Sunday, May 19, 2013

Hotel Hell - Adventures in Traveling

In a scene from my latest thriller, PARALLAX VIEW, my main characters, Tracie Tanner and Shane Rowley, spend a night holed up in a fleabag hotel in New Haven, Connecticut, while they try to figure out why the hell a group of assassins are trying to kill them.

In a case of life imitating art, my wife and I spent this past weekend in a fleabag hotel just outside New Haven while we attended my daughter's graduation weekend at Quinnipiac University.

Admittedly, no one was trying to kill us. As far as I know.

And we didn't do it intentionally; we had no desire to spend two nights in the New Haven Arms, which is the name of the fictional hotel where Tracie and Shane spend one memorable night. In fact, we booked a room at a nationally franchised place, which would lead you to believe (at least it did us) that the place would probably at least measure up to some minimal standard.

You would be wrong. This place was almost comically bad.

We had asked for a cot to be put in the room in case we needed it for our son. No cot. It turned out we didn't need it, but unless the hotel staff possesses an impressive mind-reading ability, I'm assuming they would have no way of knowing that.

There were virtually no electrical outlets. After a hunt of which Sherlock Holmes would be proud, we found an outlet hidden behind the TV stand, into which one of those expanded outlet things had been plugged. Unfortunately, it already had a bunch of stuff stuck into it. We found another outlet cleverly hidden behind one of the beds. And that was it, with the exception of the outlet in the bathroom.

The towel racks were tilted. Literally. I'll bet one of them was nearly an inch off-level, which may not sound like much, to a marginally-OCD jackass like myself it might as well have been ninety degrees off. Honestly, these towel racks looked as though they had been installed by a drunken eight year old. In a hurry.

Three lamps just randomly stopped working on the first night of our stay, rendering the lighting of the room's interior something only Vincent Price would have found pleasing. By the second night, one of the lamps was magically working again.

But the best thing of all was the hairdryer. You know how hotels provide hairdryers for their guests who don't have the foresight to bring one? Well, ours was a little plastic thing mounted in a stand on the wall next to the door. The electrical outlet was located next to the sink, meaning the dryer's electrical cord was draped directly over the sink, hanging maybe a foot above it.

For real!

Now, I'm not complaining, although I admit it probably sounds like I am. We waited until the last minute to make reservations on what was going to be a very busy travel weekend, with Quinnipiac's and Yale's graduations being held on the same day, so it would make sense the best lodging would be filled up.

And we were pretty busy, so it's not like we spent the weekend lounging in the hotel room.

But just in case this is some kind of karmic revenge for my scene in PARALLAX VIEW, the next time Tracie Tanner needs to stay in a hotel, I'm making it a five-star luxury suite.

You know, just in case.