View Full Version : Hotel Carter

November 20th, 2005, 05:55 AM
What Do You Expect for $99.23 a Night?

Published: November 20, 2005

Michael Nagle for The New York Times
The 615 rooms at Hotel Carter, on West 43rd Street near Eighth Avenue, are among the city's cheapest.

Michael Nagle for the New York Times
Room 1105 revealed a dead phone, carpet stains and a moldy patch on the bathroom ceiling. The TV, however, was new, and the bed was comfortable.

It was about 4 p.m. when something crawled on the carpet. A large insect of unidentified species made its way across the hotel lobby, and a group of European tourists tracked it with a cheerful curiosity until a gray-haired man in a baseball cap waiting to check in stomped on it.

No one else noticed the dead bug. The lobby - a sensory overload of neon, mirrors, bright lights, televisions, yard-sale furniture and pay phones - was too distracting. Guests streamed in and out with befuddled stares, mild complaints and curious requests. A woman asked a worker for bug killer after finding a roach in her bathroom. She was handed a spray bottle of kitchen cleaner and sent on her way.

In the rooms upstairs, tales of lodging woe unfolded. One guest said his television played the sound from one channel but showed the picture from another. A couple in Room 500 said they were surprised to discover that they did not have a closet. And a businesswoman from Ukraine on the 23rd floor found that she liked her room better in the dark. "If the curtains close, light is off, it's not that bad," she said.

People have been saying for years that the old Times Square - the seedy, lowbrow ancestor of what is now a largely sanitized, Disneyfied tourist haven - is dead. But those people have never spent a night at the Hotel Carter. The 615-room hotel at 250 West 43rd Street offers travelers a cheap room in an expensive city, and something more: an adventure. In the middle of Manhattan and at the neon-bright Crossroads of the World, the hotel has been a little-known source of grimy hospitality, low-budget accommodations and equal numbers of satisfied and dissatisfied customers from around the world.

As a guest of the Hotel Carter, you may or may not have your room cleaned. You may or may not find the multicolored, multipatterned carpet on the floor and the walls agreeable. You may or may not have a working television and telephone. You may or may not have a smooth check-in, since the front desk keeps track of reservations without the benefit of a computer system.

In short, you may or may not have an enjoyable stay. The answer depends on which room you get - the top floors have numerous large recently renovated rooms with splendid views - and on your answer to this question: What do you expect for $99.23 a night?

The Carter, a tan-brick 24-story hotel on a busy stretch of West 43rd Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, is popular with foreign travelers, students and tourists on a tight budget, and recent guests either loved it or hated it.

Tran Truong, 73, the co-owner of the hotel, and his assistant, Elaine Nguyen, said they tried their best to provide safe, clean lodging at a low price for travelers. Mr. Truong, a Vietnamese businessman who lives in the hotel, bought the Carter in 1977. Ms. Nguyen said they did not have the money or the staff of the big corporate hotel chains, but she defended the hotel's customer service and cleanliness. The city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene conducted an inspection for rodents in July and found no cause for action, according to the report.

"We're not a four-star or five-star hotel," she said. What they are, she said, is "the best bargain for the location."

A two-night stay at the hotel last week illustrated the benefits and the drawbacks of bargain lodging in Times Square. The hotel can be humorously disorienting. People have stood on the sidewalk outside the hotel and tried to decipher, without success, the meaning of one of the hotel's slogans, displayed above its bronze-colored awning: "You Wanted in Time Square & Less."

The lobby is a 24-hour people-watcher's paradise. It can feel, in a narrow room that resembles a cross between a D.M.V. office and a Las Vegas disco, like Saturday night on an early Wednesday morning. At one moment, two elegantly dressed women in evening gowns and high heels appeared. At another, a man sat down and drank from a can of Budweiser. "The best show on Broadway," a former guest wrote on one travel Web site, tripadvisor.com, "is the lobby of the Carter."

