I recently blogged about how ridiculously crazy the hotel rates are in Manhattan. I'm talking like $450/night for the Red Roof Inn-crazy. I'll stop myself here because I can feel my chest getting tight at the thought of my fruitless search for a weekend bargain.
When we were in NYC last weekend, we visited the Lower East Side when we went to the Tenement Museum. The Lower East Side ("LES") was extremely sketchy for probably the past 150 years. Super densely-packed, and generally the first-stop-neighborhood for the poorest immigrants to arrive in steerage through Ellis Island.
[Time Out: U.S. Fun Fact: Did you know that if you came across the Atlantic in 1st or 2nd class, you were admitted to the US no-questions-asked? It was only those passengers who arrived in "steerage" (think Leo DiCaprio in "Titanic") who had to get TB tests, physical and mental screenings, and all the other processing hoops associated with Ellis Island. Basically, money bought you free admission to the United States of America. The poor? They had to at least not be crazy or infirm. Otherwise, they got sent right back home!]
LES has stayed very dangerous and crowded and dirty from about 1810 until probably the past 10 years, when the outrageous real estate prices in Manhattan spurred gentrification of even the shabbiest areas (I'm massively generalizing here, but you get the idea).
So I was excited to see that there was a new, boutique hotel (a converted tenement house) on shabby/funky/chic little Orchard Street on the LES. With the faint hope that I had found my diamond-in-the-rough, new and still-undiscovered lodging spot, we popped in to the Blue Moon Hotel to check the rates, after taking the tour of the museum.
The lobby was gorgeous and funky- sort of a throwback to the 1920s- very authentic to the neighborhood, except that it was nice and not a flea bag hotel. Wait, maybe it is? read on.
We were greeted by a man in the lobby who, shall we say, matched the place. He must have been the owner because it was clearly 1926 when he woke up and got dressed- wearing one of those funky cabby/newsboy hats, turned to the side, and some unusual sort of corduroy vest and pants combo. Fashionable, but definitely eccentric. So we asked him about the rates for future reference.
So he is trying to sell the place to us, and he leads off with THIS gem/tidbit of marketing info: "The Blue Moon Hotel is CERTIFIED BED BUG FREE." And he points to a framed certificate on the wall- I'm not making this up- it was nicely framed and had a drawing of a nasty bed bug with a big red "zero/slash" around it. GNARLY.
Then the lady at the reception chimes in, and she starts bragging about how a real beagle dog came and did the sniff-inspection, and that was supposed to really impress us, to show us exactly how bed-bug-free this newly-opened hotel was.
Excuse me? I had never thought about bed bugs until they flagged the issue for me. Now I go online and google "New York City" and "bed bugs" and I find that this is apparently a huge issue. I even found a blog dedicated solely to NYC bed bug problems!
I have to stop because I don't even want to know any more about this topic. So back to the initial question, how much do I have to pay to stay in a bed-bug-free, converted tenement in a "transitional" part of the Lower East Side, a.k.a. "the Bargain District"?
FOUR HUNDRED FIFTY DOLLARS FOR THE CHEAPEST "PIED A TERRE" room, that's how much! The best room? Over A THOUSAND DOLLARS!
OK, OK, so the "pied a terre" room was actually spacious and very nicely appointed, and the $1,000 room was very big and downright homey, with a balcony and view, but PLEEZE! Again, who is paying $1,000 per night to stay in the 'hood?
Ugh. There go my hopes for a secret hotel "find" in the worst part of Manhattan!