So, I'll just say up-front that I have traveled a lot and usually on a company's dime. Business travel usually means better accommodations, and then when I travel for personal reasons, I stay in pretty nice places by choice and because I am accustomed to it. I stayed at King's Hotel when I had to make a very short-notice trip to NYC for business and my department was short on travel funds. We made a decision to sacrifice staying in Manhattan, as we usually do, and stay in Brooklyn and take the train into Manhattan to save money. We found a great deal for the Kings Hotel online and booked it, without knowing anything about the Sunset Park/Boro Park area of Brooklyn - I had previously only stayed in Brooklyn in the Marriott Brooklyn Bridge, right by the Borough Hall, which is a nice area.
The hotel is okay. I did not see any problems with cleanliness in my room. The sheets were clean, but the blankets and coverlet on the bed were awful, as were the towels - very worn out and in need of replacement. The "backup blanket" in the wardrobe in my room (no closets) smelled like urine and I put it out in the hall to be picked up. But if you've seen reports on TV, you know that blankets in hotels are of dubious cleanliness anyway - I have had similar problems in five-star hotels. The floors at Kings are tile, so no gross carpet, and the bathroom was immaculate in my room. The rooms are small by absolute standards, but was actually slightly roomier than hotel rooms I have stayed in in Manhattan. There is a free breakfast in the morning that had bagels and coffee and the front-desk people were very nice and helpful to me. The elevator worked fine and although some reviews have complained about noise from the karaoke bar downstairs, all I ever heard at night was street noise (it's New York) and some thump-thumps of a sound system (but I was on the 4th floor, it might have been worse closer to the ground floor). All in all, the hotel was much, much better than the worst hotel I have ever stayed in. The hotel would be fine to stay in if it was in a better neighborhood, but it is not.
Not being from NYC, I had to look this up. The hotel is right on the border between the Sunset Park and Boro Park neighborhoods in Brooklyn. It is, from what I can see, about 90% a mix of South American, Korean and Chinese, and Orthodox/Hasidic Jewish residents. That is totally fine and I found the cultural mix interesting to observe. What isn't fine is that we saw several street fights, obvious drug deals, and dangerous-looking people in the streets around the hotel, day and night. (Never did see a police car, though. Not once.) The area is filthy and there are many sketchy businesses with sketchy individuals hanging out in front of them everywhere. There are not very many "nice" places to eat within close proximity of the hotel. What restaurants are there are the generic counter-run Chinese or Mexican places where the food is of dubious origin and cleanliness. And although the subway station for the D line is very close to the hotel, it is located next to a tiny "park" that was full of homeless people, what looked to me like drug dealers and gang members, and people having loud drunken arguments, even at 8 in the morning. Basically, the immediate neighborhood around the hotel is a wasteland and not something most older, more-experienced travelers NOT accustomed to NYC outer-borough "color" want to deal with. (P.S., I am only 35).
At all our meetings, my colleagues and I were asked where we were staying and when we explained it, were greeted with expressions of horror and exhortations to "be careful" and "don't go out after dark." We actually had one business contact tell us "I would invite you out for drinks tonight, but I don't want you having to walk through that neighborhood late at night when you get back! It wouldn't be safe." Great. Now the hotel's neighborhood is affecting our business.
After three nights in the hotel, my colleague had to go back home unexpectedly and I elected to cut my trip short as well and leave also, as I frankly did not feel safe as an obviously out-of-place tourist/businessperson in an unfamiliar, menacing neighborhood. I am sure there are Brooklynites out there saying "that neighborhood's not that bad." If you live there, or somewhere like it, and are used to it, it is not that bad. If you live in a nice, upscale neighborhood in the Midwest or Southwest or West and you come into the area as an outsider, yes, it is that bad and frankly, for me it was terrifying. My street at home is like something out of Leave it to Beaver, with nice neighbors and manicured lawns and kids playing in the street. Definitely no junkies shooting up, or street fights between gang members. So yes, I thought it was that bad. P.S., it is at least 40 minutes on the D-train from the 9th ave. station by the hotel to midtown Manhattan, just so you know.
So here's the bottom line. If you are a young traveler with gumption and some self-defense skills looking to experience the big city, trust me, you could do far worse than than this hotel, especially compared to some of the hotels in Manhattan that seem hell-bent on ripping off rube tourists. If I had been traveling in my 20s on a pleasure trip with my 6'1", 220-lb husband who lifts weights and knows karate, I would have had no trouble with staying at Kings. But as a mid-thirties business traveler traveling with another woman, it was awful. 40 minutes to get to the city on the train, so we couldn't go back to the hotel for a breather between widely-spaced meetings, and God forbid you forget anything when you head out in the mornings. No place to meet business contacts for a nice drink proximal to the hotel. No fun restaurants or boutiques to check out after the business day is over. I would definitely NOT recommend the area to women traveling alone, in general, old or young, no matter what you're traveling for. Much better to pay a little more, pick a decent hotel in the city, and feel comfortable about where you're staying.
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