Tuesday Rant: Hotel Review (Millennium Biltmore – LA)

I’m going to approach my first askdescamp.com hotel review in a couple of ways. First, I’ll give my overall impressions and some more specific observations. Then, I will compare the hotel website description of its facility to my experience. Here we go!

It’s important to note that I was not involved in making these reservations. I approach making travel plans somewhat methodically, since I have a strange habit of wanting to come home immediately upon arriving somewhere else. For that reason, I try to make certain that wherever I am going is as good as it can be for the money I have to spend.

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Upon arriving at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel, I was immediately stricken by the absolute absence of natural light in the lobby. The entrance is set underground somewhat, and there are no windows. Not good for a person with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder, or Soaking and Depressed as we call it in Oregon).

I know the massive lobby is supposed to be impressive, but instead it conveys a feeling of hollow loneliness and obscurity. The gaudy decor may have been impressive 90 years ago, but it is now outdated and excessive, especially in a city like L.A.

As we spent 15 minutes checking in and my eyes continued adjusting to the lack of light, the next thing that struck me was the smell. Like every other god-damned building in this god-forsaken town, there is no smoking allowed and hasn’t been for several years. Still, there was a musty, stale smell that permeated the lobby, hallways and our room.

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It smelled like dying careers, broken dreams and empty promises delivered in the heat of lust but never kept. The odor in the hotel went nicely with the stains everywhere: on the carpet, the walls and the furniture, probably caused by the mascara-soaked tears of desperate starlets willing to fuck a fat, old married producer for a bad role in a lousy film, knowing they aren’t pretty enough to rate Shutters in Santa Monica and that they won’t get cast anyway.

The grime throughout the hotel is disconcerting, especially given the price point (between $250-350/night for the “Club Level”). It’s everywhere: a layer of dirt and disappointment that could probably be scrubbed away, but nobody seems to care.

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Besides the uncleanliness of the rooms, the decor is tacky and, again, outdated. This hotel has not had a major renovation since the year I graduated from high school, and it shows. In 1987, this place probably looked fresh. Now, like me, it needs a major facelift.

Speaking of that, I had the opportunity to meet the famous Dr. Paul Nassif yesterday, thanks to my friend Tiffany. He says he can help me. He’s so adorable, especially now that he shed the Shrew.

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I really need to exercise so I am going to wrap this up: here is how the hotel describes itself, and my comments are in italics.:

“The Millennium Biltmore Hotel has been the premier choice for celebrities, presidents and dignitaries for nearly 90 years.
The only president I saw was the president of the Leann Rimes Fan Club, which apparently was having a convention at the hotel and booked a total of three rooms.

Few Los Angeles hotels boast the ideal locale and sumptuous comforts this luxury hotel has to offer. Situated at the heart of L.A’s vibrant cultural district, the hotel is just steps away from major attractions, such as L.A. Live, the Ahmanson Theatre, Walt Disney Concert Hall and Dodger Stadium. Just one block away is the quick Metro Red Line subway, which provides easy access to exciting venues like Universal Studios and the Dolby Theater. Just a short drive away you’ll find Hollywood and Beverly Hills, as well as Los Angeles International, Burbank and Long Beach airports.
That’s a lot of words to describe what is nearby the hotel, not the hotel itself. Red flag.

Upon arriving at the Millennium Biltmore, you’ll find contemporary comforts fused with classic European style in each of the 683 guest rooms.
The only thing contemporary about this hotel is the inclusion of a telephone and a television in your room.
All guests are provided with access to our Roman-style indoor swimming pool and health club, (more on this in a moment)and Executive and Club Level floors feature premium services for discerning travelers.
If by “premium” you mean burned coffee and costco muffins in the morning and shitty wine with crackers, cheese and meats set free from a dozen Oscar Mayer Lunchables, sure, I guess.

With all this and more, the Millennium Biltmore hotel is an ideal venue for social events, weddings and meetings. Whatever the nature of your stay, a warm welcome awaits you at this luxury hotel in downtown Los Angeles.”
I agree that the hotel is an ideal venue for you if your goal is to write a really snarky and negative review. Other than that, the only reason I would return here is to meet Larry David for a drink before we go golfing. In addition, your stay will NOT be warm unless you ask for a comforter. The beds have only a sheet and a thin blanket on them.

