Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Get a room! (Part 2)

Continued from here -

For nights 2 and 3 of our winter break, we shifted our base to an Embassy Suites in the Old Town area of Alexandria, VA, a 15-20 minute ride on the Blue Line of the Metro system.  I've stayed here before and I like the location.  It is close enough to D.C., around the corner from some great retail shopping and restaurants on King Street and very comfortable.  We did, however, have an issue.  The hotel is being renovated, which meant that the breakfast service was a bit disjointed.  I don't expect to eat in a hotel using disposable flatware - call me princess if you must.  The other issue was something we had, ironically, encountered during our other stay at this particular hotel.  The pool, other than our first day, was unavailable due to maintenance.  Had I been made aware of this scheduled maintenance, we would have perhaps stayed all three nights at the Foggy Bottom location.  Here's what's cool, though. I Tweeted about my annoyance and within an hour, received an email from corporate apologizing for the situation.  Ultimately, I was credited the price of one night's accommodations to compensate me for the inconvenience, a nice gesture on their part.  I would still consider staying at this hotel in the future, but I would certainly confirm the availability of the advertised amenities.

The magnificent marble stairs at the Monaco
In Baltimore we stayed in the plushest digs of our trip, the Kimpton Monaco.  This recently opened hotel is in a gorgeous historic building and our room was fantastic!  The superior quality of this place was apparent even to my 7 y/o, who quickly declared it to be the "best place" we stayed.  Our room was spacious, quiet and included a banging bathroom complete with garden tub and walk in shower. and my favorite Aveda products as a bonus. Our two days here were exceedingly comfortable and we were very well taken care of by the staff.  Price-wise we lucked out with a deal from Hotwire and paid only $200 and change total for 2 nights.  Speaking of Hotwire, another special offer came my way while we were in Baltimore which provided me the opportunity to cancel the reservation we had in place for our final night in NYC at the Radisson.
The Hotel Belleclaire, a small boutique hotel on the UWS, was offering a special for approximately $115 a night and I pounced on it.  The hotel was just west of Broadway on 77th  Street - a great location for exploring, or revisiting, one of my favorite areas of Manhattan.  The lobby was being renovated, which made for some noise and dust upon entry, but the staff couldn't have been more accommodating, storing our luggage and providing a suite to guests complete with snacks and beverages.  The room itself was standard NYC small, but it was clean (no skeevy carpet!) and equipped with a modern bathroom and a comfortable bed.  I would definitely consider staying here again, although it is more appropriate for a couple than a family.  Guess I'd better work on that!

I've come to the conclusion, however, that my favorite hotel in New York City is the Millenium Hilton, on Church Street in the financial district.  A week after my epic train trip with my youngest, I headed back to the city with my oldest and this is where we stayed.  I believe I've stayed at this particular Hilton at least a half dozen times and I've never had a bad experience. The staff is always pleasant, the room immaculate and the location perfect for my needs. And there's a pool! I know that I've landed at this place through the luck of the draw when using Hotwire and/or Priceline, but most recently I've been booking using a combination of Hilton Honors points and cash. The going rate for this place on a weekend is often a bit less than the more centrally located Hiltons in Manhattan, generally about $250 a night, I'd say. Using a combination of points and cash brings it down to about $100 a night - a real New York bargain. The added bonus of staying in the business district is that onstreet parking is generally available on weekends and holidays, which can save you a bundle. If you're unfamiliar with this part of the city, be aware it is NOT like midtown - at all. There isn't much in the way of shopping other than Brooks Brothers (natch) and Century 21. No worries - there is a Starbuck's around the corner and tons of green space for kids and adults alike, as well as the 9/11 Memorial, the Staten Island Ferry,  Southstreet Seaport and the Brooklyn Bridge. I'm already thinking about gathering up the girls and getting down there again - asap.

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