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What It Was Like to Work for NYC’s Most Notorious Illegal Hotel Group

Excerpt from Complex

Feb 17, 2014 3:10 pm

Skift Take

Illegal hotel operators are both less ambitious and more sophisticated that we saw in the early days of Toshi and Airbnb. The former has settled with the city, the latter still has a ways to go.

— Jason Clampet

Free Report: The State of Student Travel


The address listed as Hotel Toshi was little more than a loading dock for a non-descript loft building on a dreary corner under the Williamsburg Bridge.

When I arrived, the only signs of life were three fresh-faced, bewildered-looking Germans with a set of matching suitcases. One girl was wearing a neck pillow. With the traffic on the bridge above our heads roaring, one of them asked, “Excuse me, sir, can you direct us to Hotel Toshi?

After fumbling through a few hand gestures to explain that we were looking for the same place, a red door burst open, spilling a gaggle of beautiful, giggling women onto the sidewalk, each with a rolling suitcase in tow. I caught the door and waved the Germans inside, making a mental note of the tiny piece of masking tape that read “TOSHI” affixed to the buzzer.

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