A Dump with a Future (or: My Review of the Cecil Hotel, Los Angeles)

by Joey deVilla on November 3, 2008

Note: This post’s a long one, so grab your favourite beverage before reading it!

Where Everyone Else Stayed: The Westin Bonaventure

Everyone else on the Canadian Developer and Platform Evangelism team at Microsoft had made their L.A. hotel arrangements for last week’s Professional Developer Conference well in advance. They all stayed at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel, a well-appointed, if tacky and too-eighties-for-its-own-good local landmark located in the financial district, an area now considered to be the “downtown” part of Los Angeles:

Westin Bonaventure Hotel

While they were there, they were treated to a little bit of Hollywood in action. The hotel bar Suede — where we all had some nice mojitos on Wednesday night — was being used as a location for the nerd-unwittingly-turned-spy TV series Chuck:

"Chuck" shoot at the Westin Bonaventure

(Suede “felt” a bit new. A little Googling revealed that it opened in July.)

Where I Stayed: The Cecil Hotel

If you were to turn the clock back sixty or so years, the area considered to be “downtown” would be about a mile east of the Bonaventure. It’s not as shiny as the financial district, nor are the buildings as new, but it more than makes up for it with character. It’s full of the old buildings that Jane Jacobs praised as the birthplaces of new ideas and it had a vibe that reminded me of Accordion City’s Queen and Spadina area (especially since it also has a garment district nearby).

Through this area runs historic Main Street, and at the corner of Main Street and Seventh is the Cecil Hotel (if you pay attention to its newer, gold and white marquee sign) or Hotel Cecil (if you pay attention to its older, red and white vertical signs).

1. Exterior of the Hotel Cecil during the day, showing its vertical sign

I didn’t pick the Cecil. American Express, who does the travel arrangements for Microsoft Canada, did. All the conference hotels — one of which was the Westin Bonaventure — were booked solid, so I asked the agent booking my flight and hotel to try and find something with a reasonable distance of the hotel.

2. Exterior of the Hotel Cecil, showing its marquee sign

The Cecil fit the bill: not too far away from the Convention Center, and judging from its website, on par with a place like New York’s Chelsea, of which I’m rather fond.

3. Exterior of the Hotel Cecil, showing its vertical sign as seen from the 11-story fire escape

Here’s a shot I took of the Cecil at night. I love old hotel neon signs:

4. Exterior shot of the Hotel Ceicl at night, showing its neon sign aglow

And here’s the entrance, which looks the way grand hotels do in old black-and-white films. It’s flanked by a couple of establishments attached to the hotel: Stay, Marty and Tuck, which feature more modern signage and which I’ll talk about later.

5. Exterior of Hotel Cecil at night, showing the marquee

The Lobby

As with the front entrance, the lobby is done up very nicely in brass, gold-tone and marble (yes, it’s probably “particle marble”, but in a city that boasts fake everything, it’s real enough).

6. Hotel Cecil's marble lobby, looking in

You could set a film noir scene in this lobby, perhaps with a 1940s starlet or “Daddy Warbucks”-style tycoon.

7. Hotel Cecil's marble lobby, looking out

Here’s a picture of the stairway leading to the mezzanine overlooking the lobby and the concierge.

8. Hotel Cecil lobby, as seen from the elevators

Looking up from the lobby, you can see this backlit stained-glass ceiling.

9. Ceiling in Hotel Cecil's lobby

A Minor Glitch

I got to the front desk and gave the attendant my name. He typed on the computer and said “Room with bath, two twin beds?”

“No,” I replied, and pulled out my printed reservation. “King bed.”

“Haven’t got one available,” he said, and started typing. “Will a queen do?”

“Yes it will.”

Some people I know tend to get worked up over minor glitches like this. I don’t, and especially when I’m travelling alone. (If I’m travelling with the Ginger Ninja, I do my best to make her comfy).

I signed in and was handed an old-school key on a diamond-shaped fob. An actual, mechanical key, as opposed to a magnetic or punched card.

How charmingly retro, I thought. Let the other guys on the team stay at the bland Bonaventure. This place has character.

Of course, that was before I went upstairs to my room.

A Sign of Trouble

My first warning was this sign, which was mounted over the elevators:

10. "No visitors allowed upstairs" sign

“NO VISITORS ALLOWED UPSTAIRS,” the sign read in large letters. In smaller letters beneath it, it read “For your protection all guests please show key upon request — Management.”

