This is my first ever hotel review. I've never been moved enough to write one, until now...
YE OLDE CARLTON ARMS HOTEL, NYC
by Cynthia Rodriguez
The ultimate artist's hotel. A mural museum. I first heard about the Carlton Arms about five years ago from an artist friend of mine. I promptly looked it up online, and had wanted to go there ever since. This hotel has a heavy duty history, and goes way back. I mean I'm talking about the prohibition era. Then I believe it became a prostitute and drug addict den for a while. They REALLY turned all that around, though, when they decided to transform it into the artsy fartsy mecca it is today. The "baby chelsea", as it's been nicknamed, among other things.
I made arrangements months ago to stay there for a week for my summer vacay to visit the hometown. As soon as I stepped foot in the Carlton Arms, I immediately got hit with art A.D.D. There is just SO much to look it. It's an exhibit in itself. Half of the pictures I took were of the hotel itself. I've never experienced a hotel like this before, and I've done my share of hotels and motels. Okay that probably didn't sound too good, but you get my point.
On the practical level, their best asset is of course, the price. I stayed there a Monday through Friday for under $500. It's a great, pretty safe neighborhood. Right next to Baruch College, surrounded by a nice assortment places to grub, bars, and shops.
But, like the saying goes, "you get what you pay for", such as room service or a television. Which is good that you don't pay for either of those things because of the fact you don't get them, or a telephone, (but with cell phones today, who needs a phone in their room anymore, anyway?) Yes, it's bare bones service. Once you get your keys, and the little dollar store looking padlock for your door (for when you're away from your room), you are pretty much on your own. It's also "no smoking", (like most places in New York City now a days), which for a big smoker like me is kind of a pain in the ass, but I dealt with it.
It's a little on the ghetto side, some have called it more of a hostel than hotel. Okay, so the sink (which was located in the bedroom) didn't work when I first got there, and maintenance had to go into my room twice to fix it. When you need an extra roll of toilet paper or more towels, you just go to the lobby and get them yourself. I also did that when the light bulb went out on my little night stand table lamp. They also have at least one cat running around, I guess they are the mascots of Carlton Arms. Regardless, I still consider it a hotel.
More on the plus side, they had internet access available in the lobby that came in handy a few times a day. Most of the time the floor I was at was surprisingly quiet. Sometimes I wondered if I was the only one on "Floor B". The staff was friendly, (you can tell most of them have been there for a long time), and VERY helpful, especially with my little tourist adventures when I would ask for directions as in which train to take where. I had one of those old New York fire escapes outside my window which was pretty neat. I just wanted to stand out there and sing something from "Rent". The roof top is restricted to guests, as most are, but I'd love to go up there maybe with someone who works there could escort me next time, to check it out.
Apparently, the hotel runs a gallery in Brooklyn called "Art break". I was told they had an entire exhibit dedicated to President Obama. Tentatively, they will be putting together another one for his one year anniversary in office. I'm hoping they will allow an outsider like me to participate. A hotel that runs an art gallery, one that includes political themes too, no less. How cool is that?
The bottom line is that perhaps as far as the standard hotel ratings go, they would probably get like a two, two and half, maybe. It's not for the weak. It is not for everyone. However, this is a special place, and I know only certain people can truly appreciate it's character and artsy charm. That is why in THAT context, I absolutely give it five stars. I definitely plan on going back, hopefully with some like minded people who will hold it as dear as I do.