top of page
  • Writer's pictureJoanna

Mattress-Gate | Jakarta | Indonesia

I promised I would expand on what happened at my Jakarta hotel... and here it is.

I swear this is ALL 100% true.

No word of a lie... word for word...

I arrived at the Verse Luxe Hotel on March 19th. As I mentioned in my last post, I had two reservations, due to the debacle of disastrous weather, boats and tours being cancelled and subsequently... flights interrupted.

My first reservation at the Verse Luxe was made for 2 nights ~ March 20th to March 22nd. When all my travel plans got thrown into disarray, and I ended up arriving in Jakarta a day earlier than originally planned, I made a second reservation for 1 night ~ from March 19th to the 20th.

Three nights in total.

Perhaps three nights too long in Jakarta, but too late, smart.

LOOK at these walls!

When I checked in upon arrival, they did the usual... took a photocopy of my passport and took payment for the one night. That was strange, I thought. I would have figured it much more convenient to take payment for all three nights at once, but who am I to say?

They asked that I return to the front desk first thing in the morning and they would then process the payment for the additional two nights, considering it was a separate reservation. I paid the equivalent of $46 Canadian for the first evening... and off I went to find my room, on the 6th floor.

Room 608.

The first thing I noticed, when I walked in to my room, were the dirty walls. I think describing them as ‘dirty’ does a considerable disservice to the word ‘dirty.’

They were beyond anything I’ve ever seen.  They were filthy

Greasy. Grimy. Grubby.

These walls needed a serious soap scrub, a Mr. Erase marker scouring and a few coats of fresh paint.  They were so nasty that they gave the room an unkempt and unsettling, claustrophobic feel.

My notice of the walls was temporarily abandoned when I saw a row of assorted books on the shelving about where the TV was situated. I have been in a LOT of hotels and it is not often that there are a variety of books IN the actual room.  In the lobby, sure... but rarely IN the room. I raced over to check out the selection. Some of them were even in English.  There was a Michael Jackson biography, a collection of poems by Frank O’Hara and a few novels. Big ones too… and hardcopy!

Most awful walls in the world...

My night was looking up. It had been a long time since I’d relaxed with a good book and I figured tonight might just be the night. I put my hand up to grab one, but as I pulled it from the shelf, it seemed too light for what my arm had anticipated it be and I almost dropped it on the floor.

It was lighter than styrofoam.



They were all fake.

Why the actual f**k?

Why splurge on fake books and ignore simple cleaning duties? Was this their idea of providing a remarkable guest experience?

They had their priorities a bit mixed up. Suddenly the walls seemed even dirtier, as my attention was diverted back to my cruddy confinement. The place just gave off a rotten vibe.

Oh well. 

I could let it go.

After years of travel inconveniences and inconsistencies and idiosyncrasies, I had been well trained to ignore slight uncleanliness, regardless of how un-slight they were.

At least everything else seemed clean.


Once I’d sorted myself out, I headed out into the heart of Jakarta to have a look around, wandering around the main downtown district and orientating myself with the area. After I'd grabbed a bit of dinner, I headed back to my grubby hotel room to hunker down for the evening. I planned to get some work done, as well as a bit of writing… and have an early night.

Everything was good. 

I curled myself up in my bed with my computer... and set about finishing up a recent blog entry.

I don’t think I had been sitting there long… when suddenly the corner of my eye caught something moving towards me, on my stark white sheets.  My eyes darted away from the computer and there it was, making its way up the duvet towards me.



Again… years of travel have allowed me to be more tolerant of bugs… so I wasn’t as disgusted as I probably should have been in this situation.  This wasn’t my first rodeo.  It wasn’t until afterwards, when I began to acknowledge the calibre of this particular disease carrier, did the gravity of it all take shape.

I flicked at the pest… and it scurried away, quickly.

Ok… that problem was dealt with.



The cockroach came back.

The nerve actually… to return to MY bed.

Thought maybe it wasn’t MY bed after all. Maybe it was HIS bed.

Maybe I was the trespasser.

I flicked at it once again... and once again... it swiftly scurried away.

