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Thread: Hotel Carter

  1. #1
    Build the Tower Verre antinimby's Avatar
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    Default Hotel Carter

    What Do You Expect for $99.23 a Night?

    Published: November 20, 2005

    Michael Nagle for The New York Times
    The 615 rooms at Hotel Carter, on West 43rd Street near Eighth Avenue, are among the city's cheapest.

    Michael Nagle for the New York Times
    Room 1105 revealed a dead phone, carpet stains and a moldy patch on the bathroom ceiling. The TV, however, was new, and the bed was comfortable.

    It was about 4 p.m. when something crawled on the carpet. A large insect of unidentified species made its way across the hotel lobby, and a group of European tourists tracked it with a cheerful curiosity until a gray-haired man in a baseball cap waiting to check in stomped on it.

    No one else noticed the dead bug. The lobby - a sensory overload of neon, mirrors, bright lights, televisions, yard-sale furniture and pay phones - was too distracting. Guests streamed in and out with befuddled stares, mild complaints and curious requests. A woman asked a worker for bug killer after finding a roach in her bathroom. She was handed a spray bottle of kitchen cleaner and sent on her way.

    In the rooms upstairs, tales of lodging woe unfolded. One guest said his television played the sound from one channel but showed the picture from another. A couple in Room 500 said they were surprised to discover that they did not have a closet. And a businesswoman from Ukraine on the 23rd floor found that she liked her room better in the dark. "If the curtains close, light is off, it's not that bad," she said.

    People have been saying for years that the old Times Square - the seedy, lowbrow ancestor of what is now a largely sanitized, Disneyfied tourist haven - is dead. But those people have never spent a night at the Hotel Carter. The 615-room hotel at 250 West 43rd Street offers travelers a cheap room in an expensive city, and something more: an adventure. In the middle of Manhattan and at the neon-bright Crossroads of the World, the hotel has been a little-known source of grimy hospitality, low-budget accommodations and equal numbers of satisfied and dissatisfied customers from around the world.

    As a guest of the Hotel Carter, you may or may not have your room cleaned. You may or may not find the multicolored, multipatterned carpet on the floor and the walls agreeable. You may or may not have a working television and telephone. You may or may not have a smooth check-in, since the front desk keeps track of reservations without the benefit of a computer system.

    In short, you may or may not have an enjoyable stay. The answer depends on which room you get - the top floors have numerous large recently renovated rooms with splendid views - and on your answer to this question: What do you expect for $99.23 a night?

    The Carter, a tan-brick 24-story hotel on a busy stretch of West 43rd Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, is popular with foreign travelers, students and tourists on a tight budget, and recent guests either loved it or hated it.

    Tran Truong, 73, the co-owner of the hotel, and his assistant, Elaine Nguyen, said they tried their best to provide safe, clean lodging at a low price for travelers. Mr. Truong, a Vietnamese businessman who lives in the hotel, bought the Carter in 1977. Ms. Nguyen said they did not have the money or the staff of the big corporate hotel chains, but she defended the hotel's customer service and cleanliness. The city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene conducted an inspection for rodents in July and found no cause for action, according to the report.

    "We're not a four-star or five-star hotel," she said. What they are, she said, is "the best bargain for the location."

    A two-night stay at the hotel last week illustrated the benefits and the drawbacks of bargain lodging in Times Square. The hotel can be humorously disorienting. People have stood on the sidewalk outside the hotel and tried to decipher, without success, the meaning of one of the hotel's slogans, displayed above its bronze-colored awning: "You Wanted in Time Square & Less."

    The lobby is a 24-hour people-watcher's paradise. It can feel, in a narrow room that resembles a cross between a D.M.V. office and a Las Vegas disco, like Saturday night on an early Wednesday morning. At one moment, two elegantly dressed women in evening gowns and high heels appeared. At another, a man sat down and drank from a can of Budweiser. "The best show on Broadway," a former guest wrote on one travel Web site,, "is the lobby of the Carter."

    Room 1105 was not so much a room as it was a place to lie low. It took eight paces to walk from one wall to the next and 21 paces to get from the door to the window. The telephone was dead. It sat on an old desk, its drawer broken and placed on the stained carpet, a copy of the Manhattan white pages, 1994-5, among the contents inside. The room was lighted by a bare bulb on the ceiling, and the headboard of the bed was a rectangle of blue carpet nailed to the wall. There was a big moldy splotch on the ceiling above the bathtub.

