American Horror Story Hotel: ‘Checking In’ Review

AHS Hotel: Welcome to the Hotel California

“Your boy has a jawline for days.” -The Countess

There are only three words that sum up the premiere of American Horror Story Hotel…Holy. Fucking. Shit. Never in my wildest dreams could I have predicted an opening episode quite like this. The Hotel Cortez looked absolutely stunning, the characters were just bat shit crazy and there was even an awesome connection to Season 1’s Murder House! Oh, and The Eagles hit jam Hotel California. I literally have no words. This was easily the darkest, most insane premiere since Asylum and that is saying a lot.

The Hotel Cortez was brought to life throughout the premiere. It’s almost as if the setting is its own character in a way and that’s what makes American Horror Story work so well. Every season is something new and instantly gives the series a completely fresh vibe. Hotel followed this trend perfectly and this might be the most extravagant setting yet.

The other nifty thing about this season is that it’s taking place in present time. American Horror Story seems to be following a pattern with time jumps as you’ll remember that Murder House, Coven and now Hotel all take place in the present while Asylum and Freak Show look place in the past. This works so well because each season goes back and forth and it was very refreshing to have our story take place in today’s modern world once again.

Fellow guests…I welcome you to embark on a journey through the hallways of the Hotel Cortez. But be warned…once you check in, you can never check out. And that’s probably a good thing. Enjoy the review.


Our episode begins with two Swedish meatballs touring America and there first stop is the beautiful and stunning Hotel Cortez. And that is an understatement because this hotel looks downright amazeballs. The only problem…it was completely empty. I guess that’s probably the first sign something is amiss.

We first meet Iris, the head receptionist, and she’s not very polite.

AHS Hotel: Iris

Loving Kathy Bates in her new role and so happy we don’t have to put up with that ridiculous accent from Freak Show.

The two foreigners would rather get the hell out of there, and who can blame them, but Iris rejects this idea by welcoming them to America with her no refund policy. This entire hotel is creepy as fuck and I have no idea if I would ever actually stay in a place like this but the blondies end up sticking around so Iris takes them up to their room. One of the Swedish meatballs needs some ice to go with her liquor cocktail and this is when shit starts getting real creepy. First, there’s this creepy ass maid doing god knows what in the hallway.

AHS Hotel: Miss Evers

Her name is Ms. Evers (played by Mare Winningham) and it appears she is doing something with a hammer and a sheet covered in blood. We also see a creepy kid in the hallway, more on these little terrors later as it appears they may have an important part to play in the main story.

Once back in the room, the girls are not impressed with the gross smell. They call reception about the odor but Iris tells them to get lost. This leads to the girls uncovering the bed where the smell is coming from. And what they find inside the mattress is just terrifying in every way.

Night Terrors

So many questions! First, how the hell did this dude get inside the mattress in the first place? Second, how is he still alive? Third, what in the fuck happened to him? Bat. Shit. Crazy. Upon discovering this mattress demon, the two girls are finally allowed to switch rooms. Unfortunately, they are given Room 64 and that is not going to be a pleasant room for the entire season.

I’m not really sure why the girls decided to just chill in their room when they just arrived in America. They should be out partying and drinking and doing fun stuff but instead they decide that napping is the best idea. Bad idea because these creepy vampire kids show up again, only this time they’re hungry for Swedish Meatballs.


Kids…I know human blood is delicious and all but please don’t forget to eat your vegetables. Obviously they are going to ignore this advice though since these are the creepiest kids I have ever seen since Children of the Corn. Great start to a great premiere.

Lowe Down

We meet up with Detective John Lowe, played by the awesome Wes Bentley (who you will remember as Edward Mordrake last season).

AHS Hotel: Detective John Lowe

He’s investigating a very bizarre murder that looks like it may have gotten its inspiration from the movie Se7en. One of the victims is still alive but he’s had his tongue and eyeballs removed. The girl, meanwhile, has been impaled with a curtain rod.

Glued Together

And the killer decided to leave the guy’s tongue and eyeballs in a nearby ashtray. Breakfast, anyone?

More Appetizers

Detective Lowe gets right to it and draws the conclusion that these two were married but not to each other. They were cheating on their spouses and their families were blind to what was going on, hence all of the pictures set up around the bed with the eyes gouged out. Detective Lowe also finds some super glue which means that our now blind and mute adulterer has had his penis glued inside of his mistress. That’s some fucked up shit, show! And this was just the beginning.

