While flitting around the USA visiting my scattered spawn, I decided to book a room for one night in Omaha before heading south to my oldest daughter’s house. I wanted to take some pictures and wander around my old teenage stomping grounds. After looking around online I found a room at the Econo Lodge Downtown for a mere $45 usd per night at Expedia. It claimed to be right next to The Old Market, so I booked it. Expedia sent me confirmation for an Econo Lodge out on the west end instead. I called Expedia, but the only smoking room available at the Downtown location was suddenly $54.99. Exasperated, I told the gal at Expedia to go ahead and change it. With tax, this room ended up costing me $64.35 for the night.
I landed at Epply Airfield and caught a taxi to the hotel. I knew I was in trouble by the look he gave me upon hearing my destination. Too late though, the room was prepaid with no refunds. We headed to the Econo Lodge at 2211 Douglas Street. I don’t now recall what the cab fare was, but it wasn’t much. The airport is very close to downtown Omaha.
When we pulled up, my fears were confirmed. This place was so bad it was scary. I’m handicapped and require a walker to go more than 50 feet or so. The cab driver was very nice and very sympathetic and tried like hell to get the staff to help with my 2 large suitcases to no avail. One employee finally took my bags inside the door for me and set them on a rolling suitcase trolley. After checking in, I found that was all the help I was going to get. I had to wrestle both my walker and that trolley onto the rickety elevator and to my room by myself. Not good.
The Econo Lodge Downtown itself is decrepit. It has dingy old carpeting and paint peeling off the walls. The only bright spot is the lobby, which looked like it might have been newly decorated. I suppose that is to lure people into taking a room in spite of the dingy appearance of the place outside. Once out of the lobby, though, things go back to being dark & dirty looking.
My room was huge, but drab & dreary. I rarely worry about such things, but this time I actually thoroughly examined the sheets and bathroom. I expected to see large critters at any moment. The bed was a King and turned out to be pretty comfortable in spite of its apparent age. I had a desk with pretty fast wireless Internet, and it was free. The view out my stained window was of the Joslin Art Museum.
First things first, I was about out of smokes and getting hungry, so back to the lobby I went… making sure not to leave anything valuable in the room. I even popped my little netbook into my purse. The lobby guy, the one who failed to help me with my bags when I checked in, informed me that it is 6 blocks to any convenience store or restaurant. Seriously? As I said, I’m handicapped and 6 blocks is a long way for me. But ok… which direction? ‘Any direction. Six blocks’ he said. Fine. Where is the Old Market from here then? It had been over 30 years since I had been in Omaha. ‘About a mile’ he answered. Remember, I had booked this room because of its supposed proximity to the Old Market. FAIL.
Well, there was nothing to be done for it now. I headed out and east to find my smokes and something to eat. I could see six blocks down the way though and there was just nothing there except closed businesses and the Civic Auditorium, where I had seen many a concert as a teen in the 70s. That, however, was not helpful. After 3 or 4 blocks I spied an Indian restaurant down a side street to the south and headed there as I really needed to sit, rest, and eat. I cannot find my receipt for that dinner so I do not recall the name of that place, but the food was awesome and the staff fantastic. Shame I can’t review them. At least you know the general vicinity though. Do seek it out. It sits on a corner.
From there I stayed on the same block and headed east again a few blocks and saw small signs of life so turned south again towards that and found an open mini-mart for the smokes and some hotel snacks. There are snack & drink machines in the Econo Lodge hallway by the first floor elevator, but I did not trust how old anything in those were.
By now it was dark in Downtown Omaha so I decided to forgo The Old Market for that night and walked back to the Econo Lodge. Along the way I saw plenty of street folks. One eyed me and crossed the street to me. Now picture this: I’m 52 yrs old (at the time in April, now 53) and I’m in baggy comfy sweats, pushing a wheeled walker with bags in the little basket part. Can we say ‘Bag Lady?’ I looked at the gentleman approaching me and said ‘I’d get more robbing you than you will robbing me.’ He laughed, nodded, and walked away grinning.
I spent a restless night listening to a couple argue across the hall. Loudly. With much door slamming and door knocking. Luckily they stayed away from my door. I again received absolutely no help with my luggage from the front desk the next morning. I had already returned the cart the night before (they have only 1) so I had to bring one suitcase down at a time (while also pushing my walker.) I asked the guy if he could please watch that while I went back upstairs to fetch my second suitcase. He looked at me like I was asking him to polish my shoes at first, but then decided it would be ok if I hurried.
I don’t think I have ever been so relieved to leave a hotel.
So. Bottom lines; The Upsides: The bed was comfy, the Internet was wireless and free, Parking in their cracked parking lot is free. The Downsides: Filthy, dark, dank, dangerous neighborhood, unhelpful staff, ancient bathroom fixtures, low water pressure, horrible location.
My advice is to steer clear of the Econo Lodge Downtown when booking a room in Omaha. Call a business, any business, near where you want to be staying and ask them for hotel suggestions. There were much better hotels much closer to The Old Market for comparable prices to what I ended up paying for this dive. One star for this place, and that is being generous.