This is to be expected in a hotel in a “recovering neighbourhood”. Usually these hotels have elevators that require you to use the keycard for your room to activate them. This sort of measure keeps the riff-raff out and discourages hooker booty calls. It’s not a sure indicator that the hotel is a hole; it just says that the hotel has a history of being a flophouse, just like Toronto’s flophouses-turned-see-and-be-seen destinations, the Gladstone and Drake hotels.

Undecked Halls

Here’s what I saw as soon as I got out of the elevator:

11. Bathrooms in the 11th floor hallway at Hotel Cecil

There were still traces of the lobby in the faux-marble floor tiles, but the rest of the architecture had gone seriously downmarket. It may be true that a fresh coat of paint will cover a multitude of sins, but not when the paint is cheap and sloppily applied. And not when the walls have been repeatedly patched.

By the way, those signs on the doors in the photo above? They’re not room numbers; they’re signs indicating that they’re either common showers or bathrooms:

12. Hall shower at Hotel Cecil

It dawned on me: the guy at the front desk didn’t just say “one room”, but “one room with bath.” I wasn’t going to have to use these shared toilets and showers, but it wasn’t time to breathe a sigh of relief just yet.

13. Hallway toilet in Hotel Cecil

At least the hallway bathrooms and showers were clean. I’ve seen worse at hostels, but at least they had the decency to set some expectations and admit that they were hostels. I’ve seen worse at one hotel, but it was in the Tenderloin in San Francisco, and I was in my twenties and trying to stretch my meager, then very-wimpy-next-to-the-U.S.-dollar money.

I continued down the hallway, which had changed colours from badly-applied cheap blue paint to sloppily-rolled discount tan paint…

14. 11th floor hallway in Hotel Cecil

There were still signs of the hotel’s former glory in the floor mosaics that appeared every now and again along the hallway:

15. Floor mosaic in the 11th floor hallway at Hotel Cecil

Near the end of the hall right by my room was combination bathroom/toilet. This was as far as I could open the door — the toilet blocks its way and prevents it from swinging open any further.

16. Hall bathroom at Hotel Cecil

The Room

Finally, I reached my room, number 1107. Queen-size bed my ass:

17. The bed and window in my room at Hotel Cecil

Maybe they meant “Queen-sized bed with a twenty percent margin of error”. I gave the mattress a poke; not much “give”, but I’ve slept on worse. I wonder what I would’ve seen if I’d hit it with one of those special “CSI” flashlights.

Here’s the room’s air conditioning system.

18. Ceiling fan in my room at Hotel Cecil

Luckily it was late October; at that time of year, a fan and open window are just fine in L.A.. Had it been August, the room would’ve been a sauna.

Here’s the heating unit for winter months: some kind of wall-mounted plate with a switch. I decided not to give it a test.

19. Heating unit in my room at Hotel Cecil

The closet had an ironing board but lacked an iron; instead it had a weird chemical smell. Certain that the smell would lovingly attach itself to my clothes, I opted to live out of my suitcase instead.

And Now, the Bathroom

It was time to check out the bathroom. Although the wife would never have approved, it was serviceable:

20. Hotel Cecil in-room bathroom, showing sink, toilet and shower area

Make note of the shower curtain rod. The rod and curtain are what demarcate the shower area from the rest of the bathroom:

21. Hotel Cecil in-room bathroom, showing more of the shower

And yup, that’s the shower drain in the floor opposite the toilet:

22. Toilet and floor drain in my in-room bathroom at Hotel Cecil

That’s right, at the Cecil Hotel, you no longer have to choose between showering and pooping!

Actually, that’s not true. The shower nozzle is angled away from the toilet and towards the back wall. Even if it weren’t, the water pressure isn’t sufficient to reach the toilet. You still have to choose.

Needless to say, I didn’t bother to even ask if there was wifi in the room.

That’s It, I’m Outta Here

Lobby at the Westin Bonaventure

“I’m with Microsoft,” I told the concierge at the Westin Bonaventure, “but I wasn’t able to book until the last minute and I’m, er, less than satisfied with my current hotel.”

“Where are you staying?”

“The Cecil.”

“On Main Street?”

“That’s the one.”

“Holy sh–” said the attendant, catching himself in mid-curse. “I mean, wow.”

“Don’t worry about the swearing, I’m pretty casual. Can you hook me up with a room? Some last-minute cancellation?”

