Stunning Cockroaches. Dodgy brown stains. When we got to the room, all I could do was cry. Moldy swamp pit. Dried boogers on the wall. Cheap porn set. We met mice in the corridor. Smelled like murder and hookers. I thought we were going to be raped or murdered.
These are excerpts from user generated Trip Advisor reviews of five of New York’s most maligned hotels and hostels, the New World Hotel, ranked the 393rd “best” hotel on the site, Hotel Riverside Studios, ranked #395, La Semana Hotel, ranked #400, the Sun Bright Hotel, ranked #403, and the West Side Inn, ranked #405. Another poorly rated hotel in Trip Advisor, the Aladdin, has actually been converted into a homeless shelter.
There are literally hundreds of scathing reviews for these grim hotels but in order to find them, travelers need to click through fourteen pages of higher rated hotels on the site. Travel publications devote a huge amount of space to celebrating the world’s best hotels, but virtually none to condemning the worst ones, so it’s easy to see how inexperienced travelers could be disappointed in New York, America’s most expensive city, where $100 a night doesn’t buy much.
I’ve spent a good deal of time traveling on a budget in the developing world and consider myself to be something of a cheap hotel aficionado. I’ve stayed in hotels frequented by drunks, prostitutes and outright criminals, places with no running water, pit toilets with no doors, filthy mattresses tossed on the floor- places squalid enough to occasionally inhabit my nightmares to this day. But I haven’t stayed in any of these hotels, so please note that these reflections are those of travelers writing on Trip Advisor. And even the worst reviewed places have some defenders. But not many. Per the Trip Advisor ratings, here are the worst among the worst:Hotel Riverside Studios (pictured above) – The hotel web site boasts that the place has a “European flavor,” and “charming rooms that have recently been upgraded,” but it has some 168 1-star (“terrible”) reviews on Trip Advisor, which make the place sound anything but charming. One reviewer described the shared bathroom as having, “pubic hair everywhere, feces on the floor, and a sign on the door reading: ‘If you don’t like the dirty bathroom CLEAN IT YOURSELF!'” One writer mentioned “dirty hallways that were like a horror movie,” while another said they cried upon entering the room and concluded that one would be “better off sleeping on the street.” The hotel’s site also claims that they offer travelers the chance to “mingle with true New Yorkers,” but according to the reviews, the “true” New Yorkers are actually homeless persons using the hotel as a shelter.
La Semana Hotel (right) – This hotel advertises “state of the art” “deluxe rooms” for “people on the go,” but customers described a hotel they wanted to flee immediately after checking in. Two noted that the front desk clerk seemed to be ostentatiously surfing porn at the front desk, and another posted that they thought they may have bumped into a murder witness in the lobby. One traveler described floor-to-ceiling mirrors that were reminiscent of a “cheap porn set.”
West Side Inn (middle right) – This “tourist/student class hotel” advertises itself as a “hip and trendy” place to stay, but of 263 reviews on Trip Advisor, 153 rated it as “terrible.” Reviewers described this budget hotel/hostel as a “moldy swamp pit,” with “feces-stained toilets,” hungry bedbugs and “used condoms on the shared bathroom floor.” One concluded that it was like a “crack house from out of the movies,” another opined that one should “tell your worst enemy to stay at the West Side Inn.” Another traveler titled their review “Welcome to Hell.”
New World Hotel (bottom right) This place has private rooms for as little as $55 but many considered it overpriced even at that low rate. A traveler from Philadelphia, who wrote that they booked this place through hotels.com, wrote that they tried to trade in a pillow with blood stains, but were given another bloody pillow. A Romanian reviewer said that the hotel was even worse than what they experienced during the Communist era in Romania, and concluded that a homeless shelter would have been more comfortable. Others described “watermelon sized bedbugs,” garbage strewn windowsills, and “horrifying” rooms with “box springs as beds.”
Sun Bright Hotel – This budget hotel, which offers private and dorm style rooms ranging from $33-90, has 68 reviews on Trip Advisor- 31 gave it 1 star, 16 gave it 2 and zero gave it 5. One poster referred to the place as a “prison camp” and concluded that they should “not let animals stay there,” but still gave the place 2 stars. Another traveler described the dorm rooms as a “chicken coop” with chicken wire separating the rooms and “infested” with cockroaches. An Australian traveler described the conditions as “subhuman” and stinking of urine. Several others noted that there were no ceilings- only chicken wire and one traveler from New York titled her review “Uninhabitable, Unsanitary, Unbearable.”
Caveat emptor. You get what you pay for. Sometimes less. Especially in New York.
[all photos courtesy Trip Advisor]