Friday, November 2, 2007

Who Appreciates This Stuff?

Click photos to enlarge
Phillippe Starck, blah blah blah, stylish, blah, cool. Lots of flash but where's the beef? Mr Minx and I stayed at the Hudson Hotel on our recent trip to NYC. It had two things going for it: the $250 room rate obtained by the "name your own price" dealie at; it was walking distance from Bergdorf Goodman, where we needed to be at 7:45 one morning. But that's about it. The place was so cool, there was no signage or canopy on the outside of the building; the only way one could tell it was a hotel was by the plethora of bellboys/attendants/whatever the PC name is these days for people who hail cabs and help with baggage are called standing outside.

Because our reserved-by-Priceline room wasn't ready when we checked in, we were given a +2 category upgrade. I laugh. The upgrade meant that we got a window alcove containing a tiny desk and brutally cold metal chair (it was in front of the noisy air conditioner). Our original room was likely this one, sans windows, sans closet door. You can't tell from the photo, but the bed is about 9" off the floor (no boxspring). At least it was fairly comfortable.

Here's the bathroom. Yeah, that photo is shot through the window in the bedroom. That's right...there's a pervert's paradise in every room, as the shower wall is actually a plate glass window. I suppose if the guests are supermodels, they don't mind watching each other shower in the truncated tub (or doing other things), but for us lumpy mere mortals, the curtains got closed post-haste.

Take a look at the sink. Stylish, no? And the shelves above the midget toilet - tres minimaliste! That means no place to comfortably put the cosmetic case while applying makeup. The "vanity" around the sink was large enough to hold my can of hairspray and the soap dish. That's it. I suppose one needs to be too gorgeous for beauty products to stay in this hotel comfortably. Speaking of beauty products, the hotel supplied the usual tiny bottles of conditioner, shampoo, etc., and the soaps came in cutesy little translucent plastic boxes that reminded me of audio cassette cases (for you youngsters out there, before there were CDs, old people bought music on primitive tape-filled plastic things called cassettes). Every day the maid would take the bottle of shampoo and the bar of soap OUT of the shower so I would have to find them and put them back in the next morning. AFTER I was already in the shower and realized that they had been moved.

There was a sign in the bathroom about preserving water and suggesting that we be good earthlings and hang our towels rather than have them laundered each day. Hang them where? There were two round metal discs protruding about 3/4" from the wall that were apparently "hooks," but they were not big enough to hold the weight of a wet bath towel. And one of them already bore a cloth bag containing a tiny hair dryer. Even if the hooks had been large enough to accomodate a towel, the towels would never dry in time to use the next morning. You see, the shower curtain on the open side of the tub was short (barely coming below the rim of the tub) and flimsy, and as soon as the hot water came on, it billowed around and stuck to whomever was attempting to shower. After a few seconds of wrestling with it (as well as the longer one on the window side), I tossed it over the edge, resulting in puddles of water on the floor. Thus the towels were called in to sop up the flood.

In addition to the delightful rooms, the hallways were gray, narrow, and depressing. The carpets were dark gray, as were the walls, ceiling, and doors, and the lighting could be called dim at best. The feeling was somewhat creepy and decidedly less than luxurious. The whole place, in fact, was dimly lit. The ugly lamps in the bedrooms gave off minimal light, and the backlit bathroom mirror was not conducive to proper makeup application. I felt like a mole.

To top it all off, on our last morning at the hotel, I found a bill tucked under our door. It was for a rollaway bed at $25 a night. Where on earth could one fit an extra bed in that space? It would be impossible. I think the confusion was due to an error on Priceline's part. When I made the reservation, I was told I had a room with a double bed, but if I wanted an upgrade, I needed to call the hotel. When I called the hotel, they said that since Priceline was the actual purchasing customer, they needed to call and request the changes. So I had to call Priceline and request that they send a fax to the hotel asking for an upgrade to a room with a queen bed. I spoke to three different people, only one of whom spoke English, and waited while the fax was sent. The hotel was again called the next day but they had no record of an upgrade request. The rollaway bed was undoubtedly a misinterpretation of "I want a bigger bed" to "I want another bed." The hotel removed the charges without question, however.

And that's really the best part about staying at the Hudson. The staff was unfailingly helpful. From the front desk clerk, Sultana, who gave us the upgrade, to the porters, who chatted with us while flagging down cabs and held our luggage for several hours after we checked out. The room was always clean when we got back from our wanderings around town, as well, unlike other hotels we've stayed in when the room still wasn't made up at 4pm.

Would I stay at the Hudson again? If it were free, sure. But if I have to pay for it, no way. I'm too old and unglamorous for the place and I'm sure I'm not the clientele they want.


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