Staying at the Cooperstown Motel: A Unique Lodging Experience

During my visit to Cooperstown, NY I stayed at the Cooperstown Motel. On Google Reviews it manages to pull off a zero (0) rating, with the comment “This is desperation.” The dominant review is “Terrible” on TripAdvisor.com, though with shaky math it gets a 2.5 star rating, and comments like: “Just stay away” and “All in all not worth the price, not worth half the price” and “Stay Somewhere Else!” When I was booking my trip I realized that the motel was 38% of the cost of the cheapest alternative I could find in Cooperstown, which translated to saving ~$275 for a two night stay. Add in the parking savings, and it would be about $300.

LOWER RATES? Lower than what? (This is the editor me speaking.)

Seeing the bad reviews made me curious. Is it really that bad? I had to find out.

I’ll begin this review with a quiz.

Question 1. If you open the door to your motel and get assailed by stale cigarette smoke and cheap industrial cleaner fumes that make your throat burn and your eyes water do you:

(A) Just ignore it.

(B) Store your luggage in your car, open the windows and the door to the room and leave for a few hours while it airs out.

(C) Go right back to the office to demand a new room or your money back.

Question 2. If a millipede walks across the floor of your room you:

(A) Kill it and carry on.

(B) Notice it, acknowledge it is not causing any harm, time how long it takes it to reach the other side of the room.

(C) Experience an increase in blood pressure, fear, or some sort of duress.

Question 3. If the bathtub and shower look a little slimy, do you:

(A) Jump in anyway.

(B) See this as an opportunity to wash your flip-flops.

(C) Refuse to shower.

If you answered C to any of the questions above you shouldn’t be considering this type of motel. Cigarette smoke, bugs, and a little slime are part of the package.

The motel.

Yes, the room smelled so bad when I arrived I momentarily doubted that I could stand it. But I opened the windows and door (both windows stayed wide open the entire time I was there) and the results were impressive. Having windows on either side of the room allows air flow to occur when they are both open, that’s a plus. (I stored all valuables in the trunk of my car when I was away from my room, because leaving the windows wide open is like leaving the door open. Anyone could have tapped the screen out and hopped into the room in 2 seconds.) The biggest downside to having the windows open is that the street noise was loud, particularly late at night and early in the morning. I believe trucks spontaneously downshift at the sight of Cooperstown, and most drivers are compelled to honk their horns for no apparent reason when entering the town.

I saw a medium-sized spider, a millipede, and a large beetle in my room. They did not hurt me. I did not hurt them.

The bathtub had more slime than I was comfortable with, so I wore my flip-flops and showered quickly. The water was hot, and the pressure was respectable.

This picture is deceptive–like Mr. Burns appearing to resemble Liam Neeson.

Everything in the room was old. The mattress felt like a piece of plywood with a gym tumbling mat attached to it (except it wasn’t that soft). Despite knowing I shouldn’t, I pulled the bed apart to see its pieces. I saw stains on the mattress and box spring I wish I had never seen. The tag on the mattress revealed it was delivered on December 17, 1986. I couldn’t bring myself to get close to the mattress, so I slept on top of the comforter reluctantly.

Along with the aged theme in the room, there was also a theme of fake. The end table looked  wooden, but was plastic and weighed about 4 ounces (I placed my keys on one side and it almost fell over). The chairs were pleather. The desk and nightstand were particleboard with a plastic veneer.

The carpet had ridges and valleys, with some spots containing padding underneath and some spots lacking it. It had character. It reminded me of the 1960s.

Say what you will; floors with a varied topography have character. It might be bad character, but it is still character.

When I saw the air conditioning unit in the room I made the immediate decision not to touch it. It looked like a fire hazard, and I suspect it would have sounded like a Harley Davidson. The thick dust in the filter made me feel congested at the mere thought of turning it on.

The sink and air conditioner (yes, I travel with my electric kettle and favorite mug–don’t you?).

The Daewoo television was also a throwback. It had terrible picture quality (but I wasn’t traveling to watch television—so that didn’t bother me). I’d happily trade the 70 cable channels for a wifi connection (which was not provided).

As far as general cleanliness goes, the room scores rather low. I found enough hairs to assemble a wig. The edges of the room and the corners had accumulations of dust and debris. Some of the walls had splatter stains that were troubling.

The key for the room was pretty cool.

What can I say for the room? Well, it had a great key.

A few notes:

  • In hindsight I would have brought my air mattress with me, along with a bottle of all-surface cleaner and some paper towels.
  • I almost forgot to mention that the toilet seat was made of some composite material, and the outer veneer was cracking, leaving what appeared to me to be a medium favorable to harboring things exposed. It wasn’t clean. I stayed away.
  • I think there is considerable variation between rooms. I walked past a room that had the door open and it appeared much nicer than room 32.

