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Club Quarters: Clowning Around

(This is a blog post written for my personal blog detailing my exploits during a stay at Club Quarters: Philadelphia. )

Wednesday afternoon we ("we" being a group of us from AccuWeather) left State College for Philadelphia. Thursday we had an all-day meeting scheduled to do some serious focus group type testing and we didn't want to leave at 5 a.m. to get to the meeting on time. (The meeting was held at 1 South Broad Street, which appeared to be in the heart of the city.)

We were booked to stay at "Club Quarters." This seemed like a reasonable thing to do. For one, "Club Quarters" was located only three blocks from our meeting location. It was competitively priced for being "right downtown" and lastly, our focus group type testing partners had suggested it.

What follows is a review of the accomodations which I hope to submit to every hotel review site on Earth because it may very well be that my only purpose in life is to serve as a warning for others. On the whole I think the review is fairly balanced and presents both sides: the Hotel side and the Shoot Me In The Head With A Bazooka side. I'll let you, the alert reader, decide.

Review of Club Quarters in Philadelphia

Club Quarters (http://www.clubquarters.com) is the "Smart Hotel for the Sensible Organization." Immediately I felt put at ease because we're certainly a sensible organization if nothing else, and so we were obviously at the right place. Club Quarters is located directly across the street from Liberty Place, which is a collection of shops that most would describe as "hoity-toity." On the surface, being located across from a collection of hoity-toity shops might seem like a benefit but it isn't, really, if you don't have time to shop. Liberty Place was the location of the below-ground parking garage, which seemed to be the only place to park, which is what we did. The garage was fine, except that it was 2,000 degrees and our tires melted.

We checked into the hotel which went smoothly enough. Even though our rooms were booked at the same time, when we checked in we were dispersed to all corners of the hotel. No big deal, so far so good.

I made my way up to my room and was surprised when I got there. I was surprised not like "Whoa! Why is there a clown in my bed!" but more like "Whoa! Who stole the other two-thirds of my room?" When reviewers say things like "small rooms" you think, "Well, how small could they be?" The answer is, "Just a little bit bigger than a bed and a TV." It really felt like someone had taken a normal room and cut it into thirds to make two more rooms. Below is a size comparison chart for the visual learners in the audience.

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After coming to grips with the size of the room, which I could accept (all I was planning to do was sleep, not run laps, juggle or play frisbee) I threw my bag down and looked around. The first thing I check (and this will sound silly, I know) is the quality of the free soap and shampoo. So I went into the (tiny) bathroom, which consisted of a tiny sink, a tiny shower stall and a (small) toilet and looked over the soap situation. It was nicely labeled although I didn't recognize the brand. I examined the toilet a little more closely. I'm not sure how to describe this, but the toilet was set under the counter a bit, so that the seat could not be raised fully. That was fine, since I wasn't planning to be in there too often. Then I noticed that it was one of those "public restroom" style toilets, with those metal handles that most people probably just flush with their foot for fear of contracting some horrible, antibiotic-resistant plague should they touch it with their hands. It flushed fine, (my foot fit under there without any problems) so no worries.

The only other point of interest was another door in my room. The handle was broken and it wouldn't open, so I still have no idea what was in there. It may have been a clown however, as I heard a muffled "honk!" and some giggling when I tried to get in.

At this point I would probably give the hotel two-and-a-half stars. (See figure below.)

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However, the night was far from over (cue ominous music). At about 9:40 p.m. while I was watching my tiny television from my tiny bed the power went out. It was very dark. This wasn't a normal dark; this was a dark like when you go into a cave and the cave guide says, "Hey, wanna see something really cool?" and then turns off the flashlight and everyone screams, even the clown, because it is DARK like before the sun was made dark.

My first thought was, "Man, it is dark." My second thought was, "Wasn't O.J. Simpson in the Towering Inferno?" Since I was on the eighth floor, which is seven floors higher than you want to be if there's a problem like a fire or O.J. Simpson, I grabbed my cell phone for light, my wallet, and headed down to the lobby.

