Crazy carpets: Can you guess the hotel from its funky floor?
Posted December 1, 2017 9:54 a.m. EST
(CNN) — While working as a corporate pilot, Bill Young's eyes are usually on the skies. But between flights, they're often on the ground. And what he's staring at has now become an Instagram sensation.
While in hotels on layovers around the world, Young became transfixed by something they all had in common: funky floor coverings.
"I started noticing how obnoxious a lot of these carpets are," Young recalls from his travels. "Completely unlike anything you'd see in a house, often very intricate and gaudy."
Young, from Texas, snapped a couple of pictures of these crazy floor coverings -- and posted them online.
His wife, Heidi, suggested he create an Instagram page devoted to the carpets. And so, @myhotelcarpet was born.
"I started it kind of on a whim, a little joke to see what would happen," Young says, "I didn't think hardly anybody would look at it."
Over two years it gained a few followers among friends and family, but during Thanksgiving 2017 his college-age daughter Jill decided to Tweet out a call to action, asking her followers to check out her dad's Instagram.
They did -- and Young went viral.
Something about the genuine artistry of Young's images and the project's innate randomness seemed to have caught the Internet's attention. He's clocked up more than 560,000 followers for his Instagram account and supportive comments from around the globe.
Young's photographs of the carpets are amusing and creative. From garish red swirls to intriguing patterns of eyes to large leaves and flowers, the pictures cover every end of the carpet spectrum.
"It seems to me that it's getting crazier and crazier as time goes on, which I love," he says.
"I've noticed that even in the nicest hotels, and we stay at some decent places, I've seen some of the most gaudy, crazy patterns. A large area will have, not just kind of a hatched pattern that repeats over the same space, they'll be like a theme with stripes going down the hallway, weird flowers."
Young's favorite was at the Hotel Marriott Long Beach.
"There's one on there that's got kind of a pyramid," he explains. "It kind of looks like the Pink Floyd 'Dark Side of the Moon' album cover."
One mystery that Young has yet to solve is how -- and why -- the hotels choose such unusual carpets.
"I guess [the reason] is because maybe it hides dirt well in high trafficked areas," he says.
"But I don't know, how does the hotel decide? You think that's probably a pretty big decision? I don't know what they're doing but sometimes it seems like a competition, who can pick the craziest carpets and put them in their hotel."
Young dabbles in photography alongside his full-time pilot role and seems to have a naturally creative eye.
"In addition to being a pilot, photography started out as a hobby, but turned into a little bit of a business," he says.
"Often on my travels, I take a camera and shoot the locals, places, people, food. It's something to do while I'm on layovers."
He posts his none-carpet photographs on his other Instagram and website.
"I love it, it's sort of my artistic outlet," he says.
"I think the carpet thing was fun because it connected me with my friends back home," he adds. "I put it up and I get comments from folks back home. I think it's fun for my daughter, she can see where I am. It definitely gives me something to do on layovers."
Young says he would encourage other business travelers to find their own creative ways to pass the time -- maybe snapping their own photographs of quirky hotel room findings.
"If you can notice something different, that catches your eye, then why not?" he says. "It's kind of fun, it's like collecting something."
Young's sweet supportive relationship with his daughter Jill seems to have caught the eye of his audience, perhaps helping fuel the popularity of his carpet photos.
"I'm very excited mostly for my daughter, because I think she's really getting a kick out of this and it's something that she did, she's the one who basically caused this fire to catch, and I'm proud of her," Young says.
"The fact that it grew so big is so cool," says Jill. "So many people seem to love my dad which is exciting!"