Thursday, December 3, 2015

Hotel Reviews - United States

the good, bad, & 'what' across the world! = 
United States
comment below and let me know your thoughts :)

As I have traveled the world, I have gotten to visit many cities.  Within these cities, I have stayed at many different hotels - some good, some great, and others not so much.  Hopefully my reviews will help you enjoy your travels in the good hotels and avoid the band ones.  Happy (and safe) travels!

Hilton Garden Inn Tallahassee (Thomasville Road) - January 2016
for pictures and additional comments, visit my tripadvisor page at:

We were passing through Florida and were looking for a place to stay for the night in Tallahasse.  The Hilton Garden Inn usually provides a nice and clean place so we decided to check it out.  Overall, the hotel looks and smells brand new so it provides a nice and comfortable room to rest and relax.

The hotel is located in an office park and the entrance is a bit odd as there is no real driveway to the hotel.  The hotel can be accessed from two roads – through the first access you have to go past banks and the parking lot of hotel and the back road sort of merge.  From the other road, the access is a bit more direct to the hotel but you access the side of the hotel and need to drive around to the front; it’s a bit odd.  

In terms of the hotel itself, it looks newly built.  As you enter the lobby, straight ahead are the check-in desks.  On the right hand side is a nice and large sitting area with plenty of couches and chairs.  On the other side is the kitchen and dining area where breakfast and dinner can be purchased.  This is also where free coffee, water, and cookies were provided (a nice touch!).   Right next to the check-in desk was the hallway that led to the elevators.  This hallway also led to the business center, the fitness center, as well as the outdoor pool.  Check-in was very efficient, and my participation in the rewards program was acknowledged (also a nice touch!).  We received our key and took the elevator to our room.
The room was a standard Hilton Garden Inn room, and the room was comfortable and relaxing.  As you entered, on the left was the bathroom while on the right was the closet and storage area.  Next to the closet was a shelf with the coffee maker, a fridge on the bottom, as well as a microwave on top.  The bathroom was nice and had standard amenities of a tub, a sink, and a toilet.  Further into the room were the two double beds with a night stand in the middle.  The beds were very tall, spacious, and very comfortable.  The lamps next to the bed also had multiple outlets so that was very convenient.  Across from the beds was the TV with storage underneath, and next to that was the desk.  
Since we were only there for one night, I was not able to experience the hotel amenities such as the business center, the pool, or the fitness center.  I did experience the wifi, which was decent enough for emails and general internet browsing.

Overall, the hotel provided a nice, clean room and comfortable beds which provided a good night’s sleep.  Customer service at the hotel was also very good and this added the extra comfort to the experience.  The only negative of the hotel was the location, which was a bit odd and a bit hard to access.

Hilton Miami Aiport - January 2016
for pictures and additional comments, visit my tripadvisor page at:

We had a couple of days in Miami and were looking for a hotel near the airport.  Overall, the Hilton provides a nice and large facility near the airport with plenty of amenities (including a nice shower).

The hotel is located in an office park, so that there is not that much around it.  That makes it very quite and provides a lot of space, but makes it difficult to access services without a car.  Like all Miami airport hotels, this hotel also charges for parking (the standard seems to be $17 per day).  There were plenty of spaces as the hotel has a lot of land.  

The lobby of the hotel is very large and open - you enter in the sitting area and on right hand side is the check-in desk.  Right next to the desks is a hallway which leads to the elevators and the outside.  The hotel restaurant is located in the lobby as well.  The hallway to the elevators also leads towards the fitness center (which was pretty big) as well as to the large outside area.  As the hotel is connected to a business park, the business park has a walking trail and the hotel is connected to this walking trail.  You can walk around the hotel grounds as well as the business park.  Outside is also where the outdoor pool and jacuzzi are located. 

Check-in was efficient and we received our keys and went to our room.  There seems to be a main wing and then two additional wings on each side of the hotel - but only one elevator in the main wing to access all wings.  Our room was located in the second wing so it took a couple of minutes to get from the elevator to our room.  The room was nicely decorated, modern, and spacious with various of spaces for luggage and various of electrical outlets.  

As you entered into the room, on the right was the closet and storage while on the left was the bathroom.  The bathroom had a tub, a full sink and toilet. The tub had a really nice and powerful shower and it was very nice and relaxing.  Right outside the bathroom was a table with the coffee maker.  In the room there were two double beds with a night stand in the middle.  The beds were large and spacious and provided a good nights sleep.  Across from the bed was a TV with storage underneath.  Right next to the beds on the wall were windows that spanned the width of the wall -- the windows were only from the midpoint up as below the windows was a desk that also went along the entire width of the wall.

