New York hotel hell

Guest submission by Rob Griffiths (Webmaster of Mac OS X Hints, and author of Mac OS X Power Hound). Feel free to copy, as long as author attribution and site link remain intact. Posted with permission by the author.

Travel day to NYC. Flights were fine — somewhat bumpy, but not too bad. First plane was absolutely packed, though. Chicago weather was very low ceilings, under 600′ they said. After I got off the plane, I walked a ways to find a flight board for my connection, scanned it, and found that my departure gate was … my arrival gate. Yep, back on the same plane — only one row in front of my prior seat! Thankfully, this plane was only about half full, so I had the row to myself. Landing at LaGuardia, we were racing a snowstorm in. Apparently, we barely beat the snow — runways were dry and no precipitation while de-planing, but it was snowing when I caught the cab.

Cab driver was Mario Andretti — I know they’re all fast, but my guy was passing other cabbies! In a snowstorm. On slippery bridges. Needless to say, I was buckled in tight.

Twenty minutes later, we arrived at the hotel. It had been described to me as a “typical business” hotel, with decent rooms and rates, and including internet access. I had never seen it, only its website, but I had confirmed the net access by phone.

First sign of trouble: I got my room key (403), then the guy says, almost in passing, “It’s a walkup.” Ugh. That’s a euphemism for “we have no elevator.” Three very steep flights of stairs later (with briefcase, small roller bag, and a huge garment bag), I open my door … to the second sign of trouble.

As seen in the image at left (bigger (ha!) version), the room is about 7′ wide x 9′ long, slightly smaller I think than our master closet back home. An attached bathroom is about 6′ wide x 6′ long. Room contents: one dresser, one 15″ TV (no remote included; fuzzy picture on every channel), one nightstand, one bed, one two-foot-long bar to hang clothes on (that would be the “closet,” I guess). OK, I’ve done small before (European trips), but those were small and nice rooms. This was just small. really small. It's an all-beige room with boring beige walls, and a useless window in the corner (more on that below).

On to issue #3 … it was about 90 degrees in the room when I opened the door. So I go looking for the thermostat. It’s missing in action. Call the front desk: “Ah, we can turn it down from here.” Ten minutes go by, not much change. Call back. “Well, I can’t turn it down too much, as it’s for the entire hotel.” Sheez! So the only heat control is to open my window wide. It’s still too hot in here, but there’s not much more I can do about it.

Speaking of the window, this room really doesn’t have one. Well, it does, because I opened it. But it’s not useful for light, view, or anything else. It opens to an alley, and a wall about five feet away that’s much taller than the room I’m in, so there’s basically no light or view to speak of. There are apartments in the other building, too, so the shade basically needs to stay down all the time, unless I want someone looking directly into my room. I found this out later — I had the shade up (to let more air in the room), and was walking the three feet back from the bathroom into the main room. Unfortunately, human instinct being what it is, my eyes were drawn to a light across the alleyway, where a tenant had apparently arrived home. Standing there cooking dinner at his stove was a 300+ pound man, wearing nothing more than a pair of boxer shorts and a really ratty muscle-style T-shirt. Needless to say, the blind went down then, and stayed down for the duration of my stay.

There’s also no such thing as a non-smoking room at this hotel; in fact, there’s an ashtray on my TV set, and it looks recently used. The entire floor stinks of cigarette smoke.

Finally, at the end of the list of little things, is the lack of any sort of clock. I can’t remember the last time I stayed in a hotel that didn’t have at least a $4.99 electronic alarm clock of some sort. Until now. I went to go to sleep and wanted to set an alarm clock. Took a quick look around the spacious confines of my room and determined that no, there really wasn’t a clock here.

Then we get to the backbreaker. I probably could have put up with the rest of the issues (maybe; 13 days is a long time to live in a closet), but this one was a killer. After the company I’m working for here made me the reservation, I called the hotel myself and asked “Do you have high-speed internet?” “Yes, in every room” was the reply. So I go looking for it after my arrival. Like the thermostat, it’s also MIA! Call the front desk again (they really like me by now). “No, that’s not right, we have only modem internet access here.” Ouch. No net access means no easy site updates, no email checking, and worst of all, no video chats with Kylie and Marian for two weeks. Unacceptable.

So I call the cell phone of my contact at the company, and basically got very very angry. This is unprofessional, you want my best work and put me up in a closet, etc. So the short strokes are that I’m lugging my three bags down the three flights of stairs in the morning, and checking out of here. I have no idea yet where I’m going, but I guarantee you the rooms will be bigger, there will be a desk, and there will be net access!

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