Hotel Habita, Monterray, MX
Hotel Granbell, Shibuya, Tokyo.
Probably one of my favorite hotels ever, with its little shoebox room, utilitarian tech-toilet-instilled bathroom, funky general store/cafe/bar (waffles come with ice-cream, not butter, as if someone saw a photo from an American diner and mistook a massive scoop of butter).
Not by any stretch the most posh hotel I’ve stayed, thank fuck, but really comfy and off the beaten path a little on a quieter street in Shibuya.
Bonus: the coffee in the cafe/bar is basic and amazingly so. Especially with the waffles!
*Tiny Update* I rarely let housekeeping clean up, though I know they probably come in despite the “DND” on the door. If I’m there more than a day I’ll pack the important stuff and, as ADROCK once told me, put it all in a corner so you know if it’s been tampered with. With the Granbell, I did that but left a sweater out, some socks on the floor, some paper scribbles, a Monotron, etc. I came back to find it’d all been folded, organized and placed with care in different places in the room. I’ve noticed some hotels do this better than others, but with the Granbell I was really amazed by the creativity and odd associations: “Why did they put the Monotron with the stripey sweater and the weird Girly-Synth-Fetish flyer I found outside 5G.”
After that I left the DND off and just let them come in to find how they’d reorganized things. It was fascinating. Random hotel art!
The Rapture at the Standard, NYC.
Jusine D and Le Bain organized a show for the Rapture in advance of their release of “In The Grace Of Your Love,” their first record in 5 years and first upon returning to DFA Records. It went off! We were hanging out in the hotel room that served as our backstage, we all got comfy. They took care of us, it was nice. I grabbed this photo while we were chilling, just before Vito, at the time a very recent dad, swaddled Gabriel with the comforter.
Fun fact, or conjecture as I don’t feel like looking it up: a cult of people took to having sex in the windows in their rooms at the Standard I’m told. And I guess subsequently both a cult of voyeurs from the neighborhood was born, as well as a cult of angry non-voyeurs.
I’ve stayed in the Standard DTLA a few times, not the Hollywood one. It’s great for my first hip hotel, it’s not great if you just want to power nap, get luxurious and have a relatively seamless door-to-elevator-to-room experience.
One gets the feeling everything about that hotel is geared toward an encounter of some sort. I appreciated the “open bathroom,” zero privacy-enabled situation, matched with no lock on the toilet door (cheeky!).
Hotel Zoso, Palm Springs.
Palm Springs is a strange place. On the one hand, it’s California, which unlike Florida, seems to have come to grips with it’s zaniness. On the other, it’s fucking Mars filled with people, it would seem, who’d been on the Price Is Right at one point or another, carrying with them all the randomness and odd energy with which they charged forth upon hearing Bob Barker yell their name.
So looking back it’s not that surprising my experience there would have been pleasant enough, but also, slightly confusing.
First and foremost, even if I quit smoking I’m never going to be okay with being told I can’t go outside, no matter what version of “on the property” you want to call it (my balcony for one), and smoke a cigarette. If you’re going to make big rules like that I vote for if I’m in my room I will not hear the sound of a child or a television, EVER. I could hear both there.
The room was big, modern with some desert mixed with beach weirdness thrown in, think it was the bed spread, or maybe the carpet. They did a good job of what seemed like the old, “Fresh Coat Of Paint,” boutique hotel vibe. The Grafton in West Hollywood is a perfect example of a hotel that feels like it was an old Days Inn or something, upgraded to some Martha Stewart lime paint and fixtures accessories from Ikea and the hipper line of Target Home. It’s when you get in the elevator, you can almost always tell the vintage and the previous angle.
The pool was great, the night valets were hysterical and helpful, the front desk attendants were cute, friendly and flirty and only slightly helpful. I believe I got some room service and it was absolutely not what I ordered, but I was starving and ate it anyway. The bartender was kind-of a bro, I think there may have been a mullet involved, but the drinks were fine for getting fucked up by the pool. Oh yeah, there was totally a shitty laptop DJ in the lobby at one point, or very near the lobby.
All-in-all, it’s what I would’ve expected in Palm Springs, having not had the chance to do the right thing and just rent a cabin in Joshua Tree. I stayed for the day in the Ace about 9 months later, and I kind-of wanted to hate it but I didn’t. Ultimately the hipster trash that was hanging out at the pool getting wasted wasn’t the most objectionable hipster trash I’ve encountered, but that’s another picture, another time.
*NOTE: I stay in most of these hotels for work. I don’t pick them. Sometimes I’m really lucky and a property really resonates with me. Often I end up laughing in the bathroom at a stupid oversight I’ve just experienced.
Like many expensive things in life, a great hotel, or even a good one is only as good as its biggest flaw. For many USA tours with Trans Am we stayed exclusively in Motel 6’s as their, for the most part, cookie-cutter sameness was the consistent acceptable minimum.
The first time I realized that the rating system on hotels was bogus was in Japan, staying at a 4- or 5- star hotel that was, for the most part, nice, but it was stuffy and you couldn’t open the window but a crack. It solved nothing.