As we were spending most of our time exploring Miami, I did not get a chance to explore the hotel amenities - the fitness center, the outdoor pool and jacuzzi, and the restaurants.  These were a lot of amenities across a large property given this was an airport hotel.  Overall, the hotel provided a nice location near the airport, a comfortable room and many amenities to have a relaxing time. 

Intercontinental Hotel - Miami Downtown - January 2016
for pictures and additional comments, visit my tripadvisor page at:

In planning a vacation in Miami, the place to stay is on or near South Beach.  In looking for a hotel near South Beach, I found a good deal at the Intercontinental Miami.  The InterCon is located across the bay from South Beach and is a luxury hotel that provides great views.  Overall, it’s a very nice hotel with lots of amenities and is always crowded; and being that crowded seems to sometimes overwhelm the hotel.

The hotel itself is very large and sits at the edge of the water.  The hotel is connected to a pedestrian park and walkway that stretches along the waterfront and leads to a shopping mall.  The downtown location of the hotel makes it very convenient to access shops and services.  The entrance to the hotel is to on the side street, so that makes the entrance very crowded.  That plus that all parking is valet-parking; self-parking at the hotel is not available.  Given that valet is the only option, the hotel should be a bit better at the parking situation; there were delays on both the drop-off and pick up of the car.  Once you drop off your car, you walk up the steps into the lobby.

The lobby of the hotel is very grandiose and large, and is a cross between lobby and a lounge.  As you enter into the lobby, straight ahead are chairs and couches to lounge and relax.  The chairs are part of the lobby as well as part of the bar which is behind the chairs, and the bar has a DJ playing live music in the lobby.  On the left hand side down the hall is the concierge desk, the check-in desks, the ‘business center’, as well as the guest elevators.  On the right hand side down the hall is the coffee shop (in-house Starbucks), a FedEx center, the hotel restaurants, as well as access to the meeting rooms.  Because of all the services, the lobby is a hub of activity for the hotel and constantly seemed full of people. 

At the check-in desks, there were long lines for both checking-in as well as checking-out.  Even though check-in time is at 2pm, when we arrived at 3pm our room was not ready.  This apparently happened to a lot of people as I noticed many instances of this occurring in my short stay.  The hotel was nice and provided some nice compensation, but it took almost 3.5 hours after check-in for us to receive our room.  The hotel acts like a resort, and similar to a resort they have a mandatory resort fee.  The fee covers the following: internet access, access to the sauna, the fitness center, the pool, and many other amenities.  While the amenities were nice and really large, I am not sure the fee was justified as internationally these amenities are provided without the fee. 

After finally receiving our key we went to our room and this is where the hotel excels.  The room was massive and EXTREMELY spacious.  As you entered into the room, you went down a long hallway to get into the room.  The entrance to the bathroom was in this hallway, and at the end of the hallway was a nook for the coffee maker.  The room itself was very spacious with 2 double beds, a night stand in between, a TV stand with drawers underneath, a desk, plus a chair next to the window.  Even with all the items, the room felt very open and large and there was plenty of room to move around.  The beds were also spacious and comfortable and provided a nice and relaxing sleep.  There were plenty of outlets all around the room to charge all the electronic devices.   Right next to the bed were switches which would automatically bring down the shades to make the room darker, as there were windows which stretched along the wall and provided a nice view of the sea and the city.

The bathroom was equally large and spacious.  As you entered into the bathroom, straight ahead was the sink while to the right, along the wall, was the closet and a shelf that housed towels and other bathroom items.  The sink itself was also very big, and next to the sink was the toilet and next to that was the tub.  The bathtub had a shower hooked onto it that seemed like two individual showerheads put together – so they provided an alright shower; and again the water pressure was not that good.

In regards to the hotel amenities, I did experience the wifi and accessed the business lounge.  The wifi was decent and provided good speed for basic internet browsing (considering it was being paid for, expected faster speeds).  The business center was located across from the check-in desks, and were basically two rooms each with a Mac computer and a printer (there was a FedEx shop located on the other side of the lobby).   I did not get to experience the other hotel amenities including the outdoor pool, the fitness center, the sauna or the spa.

