Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Hotel Studis, Iasi, Romania:

From Kiev, Ukraine; Bucharest, Romania

The Hotel Studis is very cheap, and clean, and I slept well in it. But there are a few things worth noting...

My room faced a street inhabited by feral dogs. At night, feral dogs bark loudly to express alarm, anger, interest, a desire to communicate with other dogs, joy, curiosity, fear, anything, etc. The dogs were quiet in the morning, which probably emboldened the roosters outside to begin crowing at that time. I slept well anyway thanks to my Anti-Snoring Machine, but the average traveler does not have this luxury, so consider yourself warned.

After dark, a journey to one's room begins with a few hesitant steps into a long, pitch-black hallway. One feels along the wall up to the first hotel room door for the switch to turn on the hall light. Activation of that switch is followed by a sinister crackling sound accompanied by stroboscopic bursts of medicinal fluorescent light which illuminate the long hallway like angry lighting before freezing into solid hyper-white. One must walk quickly down that hall, for the lights shut off automatically after a minute, leaving one stranded in absolute darkness.

Upon reaching the room, one hurriedly tries each of the two keys (one key for the alcove, which includes a toilet, shower, and kitchen shared with one other room; and another key for the room itself) in order to get inside before the hall lights go out. One gets in, finds that the alcove light does not work, and rushes to turn on the bathroom light for alternative illumination. One then tries the keys for the bedroom, steps inside, and hits the light switch. The room lights flash on, revealing in crackling bursts a plain room with two beds boasting white sheets, white comforters, and white pillows.

At Hotel Studis, internet is offered, but it is delivered not via wireless but rather by a long, gray cable, which they hand you when you check in.

I was unable to get this cable to work with my laptop, so I requested assistance from the front desk. The guy who showed up to help spoke no English. In fact, he seemed proud of this. He kept shaking his head while emphatically stating, "NU englez!" He said in the Romanian language that he was very sorry (he wasn't), but that there was nothing he could (would) do. I even had to talk him into plugging in the alternative cable he had brought over himself in order to see if the fault lay with the cable I had been given earlier. He was an ass. This was the only truly bad impression the hotel left with me.

The lack of internet was why I left Studis in the morning, because I needed internet to stay in contact with my girlfriend who was in Italy at the time. I moved on to Hotel Continental (view from Hotel Continental in photo above), which had its own internet problems, but which ultimately solved those problems and was overall very awesome.

Hotel Studis is close to the shopping mall and a ton of great student bars and clubs (the richness of clubs here is due to their being alongside student dormatories; Iasi is a big college town). If occasional internet connectivity is all you need, it's worth noting that from Studis you can visit the nearby Motor Club (ask for directions; it's en route to the mall and everyone seems to know where it is). Motor Club is a billiards and ping-pong (!) place, there's free wi-fi there, and you can even plug your power cord into the wall at the table closest to the entrance.

I paid only 101 lei per night for Hotel Studis (this odd price might be based on a calculation of the exact exchange rate between dollar and lei, which at the time was around $3 per lei, so $34 a night; not bad). Indeed, Studis was very affordable, but it also served as a reminder of the gulf that exists between budget hotels in the U.S. and those in Romania.

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