“HEALTH CLUB AND FITNESS CENTER”

It’s very important to me that I stay on my fitness routine when I am traveling. Here is how the hotel describes their health club and fitness center:

“When looking for a hotel near Staples Center, choose the Millennium Biltmore Hotel. This downtown Los Angeles hotel offers a health club and fitness center for guests who stay active while traveling.

Facilities include a steam room, bubbling Jacuzzi™ (under renovation until further notice) and dry sauna, as well as cardiovascular and weight equipment.
OK, I don’t care that I can’t use the bubbling Jacuzzi™ because given the overall dirty condition of the hotel, I imagine there are social diseases floating in the hot tub just ready to creep up my bathing suit. Yuck.

The indoor Roman-style pool is replete with teakwood deck chairs and cold showers, reminiscent of cruise ships from the 1920s with its original tile and mosaic work.
Ah yes, the joy and luxury of having deck chairs arranged around an underground pool. And cold showers! How lovely! As for being reminiscent of cruise ships from the 1920s, I’m not sure why I am supposed to be happy about this. I would like my fitness center to be reminiscent of a fitness club one would find in at least the late 1990s. This was not.

I have never seen cardio machines this worn out and busted. I want my hotel fitness equipment, especially at these room rates, to be newer models, brand-new and have the appearance of never having been used, or at least not very much. Basically, like I imagine the fitness equipment in Kirstie Alley’s house.

Men’s and women’s locker rooms with showers are also located inside.
If you have to boast about having locker rooms and showers in a fitness center, you may not know your audience and what should always come standard with a fitness facility. This is like writing about the fact you provide cutlery on your restaurant website. “Fabulous tuna tartare served with tobiko, quail egg and a fork!”

The Health Club at this downtown L.A. hotel is complimentary for all guests and accessible by room key only. Health Club open 24 hours; pool open from 6:00am – 10:00pm
Yes, it’s free, I’ll give them that. But then again, most are.

OK folks, I have got to go for a run and get on with my day. George Clooney and I are meeting for lunch later and Larry David finally called me for that round of golf, so it looks like I’ve got a pretty booked day.

In closing, I would note that I am not a snob or an especially picky traveler. In fact, I like a dive hotel or bar so long as it knows it’s a dive, and that always includes a price point aligned with what is being offered. This hotel is a sad, broken down grand dame that needs to be either put out to pasture, massively renovated or to accept it is not the majestic beauty it once was and charge accordingly. Here are some more photos:

-Robin

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The carving in this mirror was caked with grime, and since it was in the bathroom, I have to assume much of it consisted of DNA icky stuff. Photo doesn’t really do it justice.

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Nice outlet! Looks safe.

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Lovely!

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Really? You couldn’t take the time to center the mirror over the desk?

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The “Club Lounge,” also known as “My Great-Grandmother’s Living Room,” or “Nursing Home of Despair.”

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Apparently we are in the Lawrence of Arabia Suite.

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Exactly the shower you expect for over $300 a night. Also, water wasn’t really warm enough.

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I knew we were in trouble when we received this upon check-in. You can’t really tell from the photo but clearly they have run out of toner and the logo on the paper looks like it was photocopied from a blurry photo. Unprofessional and lame.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. John DesCamp

    The gulf between our expectations and reality is usually filled with either anger or irony. You’ve managed to steer nicely between the two; sort of like Ulysses sailing between Scylla and Charybdis. Bravo!

  2. Jeanna V. Anonymous

    Next stop….Robin gets photography lessons! LOL…come on, just kidding.

  3. Linda

    I have to go back now and re-read. I was impressed by the fact you met Dr. Paul Nassif, I always wanted to ask him if he would be able to repair my flying squirrel under arms for a reduced cost of free. After being completely awestruck of the fact you met him, I realized there was more to the blog. My apologies.
    Kidding, I did read it. Isn’t it a shame what money will get you now?
    Great blog Robin, now I know if I ever go to LA again where not to stay!

  4. Ali Whiting

    I think I may have just wet my pants!! Hysterical!

Comments are closed.