Overall, the Intercontinental is a nice hotel that is conveniently located downtown and provides a nice spacious room.  The parking rate is a bit high, and chaotic; not sure if the resort fee is worth it; and the check-in seems a bit chaotic as well.  The hotel does provide a lot of amenities and great views.

Courtyard Miami Aiport - December 2015
for pictures and additional comments, visit my tripadvisor page at:

We were looking for a hotel near Miami Airport, and since we were leaving our car there, we wanted one that had secure parking as well as a shuttle.  Apparently the majority of hotels near the Miami airport charge for parking, which is strange as other airports I have been to do not have this rule.  Most airport hotels charge around $17/day for the parking.  Because I was parking there, I had chosen the ‘park’n’fly’ option which provides parking for a certain number of days within the rates (usually 7-10 days).  I have chosen this option before at various hotels and usually the day I check-in is when the days start counting, and I am not charged for additional parking.  That was not the case at the Courtyard, where the days start counting upon check-out and you are charged for parking for the days you are at the hotel.  It was an odd set-up.  That was the only odd or negative thing about the hotel, as the hotel provided a grand facility with lots of amenities, comfortable rooms, and good service.

The hotel is located on the ‘Miami Marriott Airport Campus’ which includes a Marriott, Courtyard, and Residence Inn hotels (there is also a Fairfield Inn but it’s next to the campus and has its own entrance).  As they are all part of one campus, the hotels share the parking lot as well as the shuttle.  The Courtyard and Marriott are connected through an outdoor walkway, so they share a pool and fitness center (Residence Inn has its own pool).   

The Courtyard is located towards the back of the property.  As you enter the lobby, the check-in desks are to the left while the restaurant and huge lounge area are to the right.  The lounge area also houses the business center.  Right behind the check-in desk is a small pantry where basic food and other items are available for sale.  Next to the check-in desk is a hallway while leads to rooms on the 1st floor as well as the fitness center.   The elevators to the guest rooms are located next to this hallway, and next to the elevators is the door to the outside pool and lounge area.  Check-in was efficient and pleasant, despite the huge rush, and we were given our key to the room.

Our room was an updated Courtyard room and it was very nice and provided lots of room.  As you entered, on the left hand side was the bathroom.  The bathroom was updated and had nice facilities.  In between the sink and the toilet was a half-wall, and I have seen this in other Courtyards and its an interesting design element.  Right next to the bathroom was a nook with a coffee station on top and fridge on the bottom.  Beyond the nook were the two double beds, which were large and comfortable and provided a good night’s sleep.  Across from the beds was a connected wall attachment that housed the closet, the TV stand, drawers on the bottom and the desk.  Beneath the desk was another desk that could be pulled out and moved, and there was enough room to pull out this desk and put it in the corner as an additional desk/storage space.  Overall, the room was spacious and provided a comfortable nights sleep.

The hotel provided nice rooms and good customer service in a complex that provided various amenities.  There were multiple restaurants to choose from and the fitness facility was huge.  Overall, a pleasant stay at the Courtyard.

Springhill Suites Gainesville, Florida - December 2015
for pictures and additional comments on this hotel, visit my 
tripadvisor page:

We were passing through Florida on our way to Miami so decided to stay the night in Gainesville.  I have previously stayed at SpringHill Suites and have enjoyed the spacious rooms, the complimentary breakfast, complimentary parking, as well as the complimentary internet.  Based on this I decided to book the SpringHill Suites in Gainesville.

We arrived fairly late at night and left early the next morning so we were not able to enjoy many of the hotel amenities.  We did enjoy the complimentary internet (decent speed), the complimentary parking, and the complimentary breakfast (which was basic but decent). 

The rooms were nice and spacious.  When you entered, straight ahead was a mini-fridge with a microwave on top and a coffee station.  There were also plates and cups available.  To the right was the lounge area with a couch (that turned into a sofa bed) as well as a desk.   Behind the desk was a wall, and this wall varies within each Springhill Suites.   The area between the lounge and the beds are divided, but how they are divided varies amongst the properties.  Some have walls that only reach half-way to the ceiling, while others reach all the way to the ceiling but do not go all to the wall – each is a different version of a half wall.  The half-wall provides some separation but not complete separation.  The beds were decent and comfortable and next to the second bed is a small closet (which is somewhat out of place). 

