I spent a night in New York’s worst-rated hotel and 12 things shocked me, from my tiny windowless room to the roll of toilet paper I was handed at check-in

Across the street from the Bowery Grand Hotel in downtown Manhattan.Laura Casado/Insider

  • I spent a night at New York’s worst-rated hotel, the Bowery Grand Hotel in lower Manhattan.

  • I didn’t expect luxury, but there were still things during my stay that took me by surprise.

  • My room was much smaller than I anticipated, and the state of the bathrooms was worse.

In December, I spent a night at the worst-rated hotel in New York, the Bowery Grand Hotel.

- The Bowery Grand Hotel travel hotel review Laura Casado/Insider

I stayed overnight at the worst-rated hotel in New York.Laura Casado/Insider

I’ve lived in New York for several years, and enjoy checking out different hotels around the city to find places to recommend to family and friends who visit.

There are thousands of accommodations options, and I always recommend top-rated places to stay, but I recently started to grow curious: What would it be like to stay in one of the city’s most poorly-rated hotels?

I decided to give it a shot, and after searching on Google Reviews, I booked a stay at one hotel that ranked the lowest among properties with at least 120 reviews. This was the The Bowery Grand Hotel, which was given 2.3 out of 5 stars on Google by former guests, as of February 17.

Since I’d read the negative reviews before arriving, I wasn’t expecting five-star service, but there were still parts of the stay that surprised me.

The hotel was in a convenient location in Manhattan, but the entrance wasn’t as easy for me to spot from the street as other hotels.

- The Bowery Grand Hotel travel hotel review Laura Casado/Insider

The Bowery Grand Hotel was above a lighting shop.Laura Casado/Insider

The Bowery Grand Hotel is located in Manhattan on the Lower East Side, bordering Little Italy and Chinatown, so I thought it would be easy to find since the neighborhood has a grid layout. But when I arrived at the address, I couldn’t immediately tell where the entrance to the property was.

Standing across the street, I could see the hotel’s banner, but was confused that the ground floor looked to be a lighting store. Once I got closer, I saw a door next to the store that, due to scaffolding in front of the building, I hadn’t noticed before.

This door didn’t have a sign saying Bowery Grand, but there was a piece of paper reading “Private property, no trespassing” taped to it and signed “Grand Hotel,” so I assumed it was the hotel entrance.

Prior to this hotel stay, I hadn’t seen a hotel entrance with a lack of signage in this way.

I didn’t expect that entering the hotel would require climbing two flights of stairs, and that there would be no elevator.

The Grand Bowery Hotel travel hotel review Laura Casado/Insider

The staircase leading up to the hotel lobby.Laura Casado/Insider

Inside the front door, there was a two-flight set of stairs. At the base of the stairs, there was a door marked “Fire Dept” to the left, but I didn’t see an elevator or wheelchair-accessible option.

While I expect walk-ups in apartment buildings like mine, I hadn’t encountered this before in a New York City hotel.

It made me think the hotel wouldn’t be a good choice for people who need easily accessible accommodations.

The lobby didn’t feel like a typical hotel lobby to me, as there was no seating or furniture for guests to rest.

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The lobby of the hotel.Laura Casado for Insider

In most of the hotel lobbies I’ve been in, guests are greeted by a comfortable waiting area, inviting seating to rest, and in some I’ve even seen complimentary espresso machines.

At the Bowery Grand, the hotel lobby was a long and narrow room. Looking around, I was surprised that there wasn’t any seating or furniture, save some trash bins and storage cabinets. I’m used to seeing a lobby with a waiting area when I visit a hotel, and I especially appreciate it at budget properties or hostels, since it’s a nice space to meet other guests.

The front desk was mostly hidden behind a half-plexiglass-covered booth, which I’d never seen in a hotel before but reminded me of small convenience shop counters around the city.

There was $20 deposit required for my room key, which isn’t something I’ve experienced at other hotels.

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I gave the front desk clerk a $20 cash deposit for my key.Laura Casado for Insider

The clerk at the front desk told me to leave a $20 deposit for my room key. This wasn’t something I’d experienced at other hotels, even budget hostels, so I thought it was unusual.

But the employee explained to me I’d get the money back when I checked out the next morning, which I did.

The clerk gave me some toilet paper to use for the shared bathrooms, and carrying it back and forth to my room was something I hadn’t experienced before at a hotel.

- The Bowery Grand Hotel travel hotel review Laura Casado/Insider The second shared bathroom I went into had a mirror above the sink.

There was no toilet paper in the communal bathrooms, but the hotel clerk gave me a full roll.Laura Casado/Insider

During check-in in the lobby, the hotel clerk gave me a few feet of toilet paper from a roll behind the desk. I later realized why when I saw that there was no toilet paper in the shared bathrooms.

When I passed by the lobby later in the evening on my way to go to bed, the clerk called me over, and gave me a new roll. I thought this was nice because it was offered without me having to ask.

My room took me by surprise the most. It was much smaller than I expected — even for NYC — and had no windows.

NYC worst rated hotel stay travel review Laura Casado

My bed and room at Bowery Grand Hotel.Laura Casado

My single-night stay cost $95 through booking on Expedia in December, and as of February, rooms are available for around $51 a night. I booked a private room for my stay, as the hotel’s shared rooms were men-only.