“Let me see,” he said as he typed on a keyboard. “I’m afraid we don’t have anything available until Friday night.”

Unfortunately, I was flying out Friday at noon.

He even tried calling a couple of other hotels in the area, but they were booked solid.

“Never mind,” I said. “I’ve stayed in hostels and worse places than the Cecil. Only once or twice, and when I was young and not bankrolled by a Fortune 500 company. I’ll live.”

“You know, there is one half-decent room in the Cecil, but I don’t think it’s what you’re looking for. Besides, it’s booked for the next couple of weeks.”

“What room is that?”

Stay

Two doors to the left of the Cecil’s main entrance, but still contained within the building was an entrance labelled “Stay”. Inside was what looked like a waiting room decked in orange and white with large statues of labrador retrievers.

28. Nightime exterior shot of Stay at the Cecil Hotel

Upon closer inspection of a printout taped to the window, I discovered that it was some kind of “Stay” was a hotel-themed art installation:

Stay has arrived in downtown Los Angeles, offering travelers an exciting, youthful lodging alternative. Stay is a boutique hotel/youth hostel hybrid created for the savvy, modern traveler by designers Catherine Coan and Amy Price in conjunction with Lanting Hotel Group, Inc. (“LHG”). In celebration of its arrival, Stay will display live hotel guests living 24 hours per day in two model hotel rooms that we have created in street-level storefront windows, fully visible from Main Street. Initially, these guests – Ashley, Alicia, Toby, Zac and Casey – will be on display until November 15, 2008, although the promotion may be extended for an indefinite period of time.

The best room in the hotel, it would seem, is an art installation.

Stay’s rooms were just left of its entrance, and as advertised, they were hotel rooms with a big storefront window as one of its walls:

29. Exterior shot of Stay during the day

Here’s a closer look at that room:

30. South bedroom at Stay

Here’s an even closer look:

31. South bedroom in Stay

Here’s the other room, with one of the occupants getting made up for Hallowe’en. And look! Bunk beds!

32. North bedroom in Stay

If you’re curious and want to find out more about Stay, they (as one might suspect) have a blog.

More Lobby Enhancements

33. Exterior of Marty cafe at Hotel Cecil

While wandering about the lobby, I noticed a couple of places that were perpetually closed and under construction. On one side of the lobby was a place called Marty:

34. Interior of Marty cafe at Hotel Cecil

According to the L.A. downtown blog Angelenic, Marty was supposed to be open on October 15th. However, as is the way with most restaurants, they’d already missed the deadline for the announced grand opening.

35. Marty cafe interior

It’s a crying shame that it wasn’t open; it might have been a better place to hang out than my room.

On the other side of the lobby was a still-under-construction restaurant called “Tuck”, which promoted itself as a place to get good comfort food:

27. Interior of Tuck restaurant at Hotel Cecil

There was also an art gallery called “Arty” and a large empty alcove in the lobby that was going to be transformed into a bar called “Nip” (presumably to match “Tuck”).

My Check-Out Experience

"Thumbs down" hand sign

The Cecil provides a phone that is a direct line to L.A. Yellow Cab. Having gotten familiar with the lag between the time you call for a cab and the time it arrived at the Cecil from back-and-forth trips to the Convention Center, I decided to call for a cab first and then check out.

As I waited on the line, I got to listen in on a conversation between a hotel manager and a security guard on one side and a one-legged guy in a wheelchair on the other side.

“Until we get that mess in your room cleaned up,” said the manager, “I can’t let you back into your room.”

“Hey, asshole, it was like that when I got there!” spat One-Legged Wheelchair Guy.

I made my way to the front desk and handed back my key.

“I’d like to check out, please,” I said.

“Sure,” said the woman at the counter. She typed at her keyboard and moments later, she said “All done! Thank you for staying at the Cecil Hotel.”

I waited for a moment before asking for a receipt.

“I’m afraid we can’t give you a receipt. Your price is confidential because you booked through a third party.”

I paused out of sheer incredulity before replying “You realize that the amount won’t be a secret once it appears on my credit card bill, right?”

“I’m sorry sir, that’s hotel policy.”

At that point, I saw my cab pull up at the front door.

“Forget it. I’ll get the receipt from the travel agency. You might want to work on the service and the rooms here,” I said, and made my way to the cab, making mental notes for this blog entry along the way.

