Would you want to sleep in a (former) brothel?

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Arks's picture
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As some of you know, I own two old buildings downtown that I'm renovating to create guest accommodations. One will open this year (2012). The other, on the town square, will open as a B&B in 2013. That's the one I'm wanting to ask opinions on.

The building used to be a hotel and it's well known to local natives that the hotel housed the town bordello during the "roaring 20's". It's just one room, second floor, in the back (with a nice river view). My question is, should I remain silent about this aspect of the building's past, should I advertise it as part of the building's history, or something in between?

I can see where some people might not want to sleep in a room that saw so much "action" 90 years ago, while others would enjoy knowing the history as they recreate some of that action!

How would you handle such a thing?

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I had some guests once that told me about a former brothel they stayed at in Alaska.  It sounds like the b&b itself was in need of some major repair but because of the history it was a fun story for them to tell.  I would use it.  People often ask me about the history of our house and I have nothing interesting to tell them.  I'd love to have something like that, it makes you memorable. 

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 Oh I don't care if he would tell them about it, or have it in the history of the inn for the room book. But not to  use it to promote staying at the B & B. Not needed. Sad

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 "Former" please oh please add former into the title...or not. Maybe you will find out some things about the true nature of innkeepers. LOL!

Cheers!

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We know of a winery that changed it name to dirty laundry and it has a booming buiness. Check it out Both y el p and tr ip have many postings on peoples experiences. The winery is based on a brothell theme.  It all depends on how you present it. AND what story you tell.

http://www.tripadvisor.ca/Attraction_Review-g616300-d1034381-Reviews-Dirty_Laundry_Vineyard-Summerland_Okanagan_Valley_British_Columbia.html

 

http://www.yelp.ca/biz/dirty-laundry-vineyard-summerland

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sorry double posting

Tom
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This post has received more replies than any of the last roughly 70 posts (since bedbugs).  The title alone grabs interest.

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Tom wrote:

This post has received more replies than any of the last roughly 70 posts (since bedbugs).  The title alone grabs interest.

Well, I guess there are worse things than bedbugs to be caught at a brothel.

So sorry Proud Texan has been away lately. I'm just sure he would have enjoyed the discussion.

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 I'll fill in for him (sing along, everyone!):

It's just a little bitty pissant country place, 
Nuttin' much to see,
There's no drinking allowed. 
We get a nice, quiet crowd
Plain as it can be.

It's just a piddly-sqautin' old-time country place,
Nuttin' too high-tone,
Just lots o' good will,
And maybe one small thrill,
But there's NUTTIN' dirty goin' on!

Smiling

 

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After a super quick skim of the other replies I agree with JB (and others).  History GREAT !!!!  But no need to make it Brothel-Esque.   I personally seek out places with a history (any history not just libidinous).   Suggestion is immensely more interesting / enticing than demonstration.

 

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....  I should add that, as a five year old, we had a horrendous car crash in south eastern Turkey.  The locals were incredible but there were no B&Bs (or inns, hotels or motels).  There was however one establishment that had extra rooms ........ I have never since stayed in a brothel but they will always have a fond place in my heart.

.... One more reason I don't post under my "real" name Smiling

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well if the impression is something like this - http://gallery4collectors.com/TheBordello.htm Very safe to click. Then I can see it. A fun and classy view of a different time. But who is to say what it really used to look like?

 

 

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wouldn't bother me at all ... i'd find it interesting, especially if you can find old pictures of the place ... i may be way in the wrong era, but i keep thinking of old time saloon gals

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seashanty wrote:

i may be way in the wrong era, but i keep thinking of old time saloon gals

I imagine it was a pretty nice hotel when new in 1860 but the brothel era came in the roaring 20's when the place was over 60 years old and, no doubt, going downhill. So rather than saloon girls I'm picturing Bonnie Parker.

 

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Before we bought the High Mountain Lodge, we looked at a lot of properties in Colorado, including the Bross Hotel in Paonia, Colorado www.paonia-inn.com/ (it's for sale, btw; check out www.innmatchmakers.com), that has a ghost in one of its bedrooms. It seems that Mother Bross has been known to "tuck" guests into bed in a particular room.

The phenomenon has been written up in a book on Colorado ghosts, and people actually book the room in hopes that Mother Bross will show up and help them snuggle down. 

My take: if your place has a marketing "hook," take advantage of it. Shoot, there are places in Lake City, Colorado, that promote the fact that Colorado's most infamous cannibal, Alferd Packer, ate all his friends not far from town. The last time we climbed a 14er in the east San Juans, we ate at a restaurant/bar that advertised the "Cannibal Friendwich," which consisted of pulled pork BBQ on a hoagie. 

I'm pretty sure you don't have to worry about the sensibilities of your neighbors in small-town Arkansas. If it brings paying customers into town, shoot, before you know it, the hardware store will start stocking French ticklers.

