Hotels hit by bedbugs plague

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The Independent Online
A new breed of super bedbugs is plaguing small London hotels, a hotel guide out today reveals.

One American tourist was so badly bitten he had to have medical treatment, according to The Good Hotel Guide 1998, published this week. The guide said London had "some of the dingiest hotels of any Western city, with indifferent service, shabby rooms, thin walls and depressing decor".

It described the fast-moving, voracious bug (cimex lectularius) as "a new peril for visitors". The super bugs were first spotted in 1997 in hotels in the Earl's Court area of west London after a survey of more than 300 hotels by Kensington and Chelsea's environmental health chiefs, said the guide.

Its editors called for cheap hotels to raise their standards and said it was no wonder tourists complained.

"Disgracefully, some of these doss-houses are endorsed by tourist board and hotel associations which should know better," said the guide. "A budget hotel doesn't have to have a central location, but it should be clean and reasonably quiet, with easy access to public transport."

The guide also said that complaints about unexpected costs which bump up hotel bills, such as added service and VAT charges not included in quotations, continued to increase among regular readers of the guide.

tThe Good Hotel Guide 1998, by Hilary Rubinstein and Caroline Raphael; published by Ebury Press; pounds 12.99.