I attended the American Historical Association annual meeting this past weekend and my plan was to stay in town for at least two, probably three nights. Staying at the event site makes it a lot easier to network, and it's a whole lot less tiring.
This time, I thought I'd save a few bucks by staying at an adjacent hotel (Mistake #1)
The place was certainly ok, and the fact there was construction outside, and scaffolding all over the building didn't bother me. This is midtown. If you aren't hearing jackhammers you aren't actually here.
So in I checked.
Only to find out that my paid-in-advance hotel room (no refunds) was in a wing of nine floors served by two elevators.
One of which wasn't working.
Waits of 15-20 minutes were the norm. I was lucky to be on the ninth floor, I almost always got a spot in the elevator going down.
But dear god it was a pain.
And their in-hotel market was staffed by people who hated their job. I feel for them, I really do. But when you can't get a breakfast sandwich heated up, it's not a good start to the day.
(Fortunately I quickly found a good cafe nearby)
I wasn't sure about staying over for the Monday sessions, so I'd only reserved two nights, not three.
Saturday afternoon I checked the bulletin for Monday sessions and there were six I wanted to attend in the two available slots.
Well clearly I needed the third night.
And being a lazy sot, I figured I'd keep this room, even though the elevators were miserable.
So I went on hotels.com and found the hotel. The rate was surprisingly low. And honest to god, I thought it was cause people didn't want to deal with the elevator and had checked out ahead of schedule. (Mistake #2/Delusion #1)
I didn't realize I'd booked myself into a similarly named hotel at 111th and Central Park West until I actually read the confirming email. And yes, of course I'd prepaid. That's how you save money (Delusion #2.)
I dithered most of Sunday about whether to just go home and take the loss or tough it out.
By the end of the day, Saturday I was tired, I just wanted a shower, to sleep and hit the conference the next day. I knew I'd be dragging my suitcase around but oh well. (Mistake #3)
I flagged a cab and up CPW we went. Found the hotel, doorman was nice, $5 for hauling my suitcase in, and here we are. Lobby is clean enough.
Desk clerk tells me there will be an incidentals hold on my card in case I break something. I wondered what the hell he thought I'd be breaking in a hotel room that would run $75.
I wasn't planning on sitting on the ironing board or hanging on the chandelier.
Narrator: she's done both of those things in the past
And then when I get my room key there are instructions on how to use the shower. Now, I know you might be thinking they were just being kind -- after all, I DID need a shower at that point -- but no. These instructions are included as part of the check-in process for everyone.
So I go to the room. And friends, this is the room that inspired Catskills comedians to write the joke "the room was so small I had to step out to change my mind."
My dorm room at college was bigger. And not by inches.
But ok, small is ok.
Except I soon realize it could double as a sauna. And not cause it's small, it's the steam.
From the radiator.
The only window has an AC unit so of course it can't be opened.
I turn on the AC.
The radiator now thinks the room is a bit nippy and redoubles its steam output.
I turn the AC to high.
The radiator considers this a challenge.
I'm not sure which of us is going to run out of steam first.
As I mop my brow, I realize there is no desk, no chair. Literally no place to set up my laptop, or sit, to work unless it's on the bed.
Which doesn't have a mattress.
It has what I think is foam padding.
Or maybe a futon.
But NOT a mattress.
I sit on the bed. I mull my options. I sweat.
And then I realize, the freestanding closet, something Grandmama might call a chifforobe, has a GIANT mirror, easily six feet tall and two feet wide on the exterior side of the door.
Facing the "bed"
I open the door to the beast, and note the ironing board is so small you can only do collars and cuffs on it. And that's if you have a place to set it.
And when I step back, the door slooowly swings closed. There's no way to prop it open (no chair, remember?)
I realize this creates what will seem like a selfie movie. No escape. Watching myself sleep. Watching myself getting out of bed. Watching myself do anything before coffee or that (still much needed) shower.
And that friends, was too much.
I get on my laptop, throw financial prudence to the wind, book a room at the Midtown Hilton, where the conference is being held, and prepay for a room for one night (since I had not yet learned my lesson.)
Back to the lobby, check out.
Total stay: 17 minutes
No refund of course.
The desk clerk went to the room to make sure I hadn't broken anything, or maybe stolen that doll house ironing board. Or the chifforobe!
Another $5 to the doorman for hailing a cab.
And here I am now, at the midtown Hilton, where they promptly billed me AGAIN for the room cause the payment I made to hotels.com hadn't yet processed.
At least they didn't hand me directions on how to shower.
And of course, when I tote up the cost of this adventure I would have saved money by just booking the damn Hilton in the first place.
Have the travel gods had fun with you recently?