    The Sharp TV was sleek and new, but the tiles in the bathroom longed for a good scrubbing. The door unlocked using a modern card instead of a key, but the push-button phone - the typewritten number on its beige face disconnected - was of unknown vintage, perhaps from the 1980's. There were hints of the hotel's rich past, sometimes in the oddest places.

    A "Church Directory," about 25 years old, remains posted in the lobby in a glass case, amid a row of pay phones ("Manhattan Church of Christ, James R. Petty, minister"). A sign around the corner reads "Dixie Bar & Restaurant," but the door below it is closed.

    The hotel was called the Hotel Dixie when it opened in 1930, the same year as the Chrysler Building. It had entrances on 42nd Street and 43rd Street, and the Central Union Bus Terminal occupied the basement. In 1937, the hotel raised its price for a single room, to $2.75 from $2.50. It was later purchased by a subsidiary of the Carter Hotels Operating Corporation but kept the Dixie name. A 225-seat theater opened there in 1966 with the musical comedy "Autumn's Here."

    In the early 1980's, the city housed homeless families at the Carter. These days, Ms. Nguyen said, the hotel is undergoing renovations and service improvements - including the addition of a front desk computer system - that are likely to lead to rate increases.

    There are certainly other budget hotel rooms in the city that are smaller, shabbier and do not come with their own private bathrooms. The price of Room 1105 - $232 for two nights for one occupant, after taxes - made it among the cheapest of the city's 71,000 hotel rooms. The bed was firm but comfortable, and the room muffled the noise of the city, the only sounds an occasional siren and the drip-drip-drip of one of the bathtub's leaky handles.

    Such distractions do not sit well with some. Anders Lindqvist, 33, a lawyer from Copenhagen, said on Thursday that he would probably not return to the hotel after his weeklong visit. "I was surprised that there was still plumbing and installations that bad in the center of Manhattan," he said.

    Other Carter guests have a way of looking on the bright side.

    "As long as there's a bed and a roof and running water, that's all I really need," said Kee-Hyun Kim, 23, a musician from Boston who checked out on Wednesday and said he liked the hotel's price and central location. "I'm pretty low maintenance, and I think anybody who stays at a place like that has to be."

    Michael Nagle for The New York Times
    Room 1105 revealed a moldy patch on the bathroom ceiling.

  2. #2
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Jun 2005
    NYC - Downtown


    ^ It's amazing to me that they can get around inspectors with crud like that in the rooms.

  3. #3


    Eons ago you could get comparable levels of quality and service at YMCAs throughout Manhattan --with the added attraction of communal bathrooms that featured gym-style gang showers (no partitions) and toilet stalls without doors. The standing caveat was: don't bend over if you drop your soap.

    Are these facilities still available?

  4. #4


    I think its nice. I would stay here.

    Just go down the hall until I find an unlocked door and give some guests another suprise when they are going to sleep after a night at the theater.

    Dear, I think theres something under the bed....

    Oh dont mind me I dont snore. The door was locked so I came in through the hole in the wall.

  5. #5

  6. #6
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    NYC - Downtown


    This place looks disgusting, even at $99 / night.

    Look here for pics of some of the beautiful conditions at the Carter (click on "view candid traveler photos"):

  7. #7


    I dont see what the problem is.

  8. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Monmouth County, NJ


    The shower ceiling looks like the one in my dormitory.

  9. #9
    Forum Veteran
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    New York City


    It looks like it's about to sprout mushrooms.

  10. #10
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    NYC - Downtown


    Hey, JB ^^^

    Looks like the Carter is trying to spruce up its act (but seemingly can't even do that well ) ...

  11. #11


    They need to keep the light bulbs changed.

  12. #12

  13. #13


    Hotel Carter tops the TripAdvisor list of the Dirtiest Hotels in US

  14. #14


    I wonder if this had anything to do with the rating.

    New York
    Manhattan: Body Found in Times Square Hotel


    Published: August 31, 2007

    The body of a woman was found under a bed in the Carter Hotel in Times Square yesterday, with her head and legs covered in plastic, the police said. The victim, who was described by the police as in her 20s but whose name was not released pending family notification, was discovered shortly before 2:30 p.m. in a sixth-floor room of the hotel on West 43rd Street. The medical examiner will determine the exact cause of death, the police said.

    Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company.

  15. #15


    Hotel Carter doesn't seem that bad from the outside (referring to Edward's picture), but from the pictures that were included in the article, and the murder article brianac posted ... absolutely not.

    You couldn't pay me to stay here.
    Last edited by The Benniest; March 3rd, 2008 at 07:37 PM.

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