This past weekend, I flew to Portland for my friend David's wedding. I love Portland, it is a fantastic city. But we had a lot of trouble finding a cheap room in a decent part of town. Finally, we settled on the Travelodge Portland City Center. It was my find, and my idea. And it was a terrible, terrible mistake.
These are my friends, and despite our wedding finery, we are salt-of-the-earth types. Sort of. Our needs are not great. At my own wedding, most of the fellas (myself included) stayed at the Pedras Blancas Motel. At my friend Jeff's recent wedding, we all stayed in side-by-side rooms at the charming-but-basic Sea Breeze Motel. And as to bona fides, I have stayed in hotels in Mexico with graffiti on the (interior) walls. Where hookers came and went. In Thailand, in Laos, in Nicaragua, in Vietnam, I've spent the night in places most Yankees might consider uninhabitable--rooms that smelled like the underside of a log. Rooms with used condoms on the floor. I have crushed scorpions in the night that were camped on my toilet seat. I have done battle with rats (and lost!) attempting to keep them away from my luggage. In short: I am not addicted to the Ritz Carlton. All we required were reasonably clean, quiet rooms. We did not get that.
Where to begin? Let's start with the listing on Orbitz, which shows the following amenities:
Now, I won't run through all of them. But let's begin with the safe, since it's listed first. It was locked when I arrived, in the open position. Yes, I could have gotten the hotel to deal with this, most likely, but instead I just used my friend Jeff's in-room safe to store my laptop and valuables when we left the hotel. No big deal. And then there's the Wireless Internet. That wasn't working. At all. Oh well, good thing I've got the 3G iPhone, right? But at least there's a fitness room! I needed that, and specifically looked for it, because I'm training for a half-Ironman, and it's coming up next weekend. Oh, wait. There's not actually a fitness room, you say? Rather, there is a YMCA within walking distance? Oh. Well, that's pretty different, isn't it? No tennis either? No golf? No spa either, huh? Oh, and you have to request the iron and ironing board. So what you're saying is that the amenities you've listed on Orbitz are really just theoretical. I see. There is, however, most definitely a bar/lounge. We will get to that later.
I guess a good place to begin describing the room is with the microwave oven--just because it was one of the first things I noticed when I walked into the room. Notice the hole in the door? That broken glass? While I'm not sure that it leaks radiation when you turn it on, I wasn't about to find out. But I thought it was funny that they hadn't bothered to fix it and/or remove it from the room. But I was just arriving, so I shrugged it off.
Next I flipped on the AC, because it was hot in Portland, and was pleasantly surprised to find that, instead of air conditioning, it bellowed out a plume of hot air. How novel!
My wife was the one who discovered the blood on the door of the bathroom. Whose blood? Why was it there? We can't say! We just liked to think that it was the scene of a horrible, horrible murder, which the hotel hadn't bothered to clean up afterwards because, really, who minds a little mystery blood? I mean, as long as it's not my blood, why would I be bothered by it?
The bloodstain wasn't too far from the imprint where the towel-holder-thingie had been ripped off of the door and not only not-replaced, but left exactly as is. Not painted over, sanded, cleaned up, or anything. I'm guessing this also happened during the murder.
This is a photo of the tissue paper jammed up against the shower rod. We don't know why or what for, but I explained to Harper that, far from indicating filth, it might be some sort of secret Jasper Johns project and we should just ignore it.
Now, our friends Steve and Kari had a room that turned out to be just above the Karaoke bar. The Karaoke bar rocks until about 2:30 in the morning, at which time all the drunks pile back up into the hotel and begin pounding on the doors until 4 am. Steve complained to the management about this a few times--since, you know, he had foolishly been hoping to sleep, and was told that they only rent his room and the one adjacent to it out when the hotel is full because the Karaoke bar is so loud. Let me repeat that: they know you can't sleep in the room, but they rent it anyway. They gave him half-off for the two nights he stayed there, which was nice considering that the second night, rather than try it again, he and Kari just drove straight from the reception in Portland back to Bend--a mere 3.5 hours away. But hey, fuck them for expecting to be able to sleep, right?
Now, I'm not going to go into all the other reasons that the hotel was awful--be they the hooligans in the parking lot, the filthy carpets or the gross sticky mystery goop that was all over the handles of our in-room furniture. Instead I'll just leave this anecdote from night two. As I attempted to close the heavy curtain, to block out the exceptionally bright light on the porch, it fell. It made a loud sound, like ZWOP!, and then came tumbling down to the floor, held in place by one lonely fastener. I could have called the front desk to fix this, but I had learned my lesson, and so just slept with it as is. Or tried to sleep, since it's hard to sleep when someone's shining an interrogation light in your face, which is what it felt like. In the morning, as I told management about it, hoping for, I don't know, something vaguely resembling customer service, I was told that, "yeah, they come unsnapped." Oh. Well. In that case. Thank you.