So what’s the verdict? Would I do it again?

Yes, for this trip I would probably book this room again for myself. I see it as a bit of adventure and roughing it. Plus I was able to use the money I saved to fund part of the Boston portion of my vacation. That being said, if I were traveling with someone else I would never subject them to this. I’m also hesitant to give my endorsement, so I’ll phrase it like this:

The Cooperstown Motel is a nice 0 star motel. I stayed at the Cooperstown Motel and I lived.

Had I eaten anything from the 5 cent vending machine on the porch I doubt I would be writing this review.

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “Staying at the Cooperstown Motel: A Unique Lodging Experience

  1. Anonymous

    Okay, so this made me laugh out loud and gag a bit ( was eating my breakfast which normally doesn’t present any issues when reading your blog!). Reminded me of an unfortunate lodging event Gary and I had on our honeymoon when we stayed at a 3 star (AAArating) hotel that shared some of the qualities of the Cooperstown Motel. The guy sitting at the lobby desk reminded us of Norman Bates. That should have been sufficient warning, but no, we forged ahead and spent the night. Every now and then (like after reading your tale of woe) we revisit the memories. But never again, Norman’s hotel!
    Thanks for taking the time to record your experience in colorful words and images…we have been warned!

    • Laura Walsh

      Sadly The Norman guy is a local Land Lord for a lot of Cooperstown Property. I remember he wasn’t a plesent person to work for either.

  2. Oh my God! That’s horrible. If the place smells, I would leave immediately and would soon regret the decision. Thanks for the warning though.

  3. Laura Walsh

    I worked there Briefly… Each room was a discusting mess. We were a loted 15 min. or less to clean each room. Most of the people who stayed there were sent from DSS because they were with out residence. We could ONLY Use Bleach, for cleaning, or a quick splash at the tub. The vaccuum was probably 50 years old or from the 50’s who knows. I think If You deside to stay there or sadly work there, Make sure your shots are up to date. Sadly I’m NOT joking.

  4. Kyle

    Laura is not joking and Ben’s review is quaint, funny, but too kind. I know the inner workings of the Cooperstown Motel having spent my late teens and early 20s at this monstrosity. The owner, Albert O’Brien is a con-artist through and through. Besides the motel, he owns and rents numerous apartment buildings in the village. Pretty much any dirty white house with dark red trim is one of the “O’Brien Properties”. If you’re unsure, inhale deeply within 100 feet. There is a reason he only takes cash, and it’s not to “save you, the customer, fees that would be passed along by accepting them”. It’s because he is not allowed to. He never will be allowed to. He will not part with one red cent. There is no wi-fi, no ice machine, no phone, no alarm clock, no nothing. There aren’t remotes for the TVs. Why? Because batteries cost money. The matteresses from 1986 are the newer ones. They go back, way back to the 70s. The ill-fitting carpets have been subjected to countless bouts of mold and mildew from leaking fixtures. There have been numerous cases of bedbugs but a professional exterminator has never once been called. Instead the maintenance crew was sent in with cans of Raid. I can not begin to tell you the number of guests who came to the office covered in red bug bites all over their bodies after sleeping there. Every effort is made to cut corners and cob-job what needs to be done. From the mismatched bathroom fixtures to the wood putty filled holes in the porch.
    As for Laura’s tenure, she speaks the truth. The housekeeper(s) are provided with the bare minimum to clean with. There is no carpet cleaner, windex, mop-n-glo, or even air freshener. A bucket of diluted bleach and old rags is literally the name of the game. There is no laundry service, the sheets are taken to the basement and washed in a 20+ year old household washing machine with bargain basement powder. The dryer is a gas-fired relic that served in WWII. Underneath the motel is a basement that runs the entire length of the building and if you have ever seen the show “Hoarders” you can imagine what is piled up there. And I mean literal piles to the rafters of junk. It is a fire hazard in the purest sense. At one point numerous vehicles and chemicals were stored there until the Department of Health caught wind of it and shut him down until they were removed. This was years ago, i am positive he has since moved them back.
    His website touts his “family owned” business but his family has all walked out on him. Sons, daughters, grandkids, all of them. He is the first and last of the family and as long as people fall for the lower rates he’ll continue to greedily take you cash and provide you with nothing.

    • Staci

      The owner,AL, died in October all of the motels belongings are being auctioned off this week and the motel is slated to be demolished…

      • Anonymous

        Then it was being sold to CVS for a new store location. Then while being sold ‘suspiciously’ caught fire. After being ruled as arson by the fire department it has sat there half burnt while people figure out if the family committed insurance fraud by setting it on fire themselves. It’s an eyesore even more so than before.

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