Thursday, 6 July 2017

Hotel and Inn Review: Westin at Times Square Hotel (New York City, U.S.A.)

Date of Stay: July 6-7, 2017

RATING (Scale of 1 to 10)
Location: ********
Rooms: ******
Condition and Cleanliness: *******
Staff Performance: ******
Room Comfort: *******
Food and Beverage: *******
Other Amenities: ********
Value for Money: *****

The Westin at Times Square

This modern, 45-storey glass tower hotel, located in New York's Theater District, is one block from the actual Times Square at Seventh and Broadway.  The non-smoking room that we stayed in (Room 3131) for one night (Thank God), one of 873 rooms, was reasonably spacious (310 sq. ft.), had airconditioning with in-room climate control, a flat-screen cable TV,  phone, an en suite private bathroom with bathrobes and hair dryer, iPod docking station, large desk with ergonomic chair, a mini bar and coffee/tea maker. Each floor had a room (opened using our magnetic card key) with an ice dispenser.  
Front Desk
However, they don’t offer complimentary high-speed internet connection in the room, the only one, among the 5 other hotels (including another in New York City) in the East Coast that we stayed in, that didn’t offer such.  Wireless internet access was US$14.95 per night while wired internet access was US$19.95 per night. Even in public areas there’s a surcharge (US$14.95). Seems like the ice at the ice dispenser was the only thing complimentary in this hotel. 
Our room also didn’t have an in-room safe. Safety deposit boxes are only available at the Front Desk. The elevators do not go directly to the ground. You have to transfer to another elevator at the lobby level to get to the ground floor.
Foundry Kitchen and Foundry Bar 

Foundry Kitchen and Foundry Bar, its in-house restaurant, serves daily breakfast (a bit pricey) from 7 to 11 AM. We weren’t able to avail of it as there was no complimentary breakfast included. 
The hotel also has 24-hour Front Desk, in-house fitness center, business center and 33 meeting rooms. 
They also offer 24-hour room service, express check-in/check-out, dry cleaning, self laundry, concierge, tour desk, ticket service, valet parking (surcharge) and luggage storage.
Room 3131


One thing going for this hotel is its fantastic location for tourists as you are in the heart of all New York sightseeing with Times Square and the Theatre District literally just a minute away.  All the bus tours are stationed right beside the hotel. Besides this, the Times Square - 42nd Street/Port Authority Bus Terminal and the train station are right on the doorstep for any local commuting.  One can't find a better location for sightseeing the Big Apple.

Westin at Times Square: 270 West 43rd St., New York City, New York 10036, USA. Tel:+1 212-201-2700.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Hotel and Inn Review: Loews Boston Hotel (Massachusetts, U.S.A.)

Date of Stay: July 4-6, 2017

RATING (Scale of 1 to 10)
Location: ********
Rooms: ********
Condition and Cleanliness: ********
Staff Performance: ********
Room Comfort: ********
Food and Beverage: *********
Other Amenities: *******
Value for Money: *******

Loews Boston Hotel

Hotel entrance
Historical Marker
This historic 10-storey Back Bay district hotel, located in the stately former headquarters of the Boston Police Department (designed by architects Parsons, Ritchie and Taylor, its cornerstone was laid on August 25, 1925 and the building was dedicated on November 22, 1926), has 222 spacious guest rooms (Superior Queen, Deluxe King, Deluxe 2 Double Beds, Premium King and Premium 2 Double Beds), two luxury suites (one bedroom with separate living room) and one presidential suite (one-bedroom suite with living, dining & kitchen areas and offers corner windows & dramatic views of Boston’s South End & South Boston).

Our check in here was efficient and friendly. The modern, decorative and comfortable 7th floor room we stayed in (Room 732), had double beds with Italian cotton linens, down bedding and Stearns & Foster pillow top mattresses; 46-inch Samsung flat-screen LED TV; ironing facilities, in-room safe, Krups coffee maker, an iPod dock, large windows with blackout drapes and a work desk. The good-size marble private bathrooms include heated towel racks, hair dryer and all-natural bath products. Bathrobes, free bottled water and complimentary WiFi internet access (also provided throughout the hotel) is provided.