I wasn’t expecting anything fancy, but I was surprised by just how small my room was and that it had very few frills.

I estimated the room to be about 5 feet wide and 10 feet long. I know many NYC hotel rooms tend to be small, but this felt shockingly tiny.

It had no windows, and just three pieces of furniture, including a twin bed, a small side table, and a plastic trash can at the foot of the bed.

Although my room was bare bones, it luckily didn’t feel too stuffy, and it was a comfortable temperature inside.

- The Grand Bowery Hotel travel hotel review Laura Casado/Insider

Although my room was small, it didn’t feel too stuffy.Laura Casado/Insider

The hotel has air-conditioning, according to Expedia, which I thought would be a plus for guests visiting in the summer.

It was cold outside during my December stay, but I found the temperature inside the hotel to be very comfortable, not too hot or too cold. This was a pleasant surprise for me, as at other hotels I’ve visited the rooms tend to be colder than I’d like.

I was also pleased that it wasn’t too loud inside my room, as I expected some noise since the Bowery Grand is located in a busy area. I could hear some noise from guests and activity in other parts of the hotel, but I was surprised I didn’t hear much noise from outside.

I wanted to unpack a few items, but then I realized the white table at the foot of my bed wasn’t a typical piece of hotel furniture. It was actually an old filing cabinet.

- The Bowery Grand Hotel travel hotel review Laura Casado/Insider

The side table was actually a filing cabinet.Laura Casado/Insider

Since the Bowery Grand is a budget hotel that only cost me $95, it made sense to me that the property would be conservative in terms of decor and room amenities.

But I never imagined the side table in my room would actually just be an old filing cabinet. I also noticed it was broken, and had been turned against the wall so the broken drawers were concealed.

I was surprised by this choice, and disappointed that, as the only storage option in my room, the cabinet wasn’t really usable, so I decided to just leave my belongings in my overnight bag. Representatives for the hotel did not respond to Insider’s email request for comment on the cabinet.

I thought it was a nice touch to be given a plastic toothbrush, toothpaste, and small bar of soap for free.

- The Bowery Grand Hotel travel hotel review Laura Casado/Insider

There was a free toothbrush, toothpaste, and small bar of soap in the room.Laura Casado/Insider

Since I only paid $95 for a room with a shared bathroom and the hotel had very few amenities, I was surprised to find a few toiletries provided to me for free.

In my room, I saw a plastic toothbrush, toothpaste, and bar of soap lodged between the light switch and wall.

While I expect complimentary toiletries like shampoo, body wash, and conditioner at a typical three, four, or five-star hotel, I didn’t think these items would be provided at the Bowery Grand. I was especially surprised because this hotel only had shared bathrooms, but I found it thoughtful that these were put in my room for no extra charge.

I didn’t expect a soaking tub, but I was still shocked by the state of the shared bathrooms, which I thought appeared to be very dirty.

- The Bowery Grand Hotel travel hotel review Laura Casado/Insider

One of the shared bathrooms.Laura Casado/Insider

Down the hall from my room, there were several communal bathrooms for guests, each of which had a toilet, sink, and stand-up shower.

When I went to check them out, I was surprised to see it looked like they hadn’t been cleaned in some time. I saw dirt and dust bunnies on the floor and in the corners of the room, and I also observed water stains, dirt, and mildew in the stand-up shower stall.

In one of the bathrooms, the shower door was broken and replaced with a piece of rope, to pull the door open or closed from either side. This also made me feel uneasy, since I could see something broken that hadn’t been properly fixed.

I knew going into my stay that I’d be using a shared bathroom, but I didn’t expect it to be in this condition. Representatives for the Bowery Grand Hotel did not respond to Insider’s request for comment on the lack of cleanliness throughout the hotel.

The hotel Wi-Fi worked well on my phone, but was slow on my laptop, so I had to go to a nearby cafe.

Bowery Grand hotel nyc Laura Casado for Insider hotel review

I went to a cafe for stronger Wi-Fi to be able to use my laptop.Laura Casado for Insider

The hotel clerk gave me the password to the free Wi-Fi, which was included in the hotel price. I thought it had a strong connection on my phone while playing music on Spotify and YouTube.

However, when I tried to use my laptop to work, I found the connection was slow and glitchy, so I decided to find a coffee shop a few blocks away to be able to do some work.

I’m accustomed in all lodgings, from hostels to hotels, to having good Wi-Fi, so this was unexpected for me.

While the hotel was cheaper than most in New York at $95 for the night, I was surprised that I still thought it was overpriced.

The Bowery Grand Hotel travel hotel review Laura Casado/Insider

I could touch both sides of my rooms sitting on the bed.Laura Casado/Insider

I thought $95 was a low price when compared to the many mid-range and high-end hotels available in New York that can cost upwards of $300 a night for the same time period, according to Google. And I can certainly see how that could be a major incentive to book for those on a budget.

But, I still didn’t think what the Bowery Grand offered was worth the price due to the conditions of the rooms, and I wouldn’t stay here again. Although cheap, the price was ultimately not worth it in my experience, which I was surprised by because for $95, I still had some hygiene expectations.

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