SuperShuttle was slow, making me regret not just finally downloading Lyft and calling a ride. I spoke with a woman from Lansing, MI who was in town for a conference. It wasn’t the same as mine; it was a medical something or other. For a while it was just her and I in the van, and then finally our driver returned with two more passengers.
As we left the airport and neared downtown, where all four of us were staying, I began to wonder what kind of a ride I was in for. Though it was dark and late (close to 11pm at that point), downtown had this frenetic vibe that I was not used to nor expecting.
Sure, I had spent some time in the Castro, visiting bars and clubs with friends during my college days, and I had been to a few college parties–but this? This took it to a Bacchanalian level. Combined with the humidity, it felt feverish.
There were HUNDREDS of people, mostly drunk college students, out and about. I hadn’t seen his much energy in a college town before. Berkeley is a strange place–not much is open late, and even when students party in frat row, there is never this much visibility into it; one only finds clues like red plastic cups and a person passed out on the lawn, or muffled music from inside, or the occasional group of load drunk kids howling and the sounds of broken glass.
There was even a long strip of 6th Street blocked off for the purpose of corralling this madness. It was blocked off for a good ten blocks, and waves of people filled this container. Loud dance music was everywhere, and live music was playing on every block.
I saw only a glimpse of 6th St before being dropped off at my hotel. Even around the hotel, drunk kids everywhere. It was strange: by all appearances it looked like a nice hotel, but oh how thin that veil wore off.
I got in line for the reception desk. Some drunk fratboy cut in front of me and a few others ahead of me. A buddy with him pointed out he cut and needs to get to the back of the line. The guy says, “Oh”, and then cuts in front of just me instead. His buddy again grabs him and points out I had already been in line before they arrived. The drunk kid gives no apology, but responds, “I wanted to wait to talk to that guy [one of the three check-in receptionists] anyway.”
When I finally check in, the receptionist tells me that the wildness is pretty typical for Austin. All the college kids from other cities (Dallas, Forth Worth, Houston) drive here to party on the weekends. She tells me the sportsbar restaurant attached to the hotel is open until 1. I contemplate my options but decide to check out the room first.
As I make my way to my room, I am surrounded by drunk college kids everywhere: in the hallways, in the lobby, outside in the dropoff area. I get really annoyed when a bunch of them pile on the elevator with me AND HIT EVERY FLOOR’S BUTTONS. You motherf*%#! I am on the 7th floor, but after a long day, every stop is painful.
I finally saunter off to my room, annoyed, and run across a security guy in the hallway with a guest who appears defensive and blocks the doorway.
“Sir, I am just checking in because we received noise complaints from other guests.”
“Well I am not breaking shit!”
I find my room and am relieved for the momentary solitude in a beautiful room with a view overlooking the city.. I then realize the walls are paper thin and I can hear drunk kids in the rooms next to mine and in the hallways. God damnit.
I am hungry and not tired as it is still 9pm California time. I need a shower and to get out of these clothes. I always feel gross after being seated on a long flight, and Austin’s humidity has not made me feel any better. I feel sticky.
At the shower, the beautiful appearance of the room begins to unravel–it’s that one loose thread you pull on, thinking it will snap immediately, but then just seems to run on forever and destroys your shirt.
There is a little bit of standing water in the tub, and the drain top is plugged. I unplug it to let the water drain. Weird, right? I think maybe the maid just forgot to drain it or accidentally pushed the plug down while cleaning. I mean, the water looks clean.
I then notice a few long hairs around the inner portion of the bathtub. I am starting to wonder if this room was in use and not fully cleaned before I checked in.
Whatever, push those thoughts away for a shower so I can explore. I step inside and close the curtain. There is an incredible amount of mold buildup on the curtain. Wow. It is alarming and fucking disgusting. They really don’t give a shit here, do they?
For 200$ a night, you’d think they’d give a shit. Speaking of which, sitting on the toilet was another eye-opener. It was not level. We’re not talking about a slight difference and having a princess and the pea type moment; we’re talking like a legit one inch difference. One knee stands noticeably higher when seated. Who installed this thing and didn’t notice?!
I console myself with the thought that at least I have a clean bed to come back to…right? I realize this is one of those moments where, if Gordon Ramsay suddenly appeared with a black light, I would not let him use it in the room. I don’t want to know. I don’t want to see myself on Hotel Hell, even though I am starting to think this might be a good contender for it.
Okay. I am hungry and don’t want to find any more unexpected revelations, so it’s time to go out.