Rough Diamond

In 2018, I received a black metal plate in the mail that looks a lot like an Amex Centurion card.

It was from Hilton. For a couple of decades, I had been a “diamond member” which meant that I had more than fifty unique stays per year at one of their properties.

Upon hitting a lifetime of 1000 hotel stays, I vaulted into the pantheon of Hilton guests. The card was their acknowledgment of my loyalty.

If you think this elite tier is special, I can assure you that it’s not. Yes, I’ll get the occasional free snack bag and bottled water. The most valuable aspect is the ability to weasel out of a reservation without penalty.

Out of all my stays, I only walked away from a hotel twice. One upon arrival in Memphis. It was next to a truck depot and was surrounded by a fence with razor wire on top. The second was an airport hotel in Orlando. They were storing solvents, carpet scraps, and lumber in both stairwells.

I try not to judge a book by its cover but when it comes to a hotel, it’s a good yardstick.

This hotel on 42nd Street in Manhattan was never part of the Hilton family. Maybe someday, with a coat of paint and a little elbow grease, it might turn into a proper boutique inn.

About the author: I am Stephen Kennedy, an experienced photographer with more than 2500 completed sessions in all 50 US states.

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