I'm staying this week at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City. It used to be a real fancy hotel (connected by tunnel to Grand Central Station when that meant something) but is now reduced to catering to penny-pinching business travelers like me. But the hotel seems to have a midlife crisis, not wanting to let go of its glory days.
The lobby has vaulted ceilings and gold leaf all over. I think gold leaf is tacky whether in Hindu temples, midwestern McMansions or New York hotels, but I suppose it's a marker of opulence. But the gold leaf in the hotel lobby has plaster showing through in places. And that is just sad.
The best marker of the identity crisis is, however, internet access. Mid-priced, extended-stay hotels all offer free internet access but fancier hotels charge by the day (The Taj hotels in India charge by the hour and boy did that leave a bad taste in my mouth). So what will the Roosevelt do? It's gotta choose -- is it a midpriced hotel (free internet!) or a fancy hotel (Sock it to your customers!). The Roosevelt seems to have resolved the dilemma in a highly dubious way.
"Free unlimited high-speed internet connectivity", it advertises. And also "This room offers both wired and wireless high-speed internet access." Pause for a moment here. What do you think that means?
I powered on my laptop and connected to the Wi-Fi and was prompted with a screen asking me to accept a $15 charge. WTF, I thought, and called the front desk. Turned out "high-speed internet" was their code for "wired" and that was free, but wireless was not. And wouldn't you know it? Wired access is down for maintenance with no idea when it will be back up!
Not only has the hotel seen better days, it's now reduced to running a three-card monte for internet access.