Saturday, July 24, 2010

Crowne Plaza LAX

What. A. Disappointment!

My recent trip to LA grew out of a plan to get my niece Gen on a plane to Australia. At first it was just going to be a simple handoff. Fly Boston to LA, put her on the plane, turn around and come back. Then we decided that flying out one day, sleeping over and then flying again would be easier on both of us. Finally, because Gen's flight was so late at night, I had better stay the second night. Once it was going to be a two night stay, I set off searching for hotels.

We knew we wanted to be convenient to the airport, since it was the travel itself that was central to the plan. I ended up with the Crowne Plaza LAX. It's nearly in the airport itself. My sister said she had stayed there, albeit years ago, and liked it.

We arrived on Wednesday around noon after collecting our bags and taking the free, three minute shuttle ride. Right away, I was irritated, no help with bags. Fine. We go inside and up to the registration desk. There were two lines, regular and VIP for "Priority Gold & Silver Members". I am just a regular "Priority" member, so I got in the regular line. However, the other young lady wasn't busy and called me over. Nice, right? No, she had an attitude and didn't look right at me. She talked to the counter. Gave me a chance to look around though and things need a little maintenance there. A door was open to a shabby office. A ceiling tile was popped out of place. The decor was dated and dull. The room they had a us in was a king size bed/non-smoking. I told her it was supposed to be double beds. With a shrug, she gave me a room on a smoking floor. I was caught off guard. I picture California as more progressive on smoking and hadn't even considered the possibility. Gen and I were hungry and wanted to wash up and get going, so I said fine. After all, I have stayed in smoking rooms before and not had a problem.

We got off on the sixth floor and immediately, it was stale and smelly. We held out hope for the room, but that was fruitless. Size wise, the room was fine, but it was stale and musty. Now let me interject one thing here. My mother smokes.....a lot.....all my life. their house doesn't smell. So I know if you have proper ventilation and you clean, the smell isn't a problem. I know if there is a smell, it reflects a lack of effort on the part of the cleaning staff.

So, I turned on the AC in hopes of clearing the air a little. We took turns washing up and headed out.

I had looked online to see what restaurants the area had to offer outside of the hotel. That's how I knew about the In & Out burger on Sepulveda. I had checked the distance from the hotel on Google maps and Gen was up for the .7 mile walk. In the lobby we checked in with the Concierge to double check directions. I mostly wanted to orient myself to the map in my head. I have a good sense of direction once I have my bearings. I asked him to direct me from the main entrance to Sepulveda. "Well, that's a big area! Where do you want to go?" I was slightly irritated to what I perceived as a condescending tone, but I smiled and said "In & Out Burger". He pulled out a map and said that was good and specific and drew some lines and arrows. then I asked about the neighborhood. He seemed affronted "I wouldn't let you go if it wasn't safe!" I really had to bite my tongue. I wanted to tell him that it was his job to answer my questions without such attitude. But I was more hungry than irritated and we set off.

When we returned from our successful and enjoyable lunch, the room still smelled. We changed into bathing suits, planning to head up to the pool. That was when I noticed something blue ground into the rug between the beds. It looked like gum. I looked around the room more critically. The carpet was dingy, clearly in need of a steam cleaning.

After a pitstop in the lobby gift shop for magazines, bottled water & chocolate, we headed up to the second floor outdoor pool. It was a cool day, but sunny and we are New Englanders, so it was very comfortable. The pool is advertised on their website as heated.....ummm, no. The water was ice cold. Not only was the water not heated, but I think because of the surrounding office buildings, it didn't see much sun, which compounded the problem. But that was refreshing once you got in. The website also boasts a jacuzzi.....cordoned off with caution tape.....a sauna......broken......a steam room with a towel under it's door to keep it from swinging freely and scraps of paper on the floor.

After swimming and sunning, we headed back to our room to shower for dinner at RockSugar. Now the room was freezing cold and still smelly.

