My Experience at the Cecil Hotel

I went through a period of years where I would take random adventures with pennies in my pocket. I don’t regret them, I have some interesting stories! I found the best philly I’ve ever eaten at a truck stop in the middle of nowhere while on a greyhound. I accidentally got on American Idol when I was just trolling the auditions (hilarious memories!) But some of my stories are a bit scarier than that.

With all of the renewed buzz about the Cecil Hotel in LA, I decided to throw in my experience out into the Interwebs as my story coincides with the infamous death of Elisa Lam.

Back in the earlier 2000’s, I went to a lot of award shows. Some I went to with people I associated with at the time, and others I went to for free as a seatfiller.

Basically, when the cameras pan over the front seats with all of the celebrities in them at award shows, they NEVER want there to be an empty seat. Sometimes celebs who have reserved seats simply don’t show up, other times they have to get up to get awards, use the bathroom, etc. So as a seatfiller, sometimes you get lucky and you’re sitting right next to celebs in a seat that no one showed up for and you get to stay there for the whole show, other times, you’re standing on the sidelines (but still near the stage) and when someone gets up, you get yelled at to run to the seat quickly during a commercial break and stay there until the person returns, then you run back.

I did seatfillers for the People’s Choice Awards in 2013. I was low on cash so I googled cheap hotels near the Staples Center and found the Cecil. I didn’t know crap about it other than how cheap it was so I assumed it was crappy, but I didn’t really care. I caught a shuttle directly from the airport. Yep, it was shitty! Again though I didn’t really care. It turned out I got to snag a seat someone didn’t show up for, and I can’t remember who I ended up sitting next to but I remember being a bit starstruck.

The Cecil Hotel was less than a mile from the Staples Center, so rather than hop a taxi in traffic (and I had a very tight budget!) I just decided to walk there and back. It was a warm night and all. There is one road probably 2/3 of a mile directly from the Staples center, then I remembered turning left and hotel was a block down. Not long after leaving the Staples Center, I had a weird feeling. Mind you, I’m not one to get creeped out in the city. Truthfully I’m far more creeped out by suburban areas than the city for reasons not relevant to this story, but the point is that when wandering around a city, I always just keep my eyes to myself and walk with a purpose and no one has ever really bothered me much other than to ask if I have spare change, etc.

But that night, something felt weird. I tried to nonchalantly glance over my shoulder and I noticed a guy walking behind me, but he was quite a ways behind me. He had his hands in his pockets and his green hoody over his head so I couldn’t see his face. (It was dark and I have shitty eyesight so that’s not saying much.) I reasoned with myself that there was no reason for me to think I was being followed, but yet I couldn’t shake the weird uneasy feeling I had. I had the wherewithal to reach into my purse and pull out my ID and Debit card and tuck them into a pocket, JUST in case he was planning on nabbing my purse. I still tucked my purse tight against my body and sped up my walk just a tiny bit. A few minutes later, I glanced over my shoulder. The guy was still behind me, but still a ways away. I just kept walking and arguing with my own gut, telling myself that I was being silly and paranoid.

By the time I approached the road where I needed to make a left, one more glance saw that the guy was much closer, but still not rushing toward me or acting like he was going to do anything. Yet I still felt SUPER ill-at-ease. The hotel was only a block away but he pretty much closed most of the distance between us (to be fair, I’m 5″2 with short, stubby legs, so anyone taller with longer legs naturally has a wider gait than I do!) and I STILL told myself that I was probably being paranoid. Yet, I was far more convinced at this point that something just wasn’t right. I sped up another notch, and I turned into the hotel. I headed DIRECTLY for the front desks straight ahead and I could hear that the guy turned in behind me and had entered the hotel as well. I gave the front desk staff a desperate look at kind of shifted my eyes toward the back of my shoulder before veering left where the elevators were. I pressed the button, jumped into the elevator, and right as I turned around, the guy was also trying to head to the elevators but someone from the front desk jumped out to intercept him. They began screaming at him, “WE’VE TOLD YOU TO GET THE HELL OUT, YOU’RE NOT ALLOWED IN HERE!” I was a bit shocked as the doors closed, realizing that holy shit, I was RIGHT, there was definitely something not right about that guy and it absolutely seemed like the front desk knew who he was and that he WAS trying to follow me. He could have easily mugged me out on the street, so if he was trying to follow me into the hotel… whatever his plans were, they were likely worse than stealing my purse.

I took a few deep breaths and reminded myself that there was no way he could possibly know what floor I was on or what room I was in (there’s legit 300 rooms in that nasty hotel), and although I should have called down to the front desk to confirm that the guy was successfully kicked out and then probably even called the police, I just wanted to forget about it. I didn’t sleep that night, and early the next morning I hopped the early shuttle to the airport and headed out. I didn’t think much of the incident after I left until two weeks later, when Elisa Lam’s body was found floating in the water tank on the roof of the hotel after someone complained about the water tasting weird.

Just – think about that for a moment.

Turns out that she was staying there at the same time that I was. The very last footage they have of her is of her jumping into the elevator and acting VERY oddly, like someone was following her, maybe like she was high? But WOW did it ring some alarm bells.

I wish I had gotten a better look at the guy who had tried to follow me. I have crappy eyesight and it was dark. He was african-american and wearing a pea-green hoodie. That’s literally all I can describe. After Elisa was discovered, I did contact the LA police department and explain what happened, I even told them to ask the front desk as they seemed to know who the guy was and could likely give a much more accurate description, but the police department didn’t seem to take me seriously and never got in touch with me again after. I’m sure they probably thought I was just some random nutcase or something.

Maybe it was all coincidence as it was in a shitty part of downtown LA, but maybe I was almost murdered. I’ll never know.

Of course, after the fact, I googled the Cecil and learned about the hotel’s bloody history. The Nightstalker lived there while he was murdering people, a LOT of disappearances, suicides, claims of hauntings, etc. The ironic thing is that had I known that history ahead of time, it probably wouldn’t have deterred me from staying there. If anything, it probably would have encouraged me even more because I have always been rather fascinated by that stuff, but I probably would have tried to convince someone to stay there with me so that I wouldn’t be there all alone. At any rate, I’m still alive and kicking, and I was fairly oblivious to what may have almost happened to me if someone hadn’t jumped out from behind that front desk to intercept the guy. So, to that stranger, thank you. For all I know, you may have saved my life that night. I accept my inevitable death, but I’d rather my corpse not be floating in a water tank contaminating drinking water. (Ewwwwwww.)

And that’s my Cecil story! Stay tuned for less morbid crazy stories of my past… lol.

One Reply to “My Experience at the Cecil Hotel”

  1. Crazy story, thanks for sharing 🙂
    Check out this creepy coincidence in the Elisa Lam case –

    Like

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