The Worst Hotel in the World (Upper-Intermediate Lesson Plan)

Download the Hotel Lesson Plan (ESL) here: Worst-Hotel-Lesson-Plan-UppIntermediate-19072013.doc

Hotel Lesson Plan (ESL): Upper-Intermediate

bad hotel design

Hotel Lesson Plan (ESL): Warm-Up

1) What types of accommodation are available for travelers? Which do you prefer?
2) What are the differences between a 2 star and 5 star hotel?
3) How do you plan your holidays?

Reading: The Worst Hotel in the World

The Hans Brinker Budget Hotel in Amsterdam is bad and it knows it. The hotel is proudly dubbed the “worst hotel in the world.” The hotel caters to backpackers and students, and its amenities include hostel-style rooms equipped with metal bunk beds and blue metal lockers from $22.50 a night. The hotel’s advertising warns customers of its filthy conditions in advance. Past slogans include:
–       Improve your immune system – stay at Hans Brinker!
–       It can’t get any worse. But we’ll do our best.
–       Now with beds in every room.
–       Proudly disappointing travelers for 40 years.
The hotel’s disclaimer: ‘Those wishing to stay at the Hans Brinker Budget Hotel, Amsterdam, do so at their own risk and will not hold the hotel liable for food poisoning, mental breakdowns, terminal illness, lost limbs, radiation poisoning, certain diseases associated with the 18th century, plague, etc.’
The hotel operates a strict eco-friendly policy, which includes no hot water in its showers and eco-friendly elevators (the stairs). It also encourages customers to dry off using the curtains to save the planet.
Here are some reviews from from travelers who have taken the plunge:
“The accommodation is extremely basic and some of the rooms look like prison dorms, but it’s cleanish and cheap, the bar sells a cheap pint, and you do get breakfast.” (John W.)
-“Stayed here with a travel group last week. Had to be one of the worst experiences of the trip. The hostel stank of weed, our rooms were not clean, and the bathrooms stank of urine. At night, there were drunk people banging on the walls and they turned on the fire hose outside the room at 4 am and managed to get all our luggage wet. Please never stay here — Amsterdam is a wonderful city, but this truly almost ruined it for me.” (Ericholl94)
The hotel manager Tijmen Receveur says the hotel’s approach is a hit with travelers and students. “’They love our humour and sarcasm – and they have diminished their expectations to less than nothing,” he explains.

Hotel Lesson Plan (ESL): Comprehension & Follow-Up Questions

1) How does the Hans Brinker Hotel protect the environment?
2) Name three positive comments about the hotel mentioned in the reviews.
3) What does the manager think about the hotel being labeled `the worst hotel in the world’?
4) Would you stay at the Hans Brinker Budget Hotel?
5) Have you stayed at such a place or had an experience like the second reviewer’s?

Hotel Lesson Plan (ESL): Vocabulary Matching

Match the words with their meaning as used in the hotel lesson plan.
dub (verb)
cater (verb)
amenity (noun)
filthy (adj)
disclaimer (noun)
liable (adj)
limb (noun)
take the plunge (idiom)
~ish (e.g. cleanish)
weed (noun)
diminish (verb)
  • dub – give an unofficial name or nickname to sb or sth
  • cater – provide a group with what is needed or required
  • amenity – a useful feature of a building or place
  • filthy – disgustingly dirty
  • disclaimer – a statement that denies sth, especially responsibility
  • liable – responsible; legally answerable
  • limb – an arm or leg of a person or animal
  • take the plunge – commit yourself to a course of action you feel nervous about
  • ish – somewhat
  • weed – marijuana
  • diminish – make or become less

Hotel Lesson Plan (ESL): Connect the below idea(s) to make a sentence.

government / uprising
cater / rich people
amenities / my house
filthy / accommodation
disclaimer / liable
limb / accident
take the plunge
weed / Amsterdam
diminish / lifespan

Hotel Lesson Plan (ESL): Role-Plays

Student A: You are a travel agent. Soon, your phone will ring.

Student B: You would like to book a holiday but you haven’t decided on a destination. Call your travel agent (Student A) and ask for his/her advice. Book a flight, accommodation, and get recommendations about things to do in the area.


Student A: You are staying at a hostel. Last night was the worst night of your life. Think of some problems you could have experienced (e.g. passport stolen, bed bugs, etc). Then complain to the receptionist and try to get your money back.

Student B: You are the receptionist at a cheap hostel.

Hotel Lesson Plan (ESL): Discussion Questions

1) What do you think of Amsterdam?
2) “Eco-friendly”: is this just a way for companies to be cheap?
3) What do you think of traveler review websites, such as Tripadvisor? Do you use them?
4) Does your country have love hotels like in Japan?
5) Would you ever try couchsurfing?

Hotel Lesson Plan (ESL) copyright Matthew Barton of

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