In my line of work, where people travel to all sorts of places in developing countries, a fun game to start when conversation ebbs is "what's the worst hotel you've ever stayed in?" Of course the worst-case is always trumped by people who've been doing this work a long time and snort "hotel??? What luxury! When I was in ___ there were no hotels!" The old-timers talk about staying in churches on sleeping pads and bed rolls. (Hint: stay with catholics, not protestants, as the catholics drink and may take pity and give you a beer.) And all is trumped by the Peace Corps people (or "volunteers" in the in-crowd language of people who have been in Peace Corps). They stayed in villages in mud huts and slept on the floor with cockroaches crawling all over them and ate rancid bush-meat washed down with scummy water. For two years. The more volunteers you get together, the worse conditions were for each succeeding storyteller.
Which brings me to the "worst hotel" game. Mine is from my first trip to India. We were in Alligarh district in the north of Uttar Pradesh state. I was told that we were staying in "the best place in town" and felt reassured. Turns out there was one place in town. Starting with dinner at the restaurant, the entire 12 hours was one long exercise in overcoming my gag reflex. Dinner was oily and rancid. The bottled water was suspect. The room was, in a word, filthy, and illuminated by a single 25-watt bulb dangling from bare wires. The floor was gritty. The walls were covered with dirt-covered peeling paint. I pulled back the blankets and stifled a shriek: the sheers were covered with a mixture of dirt, hair, oily stains, and what looked like crumbled Doritos. I kind of slept, on top of the blankets, in my clothes, using my jacket for a pillow. In the morning, after seeing the bathroom in the light, skipped any attempt at washing up. I was sure that after standing barefoot under the gray water of the shower, I would have only been dirtier than when I started. Mentally thanking my employers for forcing me to take every inoculation available on the CDC master list, I checked out, shuddered, and got in the cab… 24 hours later I was back in New Delhi at the palatial Intercontinental, scrubbing my skin raw with loofah and a full bar of soap.
So… when for this field trip in Kenya they booked me in a $5/night hotel, I didn't even flinch. Turns out we stayed in "the best place in town" in Narok, Kenya, and it wasn't clean, wasn't nice, wasn't bright, and the staff was sullen and peevish. But compared to Alligarh, it was the Ritz. I slept like a baby.