The other aspect of this diary is to not lose site of the fact that every day there are millions and millions of people who have no place to stay, or are in at-risk situations, and I’m super fucking fortunate to get to live the life I live. I see no problem in praising a nice hotel for what it has and calling it out for what it lacks. Expensive shit.
So expect some actual text here in the future once I get my bearings and, as Guy Picciotto of Fugazi said at a benefit for an at-risk housing project in Alexandria, VA, “Kiss your beds tonight.”
- Jonathan Kreinik, AKA JK, Brooklyn, NY, USA
Hotel Pere IV, Barcelona
Hotel Pere IV, Barcelona
Without disclosing too much, I was in Barcelona for 6 days, in this room. Well, upstairs for the most part in RM 819. We worked the first night we were there, then parked in this hotel at a cheap rate as our next destination was Paris, which would’ve been REALLY expensive comparatively.
This hotel, I believe, used to be the go-to hotel for the club Razzmatazz around the corner. I’ve stayed there twice while doing Razz-related work. Their new spot I’ll have to look up but Hotel Pere IV was kinda cool in this weird gasthaus, Holly Hobby kind of way. Unlike other faux boutique’s this one actually has modern elevators but feels kind of old. The beds weren’t comfortable but there was some strange charm about this kind of dorky hotel. I think they also had crappy early-90’s CRT TV’s with barely-functional remotes. How was I supposed to quickly flip back and forth between phone-sex commercials at 4am while out of my mind having just come home? Another story, another time…
Allegedly there’s a pool. But then there’s the beach about 10 minutes away. There’s a bar but there’s Barcelona. There’s room service and I don’t think I could recommend it. Although I think we ordered up some Margaritas on round 2 there, trying to recreate our little 819 layover, and they were horrific and strong and I loved them for it. Really bad shit.
Would I recommend this place? Sure! I have no idea why, but it’s clean, it’s sane, I mean, look how amazing the bedspread is! They give you potato chips and/or olives in the bar with your beer, and aren’t particularly nice when they do. They’re not mean either. Something to be said for perfectly dispassionate hotel staff, especially knowing there were a lot of Russian, Australian, German, and English tourists coming through. Frankly, I sometimes imagine a world where there are no tourists in the hotel, just travelers. But then again, that goes 50-fold for airport security, any flight longer than 45 minutes, and my beloved New York City.
Hotel Diva, San Francisco, CA
This one I kind of arranged on my own. I may have gone through Orbitz or Expedia, but I definitely did a search for Boutique, San Francisco hotels, and this one popped up at like $80 a night in the Tenderloin/Theatre area. I was in town working w/the Presets for their show at Fulsom, which proved to be plenty surreal in its own right as I’d never seen so many naked men and bondage people IRL. Actually I’m not sure I’ve EVER seen a man masturbate in real life.
So already this was going to prove to be an interesting trip. I wanted to stay in a “clean, well-lighted place”, if you know what I mean. [*note, I was on my own dime for a couple of days, then I believe I moved over to some big, not-cool-at-all spot that would loud, stuffy, old, and not even trying to be cool despite their exclusivo-pool-bar-party with a bunch of spray-tan normz stinking up the place with cocaine and syphilis and bad decisions.]
The Diva was precisely clean, well-lit, affordable, with an attractive and flirty, but business-y front desk crew.
It’s an old-hotel upgrade, they’re not hiding it, but they did it well and I can’t think of anything I didn’t really like about it except I stayed there alone the first time.
I believe coffee is free there in a lounge on another floor. There’s a big TV and free internet. I slept like a rock there. After the free coffee goes away, there’s a Starbucks off the lobby if you have no sense of adventure or self-respect or just wanna get really high on their crack (Blue Bottle, for one, is not that hard to find in SF, but I’ve heard locals laud some other place as being *the shit!*). Also there’s passable Mexican food, Chinatown is close (House of Nan King I LOVED), some shopping, that famous diner with that really sad murder story attached, plus that little hole-in-the-wall place with the line out the door that’s amazing. Really helpful right?
Just saying I didn’t mind staying in the Tenderloin that first time, especially knowing I was walking home to the Diva in some of the better weather than I’d experienced before in SF.
The second time was another story, and this is definitely not commentary on the Diva, but the Tenderloin, like most city neighborhoods that are seeming to struggle with an upgrade, is still rough-as-fuck around the edges, but only around the edges, and by rough-as-fuck I’m talking texture more than Navy Yard, WDC 1991. There are a lot of at-risk people wandering around, but for the most part are just kind of old tweakers, beggars, disabled veterans with nothing, I dunno, hard-luck stuff. At night it’s weird with partyers, some club kids (I saw some club kid, who I thought was just pissing in the street outside a diner at 2am, that was actually pissing in his female date’s mouth, I dunno, man…) being shitty.
But that, to me, is city life and if you want to hang in a city and enjoy the fruits of some culture other than cookie-cutter downtown Boise, Idaho’s Bed, Bath, Beyond, Be Boring, you have to expect do step over some shit on the ground.
I’d imagine if you were to stay at the Diva now there’d be a lot less shit with which to contend.