Holidays

Deadly Hotels

by Ralph Martin

CHELSEA HOTEL, New York City

The Chelsea's facade is like Tim Burton's fantasy of a grand hotel: 12 stories of bloodred brick, broken up by black wrought-iron balconies. The hotel's guest book reads like the history of 20th-century American culture—you could call it the birthplace of Beat poetry, American modern art, and the singer-songwriter movement—but it is still best known as the place where Dylan Thomas spent his last days and Sid Vicious killed his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen. Nicknamed the "exploding dimwit" by the music press, Vicious was the former bass player for English punk band the Sex Pistols. Vicious and Spungen were a volatile couple, and were regularly seen covered with bruises and cigarette burns. On October 12, 1978, after a pair of early-morning anonymous phone calls to the hotel's front desk calling attention to room 100, Spungen was found dead on the bathroom floor with a single knife wound in her abdomen, while Vicious walked the halls, muttering. The actual stabbing is still a punk rock mystery: There are theories that Spungen was murdered by one of two drug dealers who visited the hotel room that night. Vicious died of a heroin overdose before he could go to trial, and rumors of a shared suicide pact continue to this day.

Chelsea Hotel
Tel: 212 243 3700

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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