Hotel Carter: Trip Advisor’s Dirtiest Hotel 2009

Is New York’s Hotel Carter really the dirtiest hotel in the United States?

The other day I had the opportunity to pop in to the Hotel Carter in New York’s Times Square, which according to tripadvisor.com, is the dirtiest hotel in the United States. Located at 250 W. 43rd St., the Carter is two doors down from a Cheetah Gentleman’s Club and just a stone’s throw from the Port Authority bus terminal.

Actually, the lobby could best be described as a cross between a strip joint and a bus terminal. It features neon lighting, a bank of televisions (some working, some not), floor-to-ceiling mirrors, and a pod of Dell computers (with Internet access available for 20 cents a minute). Strangely, there are also several pallets of shrink-wrapped phone books, which may or may not have been delivered to the wrong address. But while the lobby is old and dingy, it isn’t particularly scary or dirty.

Of course, the rooms upstairs could be another story. And judging from the reviews on tripadvisor.com (currently 544 of 835 reviews label the Carter as “terrible”), encounters with bed bugs, roaches and even rodents are not out of the ordinary.

In short, everything about the place says “hit-or-miss.” I spoke with one doorman, who was as friendly and helpful as any doorman at an upscale hotel. (The other doorman was catatonic.) My impression is that a fortunate visitor could get a room that is “not bad.” A not-so-lucky guest could have a frightening experience that necessitates a visit to a dermatologist. Or worse.

But the most remarkable thing about the Hotel Carter is its slogan, which qualifies as a fail: “You Always Wanted in Time Square and Less.” You figure that one out.