I get kind of controlling when I travel. Not that I want to control everything, it's just I like the "known" while traveling and freak out over the "unknown." Kind of. I like adventure and surprises, but controlled adventure and surprises. (Fussy!) Knowing this little fact about me makes my little trip to India a miracle.
To illustrate my love for controlled adventure and surprises, I will use the subway. I enjoy all of the subways I've had the pleasure of using and abusing. Subways are my idea of a great adventure. When I roll into a city, my first quest is to attack the subway -- complete with nerdy tourist map -- and figure out how it all works. I get an intense elephant-eyed, crazy-combustible joy over figuring out the subway. It's unnatural. Like the installation of a preserved brain into a dead body is unnatural. Picture Young Frankenstein here. Or Frau Blücher. Neigh.
I find it fascinating that I can start a post about our hotel in New York and end up reminiscing about Young Frankenstein. Sometimes I find my train of thought rather dizzying. Fascinating nonetheless, but dizzying.
Anyway, lets get on to the hotel. When Tina and I began to discuss our hotel situation for This New York Marathon, some six-odd months ago, it became clear that the travel arrangements of our prospective parties might be a tad complicated. We'd need one room this night and that night, two rooms for the end nights, and three rooms for the middle nights. See?! Complicated. Hotel rooms in New York City are on the average of $350 a night for three stars.
So Tina happened upon a little hotel enterprise called Toshi that rents apartments in the New York City area. She found a three-bedroom, two-bath unit for $300 each night and asked if I was interested. I said "why sure," she unloaded a deposit, and sent me the confirmation e-mail.
After mulling over the price of this three-bed, two-bath joint, it seemed a little too good to be true. A three-star hotel with one queen bed goes for around $300 a night. How can an apartment of that size with three beds be so cheap? Is it legit? That's when I got scared. I had visions of us showing up to check in, only to discover that they had taken our deposit. This would be horrible. But worse, landing in New York without a place to stay would be a total disaster on my "controlled adventure and surprises" scale.
A few weeks later, I was rummaging through the e-mail and decided to read through our Toshi confirmation e-mail. Towards the bottom of the e-mail it mentioned that the payment for all six nights was due, at check-in, with cash. I freaked. Oh how I freaked. It's a total scam, I thought. We're getting the hustle on this one, I surmised. Holy hoax! I screamed kinda quietly to my brain, and began a fierce googling of this Toshi subterfuge.
Turns out, Hotel Toshi is legally legit. BUT. But... The internet was splattered with negative commentary. Toshi has produced loads of folks who were less than pleased. This is when my freak-out became too much and I sent Tina all sorts of red flashing lights. Danger ahead! Danger ahead! was my tone. Tina became alarmed as well and asked around. Evidently she knew of someone who had stayed with Hotel Toshi in one of their apartments, and while it ain't posh, it's sufficient.
This is where I got brave. I covered my eyes with my hands, like I do when watching scary movies, and said, "Okay. I'll trust you on this one." Folks this was huge. It was one of those giant steps for rabidkind.
We discovered later that we could pay with a cashier's check instead of cash. This was good because, like, duh, who wants to travel with that kind of cash? Although I was planning on stuffing it in my bra -- figured if I had the wad delivered in five dollar bills, that would be some advantageous stuffing for my tiny little sub-particle As. We also discovered that our particular apartment was on the upper east side of New York with all the millionaires and their fancy dogs. Seriously... there were some fancy dogs. I could do a post just on New Yorkers and their fancy dogs. The thing is, the dogs know they are fancy. They strut about all pompous and such.
Tina and I were delivered and checked into this apartment. The lobby was dicey -- with dust and dirt all over. The hallway stunk like stinky socks and curry, and the door looked like it had been broken into at least once. Our arrangements would be an adventure for sure, but whether or not it was controlled was yet to be determined. So far things were not looking great.
Inside the apartment, I did a quick once-over. I checked the bedrooms, which looked decent. One was missing a light. I went directly to the bathrooms, checked the cleanliness, and turned on the hot water. Bathrooms were indeed sufficiently clean, and there was hot water. It would be okay.
This apartment was a goofy place. Each room was decorated top to bottom with the cheapest Ikea has to offer, electrical outlets and light switches were skiwamposs and mismatched, and the kitchen bar thingee was modge podged with broken dishes. It was like a bad episode of Trading Spaces. The bathrooms and kitchen were pretty clean, but the floors, nooks, and crannies of the other rooms were housing some serious dust bunnies.
After the first night, the place grew on me. It was big. Lots of room. Tina's son and his friend were due to arrive the next night and Megan would be joining us after the marathon so we needed the room. The beds were super comfy (nice and firm), and the TV was one of those super cool high-def things. Not that we'd be watching much TV, but it added a lump of luxury. Having a kitchen was a nice bonus too, for we could cook stuff if we wanted to (like who's going to cook their own food in NYC? Bah!)
Would I stay at this Hotel Toshi again? Prolly. It was a decent enough place to stay. It didn't have the service and safety that comes with a regular hotel, but the price was right and the neighborhood was kickin'.
Would I recommend it? Not sure. Prolly not, for most of the people I know are fussy. Even fussier than me.