In between the lounge and the bedroom is the bathroom.  The bathroom has an open sink, which is very loud in the morning and is somewhat annoying.  The toilet and shower are behind closed doors but the quality of the bathroom is more motel than hotel, and this d├ęcor is in stark contrast to the room which looks more like a hotel than a motel.

Overall, you get a decent night sleep and a lot of amenities at the Springhill Suites, but gain some you lose others. 

Sheraton Overland Park, KS - November 2015
for pictures and additional comments on this hotel, visit my 
tripadvisor page:

A family friend was getting married at the Convention Center, so we decided to stay at the Sheraton as it connects to the Convention Center so it would be easier access. Overall, the hotel provides a comfortable bed and a decent room; however, it did not feel like a Sheraton. While the beds definitely were comfortable, the overall feel and look of the room felt more like a Hampton Inn or a mid-priced budget hotel rather than a full-service Sheraton.

The room was a standard hotel room with standard amenities including a safe and iron and ironing board. There was no fridge. There were plenty of outlets to plug in the devices, so that was a nice touch. The beds were extremely comfortable and the wifi was decent but the room looked liked a renovated older hotel. The bathroom also looked like a renovated older hotel and you could clearly hear the bathroom through the wall.

Overall, it was a decent place to stay and it was a convenient location to the Convention Center but when you book a Sheraton you expect a Sheraton experience. We booked a Sheraton and received a Hampton Inn experience.

The Westin Stonebriar Hotel & Golf Club October 2015
for pictures and additional comments on this hotel, visit my 
tripadvisor page:

I was looking for a place to stay in Frisco, and wanted something that was close to many of the shops and restaurants we wanted to visit.  I noticed the Westin Stonebriar and what drew me to the hotel was that 1) Westin usually have comfortable rooms which are spacious; 2) free parking; and 3) late checkout for spg members (at 4pm)

The hotel is located next to a golf course so it is surrounded by land, and thus there are not many things available within walking distance.   There are plenty of options within a 5 minute drive though.  The hotel does provide either paid valet or free self-parking, and spots were always available (just depended on how far you wanted to walk).

When you entered the hotel and walked straight, on the right was the bar and on the left was the check-in desk.  Right next to the bar were the elevators to the rooms.  Behind the elevators was a nice sitting/lobby area where guests could relax and look at the gardens/golf area. 

The rooms themselves were spacious and comfortable - standard Westin-style rooms with comfortable beds and standard amenities of a safe, 2 free bottes of water, an iron and ironing board, a TV, a fridge, and a desk.  The beds were big enough to accommodate two people and there was plenty space to move around.

In the basement, there was a large workout facility, locker rooms, as well as a pool.  Overall, it was a nice and comfortable stay at the Westin.

Hampton Inn JFK Airport
Note: this review is based on my stay which took place in 2015 & 2013
for pictures and additional comments on this hotel, visit my tripadvisor page

This is my second time staying at Hampton Inn JFK.  Both times, I have stayed less than 24 hours.  My first time was in 2013 when I had a very long transit in NYC so instead of staying at the airport I rested at the Hampton Inn JFK.  I came back recently as I had an early flight out of JFK so wanted to stay closer to the airport. 

In both times, the hotel provided a decent place to stay and was a nice transit hotel.  It was comfortable for one night and provided a clean room with a comfortable bed.  Free breakfast and free wifi are available.  

The layout of the hotel is a standard Hampton Inn layout with a bathroom on right hand side and a closet on the left.  The king size bed was fit nicely in the large room and there was a TV with drawers underneath and a desk next to it.  

Some of the negatives about the hotel include the shuttle - both times it took a REALLY long time to take the shuttle (hint: the Hilton JFK and Hampton JFK share a parking lot so if the Hilton shuttle is there, I was advised by the hotel to get on that shuttle and just walk to the Hampton). The shuttle picks you up from the Federal Circle Station but drops you off at your specific terminal.  

Additional negative are the rooms, which look a bit dated but given you are only there for a couple of hours, its alright.  Overall, a nice transit hotel near JFK airport

Home2 Suites by Hilton New York Long Island City/ Manhattan View -  September 2015; for pictures and additional comments on this hotel, visit my 
tripadvisor page:

Hotels in New York can be very expensive at times, especially around holidays and weekends. Also, if you are staying in the city the rooms can be a bit smaller. Given all these reasons, I decided to stay a bit outside the city and choose to stay in Long Island. 

