Press-Republican

FYI...

February 26, 2013

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

NEW YORK — This January, a 21-year-old Canadian tourist named Elisa Lam disappeared while visiting Los Angeles. Lam was last seen at the Cecil Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, where she had been staying.

Tuesday, her body was found at the bottom of one of the hotel's rooftop water tanks, thus solving two separate mysteries at once: "What happened to Elisa Lam?" and "Why is the water pressure so bad at the Cecil Hotel?"

The hotel's guests were horrified at the news, with good reason — nothing spoils a vacation faster than learning you may have been brushing your teeth with corpse-water.

But anyone familiar with Los Angeles' history couldn't have been too surprised. Downtown L.A. has long been seedy, and somewhat dangerous; the Cecil Hotel, for its part, has a long and sordid criminal history.

The Cecil doesn't advertise its dark past; caveat emptor and all that. But, still, many guests might balk at staying in a hotel that was once a crime scene. It's best if you do your research before embarking on your travels, not after. Here are some ways to determine whether or not you might have booked a room in a murder hotel.

The hotel is also a residential hotel.

Half the time, people who live in hotels are either eccentric millionaires or adorable, adventure-prone children. The rest of the time, they are usually creepy drifters. Sometimes it's hard to tell which is which, so corpse-wary travelers should play it safe and avoid hotels that court the long-term trade. The Hotel Chelsea, where Sid Vicious allegedly killed Nancy Spungen in 1978, was also a long-term residential hotel. The Cecil is one, too; a Los Angeles Times article about the Lam case featured quotes from an 89-year-old man who has lived in the Cecil for 32 years. A hotel like this is probably not the sort of place you want to stay, unless you are a character in a Charles Bukowski novel — in which case, congratulations on magically coming to life!

Text Only | Photo Reprints
FYI...
  • Your chocolate addiction is only going to get more expensive

    For nearly two years, cocoa prices have been on the rise. Finally, that's affecting the price you pay for a bar of chocolate - and there's reason to believe it's only the beginning.

    July 28, 2014

  • Facebook tests button to let people shop from its website

    Members on desktop computers or mobile devices can click a "buy" button to make purchases through advertisements or other posts on the world's largest social network, the Menlo Park, California-based company said Thursday in a blog post.

    July 27, 2014

  • Wal-Mart to cut prices more aggressively in back-to-school push

    Wal-Mart Stores plans to cut prices more aggressively during this year's back-to-school season and will add inventory to its online store as the chain battles retailers for student spending.

    July 26, 2014

  • An oncologist uses scorpion venom to locate cancer cells

    Olson, a pediatric oncologist and research scientist in Seattle, has developed a compound he calls Tumor Paint. When injected into a cancer patient, it seems to light up all the malignant cells so surgeons can easily locate and excise them.

    July 25, 2014

  • An alternative diagnosis to ADHD: Schoolchildren need more time to move

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tells us that in recent years, there has been a jump in the percentage of young people diagnosed with attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, commonly known as ADHD: 7.8 percent in 2003 to 9.5 percent in 2007 to 11 percent in 2011.

    July 24, 2014

  • Hospitals let patients schedule ER visits

    Three times within a week, 34-year-old Michael Granillo went to the emergency room at Northridge Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles because of intense back pain. Each time, Granillo, who didn't have insurance, stayed for less than an hour before leaving without being seen by a doctor.

    July 23, 2014

  • Why it's basically impossible to delete those naked selfies you text

    If you're selling an old Android smartphone on an online auction site, you could be giving away rather more than you intend to, according to a recent investigation by anti-malware company Avast.

    July 21, 2014

  • Why does the Vatican need a bank?

    The Vatican Bank's history reads more like Dan Brown than the financial pages, but its worst -- and weirdest -- days may be behind it.

    July 18, 2014

  • Almost half of the world actually prefers instant coffee

    Americans' taste in coffee might be getting more high-end _with a growing fixation on perfectly roasted beans, pricier caffeinated concoctions, and artisan coffee brewers - but it turns out a surprisingly big part of the world is going in the opposite direction: toward instant coffee.

    July 17, 2014

  • ent_taylorswift.jpg There's less good music now — here's why

    Taylor Swift, the seven-time Grammy winner, is known for her articulate lyrics, so there was nothing surprising about her writing a long column for The Wall Street Journal about the future of the music industry. Yet there's reason to doubt the optimism of what she had to say.

    July 14, 2014 1 Photo