No, Priceline, no, no, no! After all these years and all the places we’ve been together, how could you do this to me?
Sometimes doing a super last minute, anonymous bid for a hotel room on Priceline works out amazingly well. Sometimes it does not.
Have you ever been to bosom-ogling emporium Hooters? For the, um, wings? Well… it turns out that as well as Hooters’ 500 or so eating, drinking and bosom-ogling establishments, there’s also a hotel. A casino hotel. In Las Vegas. Where now, courtesy of the game of roulette that is Priceline, I am now booked to stay.
“The cure for the common casino,” trumpets the cleavage and owl-adorned website! This sounds accurate, as looking at online reviews for my night’s accommodation makes it sounds as if I will be cured of ever wanting to go to any sort of gaming venue again. One of the more enthusiastic manages, “Rooms cheap, clean-ish.” Another scrapes up the scant lure of “Wings 24/7,” although this is somewhat tempered by the fact that the next one down warns of “gooey wings.” But it could be worse: a review for a nearby hotel is titled, “A dose of the itchy-scratchies.”
“Pool great for kids,” says the last report I read before accepting my destination. Really? You brought your kids to Hooters? My childhood vacations tended not to feature scantily clad women and interchangeable references to owls/boobs, although I did once get flashed by a Brown Owl or Tawny Owl or Shouldn’t-Be-Allowed-Near-Young-Kids Owl when I was on a camping trip with the Brownies, so Hooters should bring back all sorts of childhood memories…
Still, the prospect of Hooters Hotel is initially somewhat amusing, for all other humans I know, at least, but it becomes far less funny after I have to tell the airport check-in lady, the US border officials and the Vegas Airport Express bus driver the name of my accommodations for the night. “People think I chose this,” I realise with dismay, as I fill in my hotel name on the customs card for the US, and as I cringe off the packed shuttle bus after the driver has bellowed, “Lady going to Hoooooters Hotel.”
Hooters’ check-in is reached by pushing through swarms of drunken 30-something-year-old guys in plaid shirts, burly scowling security men and scowling faded ladies taking drinks orders around banks of games machines and then trekking gingerly across a carpet reminiscent of a swampy stretch of damp peaty bog you might have the misfortune to sink into in the Scottish Highlands. Except what you’ll find underfoot here is a bewildering hue of orange with more crushed ice, tramped peanuts and pools of wilted despair than you’ll find in most areas of the Highlands. Walking across it will have you pining for those troughs of disinfectant you once had to walk through to reach public swimming pools. Do you still need to walk through these troughs? Apparently I do not swim often enough.
The beds and rooms are surprisingly fresh and clean, although it looks suspiciously like a previous guest may actually have gnawed the wooden frame around the bathroom mirror.
“Hooters makes you happy,” says a neon sign outside. I chat to various guys in the elevator during my stay, and they do seem reasonably jovial. A poster in the elevator features two Hooters girls, which seems to be as close as the guys staying here actually get to females (other than those who have recently sworn off using Priceline ever again.) In the poster, one girl is cramming donuts in her face while the other is practising her best “guess what I’ve got in my vagina” face..
Fleeing to go out to meet my sensibly otherwise-located friends, Beck’s 1994 song, “Loser” is playing as I squelch across the carpet. Apt.
Who would this hotel suit?
*People who enjoy the underfoot sensation of walking across swampy peatland without having to leave a casino.
* People who do not demand a refund when their “Ocean View Room” turns out to be 270 miles from the nearest ocean with views out over a car park full of angry crows.
* People who enjoy the fact that the hotel has continued the oceanic/aquatic theme by thoughtfully allowing what looks like years of grime to accumulate on the window, making it feel like you’re overnighting inside a much neglected aquarium, and managing to almost completely obscure all views of the Vegas Strip skyline beyond.
* It’s an easy, safe walk from here to places that you might actually want to be. Places where your feet don’t sink despondently into the carpet with each step.
* Google Maps appears keen to point out Hooters’ proximity to the “Tropicana North Branch Detention Basin.” It’s probably a nicer place to hang out than Hooters.
* I don’t really need to fill this in.