciate these animals without killing them.
One of the major problems here is that African conservation orgs are severely in need of funding, so they have to make a deal with the devil: Let a few rich Americans kill a lion to save the others. If we donated to organizations that protect wildlife in greater numbers, this choice wouldn’t have to be made.
2. The Hans Brinker Budget Hotel in Amsterdam
I feel conflicted about adding the Hans Brinker Budget Hotel to this list. It doesn’t appear to be that bad a hotel, as far as budget hotels go. But they advertise themselves as “the worst hotel in the world.” The HBBH has clearly adopted the lean in approach to advertising, and rather than taking their horrible customer reviews and trying to improve their property, they’re just advertising how bad it is. Here are some of the lines they’ve used:
- “Sorry for being excellent in losing your luggage.”
- “Hans Brinker Budget Hotel. It can’t get any worse. But we’ll do our best.”
- “Now even more dog shit in the main entrance!”
- “Improve your immune system: Hans Brinker Budget Hotel, Amsterdam.”
The hotel’s online reviews range from the, “Oh my God, this was awful,” to the, “Meh, not as bad as they built it up to be.” It seems that, to some extent, it’s turned into a sort of destination for the type of Amsterdam tourist who wants a particularly depraved stay (although that might be redundant: I can probably just say “Amsterdam tourist”).
Some of the reviews comment on it having a pretty decent party atmosphere, even if the hotel does suggest you use the curtains after showering instead of the towel. So Hans Brinker earns a place, not for actually being all that bad, but because they want to be so bad that they’ve ascended to the same plane as punk rock and have basically become the Sex Pistols of shitty budget hotels.
1. The Emoya Luxury Hotel Shanty Town Accommodations
The winner for the worst place on the planet to stay is the Emoya Luxury Hotel & Spa Shanty Town Accommodations. I can’t explain it any better than the people at Emoya, who, by this description, are clearly be-monocled, Victorian-era, British one-percenters:
- “Now you can experience staying in a shanty within the safe environment of a private game reserve. This is the only shantytown in the world equipped with under-floor heating and wireless internet access!”
If that makes you want to vomit until you die, be comforted that there are authentic shantytown touches added, like ‘long-drop toilets.’ Because we all know the universal features of extreme poverty are warm feet in the morning and having to wait a second for the splash when you poop.