The Kelly is more an experience than a hotel. Forget the 2007 four-star review, below: it is clearly a plant. (How many guests know or care when their hotel was built?) A quarter star is more like it.
Think Bates Motel and you'll begin to develop a sense of the place. Not that it's unsafe. To my knowledge. Just eerie. I stayed there last year for ten nights. There was a faux Brit manning the desk at night and a black transvestite operating the lift during the day. No lack of entertainment potential, I'll admit, but not your average family fare.
It is run more like a halfway house than a hotel: you must pay in advance with a money order (a distinctly American touch) – no checks, credit cards... or even cash, thank you. The main door is locked 24/7, and during my stay the key fob that was supposed to unlock the door failed and I had to buzz to gain entry, each time.
The room itself did not aspire to the status of basic, and it was with some trepidation that I settled between the sheets each night. The bathroom was definitely stylish... or would've been, around the turn of the century. Trust me, aside from too many coats of paint, it had been untouched for many, many decades.
There was a first generation microwave, a chest of drawers, a closet, and a bed. Aside from the table on which the microwave reposed, there was no other furniture: I had to buy a folding chair from one of the second-hand shops that line Central Avenue. Not even a telephone cluttered the room.
Forget lighting: a bare light bulb in the center of the ceiling. Bring your own reading light – I bought a small battery-operated book light for my evening pleasure. Fortunately, there was an electrical outlet that I could tap in order to charge my computer. (Bring a power strip, though.)
Oh – I mentioned the tranie elevator operator, a real sweetie. Be careful not to alienate her, because this is the kind of lift that requires an operator: you cannot go up or down by yourself. When you summon the lift, how quickly it arrives is a measure of the mood of the operator of the moment, so you don't need any enemies there.
My mother taught me never to offer an opinion if I couldn't say something positive, so here goes: from some of the rooms there is a partial view of the famed St Pete Pier. And the location is superb for those brave enough to wander the streets of downtown St Pete – day or night. The best thing about the location, truly, is that it is across the street from the local bus hub.