The hotel was very convenient located near two subway stops and was only 3-5 stops away from Manhattan so provided easy and convenient connections. The hotel is located either a couple of feet away from the 39th subway 

stop on the N & Q line, or about a 2-3 minute walk from Queens Plaza where other lines are available.

Upon entering the hotel lobby, straight ahead is the check in desk with elevators to the rooms right behind the desk. To the left of the check in desk is sitting area/kitchen 
area and computer stands. This is where you can sit and relax, they have two computers available, and this is where the free breakfast is served in the morning.

Check-in was done but it took some time so it could have been more efficient. A free water bottle was given so that was a nice gesture, but throughout the stay the front desk service was alright - not bad but not great and there is room for improvement here.

The room itself is its a Junior Suite or a room plus. Upon entering the room, on the left hand side was the bathroom while on the right was the kitchen. The bathroom had a sink on one side and a shower on the other side. The shower had refillable shampoo and body wash and soap was provided - no other amenities were provided. 

The room itself had a full kitchen with a full fridge, sink, stove, dishwasher, and plates. Beyond the kitchen was the sitting area with a couch - which turns into a sofa bed. In front of the couch is a TV with drawers underneath. Next to the couch is the bed and there is a curtain which can be drawn to separate the sitting area from the bed area - but the curtain only extends the length of the bed and not the length of the room. Across from the bed was a pull out desk and shelves above the desk, and next to the desk was a tiny closet (that had a iron and ironing board). 

The bed itself was comfortable and provided a good night sleep. Each lamp had outlets so there were plenty of places to plug in a recharge. Free wifi was available as well.  Hotel amenities included free breakfast, a gym, laundry facility, and a small market. 

Overall, the hotel seems to be a combination of Hyatt Place (by Hyatt) and Element hotels (by Starwood). The room size and layout is very similar to Hyatt Place while the kitchen, the additional amenities, and focus on the environment are very similar to the Element. It all combines to a comfortable hotel in a convenient location.

IP Casino Hotel & Resort - Biloxi, MS - July 2015
for pictures and additional comments on this hotel, visit my 
tripadvisor page: 

We were having a meeting at the IP Casino Resort so I got to experience the meeting rooms plus the hotel.  There are many casino + hotels in the Gulfport/Biloxi area and the range in price and quality.  Overall, the the meeting rooms were nice and the hotel room was decent but both were overpowered by the strong smoking smell that is everywhere.  

The meeting meeting rooms are located on the 3rd floor - above the gambling hall.  There are a lot of meeting rooms so there is plenty of space and they provide really good food (better than other hotels) but to access the meeting rooms you have to go through the casino and the smoking smell is EXTREMELY strong in the meeting room area.  

The hotel rooms are not above the casino but are right next to it.  The hotel rooms are large and provide enough space, and the wifi is free. The speed of the wifi is alright (you can watch youtube videos). The room has a desk, a TV, a bed, many chairs, a closet and a decent size bathroom.  In addition to the bed, another negative is the smell which permeates to the rooms.  The rooms on the lower floors have a stronger smell so if you are sensitive to that I would suggest requesting a higher-floor room.  Check-in was pretty quick and they have two sets of elevators depending on what level of room you are going to -- the elevators are fairly quick. The hotel has a pool on the top floor (which I did not visit) as well as a fitness center - the fitness center is located next to the spa and is only open until 8p (not very convenient). 

In addition to the free wifi (decent speed) free bottles of water are also provided upon request (a nice addition)  Overall, its a decent hotel located next to a casino with very good food but the smell is very strong and overpowering and that coupled with the uncomfortable bed made this a one-night place only.

Hyatt Place Atlanta - Buckhead July 2015
for pictures and additional comments on this hotel, visit my 
tripadvisor page:

I had heard about the Hyatt Place but had never stayed there so decided to check them out. What also made the decision was they are the only hotel in the Atlanta Buckhead area that does NOT charge for parking - free parking, free wifi, and free breakfast so decided to check out the Hyatt Place. Overall, its a compact room with compact hallways, compact elevators, and compact space. the hotel itself is nice, compact and small, but nice. the customer service needs VAST improvement as communication is not there and then when a problem does occur, there are no solutions - just for the customer to deal with it.

The hotel seems somewhat newly built but the location is a bit odd. The location is shaped liked a U - with an apartment building located on the main road in front, and then around the enter an entrance way, go past the hotel, turn left to go the garage and exit, and then left again to pass the restaurant and head towards the exit. The garage is not attached to the hotel and is shared with the apartments, the restaurant, and the hotel - the hotel is allotted floors 3 and 6 of the 6 story garage. The main entrance of the garage is on floor 2.

