5 Signs of a Crappy Motel They Never Show in the Pictures
It's a basic fact of life that from time to time, a little redoing is in order. It's true for people, places, things, and Kenny Rogers' face alike. I encountered a recent redo that, at least initially, seemed to be quite impressive. Have a gander at this:
Are you from the future, motel room?
That's the image I was presented with recently when looking for an inexpensive-but-not-in-a-terrifying-way motel to shack up at while visiting Indianapolis for a night. For lack of a better term, that room looks fresh to death. Actually, there are a lot of terms that would be more appropriate. I'm just saying, shit looks nice. I've paid strong money for rooms that didn't look much different. For example:
Are you married to Prince, hotel room?
The only real difference between those two rooms, at least on the surface, is that when you walk out the door of one, you're in New York City, and when you walk out the door of the other, you're in Indianapolis. There's a huge dropoff in just about everything except time zone when you make that kind of switch, but other than that, it would seem that there isn't a whole lot different happening between the two. To that, I say, "Don't believe everything you see on the Internet."
Here are five mistakes to avoid when trying to fancy up a shitty motel.
Leaving Behind Signs of Your Past
I knew this room was trouble as soon as I walked in and noticed what's shown in the above picture. I've only seen that kind of sitting area in one other place. In fact, I have a picture of the last one I stumbled upon:
It's so dark.
That image is from my second column for Cracked, the timeless classic "7 Charming Amenities of the World's Grossest Motel Room." I never mentioned the name of the motel in question in that article, but now I must. I've only seen that kind of "sitting area" in one place, and that would be, of course, at a Microtel.
That's where I was staying when I wrote that first article. I'm not sure how familiar the rest of the audience is with staying at a Microtel, but if you are, then you know doing so says two things about me: I'm poor and I'm not above using the shower to iron my clothes.
What I'm getting at is that there aren't a lot of amenities at a Microtel. Like housekeeping, for example. I don't think they have that. I'm pretty sure they just send a crew in to make the bed, spray some Febreeze, and scope out shit to steal. Again, in reference to my previous column, I base this opinion on the fact that, during my first stay at a Microtel, there was a pubic hair stuck to the frame of the bathroom door for the entirety of the trip.
Hello, old friend.
When I was at my saddest (which is literally any time I'm inside a Microtel), I liked to imagine that hair valiantly fighting off every housekeeping attempt to remove it, because it knows that no man should be alone at a Microtel.
Nor should any man have to be, because if that place has any slogan at all, it should be: "Microtel: It's where the hookers live."
It's got a ring, you must admit.
I say that because, for most of my stay, there was a prostitute working across the hall from me. Or at least I assumed she was a prostitute based on the steady stream of male visitors to her room and the way she let me pay her $25 to watch me jerk off in the shower while crying. A lady would have done that for free.
To their credit, they did offer a "continental breakfast" at the Microtel I stayed at, but I was never able to ascertain exactly what continent it was supposed to be from. I mean, they had powdered milk. I thought you had to be on government assistance of some sort to even get powdered milk. That's the kind of shit relief agencies feed disaster victims, which is exactly what you are if you're staying at a Microtel, so I guess I get that part after all.
A slightly less controversial option.
Anyway, in spite of what that fancy Internet picture led me to believe, for all intents and purposes, I was back at that very same terrifying Microtel, except, you know, it's way more orange. Those pictures I looked at online did a great job of fooling me into believing that this place might be some kind of oasis of hip in the middle of the oasis of shit that is Indiana, but I was wrong. The clues that prove my hypothesis were everywhere. Let's look at a few more.
Storing Debris in Common Areas
Alright, there's a pretty big mistake on display in the above photo. Take a second to see if you can spot it before I tell you. We'll make a game of it, it'll be great. Go!
Did you say, "Why in the fuck am I looking at a post-apocalypse air conditioner right now"? Good, because that's exactly what I said when I entered the stairwell of this "newly remodeled" nightmare. Which stairwell? Every stairwell. There were only two, and they both featured similar piles of spent cooling system trash, proudly displayed for all to see like a ruffly Prince shirt at the Minneapolis Hard Rock Cafe.
"Hey, just take the elevator if you have a problem with refuse in stairwells, buddy!" Is that the stance you find yourself taking right now? If so, for one thing, unless you own this place, I don't get why you're so upset with me. Beyond that, your advice wouldn't have solved my problem. Here's a shot of the elevator area:
It looks like al-Qaida's hostage video studio.