Room 1105 was not so much a room as it was a place to lie low. It took eight paces to walk from one wall to the next and 21 paces to get from the door to the window. The telephone was dead. It sat on an old desk, its drawer broken and placed on the stained carpet, a copy of the Manhattan white pages, 1994-5, among the contents inside. The room was lighted by a bare bulb on the ceiling, and the headboard of the bed was a rectangle of blue carpet nailed to the wall. There was a big moldy splotch on the ceiling above the bathtub.

The Sharp TV was sleek and new, but the tiles in the bathroom longed for a good scrubbing. The door unlocked using a modern card instead of a key, but the push-button phone - the typewritten number on its beige face disconnected - was of unknown vintage, perhaps from the 1980's. There were hints of the hotel's rich past, sometimes in the oddest places.

A "Church Directory," about 25 years old, remains posted in the lobby in a glass case, amid a row of pay phones ("Manhattan Church of Christ, James R. Petty, minister"). A sign around the corner reads "Dixie Bar & Restaurant," but the door below it is closed.

The hotel was called the Hotel Dixie when it opened in 1930, the same year as the Chrysler Building. It had entrances on 42nd Street and 43rd Street, and the Central Union Bus Terminal occupied the basement. In 1937, the hotel raised its price for a single room, to $2.75 from $2.50. It was later purchased by a subsidiary of the Carter Hotels Operating Corporation but kept the Dixie name. A 225-seat theater opened there in 1966 with the musical comedy "Autumn's Here."

In the early 1980's, the city housed homeless families at the Carter. These days, Ms. Nguyen said, the hotel is undergoing renovations and service improvements - including the addition of a front desk computer system - that are likely to lead to rate increases.

There are certainly other budget hotel rooms in the city that are smaller, shabbier and do not come with their own private bathrooms. The price of Room 1105 - $232 for two nights for one occupant, after taxes - made it among the cheapest of the city's 71,000 hotel rooms. The bed was firm but comfortable, and the room muffled the noise of the city, the only sounds an occasional siren and the drip-drip-drip of one of the bathtub's leaky handles.

Such distractions do not sit well with some. Anders Lindqvist, 33, a lawyer from Copenhagen, said on Thursday that he would probably not return to the hotel after his weeklong visit. "I was surprised that there was still plumbing and installations that bad in the center of Manhattan," he said.

Other Carter guests have a way of looking on the bright side.

"As long as there's a bed and a roof and running water, that's all I really need," said Kee-Hyun Kim, 23, a musician from Boston who checked out on Wednesday and said he liked the hotel's price and central location. "I'm pretty low maintenance, and I think anybody who stays at a place like that has to be."

Michael Nagle for The New York Times
Room 1105 revealed a moldy patch on the bathroom ceiling.

November 20th, 2005, 11:18 AM
^ It's amazing to me that they can get around inspectors with crud like that in the rooms.

November 20th, 2005, 11:26 AM
Eons ago you could get comparable levels of quality and service at YMCAs throughout Manhattan --with the added attraction of communal bathrooms that featured gym-style gang showers (no partitions) and toilet stalls without doors. The standing caveat was: don't bend over if you drop your soap.

Are these facilities still available?

Law & Order
November 20th, 2005, 01:32 PM
I think its nice. I would stay here.

Just go down the hall until I find an unlocked door and give some guests another suprise when they are going to sleep after a night at the theater.

Dear, I think theres something under the bed....

Oh dont mind me I dont snore. The door was locked so I came in through the hole in the wall.

November 20th, 2005, 01:40 PM
^ Lol!!

November 21st, 2005, 09:34 AM
This place looks disgusting, even at $99 / night.

Look here for pics of some of the beautiful conditions at the Carter (click on "view candid traveler photos"):

Law & Order
November 22nd, 2005, 08:12 PM
I dont see what the problem is.

November 30th, 2005, 08:00 AM
The shower ceiling looks like the one in my dormitory.

TLOZ Link5
November 30th, 2005, 11:51 AM
It looks like it's about to sprout mushrooms.