The Short-Term Verdict

If you’re inspired by the works of Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett or Mickey Spillane and want to have a weekend of kinky gumshoe role-playing, the Cecil’s gorgeous lobby and oldie-von-moldie rooms will make the perfect (and inexpensive) backdrop for your activities. You can even get a nice suit and matching hat in the garment district a few blocks south.

(Strangely enough, I did some Googling while writing this post and found an article that suggests that Raymond Chandler modelled the shabby hotel in his short story Nevada Gas after the Cecil.)

If you’re on a budget and are willing to stay in a place whose room standards are closer to a hostel than a hotel, the Cecil might suit your needs. You can save even more money if you take a room without its own bathroom. It’s also a reasonable walk from places like the Convention Center, Staples Center and the financial district, and there’s a Metro station close by.

If you’re a business traveller or are looking for something that’s at least on par with a Ramada Inn, look elsewhere. There’s no air conditioning, the rooms are lacking in amenities, my college dorm bed had a better mattress and the in-room bathroom (if it has one) would fail the Wife Test — the rooms are about as clean as you can get them without some much-needed renovating.

The clientele at the Cecil were a mixed bag. Some were obviously students who were pribably travelling on a budget. These students weren’t that short on funds; they had laptops and iPhones. Others appeared to be businesspeople; I had brief conversations with a few and they were all along the lines of “You got suckered too, huh?” Finally, there was the hard-luck crowd who ran the gamut from the “Will Smith in The Pursuit of Happyness” type to the “Looks like I picked the wrong day to stop doing crystal meth” sort.

What do other people who’ve stayed at the Cecil have to say?

  • On TripAdvisor, 20 out of the 38 user-submitted reviews rated the Cecil Hotel at 2 out of 5 or lower.
  • User reviewers at Expedia gave the Cecil a 2.2 out of 5 rating.
  • The average rating for the Cecil on Yelp was 1.5 out of 5. One reviewer said “Cecil Hotel is where dreams go to die.”
  • People involved with grisly murders have given the Cecil a thumbs-up: Richard Ramirez, Jack Unterweger and Elizabeth “Black Dahlia” Short have all stayed there.

I plan to have some words with American Express’ travel booking service this week.

The Longer-Term Verdict

You’re probably wondering what I’m implying with the title of this article, A Dump with a Future.

As craptacular as the non-lobby areas of the hotel are, it’s got considerable potential. For starters, there’s that gorgeous lobby.

It’s got a prime location in a neighbourhood that looks like it’s undergoing some gentrification; the stores popping up in the area along with the area’s designation as the “Gallery District” suggest an area similar to Toronto’s West Queen West area. It was a sad crack zone in the previous decade, and today it’s the hippest part of town. The two hotels in the area, the Drake and the Gladstone were once notorious flophouses to some of the smelliest humans alive; now they’re in-demand boutique hotels popular with both locals and tourists alike.

If the Cecil can get its cafe, bar and restaurant open and filled with area hipsters (who currently go to the nearby Golden Gopher, a hip dive bar not far from the hotel) it’ll become a place that locals will want to frequent. If they can get it together and give the rooms a proper reno, it could become a boutique hotel along the lines of the Drake and the Gladstone.

But for now, my recommendation is to steer clear of the Cecil. A dump with a future is still a dump.

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

chiamattt November 3, 2008 at 2:41 am

I have lived in Korea for 7 years and I have always had a bathroom like that. Sookies parents even took the tub out of their bathroom and just tiled the floor again. I like that style now that I’m used to it.

Joe November 3, 2008 at 9:04 am

That lobby is cool! Looks like a gunfight from the first Matrix movie is about to tear the place apart!

Daryl November 3, 2008 at 10:37 am

I’ve had a few bathrooms in Europe with that no-tub design. Granted, those bathrooms were more of a conscious design effort than a lack-of-space-for-anything-else like your room seemed to have.

Danny V November 3, 2008 at 10:41 am

That bathroom kind of reminds me of the one I had in Munich this past summer. It definitely wasn’t as small as the one you had but it was “open concept” if you will.

It was about 10′ x 10′ with a shower, sink and mirror, and toilet. The shower “stall” was delimited by a 1/2″ bump in the floor tile which was supposed to keep the water in that area but failed miserable at times. There was no shower curtain.

On the up side, this did provide me with ample room to hang my clothes to dry after washing them.

