The head of VisitBritain yesterday condemned the standard of British hospitality. We asked readers to share their worst experiences

"When I was on a book tour in 2006, I stayed in what seemed to be a hotel in the centre of Nottingham. It seemed okay – well, from the outside at least. My room had a skylight over the bed, which looked nice, but it turned out it was leaking, so water kept dripping on to my head like some form of water torture. If that wasn't enough to drive me insane, the strange odour that started leaking through my door was. When I opened my door I could see the cleaner walking down the hallway with a can of air freshener, emptying its entire contents. As I was about to suffocate in this African Lynx fog I asked the manager if they had another room available. To my surprise, they gave me a really nice room with a jet-stream bathtub and no leaking windows. You wonder how they checked people in to this hotel, perhaps with a scratchcard?"

Danny Wallace, 32, comedian

"I had to stay in a hotel in Blackpool for a conference. It was dire. The room was very small and breakfast consisted of cardboard masquerading as cereal and a stale croissant. On top of that, there was damp seeping through the walls and the wallpaper was slipping off. Clearly, it wasn't happy with the hotel either."

Anonymous, Government minister

"One particularly bad experience I had was at the Premier Inn in Newcastle. There was no service to speak of and the food in the restaurant was terrible. I'm not going back."

Gavin Wilson, 60, London

"I have the good fortune to live in a country where hotels are not only of a very high standard, but affordable. By contrast, I was recently in Plymouth and stayed at what appeared to be an attractive, small hotel near the Hoe. The "en suite" turned out to be a grubby, 2 sq ft electric shower cubicle that I had to run around in order to get wet, stuck in the corner of a room I couldn't swing a rat in, never mind a cat. I went down for breakfast at 9am, only to be told bluntly that it finished at 8.30. "But where I come from, hotels serve breakfast until 11," I said, admittedly somewhat indignantly. "Well why don't you f*** off back there then?" came the unbelievable reply. I have been out of the UK for a long time, but not long enough.

Chris Frankland, Malaysia

"A hotel we stayed at in Sussex was very peculiar. The owner's dogs had free reign – they roamed around the lobby, games room and even the eating area. We were told to keep our baby away from the dogs."

Charlie Callanan, 41, London

"Six weeks ago I was in a hotel in Exeter which was pretty disgusting. The room had just been cleaned, but I went to use the bathroom and the cleaner had obviously just used the toilet and hadn't flushed it. I ordered room service and they sent up food without any covering, so it was cold. It was awful and far too expensive."

Caroline Elsmore, 43, Coventry

"I am currently on holiday and staying in a hotel in Bayswater. The lift is broken so I have to walk up several floors to get to my room. It's not very clean and it is far too expensive, at almost £100 a night. However, I think many hotels in the area charge a similar price for a similar service. The food is bland, but maybe that is a cultural thing."

Si Hyun Yu, 22, Korea

"The hotel I'm staying in in London is supposed to be five-star but there are no facilities compared to big hotels in other countries – no pool or tennis courts. It is not good value for money compared to the US or the UAE."

Mohammad Alakmi, 42, Kuwait

"My friends and I booked a youth hostel in Brighton last year. When we got there they said we didn't have a reservation, so they stuck us in a basement room with no door locks."

Michael Sneddon, 21, Colchester

"I used to work in a country house manor hotel and the kitchens were awful. Once, there was a wedding party and the chef was carrying a vat of lamb stew to the marquee. He slipped and dropped it all over the concrete and we all had to stand around and scoop it back into the pot so we could still serve it."

Samuel Joseph, 20, Clapham

"I stayed at a hotel in Scotland and my room was awful. The wallpaper was peeling, there was mildew everywhere and holes in the walls and the window. The shower was a plastic box that looked like a Portaloo and it was in the middle of the bedroom."

Melissa Stanton, 37, London

"It's not the dirtiness that gets me but the weird noises. In December, I was staying at the Hilton Kensington after a gig when I heard a strange noise. After much probing, I found out it was the generator, so they moved me and my girlfriend to another room. When we went to bed, I heard a humming noise from the fridge, so I disconnected it but somehow it was still making noises. I even tried to empty the fridge in a lame attempt to make it quiet, but as that didn't work either I had to get a bloke from reception to come and take it away. But I could still hear something, and the loo roll stuffed in my ears couldn't block it out, so I made my girlfriend very unhappy by demanding that we leave at 3am and drive all the way back to Cardiff.

Rhod Gilbert, 41, comedian

"I once stayed in the Grand Hotel, Eastborne, and I half-expected Miss Havisham to come gliding down the staircase – the place hadn't changed since about 1947.

John Hull, 53, London

"Last year I stayed at a Brighton hotel that was a blatant rip-off of the city's famous boutique hotel, Blanch House. It was such a poor imitation. Everything was falling apart, all the materials were so cheap. You can't put lipstick on a pig!"

Rachael, 33, London

"I'm in the hotel business and we recently bought a hotel in London to renovate. It was a running hotel but had rats everywhere. There were holes in the walls stuffed with newspaper. Needless to say the new hotel is now completely spotless!"

Name withheld, 27, London

"I stayed at a hotel in Bath a couple of years ago and the rooms were very poor. I had to repair the radiator myself and the breakfast was entirely inedible, so we ended up eating out every morning, even though it was included in the price. Hotels here are expensive compared to continental Europe for what you get."

John Pearson, 62, London

"Last year, I made a reservation at a hotel in Stourbridge months in advance. When I arrived they had no trace of my booking, so I ended up somewhere else. That was lucky for me. My friends staying there had a ground-floor room with a bathroom window with no blind that looked out on to the street. Someone had blown their nose on the curtains as well. When they called staff about the window, they just brought a new blind and left it in the room."

Andrew Scala, 30, London

Interviews by Alexis Ashman, Michael Sneddon, Stina Backer, Laila Nathoo