We picked El Cortez Motel because it looked attractive from the street as we were driving by. It had cute tiled roofs and we peeked in a room to find walls painted in earth colors and an arched doorway leading to a separate couched area. The owner said he had a non-smoking room with free Wi-Fi for a good price. It was only 1 1/2 miles from the Sherman Oaks Galleria so I told him I wanted a room and gave him my credit card.
Well, the bullet-proof glass in the office should have been my first hint. OK, my mistake. When we got our keycard and opened the door to our room, it reeked horribly of cigarette smoke (not just a faint scent), and there was an ashtray on the table. The room was absolutely filthy. The front door and bathroom door were white, but grimy on both sides from dirty hands. The bathroom floor was disgustingly dirty. That's all I needed to see & smell. I went back to the office, told them that they had given us a smoking room, I had allergies and wanted a refund. He said it was a non-smoking room, even though there was an ashtray in it. He refused to give me a refund, but said he would give us another room.
The second room was better. It still had an ashtray in it, and still smelled like someone had smoked in it, but not recently. Sadly, this was probably one of their better rooms. It had a new bathroom floor and fixtures, but I could see that they did not understand the concept of cleanliness. It was only superficially clean, you could see "things" already accumulating in the corners. The bath mat hanging over the tub for the bathroom floor was, literally, a thin hand towel. The towels were small & thin, but at least they were clean. There was a moth and a fly in the bathroom. The sheets were clean, but after being in that other room I didn't trust the sheets, the carpet or the couch. The doors were cleaner, but still had smudges on both sides. There was a piece of a paper napkin hanging on the inside of the front door, where someone had stuffed it into the peephole. The overhead light in the couch room was extremely dim, and the light just inside the front door didn't work at all. I'm all for no frills, modest accommodations when I just need a quick place to sleep, but the very basic requirement is cleanliness, which this place did not meet. Not even close.
Aside from that issue, the owners were very aloof. They lied to me twice. We had asked for a refund both before & after we had gone out to dinner, both times before we even used the room. At our second request, they denied that we had asked for a refund a few hours earlier, and said it was now too late. They also said that because it was a weekend, they were full and couldn't refund my money. Huh? (The parking lot was only about a quarter occupied that night, and early the next morning when we got up). Probably from a history of bad patrons (who else would want to stay in a filthy room?) they were suspicious of everyone to the point they were over-zealous about protecting theft of their remote controls, yet at the same time they were trying to chase away the customers who would be clean, quiet, respectful of the property, and pay the bill. To all those in this last category, run far, far away from this place!!!