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HighMountainLodge wrote:

I'm pretty sure you don't have to worry about the sensibilities of your neighbors in small-town Arkansas. If it brings paying customers into town, shoot, before you know it, the hardware store will start stocking French ticklers.

At this point my neighbors can't imagine any tourists coming to our town, and they think I'm foolish to try. I'll prove them wrong, but will have to wait until they see that before I start "pushing it" too much. People here don't have sex, you know. (I've heard of a few who do, but they wouldn't think of enjoying it.)

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I thought that was only in Lake Woebegon!

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I was teasing with the "over the top" decor. But wouldn't it be an interesting experiment to find out if a room like that would be the most booked or the orphan?

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So would you sleep in a "former" brothel has now gone sleazy.

That is what I would not do, if you have a boudoir room that would put me off staying there. Something historical is fun, don't go cheezy. 

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Big difference between a boudoir and a bordello. It can be tastefully done in tones that include some dark reds, doesn't have to be the walls, it can be a dark red pillow on the bed. Many people will see this as ultra romantic. It doesn't have to be cheap and tawdry.

http://www.homedesignfind.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/bedroomfrench-300x300.jpg

http://www.castleinnofneworleans.com/images/12BED&COUCHLEFTWIDEX.jpg

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OK, todd just gave me this idea by saying (I think) that you might lose the female market if you had a bordello room. (Ahem, no, you wouldn't, but that's another story.)

You could 'sell' that room for 'boudoir photos'. If you know a photog who takes boudoir photos ask if it would be viable.

Think along the lines of those 'wild west' photo stands that set up at the state fair. There's always a floozie in the bunch and everyone wants to be her! You do that on the slow days.

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Madeleine wrote:

If you know a photog who takes boudoir photos ask if it would be viable.

Sounds like I need to become a photographer Eye-wink

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Not sure if it was a national deal but we had a Fantasy Suites here in MN. That catered more openly to a sexy getaway. Brazil has one or two of these tryst motels in every part of the city.

But our B&B crowd seems to be more catering to romance and the female side of things. The guys like the history etc but I get the impression that the woman booked it and the guy is along for the ride in a lot of cases. You would hate to lose that market.

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The idea of recreating the Bordello would work (and does) if you were in say - Vegas, New Orleans etc. but I agree Arkie, not in small town AK. 

But I would place this in your historical facts for the room or building history.  People love hearing about the history of a place.  I can see you having a lot of fun writing about "if these walls could talk"....

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Definitely NOT the whole place - just that room. He would not have to do much for the word to get out about it. It would be interesting to see how it actually played out. Would that room be totally booked way in advance? Or would it be the orphan?

I think women booked the Sybaris as a surprise gift for their boyfriends or husbands - more than the guys booking it.

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Would you want to sleep in a brothel?

With who?

(sorry I was waiting for someone to say this) 

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Personally, I think... mention it as an interesting note about the past life of the building. It's part of the past and people love to hear a story about the history of the building. 

I wouldn't put it as the first thing I mention, but certainly as part of the history. You will be amazed at how many people will find that interesting. And that particular room, you could doll up like a real boudoir and get a few extra buck from it, too. Black and red!

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Anyone famous among the "visitors"? A well-known "lady?" Play up a ghost at Halloween and let it fade away the rest of the year.

I am a firm believer in "if you have it, use it".

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gillumhouse wrote:

Anyone famous among the "visitors"? A well-known "lady?" Play up a ghost at Halloween and let it fade away the rest of the year.

I am a firm believer in "if you have it, use it".

The ladies involved would not have been famous (except among their clients) and the clients, if they were famous, ain't talkin'

Looking for a name to give the room, I Googled "most famous prostitutes" but didn't come of with any I've met before. Eye-wink

One other interesting thing I found when I bought the building was that there was a "false wall" down one side of the room in question, an area 4 feet wide x 15 feet long. There was no way to get into this space and I didn't even realize it was there until I noticed that the same room on the opposite side of the building had more space between the window and the corner than the brothel room.

With dreams of finding perhaps a walled-off dead body, or a chest of Confederate gold, I finally broke through the wall into the mystery space. Like Al Capone's vault that embarrassed Geraldo many years ago, my mystery room was completely empty. The space shares another wall with the shared bathroom next door and I've speculated that it was either a place for husbands to hide if their wives came looking for them, or the mistress might have sold tickets to peeping Toms who hid in there.

Who knows. But makes a great story!

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 Jezabelle is the name I think of when I think of a lady of the night, although apparently the true meaning is "unmarried, chaste".  

 

 

 

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Is the room fairly large? Make it a real sexy room with HIGH rent. Mirror on the ceiling etc. There was a place in one of the southwest suburbs of Chicago called the Sybaris that was RAW SEX in the decor and no bones about it. the rates depended on if you wanted for the night or 4 hours (in the early 90s it was something like $350 or $400 for 4 hours). It was a popular anniversary, landmark birthday, or tryst getaway place. It made its money on mirrors, sunken tubs, etc I inquired for a DH birthday or an anniversary (can't remember which) and that is how I know a bit about price - it was out of MY range.