Hope your trip wasn’t too tainted by the state of the hotel. Thanks for the heads up!

Joey deVilla November 3, 2008 at 12:35 pm

Chiamatt: I’ll bet your bathroom’s drain was faster than the one at the Cecil Hotel. Taking a shower means dealing with a flood in the bathroom for about 30 minutes afterwards.

Joey deVilla November 3, 2008 at 12:36 pm

Joe: The lobby is absolutely gorgeous, and it seems to have a rep in the city. When I got in a cab one morning, the cabbie asked me “Too bad the rooms ain’t as nice as the lobby, huh?”

Joey deVilla November 3, 2008 at 12:37 pm

Danny V: The hotel was really the trip’s only downside, and minor annoyances aside, it had just about no impact.

Joel November 3, 2008 at 12:52 pm

I have used Tripadvisor reviews to choose hotels and it’s pretty interesting. In many hotels rooms seem to vary in quality as a hotel is renovated bit by bit over a period of several years. There also seems to be situations where there is a ‘cheap fleabag wing’ and a ‘business class wing’ and you might end up in one or the other. Long story short, the reviews can be all over the place and still be accurate. Sometimes when you book you can see that there are regular and ‘premium’ rooms and that might be a clue to why the reviews differ. I still have learned to check Tripadvisor for some clues though. You have to read the reviews with a grain of salt but it is nice to have something other than the marketing jibber-jabber to go on.

AS for what sort of room you get, I think the front desk people will put some guests (single men?) in as crappy a room as they think they’ll accept so they have better rooms for guests that might make a fuss (single women, couples.) When checking in you can ask if that part of the hotel has been renovated, or if you paid for a deluxe room make sure you get one. There are often quieter parts of the hotel you might ask about if that is important.

darryl November 3, 2008 at 1:16 pm

Great post.

By the way, you mention the lag time between calling a cab and having it arrive. You may have noticed that L.A. has almost zero cabs on the road (unlike most cities). Did you consider renting a car? It’s amazing how cheap it is in L.A. My friend once took me to a swank restaurant in Beverly Hills, and parking was $2! “No wonder everyone drives in L.A.” I said.

Joey deVilla November 3, 2008 at 1:23 pm

Darryl: I gave some thought to renting a car, but at conferences like this, and especially with a group like Microsoft Canada’s Developer and Platform Evangelism team who have a “work hard / play hard” ethos, there’s a lot of drinking involved. Hence my reliance on cabs.

William Lanting November 3, 2008 at 5:20 pm

Well, shucks Joey. Thanks for the, er, kind words? My company manages the Cecil Hotel and, had you asked, I would have been happy to clear a few things up for you. First of all, we realize that the Cecil needs a renovation. In fact, we have plans drawn up to renovate the entire building and convert most of it into a mid-priced Best Western Hotel. We thought it was a great idea. The area would get a newly-renovated hotel to serve this rapidly gentrifying neighborhood and the almost-broke City of Los Angeles gets about a million bucks per year in increased occupancy taxes. A win-win situation, right? That’s when the City of Los Angeles stopped us dead in our tracks.

You see, several years ago, Councilwoman Jan Perry and the Los Angeles Housing Department decided that the then-in-progress revitalization of this part of town (what most of us currently call the “Loft District”) was a bad thing…bad for the down-on-their-luck low-income residents that used to populate this area to the exclusion of almost everyone else. Afraid that the newly-relocating loft dwellers would displace the drug dealers, prostitutes and welfare recipients who called the area home, they enacted the “Temporary Control Ordinance” (which later morphed into the current “Permanent Control Ordinance”). This ordinance more-or-less arbitrarily placed a whole bunch of downtown hotels on the “Residential Hotels” list. The stated guidelines they established were these: If – on October 15, 2005 – more than 50% of a downtown hotel’s “guests” were actually residents who considered the facility their primary residence, then onto the list you went. In fact, only about 30% of the Cecil Hotel’s guests were of this variety at the time. Nevertheless, the Cecil Hotel was tossed on the list with all of the others. So, the owners of this hotel are now forever bound by law to remain a “residential hotel” for the benefit of low-income residents. If you think that this sounds an awful lot like an Eminent Domain taking, then you would be correct…eminent domain without compensation, which is very specifically against the Constitution of the United States. Doesn’t matter, nobody has the wherewithall to challenge the ordinance, so that is that. Like they say, you can’t fight city hall.