Back at the police station, John refuses to take an incoming call because he’s busy face-timing with his daughter Scarlett, but upon leaving the station, he gets a call from a mystery man who tells him that he’s located at the Hotel Cortez in Room 64 and that he plans on committing more murder. Obviously. So that is exactly where John is headed.

We meet up with Gabriel, played by Max Greenfield, and he’s ready to check in. He also seems a bit annoyed with Iris after she informs him that the rates have went up since the renovations.

AHS Hotel: Gabriel

And things would not go well for Gabriel because he’s given the keys to Room 64. We also got to meet Sarah Paulson’s new character, Hypodermic Sally, and she is already slaying it as a villain.

AHS Hotel: Hypodermic Sally

Sarah Paulson…I love you. She looks awesome in her new junkie role and that hair is just perfect! After Gabriel heads to his room to get really stoned, Sally lets Iris know that she’ll handle this one. Looks like Gabriel is gonna have a bad time. After getting super stoned, we meet the Addiction Demon and I am literally scared shitless because this guy comes fully equipped with a conical drill-shaped dildo which he plans on using on Gabriel. Needless to say the sex was not that good.

The Addiction Demon: What in the fuck

Remember Twisty the Clown? Well, Twisty ain’t shit compared to this thing and that is a sentence I never thought I’d ever write because Twisty was a living, breathing nightmare. Things get even weirder though when Sally enters the room. She asks Gabriel to say he loves her and as he does this, she has tears in her eyes. What is up with that? Hypodermic Sally is one messed up chick and I can’t wait to learn more about her entire story.


While all of this was going on, Detective Lowe arrives at the hotel and asks to see Room 64, where Gabriel is currently being raped by a demon. Once John arrives, however, the room is empty so he decides to take a nap. Wait, what?! That’s the second time this has happened so I’m starting to think this is no longer a coincidence. And as soon as he falls asleep, we find out that Gabriel is chillin’ under the bed and looks to be very much alive, even after his sex session with the Addiction Demon.

After waking up, John heads back out into the hallways of the Hotel Cortez where he sees one of those vampire kids. He starts chasing the kid but can’t catch up with him and we fade to black. Obviously something strange is going on in the hotel but I have this weird feeling that whenever you sleep in Room 64, you can never leave the hotel. This was quickly proven wrong (temporarily) when John heads back home to his family where we meet his wife Alex.

AHS Hotel: Alex Lowe

During dinner with his daughter, John gets a distressful message from Alex asking for his help. When he arrives at the address she provided, he ends up getting a phone call from the same psycho that had called him earlier who lets John know that he has killed again. And because John decided to put his daughter directly in danger by bringing her with him, it was only appropriate that she found the new crime scene. Oopsie!

Hangin' Out

What in the fuck, show! Two dudes hanging from the bed frame with their intestines ripped out. This must be the work of the 10 Commandents Killer who is one crazy mofo. I’m not sure what these two did to deserve this fate but I’m guessing they broke one of the commandments much like the two adulterers from earlier. I’m loving this entire story so far because it makes us really want to know why this psychopath is committing these murders.

Another awesome part of this episode was when we finally got more information about the major story line involving John Lowe and his family. We flashback to 2010 in Santa Monica where John takes his family to a carnival which instantly conjured up memories of our Freak Show days. We also find out that John has a son, Holden, and he takes him for a ride on the carousel. Unfortunately, Holden is kidnapped while John is playing with his phone and we officially have a major story on our hands because Holden is definitely one of the creepy blonde kids in the Hotel Cortez. The plot thickens and we’re still just getting started.

Going Gaga

Gaga’s grand entrance was sweet satisfaction. I’ll admit I had no idea what to expect from The Countess, but I’m loving the mystery and sexiness surrounding her bloodthirsty character. The record starts playing Tear You Apart by She Wants Revenge and it’s the perfect song for one of the most fucked up scenes in American Horror Story history. I try as much as possible to provide all of the music from each episode, so highly recommend checking out the track below because it’s an awesome jam. Plus, Gaga!:

The most insane part was when Gaga and her boy toy, Donovan, end up going to a movie in the park where they bring back another couple for sexual purposes. I’m all for it but what I’m not all for is getting my neck slashed and my blood drank. That was one of the most intense things I have ever seen but if I can get my hands on one of those gloves, hook me up! Seriously though, I have no idea how this scene can ever be topped because it was brutal in every way. Welcome to American Horror Story, Lady Gaga.