Ha! In most buildings, you would expect that the stairs would go to the ground floor with stops at every level, right? Not at Club Quarters: Philadelphia. I made my way down the stairs but there either was not a door at the lobby level, or it was a one-way door. So I continued down to the ground level, and it was like I was in different building. The walls were pock-marked, plaster littered the floor, there were boards nailed up here and there, small piles of trash strewn around the hallway and at least one cockroach as big as a Volkswagen.

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Finally I found a door and exited into an alley. I was a little disoriented, not being accustomed to exiting into alleys, but managed to circle the building and find the hotel entrance again. Once inside, I tried the stairs to get to the lobby (the lobby was on the second floor) but the stairs ended in a one-way door that no one opened when banged upon. (Although, I did hear a "honk!" and then a muffled giggle, and a sound like someone taking a custard pie in the face.)

So at that point I gambled and got in an elevator. Well, only after watching someone else first try it and go from G to L. (Ground to lobby, I figured.) Normally I wouldn't recommend entering an elevator like this. Once the doors opened I was greeted by Lobby Chaos. The staff (I'm not making this up) was passing out flashlights to guests while trying to figure out what was happening. Guests were milling about, some angry, some amused, waiting to see what was going to happen. I decided to wait a little while in the lobby with the hopes that the power would come back momentarily. About 30 minutes later the backup power, which had been keeping some lights on and running the elevators, shut off. I was seated near the elevators at the time and heard management calling to a group now trapped in one of the elevators.

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Shortly after I heard some manager tell an employee to "keep them calm" (i.e. the people in the elevator, not the clowns juggling in the lobby) the fire department showed up. They proceeded to pry apart the elevator doors with their patent-pending Club Quarters Elevator Staff™ also known as a huge crowbar. After the four women were freed from the elevator I watched the Philly FD talk to someone who must have been the building superintendent. Apparently, there had been a loss of power earlier in the day, and someone somewhere, who is responsible for these sorts of things, thought the problem was corrected but the problem reoccurred, and they were trying to get ahold of those people to get it fixed. I did hear that the fire systems were on some sort of battery back up and should work for three hours. (No one asked if the batteries were now drained given there had been a loss of power earlier.) Just then a clown ran through and sprayed the super with a bottle of seltzer.

By now I had drank too much of the "complimentary water" the hotel had made available because of the inconvenience and was experiencing "full bladder." So I searched the lobby area for a restroom but came up empty (so to speak.) The lines to talk to anyone in charge were quite long, and somewhat agitated, so I decided I would head back to my tiny, fire-trap-like room. The emergency power had been restored, (but not the main power) and the elevators were working but after the fire department scene I decided to walk up the six flights to get back to my room. The first two flights were easy, the second two a little more difficult, and by the last two I decided to just lasso and ride a cockroach up I was so tired.

I got back to the room (and thanked Nigel for the ride) and - what do you know! - the power was back on. It was after 11 pm. I collapsed into bed, certain that I would either wake up an hour late, or wake up to being tossed out of the room by the fire department, or wake up surrounded by Nigel and his family. For some reason I didn't sleep well.

In the morning there were only three incidents pertinent to this review. First, when I turned on the water in the morning, only half awake, the faucet gave that roaring sound you get when the water flow is interrupted because of a power outage. I nearly had a heart attack, but I heard a great deal of chortling from the closet I couldn't open. Second, the front desk said nothing about the outage, no apology, no "How was your evening?" or "How was your stay?" and no offer to take anything off of the price of the room. Third, the front desk somehow messed up our group's billing and billed two rooms to one of our party.

Finally, in an effort to be "balanced" I should point out that the restaurant located in the hotel (Davio's) was very nicely decorated, and each table had a candle which came in very handy during the power outage. Also, to the front desk's credit, not a single staff member screamed in terror and ran out of the building when the power went out. And as I mentioned they did give out free water during the power outage.

So what's the final score? I know you all scrolled down here and skipped the good stuff. Get back up there and read! Anyway, here's how I think it all breaks down. (Final score not an "average." These things are subjective, you know.)

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So I probably wouldn't recommend it. But then again, I'm not a big fan of clowns.

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