Friday, 25 June 2010

That being said, there's one thing I can't complain about...

...And that, my little pork pies, is accommodation.

Having been forewarned that hostels weren't amazing or more importantly, present at all in certain parts of the US, dorm rooms have been ditched in favour of hotels. And I've got to say, at around $50 a night, these humble little abodes have been nothing short of impressive.

See, I'm from London. If you pay $50 (that's just over £30) for a hotel within chucking distance of the city centre round there, you're probably going to end up peeing in a bucket and paying for your keep in sexual favours. Things were also different in Australia and New Zealand, where £30 would get you nothing more than two beds pushed together in something resembling a cell.

Out here in the good ol' US of A, we're sleeping like Super Kings. Literally. Apart from Vegas (which at £100 a night for a suite, complete with ridiculously large including a living room complete with chaise lounge, two TVs and - for some reason - two doors leading into an insanely large spa bathroom), we haven't paid more than $58 a night for a room. And generally, close proximity to the city, flat screen TVs, super king size beds, free wifi and a fully stocked en-suite bathroom has been the norm. It's fantastic.

It's a bad habit to get into, but sometimes I just can't resist a little pre-booking check of every hotel's nemesis, TripAdvisor. If you're not familiar, the TripAdvisor website is a bit like putting your accommodation choice up for discussion in a room full of neurotic OCD sufferers. If every review unanimously sings the hotel's praises, it's safe to say you're onto a winner. Simiarly, any that are wholly denounced by the masses are likely to be a no-go. What you don't need to pay too much attention to reviews along the lines of "Oh, it was alright, but there were cracks in the ceiling, my flight was delayed then my grandmother died while we were away, so I didn't have a very nice stay. 1/10", of which there are many. Because let's be honest, reading a rant might be entertaining, but realistically a crack in the wallpaper probably looks worse written down than it does in the room. So breathe and let it go, folks.

Or, just take my word for it. If you're ever in downtown Los Angeles, I can recommend Stay (although the website is awful). Those venturing to San Francisco, check out the Casa Loma Hotel. For Phoenix, I demand you look no further than The Clarendon with it's adjoining Mexican style restuarant, hands down the best of the lot. Even the pool had stars lit up on the bottom, for gods sake.

And with the Big Apple looming for the 20th of July, if someone can help me see through the absolutely baffling array of hotels in New York, I'm open to your suggestions of where to sleep. Nothing fancy, as long as it's clean, near a metro or something, and has space for my shopping bags and the Boy's lengthy legs.

Anyway, next stop, New Orleans, via the relative comfort of a Continental flight. Ahh, no Greyhound. Luxury.


The Unbearable Banishment said...

I will poke around a bit for a hotel but I have to warn you; this is an expensive, dirty (albeit, vibrant) city. You'd best adjust your expectations accordingly. $58/night will only get you knifed in your sleep.

jman said...

You might wish to try Priceline and bid on a hotel - you can choose the area and caliber of hotel but not the hotel itself. The worst that happens is you get turned down because you bid too little. However, as TUB says, $58 per night is not getting you anything in or close to Manhattan other than sleeping al fresco or on the subway. How long will you be here? There is an International Youth Hostel on the Upper West Side (about 100th St on Amsterdam) where you might find something pretty reasonable but where your length of stay will be prescribed.

Anonymous said...

I am unbearably jealous

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

Unbearable - Thank you! Don't worry, we're upping the budget for New York. I wasn't expecting anywhere for $50!

jman - We'll be in NY for about 5 days. We're going to be looking for a hotel, I just need to know what area to bid on on that priceline thing (or where I can reasonably ask my parents to pay for while we're there as a treat, haha)

miss - Ohhhh, but you have a house! I'm jealous of that!

James said...

Priceline is great for big cities. There're plenty of discussion boards also to help you figure out good locations and ballpark prices to bid at.

A good tactic is to figure out a few areas you'd be happy with, and just start your bidding with one of those. Priceline forces you to either increase price, change/add locations or decrease star-rating of the hotel if a bid fails, so if you have more potential locations to tack on it gives you a few more lives. Also good is to add on locations where you're sure e.g. a five-star hotel doesn't exist.

Hope New Orleans is fun (I'm sure it is).

Huw said...

Do not stay at the Morningside Inn on West and 107th Street; the manager threatened my friend a couple of years back, who diagnosed him as a paranoid schizophrenic after the event.

The reviews on TripAdvisor from around that time gives a fairly good idea...

Ellie said...

NYC is a bit more like London than the rest of your pitstops!

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

James - Yeah we're just checking out priceline now, and thanks for the advice on bidding. The only thing that puts me off is that you have to pay the whole lot (inc fees) up front. Given that you don't even know what hotel you're paying for, it seems a bit precarious.

Huw - Those reviews are more than enough to put me off. That kind of thing is where TripAdvisor comes into it's own!

Ellie - A good way to re-initiate myself into city life then.


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