June 16, 2014 / 8:29 PM / 5 years ago

Foreign fans in Manaus forced to stay in 'love hotel'

MANAUS Brazil (Reuters) - England soccer fan Marc Cummings was not planning to stay in a Brazilian “love hotel” opposite a brothel when he came to Manaus for the World Cup.

Bolivian Brian Jauregui (L) and his family pose in their room at the Opcao hotel hotel in Manaus, June 16, 2014. REUTERS/Andres Stapff

But a shortage of accommodation in the hot and humid Amazon city forced him to opt for Hotel Opcao, a modest wooden building on a dark side street that usually rents out rooms to amorous couples by the hour.

The Opcao and its sister establishments lie in the red light district, a part of the city with bars, clubs and sex trade workers - the kind of place tourists are usually told to avoid, especially at night.

“It was either sleep in the street or sleep in the love hotel. And we have been propositioned every night,” Cummings told Reuters Television.

“I haven’t done a damned thing ... but I have been very close,” he added with a laugh.

Love hotels are traditional Brazilian hideaways for couples seeking privacy from the prying eyes of parents or spouses.

The Opcao usually charges 15 reals ($7.50) for one hour, 20 reals for two. Night rates, between 7 p.m. and 7a.m., are higher. Seeing a chance to make some extra money, the hotel changed its business plan for the World Cup and sought more overnight guests.

During the tournament small, clean, basic rooms are going for 250 reals a night, with a three-night minimum. The hotel also hired an English- and Spanish-speaking student to help handle the foreign visitors.

Alex Simpson, an engineer from Edinburgh, ended up in the Opcao after the hotel he was first booked into tried to treble the agreed price.

He did not realize exactly what kind of hotel he would be staying in until he noticed the activity outside.

“When we arrived the first night there was a lot of interesting ladies hanging out (on) the street corners, which made us think it was that kind of area,” he said.

Cummings and his brother Simon said they were having fun in their unusual accommodation. German software engineer Thomas Muller seemed less enthusiastic.

“The main thing is that it’s clean ... and the toilet and the room are OK too,” he said with a serious look.

The Opcao’s regular clients include locals, people from the villages and cities around the regional capital and the occasional tourist.

Front desk receptionist Roseney Ferreira said she had less work to do than normal because the tourists were staying all night rather than renting rooms by the hour.

Reporting by Marine Hass and Rodrigo Guttierez, writing by David Ljunggren; Editing by Mike Collett-White

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