Hotel review: Hooters Casino Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada

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.

Hooters Vegas door knockersThe 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.

The Summary:


* 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.

* Owls.


* I don’t really need to fill this in.

Hotel review: Inn on Ferry Street, Detroit, USA


Detroit’s Inn on Ferry Street is a welcoming delight of an overnight address. Or, rather, six addresses. It’s practically an entire street! Comprised of a constellation of six separate century-old homes on a slow, leafy street off main thoroughfare Woodward, you’re sure to be able to find one that suits your colour scheme—and if you’d prefer a whole house and think nothing of nabbing three to nine rooms for the night, you’ve still got plenty of choice. Rooms range from cosy attic perches, placed perfectly for spying on comings and goings, to roomy suites nestled in carriage houses, set back off the street.

We were in a main house room, above check-in and the breakfast room, which saved us from having to brave brisk winds each morning (pleasing!), dashing to and from the extremely generous breakfast spread. Our room was pink. The colour was pretty much what I imagine the innards of a whale must look like. I imagine that sort of thing way more than you’d think. Blame my Bible-heavy Catholic upbringing. Anyway, definitely more “whale innards” than “salmon.” Well, unless you’re someone in the habit of seriously overcooking your fruits de mer or have recently netted a salmon crimson with fury at the prospect of being eaten. Let’s call it “New England Berry Puree” instead. It was a much more appealing room than I have made it sound. Sorry for mentioning whale innards.

I particularly enjoyed that the bathroom soap was a green tea and willow concoction that declared itself the “finest bathing soap.” This description immediately made me want to don a demure Victorian bathing costume and trot off in search of the nearest bathing pavilion. Detroit being a wee bit short on such swimming institutions, I made do with a swift shower and an amble over to the Detroit Institute of Art, conveniently situated about 100 feet from the Inn’s back door.

Spotted at breakfast: a member of seminal Goth band Bauhaus! Wearing shades! Eating granola! Spotted at check-in and at various inconvenient times by the breakfast waffle station: a glowering minivan-load of Ontario lesbians! Including at least two carrying what appeared to be feathered crow costumes! The views from our chamber’s bay window were of the adjacent mansion and the DIA’s and the Inn’s car parks, which allowed excellent spying opportunities as we attempted to work out why a sextet of frowny Canadian ladies were carting crow costumes about with such grave expressions. Were they in town for an ornithology convention, early Halloween hijinks or some feathered flight of fancy? To make a statement about cross-border migratory policies affecting rooks and ravens? Who knows? Alas, our fellow guests were far too frowny to be interrogated about their avian accoutrements.

More perturbing than coinciding with angry ornithologists or Goth demigods on our repeated jaunts down to make the most of the constant supply of coffee and cake in the breakfast room (Cake! 24 hours a day!) was the fact that Google’s first suggested auto-complete for the inn was “Inn on Ferry Street haunted”. I debated whether to tell A or not, but when I did, she was just hugely relieved that I hadn’t told her we were sharing sleeping quarters with any nasty creepy crawlies. While it’s distinctly possible that we simply have the supernatural sensibilities of a brick and so were not in tune with any ethereal inhabitants of the inn, we didn’t encounter anything remotely spooky or suspicious, other than the fact that at least three other breakfast guests leapt to their feet any time we even thought about approaching the waffle maker.

Summary? Go! You’ll like this place. An easy place to overnight and make the most of a first visit to Detroit.

Who would this hotel suit?


*The Inn would also win points with my parents, who would have been pleased by the classical music playing gently in the common areas of the inn and by the proximity to the DIA.

*People who travel with their own life-size crow costumes.

*Goth legends.

*Grown-ups, in general, whether solo, couples or friends.

The Summary:


*Kaleidoscopic array of clientele. You’ll fit in, no matter how weird you are.

*Plethora of pleasing 1930s/Arts and Crafts-era features, from beds and fireplaces to artworks.

*Tasty local Great Lakes coffee and an array of cake served 24 hours a day. Cake!

*Breakfasts served till 11:30 on weekends—bonus points!— and 10 on weekdays. Tasty scrambled eggs or frittata, plus many berries and many representatives from the muskmelon spectrum.

*Instead of an overpriced in-room minibar that taunts you with treats that will capsize your monthly budget if you dare to even peel off the lid, the Inn has a few demure baskets of cookies and so on ($1 for McClure’s Spicy Pickle Chips! Spicy! Pickly!) downstairs, and a wee selection of wines and beers for less than you’d pay in a corner store.

*Location! Although locals look a bit concerned at the sight of people using their legs to propel themselves, stay at the Inn and you can saunter to the DIA, The Wright Museum of African-American History, Michigan Science Center and Detroit Historical Society. Or you can get dropped anywhere within five miles by the hotel shuttle. The Motown Museum, hip Corktown and the tasty Eastern Market district are within ten minutes drive. Free parking!

*The hotel’s brochure describes it as “aptly accommodating,” which I agree with wholeheartedly. Very apt.

*Every one of the staff I encountered was a fine and entertaining human. If Detroit’s artistic and cultural offerings (and slew of adjacent dive bars) hadn’t been so enticing, I’d have happily stayed in and hung out with the Inn’s desk folks.


*The Victorians or whoever built this place in 1886 were maybe better sleepers than us. Voices and coughs carry from the lobby and along corridors.