I visited a French restaurant for dinner with a group of friends on Saturday night and we ended up walking out. After waiting to be served for 45 minutes, we ordered a bottle of white wine that arrived, warm, in an ice bucket full of murky water.

We ordered some bread and olives to start with and, 15 minutes later, the waitress arrived and told us they had run out of bread. It was barely 8.30pm and we decided it was still early enough to go somewhere where we’d be better served.

Arguably the most important decisions you will make as a hotel or restaurant owner are the staff you choose.

There’s little point in spending time and effort getting the physical aspects of your business right only to be let down by the people you employ.

They’re the public face of your business and often the first point of contact with your customers. First impressions count and if they’re getting it wrong at that stage, customers will have little faith in engaging further.

Online review sites mean customers have never been in a more powerful position to affect your business and bad reviews are more often about poor service rather than the quality of food or the standard of accommodation.

Here are some of the least flattering comments posted on TripAdvisor, that remain as a permanent reminder to owners of establishments about the poor choices they have made.

  1. Horrible service: “I asked for a chicken burger with no mayo. When it arrived, it had mayo, so I pointed out their mistake. The waiter removed the chicken burger and scraped the mayo off with his hand before returning it to my plate.”
  2. Assaulted during my meal: “The waitress was very rude, so I asked to speak with the manager. Instead, a security guard arrived at our table, clearly on a power trip, and he threatened to beat me up. I stood up to leave and he summoned another security guard and they began to punch me. One of them was shouting ‘I’m going to break your ******* back’. All because I had asked to speak with the manager.”
  3. A cockroach in my drink: “We ordered two gins and tonic while we reviewed the menu. When they arrived, I noticed something was in mine. The room was dark, and it took me a while to realise that a dead cockroach was floating in my drink.”
  4. They spat in my hair: “My fiancée and I were enjoying a romantic meal which was spoiled when a waiter spat in my hair.”
  5. Disgraceful: “At one point a staff member burst into our room to retrieve a pornographic DVD which had been left in the player.”
  6. Couples stay away: “We were served brussel sprouts  and tomato soup for breakfast on more than one occasion. Who in their right minds would serve this food, let alone eat it?”
  7. Avoid: “My 13-year-old daughter saw two people ‘making love’ on a sofa next to the bar while being videoed by the chef.”
  8. Sales pitch: “The owner kept trying to sell me his hotel and asked if I knew anyone in England who would buy it.”
  9. Weird: “Gift shop isn’t great. Wish they had magnets that weren’t condoms.”
  10. Don’t believe the hype: “I called the duty night manager to complain and he started shouting at me in a threatening way. I hung up and left the phone off the hook, so he sent a bellboy to our room with a mobile phone so that he could continue his tirade.”