Posted on: October 23, 2008 Posted by: rwibowo Comments: 2


Cheap prices and a strategic location are always nice, if you don’t really mind the place. But in this hotel I stayed in during my trip to New York City two years ago, you can’t help but notice how bad the place is. And it’s a good thing I don’t explore the internet too much back then, since a recent search turns out many surprising facts about this hotel, more precisely, unsavory facts.

Finding a cheap accommodation, close by to the favorite tourist sites was not easy to find, especially in a place like New York City. I was pretty surprised to find a room for just $120 a night for a twin room in a hotel. There are four of us traveling together so each of us end up paying only $80 for two nights for the accommodation, but what really surprises me was the location. It was located only a block away from the world famous Times Square, the Crossroads of the World, located dead middle in the world’s most populated island, Manhattan. The only thing lingering in my mind was only one; it is too damn good to be true.

By the time our flight touched down at the airport, it was already few hours pass the check-in time for our hotel. Instead we decided to find another place to stay for a night before moving to that hotel the following day. After a few rides on a bus and on the subway, we checked into a hostel near Central Park. We spend the rest of the day walking around the city, including getting to the top of the Empire State Building around midnight and watch the city lights twinkle for a few minutes before each of them died into darkness.

The next day, we checked out of the hostel (with a wake-up call from a pigeon making weird clicking noises right outside our window) and took a subway into Midtown Manhattan. In half an hour, we rode across town in a subway car, snap endless pictures of The City That Never Sleeps on the way and made our way to the 43rd Street. We can see the old, looming building up ahead with a striking sign on top, forming the names of the hotel. We dragged ourselves (and our luggage) to the direction of the aging high rise that housed the hotel and when we entered the lobby, we were surprised.

On the hotel’s website that we checked before we make our arrangements, they mentioned that the hotel ‘has just undergone a renovation’, complete with a picture of an ornate, marble lined lobby that looks like it was transported straight from the 1940s. Now we are standing right in that lobby, the same place, only it was brightly lit with colorful neon bulbs snaking all the way across the ceiling in weird, flashy colors. On our way to the reception, I even managed to steal some chatter from two British guys, amazed by the neon bulbs shooting everywhere, “Wow, I feel like I’m inside a strip club.” They said.

We checked in and then followed the bellboy into a small, claustrophobic elevator that creaked as it goes up. Now I was actually thinking whether this elevator had ever snapped off or killed somebody as it goes up. It actually seems like it did. But I ignored it, must be some sort of a wrongly placed hunch, I thought. I was thankful because the elevator reached the floor where our room is before it really snaps off. As the bellboy took us into the corridor heading to the room, my mind wanders again, now to a scene from The Godfather.

The corridor’s walls were coated with a smudged white paint, peeling in every side, on the ceilings, cobwebs and dust form a barely invisible line of threads all over, and the corridor was dimly lit with sad fluorescent orange light bulbs. The hotel was renovated alright, forty years ago. I had no hopes of seeing a nicely renovated room when I entered, and it’s a good think I have none, because it’s really not renovated at all, and it’s totally decaying. The old television was dead, and the heater isn’t working, the window can’t be closed, and the bathroom looks like a crime scene. Now I really can’t help but imagine all kinds of funny, weird things. At least they make the bed before we came. And yeah, it’s a good thing this isn’t winter.
But the good thing is, I survived my two nights of staying there without getting chopped off by a psychotic killer or got stuck in a narcotics bust by the police. After we check out of that place two nights later, we never heard anything from that place again, until recently.

I was doing research for my upcoming novel, coincidentally set in New York City. It calls for a cheap, seedy hotel for a shootout scene and the first hotel to come in my mind was that same place we stayed when we were in New York two years ago. I keyed in the hotel name at Google, and the first headline to come was ‘Dirtiest Hotel in America, ‘That’ Hotel’. It turns out that very hotel has won the not-so-prestigious award for the Dirtiest Hotel in America for three years in a row by a travel advisory website. I scroll down the articles until something else caught my eye, ‘Murder at ‘That’ Hotel’.
It turns out that a year ago, a female tourist staying in the hotel ended up being a victim of a brutal murderer. Curiosities did drive me to do some more research until I end up in another article about that hotel.

Facts had shown that she’s not the only person departed on that hotel. Ever since the hotel first opened in the 1930s, there have been nine more deaths reported in that place, not to mention the unreported deaths. And do you know the most interesting part of all? That creaky, old elevator I rode did kill somebody in 2005. I was lucky I didn’t know all of these exhilarating facts until two years ago. One thing for sure now, if I’m coming back to New York City, I would never sleep in that place again, I would rather pay a little bit more to live in a more expensive hotel. No, thank you. I had enough looking at the crazy facts.

Next time you found a ridiculously cheap hotel in a ridiculously expensive city; do some very good research on it first before you end up paying your booking fee. Like I said, things like that are far too good to be true.


By Reva Wibowo

2 People reacted on this

Leave a Comment