If you're in the process of remodeling a shitty motel yourself and are unsure why this is a problem, I'll give a few reasons. For one, pick that shit up; people pay money to stay at this place. Beyond that, there are no other reasons. Just pick that shit up.
Not Paying Attention to the Little Things
If you're going to convince people that your shitty motel isn't a shitty motel anymore, you have to hide the shitty motel amenities in the proverbial shitty motel closet. I say "proverbial" because, of course, this room didn't have a closet. That's why, I'm assuming, this jaw-droppingly impractical tangle of mahogany laminate and plastic hangers (with additional wire hanger, for guests with unruly children, no doubt) is needed at all. Here's the thing, though: When was the last time you saw plastic hangers in a three- or four-star hotel? Never. They are made of wood and if you try to steal them an alarm would probably go off.
Worth more than your house. Or at least more than the plastic hangers in your house.
You know what else you rarely see in a fancy hotel? A built-in bottle opener in the bathroom.
Get hammered like the '70s!
You barely see those anywhere anymore, much less in a "nice" hotel room. So, you know, take those down if you want the public to think your remodel took, shitty motel purveyors of the world. Also, this probably isn't the best idea, either:
Wrapped in plastic, just like grandma's couch.
Just as I've explained to every dipshit I know who leaves the protective film coating on their flat screen TVs and various other electronic gadgets, the scratches would look way better. Leaving the plastic wrap on anything that's not collectible makes you look like a crazy person, and "motel run by a crazy person" is a terrifyingly common movie premise. That's a great way to put your customers on edge.
And if for some reason you're already on edge when you check in, this place has something for you, too ...
Installing a Suicide Window
If you're confused as to what you're seeing in the above photo, it's my super-masculine arm passing judgment on the fact that this motel room has a suicide window.
If you're up high enough, a lot of hotels don't even let you open the window at all. A strange and lonely room is probably a great place to fill out the necessary paperwork in privacy before hurling yourself onto the unforgiving but ultimately problem-solving sidewalk below. The Ws and Doubletrees of the world don't want that kind of drama at all.
They also don't trust you to not smoke. Hotels are a great place to take up filthy habits. In those places that do let you open a window, though, you're at least given a protective layer of screen to keep the bugs out and, again, to discourage suicide attempts.
Here's another look at that shitty motel room window:
Now with even more breathtaking view!
There's not a single thing to discourage a person who may be sad enough to just leap right the hell out of that window. And do you know who's sad enough to jump out the window of a shitty motel room? Every single person staying in a shitty motel. Even if you weren't depressed when you got there, you are once you arrive.
Even more troublesome is the fact that this window is situated inside the aforementioned sitting area that let me know I'd been catfished by a picture of a "fancy" motel room in the first place.
The universal symbol for "stay somewhere else."
There are at least eight different ways a setup like that could go terribly wrong. If you're staying in this room, though, in all honesty, things probably went terribly wrong a long time ago, and that brings me to the last point.
Trying to Improve at All
Here's the thing -- all of this fancying-up is unnecessary. There's not a single person on this planet who checks into a $50 motel room expecting to be blown away by the experience. Blown during the experience, sure, but a cheap motel is not the place to expect awesome otherwise. Things like "hardwood floors" are not the domain of the Motel 6s and Super 8s of the world. That's like Domino's branching out into steak and lobster. It might be on the menu and look delicious in the commercials, but if you're paying $8.99 for it, you know they're going to fuck it up somehow.
So while you may initially be surprised to see a hardwood floor at a cheap motel when researching your lodging options online, you should be way less surprised when you get there and realize that "hardwood floor" is basically a series of well-placed stickers that happen to have a wood-like pattern on them.
Stuff like this should be avoided also:
This meaning what, exactly?
That's the absurd art deco towel rack that was hung in the otherwise very cheap motel-like bathroom, and it's exactly the kind of shit I don't need in a place like that. For one thing, it looks like I should be reaching into one of those holes to pull out the folded piece of paper that tells me what denomination of bill Bob Barker is going to make me creepily remove from his pocket as if he doesn't have hands and didn't die far too long ago for that joke to work. (Author's note: Turns out Bob Barker is still alive. That said, he'll always be dead to me, so the joke stays.)
The real problem, though, is that it does nothing to alleviate the traditional shortcomings that are inherent to every shitty motel. Yes, the towel rack is quirky, but what good is quirkiness if you still feel the ever-present threat of strong arm robbery when you visit the lobby late at night? Skip the fancy towel racks and put a vending machine on every floor so I don't have to take those kinds of risks, shitty motels of America.