by Kevin Allman
Today the once rat-infested Grand Palace Hotel (or what remains of it) at Canal and Claiborne avenues was once again spared planned implosion. An original November demolition was put off till the week before Christmas, but today the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality said not-so-fast, citing "additional amounts of hazardous material" (unspecified "hazardous material") inside that must be removed before the building can be imploded.
For years, the Grand Palace was one of those places that snared unwary tourists (It's so cheap! And on Canal Street! Walking distance from the French Quarter!) with misleading descriptions like this one, on JazzReview (!), dated earlier this year (!!!):
Essentially, this may be the best looking jazz space in the South. With brass railings, tiered seating and huge plate glass windows providing a view of a passing parade of stopping streetcars and ambulances on their way to Charity Hospital, the feel is as much Chicago as it is New Orleans. It's no wonder the movie location people have been eyeballing the place and it's likely that one of these days you might see yourself in a film shot here.
"Shot here" are the operative words.
Or this one, from — uh — the city's official tourism website, which is still up there:
But travelers who were savvy enough to go to TripAdvisor (which has now taken down its Grand Palace reviews) or Yahoo Travel got a very different picture of the Grand Palace — both pre- and post-Katrina:
Well, where do we begin...the filthiest hotel rooms I have ever seen. The bathroom floor looks like it hasen't been washed in years...it makes a Mobil gas station restroom look like the Taj Mahal. I was told that out of 1000 rooms, only 300 are "non-condemed".
I consider it an achievement to have gotten out of there without being robbed, catching a disease or sharing my room with a crack addict. I think Travelocity owes its customers more than just listing any dump that posts incorrect information.
Under the cut: more reviews, and it gets even more vivid, both in terms of experience and language ...
There were homeless people sleeping in the garage. We had to carry all of our luggage to the hotel lobby. We were given our keys to the 7th floor, but was not shown where the elevators were. The employees were rude and didn't speak English. We had 4 people in our room but was given 2 towels and when asking for more no one seemed to understand. I had to wait till night time to go to the closet to steal towels for our room. There were visiable rat traps at various places in the hotel.
There was a dead roach on the bathroom floor, red dirt covering bathtub, yellow water, rat traps in full view in the room, water didn't drain, the parking garage was unlit, unsafe, and unbelievably unaccommodating (drivers actually had to back up after ascending ramp in order to make turn into parking facilities, and there were no elevators or stairs leading to the street level), and the room was dirty and unsanitary. You'd be better off sleeping in your car!
For example there were rats in the room, brown water in the faucets, dirty linens, fire dectors hanging from loose wires, hallway and rooms smelled of urine-mildew-mold and many other things. They had very unethical process and poor customer service. One major event that happened to me was a drunken man enter my room while I was undressed walking to the restroom.
Changing bed linen is done by putting it from the left bed to the right one and vice versa. In the first room I've been someone jerked off in the bed (stains, used kleenex...), the carped was covered with pieces of kleenex, in the bathroom all towel were put around the toilet with yellow stains all over them and on top a used a disposable rasor.
This property used to be called the Pallas Suites. Then it was nice. Now it is home to crackwhores, they come down from Flint,MI during the winter because it is warmer. My cousin stayed there, they asked him for no ID, and charged him only $30 for the nt. He also said that in 1 of the unlit stairwells, this blonde whore offered to blow him for $10.
To be fair, there was one rave review from a European fellow:
Best value hotel in the US so far!!
We had a great laugh at all the americans screaming at the receptionist because they found 2 germs in their bathroom. Because the ice machine didn't operate. Because they had to pay 15 dollars per night for parking. Get a life, go to the Hilton and order room service. So what IS wrong with the hotel? Well, I found a single stain in my towel (fresh every day by the way). Big deal! It's right beside the I10. So what? Drink enough Hurricanes and you will sleep, guaranteed. Pay for parking? Just park your car at the other side of the road for free! No ice machine? Get social, go to the french quarter to get ice in your drinks. It's 10 minutes walk!! I would recommend this hotel to everyone who wants to enjoy N.O and doesn't expect much of a low-budget, great location hotel. And for you germ-freak americans (gosh, why do you think US has such a high allergy rate??): stop crying and pay more at another hotel!!
That's the one the city should use on its website.