When you enter the hotel, it looks modern and fresh and next to the check-in is a bar, a place where you can order food, a business center, as well as the place where free breakfast is served in the mornings.
Beyond the check in are the elevators - which are narrow and slow. 4 people barely fit into an elevator - or only 2 people and their luggage. This was the first sign of the narrowness of the hotel - which seems to have adopted many items from European hotels.

The hallway to the rooms are also narrow, making it hard for 2 people to pass each other. The narrowness continues into the room.  As you enter the room, on left is a counter with a sink, coffee, and a fridge and across from that is a desk. Across from these are the couches - one of which can turn into a sofa bed (a very uncomfortable one). The is a partition between the 'living room' and the bedroom but it only extends half way and the rest of the way is open. There is a TV next to the desk and this can be turned to face the bedroom or living.
The bedroom's size is decent and next to the bed are plugs and USB ports. Across from the bed is the bathroom - which again is also narrow. On one side of the bathroom is the narrow closet and the other side is the narrow bathroom. The bathroom is so narrow that the door barely misses the toilet as it is closing. The shower is also narrow so you cannot stretch out and you feel tight.

Overall, the hotel is decent but it is extremely narrow and small. also, the bed quality was only average. The breakfast and the wifi speed were also average - they did have 2 computers set up with free printing. What was below average was the customer service which were not helpful nor customer friendly at all.  The positives were the free parking, the free breakfast, and the location.

Hilton Pensacola Beach Gulf Front - April 2015
for pictures and additional comments on this hotel, visit my tripadvisor page 

A couple of years ago we had taken a vacation to Destin, Florida and stayed at the Hilton resort there and really enjoyed our time.  This time, we decided to check out the Hilton Pensacola Beach.  Overall, the hotel is decent but this is definitely not a resort hotel. The hotel grounds are very small and is very compact. There are three pools available in the hotel and none go deeper than 4 ft.  The beach is a public beach that is shared with the other hotels that are nearby - including the hampton inn, the holiday inn, and the springhill suites. Since we are all sharing one beach, and the pools were not that great, what would be the benefit of staying at the Hilton versus the other hotels (which were available at a lesser price).

The hotel itself is a decent Hilton property and is located on the beach.  Check-in was quick but not friendly -- in fact the staff at the hotel were efficient but were not friendly. The rooms are decent and updated so nice Hilton rooms. They are a decent size so that 4 people can fit easily but these are rooms that you could find at any Hilton hotel.  The amenities the hotel offers are 3 pools - 2 outdoor and one indoor. The pools are relatively small and none go deeper than 4-5 feet. There is also a gym which is a decent size. 

Overall, this is a decent Hilton hotel located on the beach so if you are looking for a nice hotel (especially with small children) then this is a good hotel. If you are looking for a resort hotel, this is definitely not it.

DoubleTree by Hilton Birmingham, Alabama March 2015
for pictures and additional comments on this hotel, visit my tripadvisor page

Recently went to Birmingham for a conference and stayed at the Doubletree. The hotel is located close to the University of Alabama at Birmingham Medical Center and is walking distance to 5 points (about 4 blocks). Also, right outside the hotel you can catch the downtown bus which can take you to downtown and the Museum area - so the hotel is accessible to many areas. Overall it was a decent - cannot say anything negative but there was also nothing outstanding about the hotel.

Apparently, the hotel used to be a Ramada (some maps still have the hotel listed as the Ramada) but it has been a Doubletree for 7 years. From the outside, the hotel looks older but the interior of the rooms have been updated to Doubletree standards. The lobby and the rooms were consistent with other older Doubletree's - clean and nice and comfortable, but not overly wow.

 Service was also the same, decent but not overly wow. The shuttle to the airport and from the airport did take a while - in both directions - but other than that a decent stay in Birmingham

Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Orlando Airport January 2015
for pictures and additional comments on this hotel, visit my tripadvisor page

I had a long overnight in Orlando Airport so instead of spending the night in the airport I decided to get a nearby hotel. There are a lot of options to choose from ranging from the Hyatt which is connected to the airport to the Doubletree which is located off the airport. I choose the Doubletree because 1) the cookies (which are really good!) and 2) I found a deal online. Overall, it is a nice transit hotel with comfortable rooms and good service.