May 27th, 2007, 09:08 PM
Hey, JB ^^^ :cool:

Looks like the Carter is trying to spruce up its act (but seemingly can't even do that well ;) ) ...


May 28th, 2007, 05:59 PM
They need to keep the light bulbs changed.

October 23rd, 2007, 01:01 AM
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2097/1702977190_c449d8baba_o.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/sudentas/sets/72157602629739991/show/)

March 3rd, 2008, 04:29 PM
Hotel Carter tops the TripAdvisor list of the Dirtiest Hotels in US http://www.tripadvisor.com/DirtyHotels

March 3rd, 2008, 04:58 PM
I wonder if this had anything to do with the rating.

New York
Manhattan: Body Found in Times Square Hotel

By JENNIFER 8. LEE (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/l/jennifer_8_lee/index.html?inline=nyt-per)

Published: August 31, 2007

The body of a woman was found under a bed in the Carter Hotel in Times Square yesterday, with her head and legs covered in plastic, the police said. The victim, who was described by the police as in her 20s but whose name was not released pending family notification, was discovered shortly before 2:30 p.m. in a sixth-floor room of the hotel on West 43rd Street. The medical examiner will determine the exact cause of death, the police said.

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company.

The Benniest
March 3rd, 2008, 07:28 PM
Hotel Carter doesn't seem that bad from the outside (referring to Edward's picture), but from the pictures that were included in the article, and the murder article brianac posted ... absolutely not.

You couldn't pay me to stay here.

March 4th, 2008, 09:58 PM
Hotel Crap

The Benniest
March 4th, 2008, 11:35 PM
Hotel Crap
^^^ Agreed. :)

The Benniest
March 5th, 2008, 01:11 AM
I thought this article published in 2005 about the hotel was rather amusing.

Hotel Carter: "Don't Get Killed Mugged or Infected"
Published: November 21, 2005
http://www.hotelchatter.com/story/2005/11/21/142143/73/hell/Hotel_Carter_quot_Didn_t_Get_Killed_Mugged_or_Infe cted_quot_

The NY Times recently visited Hotel Carter (http://www.carterhotel.com/) one of our favorite Times Square "budget hotels", and we use that term very loosely.
In the rooms upstairs, tales of lodging woe unfolded. One guest said his television played the sound from one channel but showed the picture from another. A couple in Room 500 said they were surprised to discover that they did not have a closet. And a businesswoman from Ukraine on the 23rd floor found that she liked her room better in the dark. "If the curtains close, light is off, it's not that bad," she said.

It is not all bad news:
The city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene conducted an inspection for rodents in July and found no cause for action, according to the report.
Furthermore, the lobby is a noted people watcher's paradise--it takes all kinds. However, our best review of Hotel Carter will always be this:
Didn't get killed, mugged or infected!!
We appreciate this tipsters forbearance and lack of expectations.

February 26th, 2009, 01:34 PM
Same distinction for 2009 - number one on Dirty Hotels list:

March 3rd, 2009, 01:09 AM
Wasn't the Hotel Carter in The Catcher in the Rye?

March 3rd, 2009, 05:19 AM
I doubt it. The hotel was originally called the Hotel Dixie... I think the name change to the Hotel Carter took place in the late 1970's. The Hotel Dixie was featured in an old Renee Taylor-Joe Bologna routine.

(God, do I feel old)

March 7th, 2009, 10:28 AM
My friend and I used to go there to pick up foreign tourists. There were many Essex girls who were looking for a fun time.

March 7th, 2009, 10:41 AM
And no doubt wanted someplace nicer to sleep ...

Hoping you were good enough to accomodate them :cool:

March 7th, 2009, 11:19 PM
Those were the days!

February 2nd, 2010, 12:48 AM
I was stationed at the old Brooklyn Navy Yard back in 1959, and I used to stay there on some weekends if I didn't feel like making trips back and forth. I don't remember what the rates were, but they couldn't have been too much, because I only made $83.00 a month as a seaman apprentice. Anyway it WAS a nice clean place. The plantation bar next door was a decent place too. Hard to believe it's been 51 years.

