New York on my mind.

It’s been ten years since we last visited New York City and not a day goes by I’m not acutely aware of that sad truth.

My wife and I had plans to follow up 2008’s Chicago trip with just the two of us in returning to New York.  But when you want to make God laugh make plans.  Both circumstances and college tuition conspired to make that idea a non-starter. 

We’ve been to New York at least four or five times over the years and it is our favorite city.  The first visit was via a Greyhound bus.  Whoever said “leave the driving to us” has some harsh words coming from me.  That was a freaking nightmare. As soon as we got to our hotel Vanessa was back at the Port Authority to cash in our bus tickets and we flew back.    Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want.   We got experienced. 

Unless you know someone and have a place to crash, you’ve got to find someplace to stay and hotels in Manhattan are not cheap. 

Usually, but not always.   Our favorite place is The Edison Hotel (or Hotel Edison) where we’ve stayed probably three times.    

The other night I was The Godfather on DVD and the hotel lobby Luca Brazzi walks through before he sleeps with the fishes is the Edison Hotel. 

I’m not going to pretend that the Edison is the most fabulous  hotel in New York City.  Far from it.  It’s old (built in 1931) and the rooms aren’t the largest or the most plush, but it’s got two things going for it.  First, it’s a within easy walking distance of the heart of Times Square and second, it’s a great value.    I don’t need to name drop the name of some five-star hotel (with a five star price).   Gimme a clean place to sleep with a reasonably polite and professional staff and I’m good to go.

The Edison Hotel (or is it the Hotel Edison?)

The Edison Hotel (or is it the Hotel Edison?)

We learned the hard way when we go to NYC, we absolutely must stay at The Edison.   The first time we didn’t we stay at a dump called the Portland Square.   I’ve had closets that were roomier and more inviting that this shithole.   Happily, I’ve consumed enough alcohol since then to forget most of the unhappy details about the joint.   There is no forgetting though the “bed” (that’s what they called it) had a mattress that must have been lined with rocks. 

The only thing this hotel from hell has going in its favor is it’s just a block away from Times Square.   That’s great because any excuse to get out of the cracker boxes they call rooms is a good one.   I found myself having to walk around 42nd Street (during it’s pre-Giuliani sanitized days when it was still sleazy, skanky and slightly risky) at 3:00 in the morning just to make myself tired enough to go back and attempt to sleep.  

I got curious enough to Google the Portland Square to see if  had been torn down as a health hazard or at least to reduced urban blight, but nope, it’s still there and still ruining vacations.

Okay.. i couldn’t wait to get home and write a review for this Hotel. I stayed there March 31st 2009 to April 1st !!!! This is the wost “budget” hotel ive stayed in thus far. Yes the outside to the lobby looks great !! not soo much !! The room was super small, had pipes exposed , paint peeling, rusty, no heat, i was freezinggg , i had to sleep in extra clothing and wrap up tight in the covers, which were infested with bugs ! as soon as i layed down i started to itch really bad, i mean from my head to my toes, even my hair. After only 2 minutes i got up, lifted my shirt up and looked in the mirror, my back and arms were covered with red bumps and i was itching soo soo bad !!! As i was laying down i could literally feel bugs crawling up my skin ! it was horrible ! I am back home , and i am still itching like crazyy !!! The bathrooms were dirty and smelly also !! I could go on forever about the bad things on this hotel, but i dont have the time. The only thing i LOVED about the hotel was the location, i took a few steps out of the hotel and i was in the mist of beautiful Times Square!!! oh and the staff were nice and helpful!

Wow…not only does the hall smell of formaldehyde, the elevator worked going up but broke on the way down. I stayed all of five minutes which was just enough time for them to bill my card. Mind you it has been over 2 weeks and they have still not credited back the pending transactions on my account. As much as I loved the pictures of the hotel on the site, I do not know which hotel they were photographing, not theirs. The elevator is claustrophobic hell about four feet wide. The walls and tub were dirty, I felt I would be murdered in my sleep. DO NOT STAY for a reason.

I was entertained by one night in this terrible, terrible hotel. Having prepaid for the room, I decided I should stay. At least now I’ve good stories about that night.

Among the various happenings: (1) keys given for the wrong room (imagine the naked man’s surprise to having me fling open his door, and, yes, his room was nicer than the one I ultimately received); (2) a room only slighter larger than my “standard double” bed; (3) bed sheets apparently holding previous guests’ evenings of yellowish and brown “fun”; (4) two pieces of sort-of furniture from which most of the laminate covering had been removed;( 5) carpet with spots of unknown origin and hairs of unknown species; (6) a bathroom featuring alternating spits of brown chilled and boiling water in the shower; (7) a nice assortment of others’ public hair on the “nightstand”; (8) trash in the hallway; (9) no lights in the hallway (so the trash becomes less a problem); and a smell best described as a combination of a portable outhouse, ashtray, and Renuzit.

William Gibson and Eli Roth were obviously inspired by stays at the Portland Square Hotel. But for those not seeking inspiration—and who wish to avoid bed critters and waste from other humans—spend your $250+ a night elsewhere.

Okay,  you get the idea.  The Portland Square is a place where Norman Bates would feel right at home.   If  President Obama is really stuck for a place to put the detainees after he closes Guatanemo, I’d recommend the Portland Square.  After a few nights there, they’ll be begging to go back or be waterboarded. 

Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.

Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.

 As the saying goes, I love New York, but you have to do your homework before you choose a place to lay your head.