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February 22, 2013

6 ways to tell if you're staying in a murder hotel

(Continued)

NEW YORK —

Half the online reviews are left by people with names like "The Night Stalker."

A little Googling will reveal whether any serial murderers have ever used your chosen hotel as a kill site. Indeed, a quick search for "Cecil Hotel" and "serial killers" would've turned up a bunch of pertinent information. In 1985, Richard "The Night Stalker" Ramirez used the Cecil as a home base during his months-long murder spree in which he killed 14 people. (As far as I know, he did not actually kill any of his victims in the hotel.) An Austrian author and ex-convict named Jack Unterweger stayed at the Cecil in 1991 while in town researching a story on L.A.'s red-light district. Apparently Unterweger never learned that good journalists shouldn't make themselves part of the story; he murdered several prostitutes over the course of his stay.

The hotel seems to court the sex trade.

Last year, just like every single year before it, "prostitutes" took the top prize at the Groups of People Most Likely to Be Killed in Hotel Rooms Awards. This is why squeamish travelers should stay away from hotels that rent rooms by the hour, or boast that their staff is "discreet." A few years back, I used to stay overnight at a hooker hotel in the heart of the East Village. The hotel was really cheap, and thus I was willing to overlook the bulletproof glass at reception, and its pay-in-cash policy, and the giant mirrors next to the beds so that self-absorbed johns could watch themselves in flagrante. Turns out that some people also used the mirrors to tell whether the prostitutes they had just strangled were still breathing. I don't stay at that hotel anymore.

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