February 2nd, 2010, 01:48 AM
You can tell when it was new it must have been decent.

February 3rd, 2010, 11:58 PM

Did it have air conditioning?

February 5th, 2010, 02:32 AM
I don't remember about the air-conditioning, like I said, I stayed there 50+ years ago. Besides, I was stationed there in the winter, so I wasn't concerned about a/c.

February 5th, 2010, 03:07 AM
I stayed there once in the early eighties...
No there was no air conditioning (or tv, phone, not even a bible);).
The place was full of African street vendors dragging their burlap bags
of merchandise up and down the stairs... the elevator
was not working.
I remember throwing a plastic painters
tarp over the bed before I slept on it-
The place was that disgusting- but dirt cheap for NY

February 5th, 2010, 07:43 AM
Did it have the trannie bar back then?

February 5th, 2010, 04:10 PM
Did it have the trannie bar back then?
I don't remember anything but the room, stairs, front desk and the door out
(which is where I stayed except for the couple of hours sleep I could manage between appointments)
A trannie bar would have been an interesting diversion:D

January 27th, 2011, 05:21 AM
Yuck :eek:.

This is What New York City's Dirtiest Hotel Looks Like Inside

January 26, 2011, by Sara Polsky






[All photos via TripAdvisor user reviews (http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g60763-d93421-Reviews-Hotel_Carter-New_York_City_New_York.html)]

New York City's dirtiest hotel, and the fourth-dirtiest in the entire country, is Times Square's Hotel Carter. That's according to a TripAdvisor report based on user reviews.

Of course, numbersó78 percent of Hotel Carter reviewers gave it the dreaded thumbs-downójust don't give a sense of these things, so we combed through some TripAdvisor reviews with titles like "Einfach nur DISGUSTING!!" for some photographic evidence of the Carter's conditions. Caution strongly advised for those who are consuming or have recently consumed foodstuffs. Check out's at 11!

2011 Dirtiest Hotels (http://www.tripadvisor.com/DirtyHotels) [TripAdvisor via AMNY (http://www.amny.com/urbanite-1.812039/times-square-hotel-named-fourth-filthiest-in-u-s-1.2636987)]
Hotel Carter (http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g60763-d93421-Reviews-Hotel_Carter-New_York_City_New_York.html) [TripAdvisor]
Hotel Carter (http://www.carterhotel.com/) [Official Site]

http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2011/01/26/this_is_what_new_york_citys_dirtiest_hotel_looks_l ike_inside.php#hotel-carter-10

January 27th, 2011, 11:19 PM
Ahhh! Poison my eyes! Can't believe it's actually featured on Trip Advisor, much less rated. The people who gave it a good rating with compliments are either blind or the hotel owners.

January 28th, 2011, 10:27 AM
Why can't the health department close a place like this? Or at least make it meet minimum hygienic standards?

April 9th, 2014, 10:20 AM
Relic of Times Square's Seedy Past Nears a Sale

Former Flophouse Has Drawn Offers of as Much as $170 Million

by Craig Karmin

The last vestige of the flophouses that once dotted Times Square is about to go the way of the porn shops and crime that made the area infamous.

The dilapidated Hotel Carter was named three times by TripAdvisor Inc. as the dirtiest hotel in the U.S., with online reviewers in recent years complaining of cockroaches, bedbugs and the smell of garbage. In 1999, a clerk killed a co-worker near the front desk and another body was found under a bed a few years later.

Yet the 600-room property has attracted offers of as much as $170 million from developers and investors since it was put up for sale late last year, according to people familiar with the matter. A winner may be selected as early as this week.

Interest in the Carter reflects the strength of New York's hotel market and the soaring real-estate values in Times Square. The area, which three and four decades ago was known for its seedy adult cinemas and go-go bars, has blossomed into a family-friendly tourist mecca with Toys "R" Us, a Disney store, and the Nasdaq Stock Market.

