New York is great. In my book it's no Chicago, but it's still great.
Andrew and I went in September to visit Monica, his sister. Monica lives in Cranbury New Jersey which is just minutes away from Princeton and a short 1 hour trip by train into Manhattan. We stayed with Monica all but one night. Andrew and I planned a 1 day and 1 night stay in New York.
Andrew took on the task of planning and making reservations for our short stay in Manhattan. We were on a fairly tight budget for this trip and needed to find a hotel for the one night. Now, I've been to New York a few times in the past and for not a lot of money, (under $200/night) Have stayed in some fairly nice hotels in great locations. Well, apparently those days are over. We searched every web site we knew of. Expedia, Hotels.com, Hotwire...ect... Seems as though you can't find a decent hotel in New York for under $400.00/night anymore! Well, that just wasn't going to work. So, we decided to lower our standards a little for this one trip. Afterall, it was just going to be for one short night.
Enter, The Chelsea Star hotel. Ok, we now understand why it's not called The Chelsea "StarS" hotel. One star, and I think the only reason it has one star is because Expedia.com doesn't rate hotels on the minus star scale and they are in the business of selling hotel rooms.
So, the hotel description says that it's a "theme room" hotel. Ok, fine. Maybe a little wierd, but hey, we're open to a little adventure. We read on...ok, so it doesn't have it's own bathroom...at this point we start looking for another hotel. After searching for others in the same price range, ($120-$160) we decide that the Chelsea Star is the best one in the best location; 1 block from Madison Square Garden and very centrally located for the amount of walking we were planning.
We still had to get past the fact that 5 rooms shared 1 bathroom. Ok, so we pondered this...we're spending 1 full day in Manhattan, meeting up with Bruce, a friend of Andrew's who lives in Manhattan, going to a show that evening, then out to dinner and probably a club or two. The next morning we'll be up early, have breakfast, walk a few blocks to the train station and head back to New Jersey and we can just shower at Monica's house when we get back. Cool, no need for the bathroom at all. The pictures online looked ok. This just might work! And, at $130.00/night, it's well within the budget.
Fast forward to our day in Manhattan. Awesome! We took an early train from New Jersey and got to New York and began our walking tour of Soho, Grenwich Village and tons more of midtown. Found a fantastic, reasonably priced Thai restaurant for lunch and then decided to go scope out the hotel and check in to drop off our backpacks that contained our clothes for the evening.
Ok, 8th Ave and 30th street. Not a bad area and a great location for getting to the places we wanted to visit on foot. The hotel itself, from the street, was just a single door with a small canopy over it with the name of the hotel. Hmmm, strange, but, hey, this is New York. Real estate space is at a premium. The first clue that should have had us looking for other accomodations was the sign on the inside of the steel front door. "Do not let anyone enter behind you after dark." Hmmm. ok. We made our way up the stairs to a hall way with steel diamond plate for flooring. ( I assume it cleans up easily) Andrew went into the lobby with the life sized statue of Betty Boop, to check in. They had no reservation for us and they were booked. After several minutes of conversation with the desk clerk and a phone call to Expedia, he magically came up with a room for us. We proceeded down the steel clad hallway to room 105.
The door opens part way and hits something. It's the bed. a double bed. Now, Andrew and I sleep in a queen sized bed at home and often fight over space. Oh well, it's just for one short night. The room contents: one double bed with only a sheet, a small unusable chair, a broken floor lamp, a telephone and a 13" T.V. bolted to the wall. That's it. Nothing else. Carpet so dirty that we didn't even want to take off our shoes and walk on it. at this point we look at each other and seriously consider the $400.00 hotel that is just a block away. I'm sure they still have rooms available. But, after thinking it over for a few minutes, we decide that, "ok, we'll only be here to sleep for a few hours, then back to Jersey". So, we begin to unpack our things in the "Cher" room. Remember, I told you it was a theme hotel? Cher would NOT have approved. Two walls and the ceiling painted with badly hand-done leopard spots and the other two walls are stainless steel panels. Hmmm, strange. There were two bath towels on a shelf, so I spread those out on the floor so we didn't have to walk on the nasty carpet. We weren't using the bathroom anyway, so we didn't need them. Oddly enough, the two bath towels covered the entire visible part of the floor. Yeah, we had rented a closet with a bed. Ok, again, we're just sleeping here for a few hours. We changed and left.
We went on about our business and took in more of the city.
We ended up meeting Bruce, then going to the theater to see "The Wedding Singer" and then out to a great little trendy restaurant called Vynl
. If you go, make sure to visit all of the restrooms. Very cool. I used the Elvis restroom and only got a glimps of the others. After our late dinner we headed to Therapy
. This was a blast. The show that night was a drag queen who's name we never did get. She was a Joan Rivers type who was a train wreck of an alcoholic and kept us laughing through her whole show. Not only was she hilariously funny, but she included segments with some scantily clad friends from the audience who were there simply as eye candy. yum!
Around 3 am, back to the hotel. Fortunatly we'd had enough drinks that going back to that room and falling asleep was not as big of a problem as we'd expected earlier when we had checked in sober.
You know, it's experiences like this that we all learn from and look back later and laugh about. Andrew and I started laughing as soon as we opened the door to that hotel room and haven't stopped laughing about it since. I'm actually glad we had that experience. It's something we will always remember as part of our trip to New York in 2006.
Damn, why didn't I get pictures?! :-)