We repeated this process four or five times until I decided to do a little bit of investigation on my own. Could there be more cockroaches? It made me shudder to think that there might be... but I had no other choice than to thoroughly explore below the surface.  And when I say 'the surface,' I mean 'the mattress.'

I stood up and pulled back the white fitted sheet and the mattress protector.

What I expected to see was an infestation of bugs.

What I found was...something equally as shocking. Worse? I don't know.

It was an absolute HORROR.

This photo does NOT do it justice.

I was lying on a CRACK mattress.

There are so many words you could use to describe this mattress, but singling them out just doesn't do it justice.

The mattress appeared as if it had spent 95% of its life outside, enduring the elements and providing comfort to the homeless, the prostitutes and the drug addicts of the back streets of Jakarta.

I couldn't make this up if I tried. No wonder there were cockroaches.

This cheap hotel had put me in a room with dirty walls, fake books… and a crack mattress.

The mattress looked like it had been dragged inside as is and covered with a white sheet in a feeble attempt to conceal years of abuse. There was nothing remotely sanitary about this mattress and there is no way it should have been placed into a 1, 2 OR 3-star hotel.  It was the prime example of rotten; contaminated, dishevelled and unhygienic. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone had DIED on this mattress.

Actually... I think many people died on this mattress.

My mind started going in circles. Swirling.

Google research didn’t help the already devastating situation... but I did manage to educate myself more about the habits and behaviours of cockroaches.

  1. Cockroaches can crawl into beds. They are attracted to warmth and moisture, which may lead them to seek shelter in and around sleeping areas.

  2. Cockroaches are more likely to bite you at night - especially when you are sleeping.

  3. Seeing one baby cockroach means there are potentially hundreds more nearby.





Ya... no, thank you.

Not only was the mattress black with years of festering filth but even the flip side of the mattress protector was stained a garbage shade of urine-yellow and trash-ash.

I sent a bunch of messages to the front desk, but due to the late hour, no one responded to me.

I spent the evening rolled up in my own sleep sheet, crunched up in the hotel chair. I knew that if I allowed myself to sleep ON the bed, a cockroach would surely climb into my mouth and lay eggs between my teeth...

... or bite me.

It was awful.

Everything was disgusting.

It pushed me beyond all of my boundaries. All of them.

Over the years, I have stayed in some dives along the way… but this was by far, the worst of the worst.

Despite popular opinion, it's not cheap to stay in Jakarta. I should clarify. It's not cheap, on a backpacker scale. Yes... it's a city... and prices are bound to be higher, but I have paid less in Bali… for luxury. Regardless of the fee, I do expect a certain degree of sanitation.

Am I wrong in those expectations?


The following morning, I woke up to an offer for housekeeping to come and 'clean the room.'

Ya… no… that wasn’t going to cut it.

I tried to explain that a fumigation would be more advisable and appropriate than a room cleaning, but still, the front desk sent up a houseboy to offer to clean up for me. I brought him in and showed him the mattress.

Wholly unfazed.

Oh… so crack is in? Maybe all the hotel room mattresses were like this.

Maybe I was the odd one out. The freak.

The cheese stands alone.

I needed OUT of this place.

My back & forth texts with the guy at the front desk were puzzling... and aggravating. His English was fairly indecipherable and despite my best efforts, I couldn’t understand a thing the guy was trying to say to me. Finally, I just packed up all my belongings and headed down to reception.

I explained my catastrophic discovery of the crack mattress, the cockroach, my sleepless night... and my strong desire to either change rooms or leave the hotel.

He. Did. Not. Care.

At all.

Not one bit of his customer service conduct gave off an ounce of compassion for what I'd suffered. He made my complaint seem unreasonable and trivial. He DID agree, however, to move me to another room, but NOT before securing my next bout of payment.


He placed the bill for the next two nights in front of me and I scanned it over… searching for any sign of compensation. There was nothing.


I couldn't believe it.

I decided to just throw it out there myself… "Can you do nothing to try and appease this situation? I had a horrible evening."