An estimated half-dozen bidders have viewed the property, whose auction is being overseen by real-estate broker Eastdil Secured, according to the people familiar with the matter. Bidders include hotel operator and investor Highgate Hotels and New York hotelier Morris Moinian.

"Everyone wants to stay there," Mr. Moinian, who heads Fortuna Realty Group, said of Times Square. "Today, it is the biggest destination for world travelers."

A representative of Highgate didn't respond to requests for comment.

Hotel Carter's resistance to the Theater District's modern incarnation has been part of an ownership saga that began in 1977 when it was purchased by Tran Dinh Troung, a Vietnamese shipping magnate who escaped with cash and gold when Saigon fell to the Communists in 1975.

Mr. Tran, who died in 2012 at the age of 80, housed many of his two dozen children and grandchildren, and his children's four mothers in the Carter. Because he didn't leave a will, family members are battling over the estate and the property is being sold as part of that process, according to court documents.

The lobby at Hotel Carter Kevin Hagen for The Wall Street Journal

The Theater District is now one of the city's most coveted spots for lodging; even during the depths of the recession, annual occupancy levels never fell below 80%. Average daily rates in the neighborhood were $284 last year, according to Smith Travel Research.

"Hotel Carter is a holdout from that prior era," said John Fox, a New York hotel analyst at PKF Consulting. "Nothing at all of this scale still remains from those days when Times Square was in decline."

Guests these days are mostly young foreign tourists. "It has a good location," said Martin Raun, a visitor from Copenhagen, as he climbed the well-worn steps to the lobby. "And for $100, it was fine for the price."

An illuminated red marquee at the hotel entrance was removed last summer, leaving a bland, faded-brick exterior, after the new hotel manager found out Carter's signature sign never had the right permit. A peek inside the guest rooms shows threadbare carpeting and discolored, often-stained bed sheets. At night, a disco beat thumps through the lobby wall from Cheetah's, a topless-dancing club next door.

The hotel's front desk Kevin Hagen for The Wall Street Journal

The new owners will have to do more than change linens, said John Cruz, managing director of GF Management, which has been operating the property while it is being prepared for sale.

Mr. Cruz estimates it will cost at least $125 million for major safety and infrastructure upgrades to bring the hotel up to 3-star level: replacing elevators, the boiler, pipes and heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems. The hotel, on 43rd Street between Seventh and Eighth avenues, would have to be shut down and vacated to undergo these improvements.

The 24-story property opened as the Hotel Dixie in 1930, the same year George and Ira Gershwin's show "Girl Crazy" opened on Broadway. Soon after, its original owners filed for bankruptcy.
The hotel began to deteriorate in the 1970s as the neighborhood became more crime-ridden. In the 1980s, New York paid the Hotel Carter to serve as a homeless shelter. The city filed criminal charges against the hotel in 1983 related to health and safety violations, and a few years later it removed all homeless families from the hotel because of these recurring issues.

City records don't list how much Mr. Tran paid in 1977. But hotel experts say at that point the market had hit bottom. "In those days, Times Square was the least desirable spot in New York City," Mr. Moinian said.

The lobby at the Hotel Carter in New York's Times Square Kevin Hagen for The Wall Street Journal

Mr. Tran had overseen the largest shipping company in South Vietnam, according to a court affidavit related to a family dispute, and made millions of dollars transporting cargo for the U.S. military during the Vietnam War. He housed his expanding family in 35 connected rooms on the Hotel Carter's lower floors.

A New York surrogate court in 2012 appointed attorney Stanley Parness as a temporary administrator of the estate; he organized the hotel sale. It was his ruling as a state Supreme Court justice in 1990 that paved the way for the area's redevelopment by allowing New York state to take possession of several Times Square theaters and other buildings to be renovated, converted to commercial use or demolished.

New York offered tax abatements to encourage the district's redevelopment. Those tax incentives, along with Times Square's burgeoning popularity with tourists as crime fell, led to a surge of new hotels, from Marriott International Inc.'s Renaissance to luxury properties like the InterContinental New York Times Square.