Well, not exactly, the owners of the Cecil Hotel HAVE sued the City of Los Angeles over this issue. We also continue to operate the hotel exactly as it was operated prior to October 15, 2005 which, surprisingly enough, is allowed under the Ordinance. In fact, all you must do to comply with the Ordinance is to make rooms AVAILABLE to low-income residents…at market rates! Huh? It seems obvious that low income tenants can’t afford to pay the now much-higher rents that area apartments are fetching. Yes, well Ms. Perry and the LAHD didn’t think that one through entirely. Unfortunately, though, the Ordinance does make it almost impossible for us to realize our Best Western dreams because combining two rooms into one (and adding bathrooms to each) effectively removes one guestroom from those that are supposed to remain available to low-income residents. Crazy, huh? A lose-lose situation if ever I saw one. So what do you do?

At this hotel, we have done as much as we can. We removed all of the prostitutes and drug dealers from the building. We still have 66 full-time residents, most of whom are on welfare, but they are (for the most part) good rent-paying, law-abiding people…some of whom have been here for several decades. In addition, we have two floors of college dorm-style rooms that house students from five local colleges. We also created Stay, which you mentioned only briefly in your article. Stay is, essentially, a very upscale youth hostel. (You can see for yourself at http://www.stay-hotels.net). This 138-room hostel-within-a-hotel is freshly renovated and very popular with backpacking European tourists and others looking for a hip place to stay for not much dough. You should have checked in yourself. It is an entirely different experience from the rest of the Cecil Hotel.

The storefron guestrooms you also mentioned in your article are actually part of a one-month promotion for Stay. You can see more at http://www.stayinabubble.com.

So, that brings us back to the Cecil Hotel. We continue to proceed with our plans for Marty and Nip and Tuck. Although, the City has put up one roadblock after another. I guess our $40 million lawsuit hurt their feelings. But, we perservere. However, until the lawsuit is resolved, the Cecil Hotel remains as it has been. It is a cheap place to stay, that is for sure. Rooms here are half of what they would be anywhere else downtown. And, there is a big market for that…cheap rooms, clean and prostitute-free. Apparently, you are not in the Cecil’s target demographic set. So, I am sorry that you were disappointed with your visit to the Cecil. But thanks for the trashing nevertheless.

Maria November 3, 2008 at 5:42 pm

@William Lanting
As a fellow blogger, I do not believe what Joey did was “trashing”, he provided an honest review about his experience and about the hotel. He may or may not be in the target demographic, but his review is more informative than much of the stuff you can find anywhere else on the Internet.
Thank you for the explanation about why the hotel is in the state it is, quite interesting and understandable.
He will be contacting American Express travel services to let them know so the next time they recommend the hotel they know what it is about.
What is ridiculous is that they couldn’t give him an invoice… come on, he obviously will know how much it is, as he said, when it shows in his credit card statement.
The review is very informative, this is what blogs are about.

James Koole November 6, 2008 at 7:28 pm

Dude. Might should check Trip Advisor next time. That is harsh.

John Spartan April 25, 2010 at 5:21 pm

Wow, I was just about to book the Cecil for E3, but thanks to your Dump with a Future article, I’ll be steering clear from this place. But the whole taking a dump while showering sounds promising.

小-Abby February 18, 2013 at 4:59 am

蓝可儿?

Inflammateur February 20, 2013 at 2:12 am

Well, the dark history of Cecil Hotel just added another chapter with Elisa Lam.

Eww February 21, 2013 at 10:59 am

At least you weren’t brushing your teeth with dead body.
Or maybe you were.

E February 21, 2013 at 5:33 pm

The fact you were accused of trashing, when everything you said is backed with photographic proof and they just fished a body out of the water tank…

Joey deVilla February 21, 2013 at 6:24 pm

E: That, and the fact that I also praised their lobby, their interesting art displays, their upcoming bars and restaurants and their potential. That was almost five years ago, and they have yet to get their act together.