Once again, I showed him the photos I'd taken of the mattress, brought up the cockroach, and mentioned my sleepless night in the chair. He turned in my direction, shot me the most belittling, pouty face and pushed the bill closer to me, implying that it was time to pay up. I was given zero empathy, zero apologies and on top of it all, no one seemed to think that any of this was out of the ordinary. Even the manager didn't deem it substantial enough to come out of her office and appease me. They could have offered me BREAKFAST! Anything...

Over the next couple of days, I expressed my displeasure and exasperation a few times, and despite my pleas, the manager refused to speak with me.

Things just got worse...

~ My key card stopped working and each time I tried to reenter my room, I had to scurry back down to the front desk to get them to allow me access.

~ My laundry was temporarily lost... and when they eventually found it, they handed me another bill before physically handing it over to me. This is where I snapped. I put my foot down and insisted they at least cover that charge as the least possible compensation. That request was another trip in the back to see the manager, who still didn’t come out to try and ease my irritation.


  • I did what anyone in my position would do.

  • I did what anyone in my position with a phone would do.

  • I did what anyone in my position with a phone and video features would do.

  • I did what anyone in my position with a phone and video features and SOCIAL MEDIA would do.

I made a TikTok ⬇️⬇️⬇️⬇️

Just a silly, little run-of-the-mill TikTok about the horrors of my accommodation. Nothing happened. The video garnered about 1047 views... but was too long to warrant much attention.

So I made another one. A shorter one.

And guess what?

It went viral.


Awww... the power of social media.

Check it out... ⬇️⬇️⬇️⬇️

Over the course of about 24 hours, I watched the number of views skyrocket. It was insane.

55K +

102K +

151.8K +

189.8K +

200K +

258.3K +

260.2K +

286.8K +

I started to freak out.

Would the hotel report me to the Federal Bureau of never-saying-anything-bad-about-Indonesia? Were the Indonesian police going to come looking for me?

Were the Indonesian border patrol going to stop me at the airport?

These were valid concerns that swirled around in my head.

Along with views, came comments... and they weren't always kind. Trolls and keyboard warriors can be very, very nasty. Along with hundreds of understanding comments and equal horror expressed, criticism of ME was coming in hot and heavy. My skin isn't thick enough to endure the online audacity, so I eventually had to turn off notifications.

Sure… a large percentage were on my side with “Get out of there!” “No way!” “That’s the worst thing I’ve ever seen” … but I also received a lot of “You get what you pay for” and “What do you expect from a 3-star hotel?”

What did I expect from a 3-star hotel?


Maybe dirty walls.. sure... but most certainly NOT a crack mattress. 

I’ve stayed in cheaper, 1-star accommodations and received more sanitary surroundings and higher-quality hospitality. Yes, one must expect to sleep on a ‘used’ mattress in a hotel, but 7000+ hotel/motel guests could not have caused this filth.

Despite my attempt to block out the negative messages, there were two frequent go-to's that amused me...

"Go back to the USA!”

"You look poor."

I am poor.

But not poor enough to lower my standards to this level.

I also wrote an exceedingly bad review for

No. Actually. I didn’t.

I take that back.

I wrote TWO reviews.


Remember how I had TWO reservations? 

I got the opportunity to literally berate them online TWICE.

Then my new favourite manager started to call...

Funny… after three days of attempting to speak to her, she wouldn’t come out of her office. She wouldn’t come out to apologize, attempt an explanation or give a friendly smile. Nothing. BUT… as soon as a video went viral and they were struck with 2 horrendous reviews, she was grasping at straws, desperate to speak to me through any platform she could. Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok and WhatsApp. I ignored her incessant calls and texts... just as she did me while I was at her hotel.

What was she possibly going to say?

Was she going to offer to send me money? Doubtful.

Was she going to apologize and ask me to remove my reviews and my video? Likely.

BUT... with 288.9K+ views, 2,497 likes and 434 comments, was I going to take down my video?

Not a chance, lady.

But thanks for trying...

Awww… the power of social media.

Love it or hate it… it certainly does the trick ❤️

I needed to get out of Jakarta...

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page