The Doubletree Orlando Airport is located off the airport in the ‘hotel zone’ where there are many hotels and restaurants situated. The hotel does provide a shuttle from the airport to the hotel and it supposedly runs every 15-30 minutes, but our shuttle took a while and it took 2 calls for the shuttle. The hotel is located about 5-10 minutes away from the airport.

From the outside, the hotel looks big and grandiose. The hotel is shaped like a V with the check-in located at the point and then you have two sides of rooms overlooking an enclosed atrium that houses the lobby, the restaurant, and access to the pool and fitness center. The odd thing about the hotel is the entrance because entrance is located in the back while the back is located in the front. The back of the hotel, where the atrium, is faces the main street while to access the main entrance you have to turn off the main street. 

When you enter the hotel, on the right hand side is the check-in counters. When we arrived at night, there were two check-in counters but there were many guests and many airline crews that needed to be checked in so it took some time. Across from the check-in is a small lobby along with the business center – two computers and a printer. I had checked into my room online so all I had to was collect the keys (now that Hilton allows this process – they should have a separate line to just swipe your card and pick up your key; it would be more efficient and save time!) 

Beyond the check-in was the atrium area on which all the rooms looked down upon. In the atrium were a restaurant, multiple sitting areas, and access to the fitness center and pool. The pool was outside and looked small considering there was a lot of outside space. The fitness center looked decent and had enough equipment for a decent workout. The sitting area definitely needed to be updated because the furniture looked dated and was not comfortable at all (and also, there were a lack of outlets available).

After I checked in I took the elevator up to my room and my room was on the 9th floor – the 9th and 10th floor of the hotel had been termed ‘Hilton HHonors floor’. I have been a HHonor member for a while but have never stayed in a designated floor and the only difference I can determine (from my research and experience) is that it’s a “typically a higher floor with other more established travelers and complimentary water.” The complimentary water and the quieter room is always appreciated. 

I had requested a room with 2 double beds and when we went to the room it was a large, spacious room. As you opened the door, on left was the bathroom and on the right was the closet. As you walked further in, on the left were the two beds while on the right was a chest with the TV on it and a desk. There was also a chair between the second bed and the window. The beds were very comfortable and very big and spacious so it was a comfortable night. The bathroom was also very big and spacious and provided enough room. The rooms had been updated with the latest Hilton offering. The plus points about being in an older-built hotel are the spacious room sizes. The downsides are that sometimes they have not been updated or only the furnishings have been updated so it still looks like an older room, and in older rooms there are a lack of plugs. This room had a serious lack of plugs that were sufficient to charge anything near where you were sleeping. In order to charge my phone near my bed, I had to unplug a lamp on the other side of the bed.

Another negative about the hotel is SLOW wifi speed. We were offered a coupon for free wifi in the room, but the speed was so slow and it would take a long time just to load one page. It was faster to either use the cellular data or just forget the wifi all together.   Overall, it was a nice comfortable stay for my transit period, especially given the deal that I got and the cookies that are provided. Also, there are plenty of restaurants, pharmacies, and other things nearby that are walking distance. The hotel does provide a shuttle to the airport that runs either every 15 or 30 minutes (depending on which time you need the shuttle).

Courtyard Jersey City Newport
Note: this review is based on my stay which took place in 2012

photo courtesy of Courtyard
Trying to find affordable accommodation in or near New York City is always a challenge.  Most of the times, prices in NYC are way too high so I have usually stayed somewhere in New Jersey (with mixed results).  I was going to spend the 3-day weekend in New York City so needed a place to stay, and most the hotels within NYC were out of my price range so I looked in New Jersey.  Right across the river in New Jersey I found the Courtyard Jersey City, which provided easy access to transportation to and from NYC. 

The hotel itself was a standard Courtyard with modern furnishings, comfortable beds, free wifi, and a generally a comfortable environment.  We had requested a room with 2-double beds, so the room was a decent size and the beds were comfortable.  The views from the hotel either faced street-side (with a hub of activity) or the seaside which look to Manhattan.

The hotel also provided parking on-site (paid) in a garage that was not connected but close to the hotel.  The hotel was centrally located to the train station (within walking distance) and to plenty of stores and restaurants (again, walking distance).

Overall it was a nice and comfortable stay at the Courtyard.  If you do not mind taking the train into the city, then this is a perfect option to enjoy the city but still enjoy some rest.