Just an hour after a vocal run-in with a pimp at the Kew Motor Inn, my fellow reporter Rachel and I were already embarking on a new adventure: an investigation of La Semana Hotel in Manhattan’s Flatiron district. We still had rattled nerves, and unfortunately, the hotel we were about to visit promised to be even worse than the one before: It is widely known for housing drug addled mentally unstable (and occasionally violent) clientele.
A LOCKED ENTRANCE, DISCARDED MATTRESS, AND THE SMELL OF DECAYING MEAT
The fact that the hotel has a locked front entrance with a doorbell and front desk behind thick glass did nothing to put us at ease. Somewhat unsurprisingly, the bizarre fixation with plastic flowers that we had seen at the Kew Motor Inn was also felt here in the lobby and facade of the building. We paid for our room and were given a key with Mario on it, promoting a family-friendly visit to Nintendo World in Midtown. It was a bizarre choice of advertising to say the least.
We had just started towards our room when we immediately noticed a queen-sized mattress practically blocking the hallway. It was when we stopped to find a path around it that the smell hit us. It’s hard to describe, but it was somewhere along the lines of an old swimming pool, overused tanning salon, moldy locker room, dirty microwave, and most terrifyingly, decaying meat. My fellow reporter Rachel’s face immediately squished up. “Zach,” she said, hear eyes tearing up from the stench, “I don’t know whether I should be afraid or if I should throw up.”
BARRED WINDOWS AND HEALTH HAZARDS
Upon opening the door to our room, we felt even less safe than we did during check-in. We were on the ground floor, and the only window overlooked an alley and was covered with bars and barbwire. The stained furniture looked like old garage sale patio furnishings. Light switches weren’t conveniently located, leading to a brief struggle to get situated in an already offsetting space. The room’s only phone, an outdated corded unit, was strangely tucked in an inconvenient spot near the makeshift closet. The exposed cord lazily ran up the wall until it reached a small hole in the ceiling tile.
It was when we followed the telephone cord up the wall when we first noticed the air conditioner. There’s dirty, and then there’s downright filthy: This unit looked worse than an overworked lint trap, jammed full of dust, dirt, and stained by an unknown liquid. The dirt and grime-caked TV remote was the only thing disgusting enough to give the air conditioner a run for its money.
Besides the downright gross, the room had plenty of bizarre traits and features. Our room sported almost as many broken or dented ceiling tiles as intact ones. My fellow reporter Rachel and I figured that this may have something to do with the ceilings being around six feet high, making them an easy head injury hazard for tall people…Or simply an easy target for drunk, angry people. Rachel and I couldn’t think of any use for the slim space at the head of the bed except maybe as a last ditch hiding place from someone trying to break into your room. The disgusting air conditioner wouldn’t turn on until we realized that a switch up near the ceiling on the other side of the room controlled power to the unit. The badly pockmarked stucco also showed that the curtain rod had been pulled from the wall no less than five times.
THE LEAST ROMANTIC BED IN THE WORLD
The bed was the complete opposite of the setup at the Kew Motor Inn, and somehow managed to be even more frightening. No four-poster bed with outdated bedspread and wooden headboard here: It was a simple full mattress with scratchy sheets, cheap metal headboard, no comforter, and less charm than a hospital bed. I was relieved I didn’t have to lie down on it to take a picture of an overhead mirror, as I had at Kew Motor.
THE BATHROOM: NO DOORS, PUBIC HAIRS, AND LOTS OF GRIME
We quickly moved passed the bed to the bathroom, which has all the charm of a Texaco rest stop along I-95. In a very strange take on modern design, there is no door or privacy barrier of any kind between the room and the shower and toilet: Bathers are fully exposed while using the facilities. Toilet paper dispensers are the massive public bathroom kind with large wheels of single ply paper. The top of the toilet tank had been dropped, breaking off a large corner of the porcelain. Towels were basically large format cheap dishtowels with the abrasiveness of steel wool.
It was the shower, though, easily stood out as the dirtiest we had seen in our day long tour of sex hotels: Grime, mildew, soap stains, and stray pubic hairs lined the stall. The tiny, cheap showerhead had mold and stains. At 5’11″, I was barely able to stand up straight inside of the stall. Not that I would want to…
Between the low ceiling, filthy air conditioner, grimy TV remote, second-hand furniture, exposed wires, broken ceiling tiles, practically bare mattresses, nasty bathroom, dangerous ambiance, and stinky hallway, this hotel is the Freddy Krueger of hotel nightmares. Rachel and I made a bee-line for the exit as soon as we left our room, partly afraid we would run into a deranged customer, and partly trying to avoid the noxious odor cloud in the hallway. It was only a few wide-eyed paces out the front door before Rachel and I both breathed audible sighs of relief.
I’ve never wanted a shower more.