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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Unsolicited hotel reviews

Home sweet home – the past year that moniker has been applied to countless hotels that just feel good after a long day at work. Each location I’ve traveled to this year has been an experience and adventure. Sometimes, the hotels themselves are adventures – some good, some bad.

I can’t even count the number of hotels I’ve stayed in throughout my life, but some clearly stand out. I was thinking about that today after I checked out of the Marriott in downtown Orlando and headed home to St. Petersburg.

Some of my favorite places to lodge have been military-run hotels or resorts such as the Hale Koa or Bellows Air Force Station in Hawaii. Hard to beat a lux hotel on Waikiki Beach or a private cabin right on the beach on the windward side of the island. That these are military facilities has helped us afford to stay at places where we might not normally have been able to visit. From temporary lodging facilities to trailers (aka cabins) at the Lake of the Ozarks, military-run hotels have one thing in common – they are clean and efficiently run. No bad experiences – well, except the time at Reese Air Force Base when we stayed in TLF before we left for Japan. The staff had placed hot pink mice poison that looked a whole lot like candy under an end table in the living room area. That proved too tempting for our then two-year-old who ended up having to have her stomach pumped. Thank goodness she liked to share, which alerted her older brother and sister to the fact that little sis was eating something she found under the table. Whew.

This year, we’ve stayed at too many hotels to count. The worst were hands-down in other parts of the country from the flea-infested room at a very nice Holiday Inn in South Carolina to a bed-bug hotel in Illinois.

Hampton Inns while clean etc. have the hardest beds ever. I won’t stay there unless it’s a last resort or the whole crew is staying there.

The Holiday Inn in SC not withstanding, we usually stay at HI because for the most part they are clean, have comfortable beds and you can’t beat the pillow menu. The point rewards are great too. Marriott Hotels also top the list of great places to stay. But by far, our favorite chain hotel is the Embassy Suites. The 10 days we stayed in Boca Raton earlier this year were made bearable by the great hotel and staff. We were running around from event to event, and it was always great to come back to a great space with a small living area so you didn’t feel like you were at a hotel. The breakfast buffet and “manager’s reception” are super. We stayed at the Embassy in DC too and it was equally as great.

By far our favorite hotel – not for the amenities – but for the history and surroundings was the Mayflower Hotel in Washington DC. If you are a presidential history buff, stay there.

The Hotel Cass (Holiday Inn Express) in Chicago was also another historic hotel. Free breakfast and you can’t beat the location from great shopping and restaurants and night life. It’s about three blocks to the House of Blues, practically next door to the famous Pizzeria Due (Unos Chicago Pizza), and Starbucks is right across the street. If you don’t mind walking about four blocks, you are right in the middle of the city’s downtown shopping mecca and only about 10 blocks to the beach. Great hotel – the view stinks and the rooms are small, but the boutique hotel is nicely decorated and you won’t be spending a lot of time in the hotel anyway. Beds are great.

So there you have it, my unsolicited hotel reviews. Next time, we’ll talk Priceline…


big hair envy said...

We just returned from a weekend at the Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, VA. It was awesome!! Our suite had a wood-burning fireplace....which was wonderful when the wind chill was 20 degrees Friday night! The goose down comforter wasn't bad either:)

Thanks for stopping by my site. I hope you'll be back soon for a visit!

Cissy said...

Sounds like a place I want to visit!