“Someone has been sleeping in my bed!” wailed a distraught journalist, finally checking into his Sochi hotel room after a long journey only to find the bed already slept in, presumably by construction workers who were still rushing to complete the rest of the hotel. He might also have accused them of eating his porridge but for the fact that the hotel kitchen was not yet in any fit state to be making it.
The hotel, which is meant to house hundreds of journalists covering the games, is really a sprawling complex of apartment blocks that serve as the one of the main venues for media at the 2014 Winter Olympics
With numbered blocks and room fixtures still being put in place, the complex is far from ready, though the games are to start this weekend.
“Your room is still under construction,” said a harried receptionist Tuesday lunchtime. “They are literally finishing, the keys are literally coming now.”
Those lucky enough to get a room “literally” immediately were, however, forced to endure techno music played at an ear-splitting volume from a stage in a courtyard surrounded by several hotels. It drove one Canadian, trying to sleep off jet lag from a 24-hour journey, to the verge of tears as he beseeched the staff to turn the music down. Unsuccessfully.
Russia has spent $51bn (£31bn) on the Winter Olympics in Sochi, but that sum did not stretch to getting all hotels built on time.
As media from across the world streamed into the Black Sea city, with just 72 hours left until the Olympic torch is lit and the Games officially open, construction work that should have been completed months ago was still underway. On Monday, Sochi organisers said 97% of rooms were finished and the remaining 3% were getting a final cleaning”. The delays do not affect athletes’ accommodation, and the army of volunteers manning Sochi airport and every road intersection are polite and helpful.