Signs of the Times? Extreme Hotel Room Deals

Armed guards, bullet-proof cars for well-to-do guests; victims of the economy can don barrels and wash dishes.

By Ron Donoho
|  Thursday, Mar 26, 2009  |  Updated 8:46 AM PDT
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Signs of the Times? Extreme Hotel Room Deals

The Keating Hotel in the Gaslamp.

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 While the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, the already-eccentric Keating Hotel gets…eccentric-er. If you’ve got so much money that heavily armed people with malicious intent are after you, try the upscale hotel’s Armed Guard Package. But if you’re unemployed—and don’t even have the clothes on your back to barter—come to the Gaslamp District and ask for the sartorially bereft Recession special.

The Armed Guard Package starts with in-room check-in (to avoid suspicious characters in the lobby). It includes round-the-clock security guard protection, and if you rent the Presidential suite ($2,800/night), there are three escape exits. A private elevator takes you to a private dining space in The Merk, the hotel’s Italian bistro (don’t order the Soprano special). A Merk waiter will be happy to taste/check your food in your presence. Private shopping excursions are available. For daytrips, you get a “Level 3” armored car (impenetrable by assault rifles and Uzis).

What’s that? You don’t have 2,500 clams for all that (not even including the room rate)? Then it’s the Recession Package for you. First night is full price (the standard rate is just $180!), but the second night is 33 percent off. Oh, to claim the deal, you have to arrive at the hotel wearing top hat, suspenders and a barrel. That practice was reportedly popularized during The Great Depression (not to be confused with the current Lousy Depression). Wear the barrel to dinner in The Merk and get 15 percent off. Or, get two free drinks at the hotel’s new Sway Lounge for every hour you spend washing dishes. Note: offer only available to guests staying two nights. The double humiliation of washing dishes in a barrel not required.

Unfortunately, Barrel Man—a superfan who wore a wooden tub to Denver Broncos home games—has retired, sold his costume and can’t take advantage of the deal. It’s probably best, though. Nobody wants to be in a hotel lobby watching a security guard frisk an old man wearing a barrel.

Ron Donoho, formerly executive editor of "San Diego Magazine," is a regular contributor to NBCSandiego.com who covers local news, sports, culture and happy hours.

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