Joe Cool February 23, 2013 at 11:57 am

Now everyone knows something about this glorious hotel.

liu xinlu February 24, 2013 at 12:31 pm

OH, That’s the poor girl’s “hotel”

EmeraldWynn February 24, 2013 at 9:18 pm

And years later, a random stranger reads this post and thinks, “Damn this blog is awesome!” 🙂

alisa rynay January 11, 2014 at 11:09 am

I, my teenaged daughter and her friend stayed here during Paley Fest 2011?12?
I grew up in Orange Co and frequented this area as soon as I had a vehicle..I now live out of state and landed the Cecil on an online mystery destination, rate was cheap enough and it promised free parking. Free parking only applied to permanent residents so I left my 2 19yr olds in the entrance to the elite parking from around 2a-3a with ALL of their luggage/pillows/blankets etc while I found parking a few blocks away. They were pi$$ed at first but said they saw so much (crazy people talking to aliens, homeless, business people, etc)that they ended up enjoying the experience. (No, I had no fear that my child would be assaulted while left unattended in downtown LA at the witching hour). They hated the room (size of a closet) and they really hated the public shower idea until we climbed out onto the balcony on the 3rd floor corner room and inhaled the delicious SoCal air and beheld the absolute magnificence of this city at night. We could see Skid row beyond the above ground parking garage that was just across from the alley we were suspended above, if we looked higher we saw all of the lights to the coast and the blackness beyond, to the right more high rises and neon signs, directly below we witnessed a prostitute type transaction and my daughter and her friend started to laugh and smile and dance and (almost) fall thru the hole in the fire escape stairwell and they were hooked- as I had been most of my life – to the absolute poverty and decedance that surrounded them. We loved every minute of our 2 day stay at this magnificent broken down ghosts of former glory days monument that personifies EVERYTHING that Los Angeles and Hollywood has promised since it’s inception: Riches beyond imagination, crippling poverty, Broken Dreams and Undying Hope …The Best and the Worst of Life is yours for the taking..just walk outside and stand on the corner and wait for the light to change..then follow your feet. The Cecil is a reminder of the finer days of Old Hollywood (original architecture, mosaics, etc) ..I think the decay amplifies it’s beauty and I can’t wait to get back! Yes, I took my daughter to SKid Row for her vacation, and she came home with delusions of granduer. We’ll be back, we just won’t bring so much luggage!

olive mankiewicz October 26, 2014 at 5:43 pm

Actually, it sounds like my kind of place … I like old and retro though I am sure I would have been astounded although most likely charmed by that shoilet but fearful I would electrocute myself if I tried to do anything with a cord. But I think I would have been terrified to stay knowing it has a bit of a haunting rep, at least as far as I suspect from the story I am about to read about one man’s experience there. You don’t mention anything like that, so apparently were spared or are not moved by such concerns. 🙂

joe January 9, 2015 at 12:59 am

I stayed in this hotel in the summer of 2005 for about 5 days even though I’d planned on staying longer. Yes there were many shady people staying and the staff seemed desensitized with blank expressions. It came to head the last night when I Iwas getting ready to sleep. I knew no one in the building and no one really knew I was staying there but I here a knock on my door. This gets creepy. I ask who it is by yelling ‘Yes!’ to which I get no response a few seconds pass and I hear the knock again three times, but this time it gets louder. Now I’m 5’10” 225 lbs of painting contractor muscle so I’m not scared to aproach the eye hole to see if some one, a kid or something, was playing a joke but I couldn’t see anyone. The knocking shortly turned from laud knocking to banging all the while I didn’t know what to think. I thought if I open the door I could possible get over taken by who knows how many people were on the other side or if they were armed, which could have been true. I stay in my room and turn the cable on (yes they have cable) and after ignoring it for a while it ends. Let me tell you I’ve to this day ever had such a feeling of helplessness such as that since or before that incident. You couldn’t pay me to stay there today. Beware that place is not safe!! The only thing that I think was on my side that night was the fact that the seemed to be an original door and pretty thick and heavy otherwise what ever it was could have opened the door. I’ve always wondered if anyone else stayed and had any similar experiences at that place.

Harvey May 28, 2015 at 7:09 pm

IT AMASES ME HOW NONE OF YOU PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT THE MULTIPLE MURDERS THAT HAVE TAKEN PLACE IN THIS HOTEL

WOW WHAT THE FUCK , ALLOT OF SEX OFFENDERS STAY THERE AND RECENTLY A STRANGE MURDER OF ELISA LAM TOOK PLACE

WOW READING THE LAST COMMENT HERE MAKES ME WANDER HOW CLOSE HE WAS TO DEATH

blaq dahl December 6, 2015 at 12:26 pm

this is the hotel where Elisa Lam was killed and dumped into the water tanks on the rooftop,

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