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gillumhouse wrote:

Is the room fairly large? Make it a real sexy room with HIGH rent. Mirror on the ceiling etc.

 It's a fairly large room, but good lord, this is small-town Arkansas!

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As if they do not do SEXY in small town Arkansas? Besides, if you are like the rest of us, locals are not your guests anyway. Call it the Sybaris Room and make it your MOST expensive.

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gillumhouse wrote:

As if they do not do SEXY in small town Arkansas? Besides, if you are like the rest of us, locals are not your guests anyway. Call it the Sybaris Room and make it your MOST expensive.

And make sure it is well insulated!

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Madeleine wrote:

gillumhouse wrote:

As if they do not do SEXY in small town Arkansas? Besides, if you are like the rest of us, locals are not your guests anyway. Call it the Sybaris Room and make it your MOST expensive.

And make sure it is well insulated!

And boil the sheets after checkout!

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I will say, looking forward to your blog article on this one!

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Joey Bloggs wrote:

I will say, looking forward to your blog article on this one!

Yes, that's why I thought I better ask before I blogged. Didn't want to put it out there if several thought it was a bad idea. Certainly it wouldn't be a prime thing to advertise, but it's interesting enough to at least mention, along with the whiskey bottles.

Then there's the St. Charles Massacre to mix in to this: union soldiers inside the hotel (my building) shot down 7 or 8 rebel soldiers outside, reportedly coming to surrender, during the civil war. I'm really hoping to market the B&B to history travelers.

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I would do it as maybe if you have a lot of history a booklet of the history of the building with maybe a section in that room in the guest information. Do maybe a brief history of the building in a blog article but I would have another article ready to come after it so that it is not the first thing that hits you in the eye.

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I'm with most everyone else on mentioning this as part of the history and playing it up in that particular room.

Tom
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I might put it in a web page of "historic notes" treating the inn property as a whole and a by-the-way in the [very clever, subtle name] room ...  At least have old photos, newspaper clippings, and the "behind the story historical note" in a framed collage in the room.  History is cool to guests.  Advertise all new matresses, though.

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Tom wrote:

...Advertise all new matresses, though.

Ha! Great point!

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I used to work in a brothel.  

Primrose House, 190 Russell Avenue, Dolls Point, New South Wales (2010-11-28) 01.jpg

Primrose House

Okay read on...the historic building calls Primrose House on Dolls Point on Botany Bay south of Sydney.  It was a hospital, a brothel, a mental institution and many other things during and after the war. 

Things went on around here where I live now, just the same. In the hey day of this town. I often wonder what to market, what to let be a surprise and what the not mention. Ie the room that was a nursery where family was born and often died.  Then the cemetery which is right behind us and an historic cemetery where some guests adore it and others are frightened of it. So I do not mention it other than "Quiet neighbors."

Are you planning on finding some very conservative people offended by the brothel which was yonks ago? Are there other rooms they can stay in? If it were me, from the marketing standpoint, I would USE IT. I would market the brothel aspect, carefully so that any town officials do not confuse current use - which is an issue in small towns, people assume a boarding house/guest house IS A BROTHEL.  In other words, market it AFTER the fact and be careful, do more IN THE ROOM itself to decorate it in a themed fashion.

That is what I would do. and yes I would stay in it. and yes I am conservative. I found photos of the "operating theatre" guest room we stayed, which was also a house of ill repute part of the time during WWII in Townsville, Queensland which really spawned the whole B&B venture for us...

 

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I hadn't thought about it, but I'm sure there's been lots of death in the old houses that are now bnb's. Most births used to be at home, and neonatal mortality used to be much higher than today. Likewise, the dead used to lie in state in the home parlor, not at a commercial funeral parlor.

This is similar to the question of hauntings. If your old building is said to be home to a ghost, would you play that up and attract people who are in to stuff like that? That topic comes up here occasionally and there's no clear answer. Most just say they only bring it up, with a wink, if someone asks about it.

One possibility, in my case, might be to make some sort of mention of it in the on-line description of that particular room, and folks who don't like it can stay in one of the other rooms (as if nothing has ever gone on in the other rooms except reading books and sleeping).

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 I wouldn't focus on that at all. The locals may know it as that, but no need to start business out with that idea. It doesn't matter what it was, only what you will make it. Now if someone in town happens to tell a guest, maybe you could say " that's what I have heard."   but for me...just forget it.I wouldn't use that as marketing.

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 I might make your "Bordello's" past a footnote to the other aspects that will sell your B+B.  While it may be interesting to those who actually pay attention to the history of the place, I don't think I would want to make it a selling point.  You could certainly mention the inn's " rumored, colored past" in a history section of the web site and you might attract some guests who bother to read the web site.  But, I think I would focus on the fabulous brand new aspects of the B+B that set it apart from all the "shabby" older places you will be competing with.  Good luck with the renovation....not for the faint of heart!

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