AHS Hotel: The Countess

I can’t even! Lady Gaga has already slayed it as the Countess and I’m loving every second of her character and the mystery that surrounds her. Who needs to go out and party when you can spend a quiet night at home, right?

A Lovely Evening At Home

Also, I want this sign for my bedroom. Where can I get one (#WANT)?

Why are we not having sex right now?

At this point I’m wondering what happened to those Swedish chicks from the beginning of the episode but luckily this gets answered rather quickly. Iris has them locked in these weird glowing cages, and while it probably sucks to be trapped in one of those, they looked super cool.

It's Feeding Time

Iris is preparing a rather disgusting cocktail for the Swedes but right before she can feed them through a funnel, Sally interrupts her. I love the chemistry of these two and there is obviously way more to their story. Iris says she is stuck in this godforsaken cesspool because of Sally and I’m not quite sure what that means but I’m assuming she can’t leave the hotel. Iris heads off to “feed the thing in Room 33”, which I’m already super curious about. What ‘thing’ could she be referring to?

Sally, meanwhile, decides that she needs some entertainment so she lets one of the Swedish meatballs out of her cage and tells her to RUN! And run is exactly what she did…right into the lobby where she is stopped short of the exit by The Countess and her severely sharp glove.

The Countess slays a Swede

“This can never happen again,” is all The Countess says to Iris regarding the Swedish meatball who escaped. Obviously it would be terrible PR for the hotel if their victims start escaping but we still have no idea why all of these insane murders are happening.

Kid Stuff

We officially have our first connection to Murder House when Marcy shows up to show a man by the name of Will Drake (played by Cheyenne Jackson) around the Hotel Cortez. He’s thinking about buying a room since people live in this place apparently. Do people actually live in hotels? Who knows but I’m all for it.

AHS Hotel: Murder House Marcy

The other amazing connection was to the Harmon’s themselves. You’ll remember the Harmon family dog back in Season 1. Well, the little pooch was adopted by Marcy following the death of the entire Harmon family but it turns out she had to recently put poor Hallie Harmon down 🙁 ! A very small detail but I loved it!

We also find out that the Will Drake is the new owner of the Hotel Cortez and he brought his son Lachlan with him. Iris seems concerned about the new ownership and if I’m Mr. Drake, I don’t think I’d be sticking around this place for very long.

AHS Hotel: Will Drake

His son, Lachlan, ends up wandering off for a brief moment only to come face-to-face with this:

Lachlan meets the Addiction Demon

Yup, nightmares. That thing is just fucking balls-to-the-wall creepy and it certainly doesn’t help that he’s running around the hotel with a conical drill-shaped dildo. Bat. Shit. Crazy. Those are words we’re going to hear a lot of this season and I’m not even remotely surprised. And either should you.

It’s also worth mentioning here that I absolutely love Denis O’Hare’s character who has taken the name Liz Taylor. He came and went throughout the episode but I’m definitely dying to know what his backstory is.

AHS Hotel: Liz Taylor

Marcy shows Mr. Darke one of the rooms where a naked Donovan (the Countess’ partner in crime) is sleeping naked on the couch. Sexy! It’s worth noting that he wasn’t too keen about having lights in the room. Possible connection to vampires? Maybe, but I’m hoping not because vampires are kinda lame.

AHS Hotel: Donovan

Donovan immediately informs the Countess of the new owner but she doesn’t seem all that concerned. I love the way the Countess presents herself. She has so much confidence and she looks so unique that I am completely enthralled by her presence. Who would have thought that Lady Gaga would have been such a perfect fit for AHS!

She takes Lachlan on a tour and we find out that there is a lot more to the Hotel Cortez that meets the eye. She takes him through a secret passage in the hallway which leads to the greatest kids room of all time.

Hotel Cortez Day Care

Those fucking creepy kids! I thought Twisty was bad but I swear if I see a little kid dressed like that on Halloween I’ll be running my ass the fuck away…as far as I can. Sure, they got all the video games in the world to play in what was quite possibly the greatest room I have ever seen, but vampire kids running around a hotel in the middle of the night….that’s literally nightmares all around.