Now I reach one of the two satisfactory aspects of the hotel. The bathroom. It was clean, the towels were clean and there was good water pressure.

After we showered and we were waiting to hear from our cousin Mark, I decided to call the front desk to see if we could be moved to a non-smoking room. The front desk was completely indifferent and unhelpful. I explained that we were in a smoking room and would like to switch. She said she had nothing available until Friday (hello, I am checking out Friday) and as to the smell, we were on a smoking floor (hello, I started my conversation with "we're in a smoking room"). I let it go at this because Gen and I had sniffed our pillows and bedding and they didn't smell. If they had, I would have really pushed. I asked if someone could come up to spray the room because the smell was more than smoke. I was thinking Febreze. She agreed and we hung up. I was telling Gen about the conversation when it occurred to me to kill two birds so to speak. I called housekeeping and explained that since they were coming to spray, could they bring clean towels at the same time. The voice on the other end said "Towels? The towels are dirty?" Please feel free to applaud my restraint, since all I said was "Yes, they are dirty"

The housekeeper shows up with what looks like a small can of WD-40 and sprays the ventilation unit and the rugs. She takes five minutes to fold the towels just so and then asks if I want the dirty towels taken away. She points to the pile of dirty wet towels in the bathroom. I say "Yes, please". Gen is sitting reading in the easy chair, trying to muffle giggles.

Seriously? Who keeps the dirty wet towels. I know that no hotel is going to equal the Taj Palace and my five Filipino cleaning guys....but come on! If you are willing to take five minutes to fold the towels in some particular way....why not give that level of attention to the cleaning aspect of the room?

Gen states the obvious. Whatever the housekeeper sprayed actually smells worse. We leave to wait for Mark in the lobby. On our way, I point out the chipped, scuffed switchplates in the hall and the litter on the floor in front of the elevator. Now, I can't help but notice that the place is just, in a word, grubby.

On the way home from RockSugar, Mark stops at CVS and I buy my own damn Febreeze ...extra strength! I started spraying as soon as we got off of the elevator, much to Gen's amusement. then after a thorough spraying off our room, we brushed our teeth and fell into bed. Next morning...viola! The room smelled great. Please don't tell me that this hotel can't obtain gallons of cheap generic Febreze. Probably better and cheaper than the crazy can of perfume the housekeeper sprayed.

By and large the rest of my interactions with the hotel staff were unremarkable. The only exception as the second They were friendly and quick and I watched them picking up litter in the front entrance area.

There is absolutely no way that this hotel deserved the 3.5 stars that it had on Priceline.

Last point, yet another backwards hotel that charges for Wi-Fi, $10.95 per day.


bigsoxfan said...

Well, thanks for the recomendation. As a smoker, I have a hard time finding a smoking room. Too bad I live in San Diego no smoking havan, and can't think of a single reason to spend a night in the LA region.
I will say though, I have traveled to many navy installations lately and have no problem finding a hotel with no smoking, sorry for your experience. Mass, Washington state, parts of Indiana, and all of Illinois are extermely smoker un-friendly if that helps.
I'm not laughing as I know how horrible smoke aroma is to the non-smoker, but I do find it ironic (bitterly) that you had your experience in the clean air of So. Cal. The Newport Goat Island Hilton has their smoking rooms in a seperate wing by the way, so if you stay away from the lower wing you should be fine. Sorry for your pain, but that in and out is worth the walk, eh?

BostonMaggie said...

It wasn't so much that it was a cigarette smoke smell. It was unclean. Other reviews of the hotel have mentioned that rooms smelled, one said it was body odor. I am in my mother's house all the time and it doesn't smell.

And I'm not a smoke nazi! LOL!

Yes, In & Out Burger was awesome!

Yer Marine said...

LA is a sh*thole. Why should the hotel be any different?

I hate the place.

I would consider being homeless in San Diego, however....

Tom Goering said...

And Disney only charges $9.95 per day for internet, and their pools are heated!