Bring pepper spray.
The room really is red, so I guess that’s accurate. And calling this “a getaway like no other” is also technically true, but lots of important details were left out of this listing.
For starters, there’s no bathroom, kitchen, or bedroom. Definitely no Wi-Fi. I know this was listed as a “shared room,” but I expected like one or two people at most. You want the tally? A giant, a little guy, a blonde girl who only stared and whispered, a one-armed man who kept yelling MY NAME IS MIKE (we get it, buddy), and a long-haired guy that never stopped villain laughing popped in and out of the room all night long. If you want privacy, this isn’t the place for you. Bring pepper spray.
The messages exchanged with the host were basically riddles. For example, when I asked when the room was next available, the host wrote back, “when Jupiter and Saturn meet.” That should’ve been our first clue, but it was just so cheap we decided to go for it anyway. Later when we asked for the address to GPS it, he wrote, “near Pearl Lakes.” Know what else is near Pearl Lakes? Goddamned bears, man. Ugh. Never again.
I want to one-star every category, but this place was frickin’ spotless. The chevron floors were so waxed that if I didn’t walk really slow and sort of drag my feet, I slipped. Also, I can’t imagine who beats out the heavy, red curtains, but they were dust-free (and you have to move them a lot). There was kind of a weird burnt smell, but we got used to that after a while.
What. A. Hassle. First, you’ve gotta haul your butt to the Ghostwood Forest, hike to Glastonbury Grove, then wander around like a jackass until you smell scorched oil (srsly). Imagine that: hours lost in the woods, sniffing the air. We thought we smelled it once, but there weren’t “twelve young sycamore trees” around it — I SWEAR THIS IS REAL — so we had to keep looking. Once we got there, we literally had no idea where we were. So disorienting. If I could give location minus one hundred stars, I would.
Check In ★
Check in was fine, I guess. We kind of just materialized in the room, and frankly, I’m not asking a lot of questions about that part. I’m giving this one star because check out was impossible. It took days. Yeah, you read that right: days. We’d go through a curtain and down the hall and wind up back where we started. And all the people there? Not one of them helped us. The little guy was like, “This is the waiting room. Would you like some coffee?” And we were all, WE JUST WANT TO LEAVE, BRO.
The leather chairs were comfy, and the room was super spacious, but stay clear of this place unless you want to get trapped, charged for the extra days it takes you to get out (I already filed a complaint), and confront your evil doppelgänger.
Lisa Nikolidakis’ work has appeared in The Best American Essays 2016, Los Angeles Review, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Brevity, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. She has recently completed a short-story collection and is currently revising a memoir based on her Best American essay. She teaches creative writing in the Midwest.