I spend a large amount of time living out of hotels. I never really write about this aspect of travel because it’s really rather fluid and what one person might value in a hotel, might not be something I consider important (i.e. cost vs location vs a kitchenette).
However, after staying in Hollywood for a while, I’ve discovered that many of the sites out there recommending Hollywood Hotels lie. They show photos that don’t represent the hotel, their descriptions are misleading, many are artificially oversold to create demand, some “reviews” are deliberately negative to ruin a hotel’s reputation.
I’m working with an entire team of people who are in Hollywood and staying in a variety of hotels from week to week. Why not share these learnings.
But before I begin, I should explain something… I put up with a lot of shit when I am on the road, but there are three deadly sins when it comes to hotels for me; and, when I say deadly sins I mean: walk away and never come back.
1. Bedbugs. It’s no secret to anyone that one encounter with bed bugs will wreck your life. And as a frequent traveller, I am at a higher risk of exposure. This dominated my project experiences in both New York and Vancouver.
2. Finding someone else’s stuff when I first enter a room. Not only does this say lack of security, but it also screams complete disorganization because it means either the room turnaround didn’t happen or the hotel has no idea who has checked in/out at any point in time. For my own mental health and physical safety, I don’t want to stay in a hotel where mistakes like this happen.
3. Losing a reservation and recovering from the mistake poorly. Nothing is more frightening than arriving at a hotel and having your reservation missing. I understand that this happens from time to time because of computer glitches but the “recover poorly” part is the real kicker for me. If a hotel leaves me stranded in a strange city, I will never stay there again. Most hotel brands have a procedure to handle these situations; that involves finding you an alternate hotel, paying for one night at that hotel, and finding transportation for you to get there (which they also pay for).
Ok, let’s talk about hotels in Hollywood. It’s tricky to find long term stay hotels in Hollywood. The area caters to short-term, high turnaround guests only. This is not a post about Airbnb or long stay options.
Considered a “luxury” hotel, it is attached to the Highland/Hollywood Shopping centre and within stumbling distance of most Hollywood attractions and restaurants.
This is also a brand hotel. They have a basic loyalty plan that includes access to high-speed internet, the spa/gym, and guaranteed reservation perks after a certain number of stays. I will point out, however, that after staying here long enough to reach their highest level of status, my co-workers and I never saw the “guaranteed” reservations benefit and were often left looking for alternate hotels periodically.
This hotel is on my “shitlist” because they broke the #3 deadly sin… twice. I arrived at the hotel one night at 1am and did not honour my reservation. At first, I suspected that it may have been because it was 1am and that they had “perhaps” given my room away to someone else.
However, during my discussion with the check-in staff, I discovered that they also lost my reservation for the week after and it didn’t matter that I had a confirmation number and email proving my stay. And, instead of recovering gracefully and help me find another hotel, they gave me a piece of paper listing all the dodgy hotels in the area and quietly disappeared.
The Roosevelt screams history. I found staying here a bit like exploring Alice’s rabbit hole: just when I think I’d discovered everything, I’d find some new nook or cranny that would take me on a new journey. For example, when I first started staying at the Roosevelt, I thought there were only 3 food/drink gathering places in the hotel. I just recently discovered that there are actually 7 — and 4 restaurants/bars are hidden to everyone but those who “know” where they are.
Because of its location and history, the hotel attracts a fair number of unwanted characteristics. The old elevator is loud and creaky, tourists and event attendees are loud drunks, non-guests wander the building looking to uncover its secrets. I once got into the elevator with a homeless person who was moving from floor to floor to “see if it looked the same on the inside as it does on the outside.”
There are always trucks backing in and out of the parking lot at all hours of the night, which is what constantly destroyed the hotel experience for me. That and the internet in the building is complete crap, which is frustrating because the hotel rate is over $200 a night.
Finally, if you Google “Roosevelt Hotel” you’ll find plenty of sites saying that this is one of the most haunted places in the world (just like every other haunted place). But, my inner Irish ghost divining rod hasn’t experienced anything. In fact, the brand new Marriott hotel that I stayed in while in San Francisco was far scarier than this place (I’m 98% sure that someone died in my longterm suite in Sunnyvale).
Holiday Inn and Suites
Old, odd, but cute. This place has the feel of an old European hotel that has been converted from an apartment building, complete with strange characteristics like having to take one elevator to a mid-level floor, and take another to a higher floor. There are a bunch of little things that I would find annoying if I were to stay long term: e.g light-blocking curtains don’t fully close, it’s a treasure hunt to find ice, and the climate control systems are ancient and behave illogically.
But, for short stays, I don’t mind staying here. It’s quiet, it’s certainly cost-effective, it’s full of European tourists, and one of my favourite sushi places is across the street. It reminds me of hotels in Spain.
The drawback to this particular place is there’s a short walk beside a deserted and overgrown lot and an overgrown lot generally equates to a gathering place for the homeless, drug addicts, and those who prey on them. I never felt scared or endangered while walking to the hotel and I feel compelled to point out that walking on Hollywood Boulevard is way worse because the people who frequent the strip are there to prey on tourists. There is so much traffic that flows up and down Highland that there’s always people around.
Quality Inn and Suites
From my team, the number one thing that people comment on about this hotel is that the rooms smell like stinky feet.
It’s dark, dingy, and the kind of hotel where a good sleep sheet with a hood is required. A sleep sheet is a bed sheet that you’ve folded lengthwise and sewn together to act like a thin sleeping bag. You sleep inside a sleep sheet when you don’t want to touch anything around you when you are sleeping.
This hotel is fine for a night or two but doesn’t lend itself to repeat patronage or an entire vacation. If cost is a concern and you’re looking for a decent barebones hotel, head over to the Holiday Inn or the Hilton Garden Inn on Highland.
Hilton Garden Inn
Many people I work with have ended up in this hotel when Loews isn’t honouring their “guaranteed reservation” policy. It’s cute, barebones, and decent enough that people keep going back. The photos of rooms on the website aren’t entirely accurate; they are smaller and more barebones than you are led to believe.
One thing to note about this hotel, ask for the “quiet side” of the building because Highland can get fairly noisy. Also, the same walk that you do to get to the Holiday Inn (past an abandoned lot) is true for this hotel because it is next to the Holiday Inn.