The Countess introduces Lachlan to one of her vampire kids and in a shocking twist, it’s Holden! It looks like we know where Detective Lowe’s son ended up and I absolutely love the twist. With John finally checking in permanently at the end of the episode, there is definitely going to be more to this story. Will John be able to find his son in the hallways of the Hotel Cortez? Or will he end up murdered like everyone else? Cannot wait to find out. And as much as I hate detective-type characters, I think Wes Bentley has already done a phenomenal job in the role!

It was also revealed that Iris is Donovan’s mother and we get a flashback to 1994 with Petula Clark’s Downtown playing.

Iris is watching her son Donovan from her car and he’s with Hypodermic Sally. They head to the Hotel Cortez to get high because apparently people really like getting high in this hotel. Iris also runs into the hotel and wants to know where her son is, but Liz Taylor informs her that this is a ‘no-tell hotel’ unless, of course, you gots some cash money. Then the most crazy shit goes down. First, Sally and Donovan get super stoned on heroine but it looks like Sally’s tolerance is a bit higher than Donovan’s. Iris ends up confronting the two in their room and she finds her son out cold and high as fuck on China White. I assume Donovan didn’t die here, he was just really, really high. Sally ends up taking off but Iris is super pissed about the whole ‘drug’ thing and ends up doing this to Hypodermic Sally:

Iris pushes Hypodermic Sally to her death

Wait, what? What in the fuck just happened? Sally was thrown to her death by Iris in 1994 yet she’s still lurking around the hotel in present time? My mind exploded at this point because I have no idea what is going on. Does the Hotel Cortez work the same way as the Murder House? I doubt it because that would be pretty lame…but Sally was walking around the hotel even though she clearly died at the hands of Iris back in ’94. I want answers MEOW!

Then, that final scene. With Sally’s body lying in the street, the music starts to play and it’s absolutely perfect. Pure euphoria that sends shivers down my spine every time I watch it. I mean, one of my all-time favorite jams playing on one of my all-time favorite shows was everything I could have asked for. Who needs Christmas when we gots Halloween! I cannot think of a more appropriate song selection for the final scene of the premiere. Not only that, after Sally’s fall from the window, it appears it’s true that you can check out any time you like…but you can never leave.

As the song plays in the background, we find the Countess with Donovan and she lets Iris know that Donny boy’s got a jawline for days! I guess that is how Iris and Donovan came to the Hotel Cortez. And John Lowe finally decides it’s time to check in as well…but as you know once you check in, there is no checking out. This was pure bliss and an absolutely perfect final scene.

To be completely honest, I’m still in hypodermic shock from everything I’ve seen. I can’t make any sense of anything that happened but this is American Horror Story Hotel and this is bat shit crazy. I still can’t believe I wasn’t that excited about the hotel setting but after seeing the phenomenal set, I’m all the fucking way on board. Plus, Gaga had one of the best lines ever:

"Your boy has a jawline for days."

This season appears to be exploring addiction and it’s coming in all shapes and sizes. Whether you have an obsession with sex, drugs, alcohol, blood, murder, video games or American Horror Story…you better watch out because the Addiction Demon could be lurking around the corner. I loved the theme, I loved the hotel, I loved the characters and I loved this premiere. Hope you did too!

The Verdict


Mikey Likes ItThe premiere of American Horror Story Hotel was simply bat shit crazy. I absolutely loved every second of it and the inclusion of Hotel California was a perfect way to end the premiere…because you can never leave this place. While Coven and Freak Show seemed to be more upbeat and fun, Hotel has basically turned off all of the lights. It looks like this season is going to be super dark and I’m all for it. That was why most of us have Asylum on the top of our favorite seasons.

Hell, we haven’t even met the whole cast yet. Angela Bassett, Finn Wittrock and Evan Peters are sure to add even more terror to an already terrifyingly insane season and I cannot wait until we get to meet them.

The inclusion of Hotel California at the end was also pure perfection, stamping the idea into our brains that once you check in, there is no checking out. It was literally the perfect song and the perfect ending to the premiere and I cannot wait until next week to find out more about this hotel of horrors!

So what did everyone think of the American Horror Story premiere? Are you already making reservations? Let us know in the comments and be sure to vote for your favorite character from the Hotel Cortez!

Lastly, next week’s episode is titled Chutes and Ladders, which could mean trapdoors! One can only hope. Check out the promo below and thanks for readings, fellow guests.