Room 732

Dining Area
Bar
Precinct Kitchen + Bar, the on-site grill and a bar, is open for breakfast (7-11 AM), lunch (11 AM – 2:30 PM) and dinner (5 – 10 PM), and offers classic dishes, Boston centric favorites and traditional New England seafood specialties. 
Breakfast buffet
Jandy at Precinct Kitchen + Bar

Apothecary, a lobby lounge, offers complimentary self-service hot chocolate, tea and a range of coffee (latte, espresso and cappuccino) in a relaxing setting. It features a working fireplace, high windows a large library table for eight, comfortable lounge seating, ample outlets for charging devices, a a 9-panel media wall for watching the game or staying on top of the news. Open 110 AM – 12 AM,   Sundays – Wednesdays; 11 AM – 2 AM,  Thursdays – Saturdays. 
Front Desk

Fitness Center
Treadmills
The hotel also has a 24-hour Front Desk, 6 meeting and conference rooms and a 24-hour business center (open with guest room key access).  The 24-hour on-site fitness room contains state-of-the-art health and fitness equipment such as treadmills, stationary bikes, elliptical trainers, a strength-training machine, yoga and fitness mats and free weights. The hotel also offers valet parking (US$50/night, in/out privileges), babysitting and concierge services. The top notch staff here were very welcoming and friendly. An amazing hotel experience.
Kyle and Cheska at lobby

The fully updated Loews Boston Hotel, minutes from public transportation, fine dining, shopping and attractions, is located 2 blocks from Copley Square, and 4 blocks from Boston Common and stylish Newbury Street, 1.6 km. from Fenway Park and the Boston Back Bay train station is a 6-min. walkway. 
Al fresco dining area

Loews Boston Hotel
: 154 Berkeley St, Boston, Massachusetts 02116, U.S.A. Tel: +1 617-266-7200. Reservations: 1-877-872-3658. Website: www.loewshotels.com/boston-hotel.

Friday, 30 June 2017

Hotel and Inn Review: Hilton Garden Inn Washington DC/US Capitol (U.S.A.)

Date of Stay: June 30-July 4, 2017

RATING (Scale of 1 to 10)
Location: *******
Rooms: ********
Condition and Cleanliness: ********
Staff Performance: *******
Room Comfort: ********
Food and Beverage: *******
Other Amenities: ******
Value for Money: *******

Hilton Garden Inn Washington DC/US Capitol 

The non-smoking, 13-storey Hilton Garden Inn Washington DC/US Capitol offers 204 extremely clean, good sized rooms furnished with private bath, 32-inch flat-screen, high-definition LCD cable TV (not enough channels though), a Herman Miller ergonomic chair, in-house safe, blackout curtains, a modern work desk with lots of outlets, sitting area, microwave oven, mini-fridge and coffeemaker (with K cups).

Hotel Lobby

The adjustable bed features the cutting-edge Garden Sleep System, bedding of 100% New Zealand virgin wool, a mattress that adjusts to the contours of your body, and a dial that can adjust the firmness of your mattress to suit your sleeping style. 
The room also has complimentary high speed Internet access-both wired and wireless. You have to use your room card key for elevator access to your room.
Room 1113

Its on-site Garden Grille & Bar restaurant serves breakfast (6:30-11 AM, omelettes, pancakes, French toast, etc.), a la carte lunch and dinner, and room service (there is an added 20% fee along with a US$2.50 delivery charge). How I wish that they offered complimentary breakfast.  The hotel is located next to a Harris Teeters convenience store (for grocery, beer wine, hot food), across from a CVS Drugstore, as well a Starbucks and Pot Belly Restaurant. Outside the hotel, there were always homeless people asking for money. 
Garden Grille & Bar

It also has a 24-hour Front Desk (the staff here were friendly and helpful), a heated indoor swimming pool, jacuzzi, 24-hour convenience store (Pavilion Pantry Market) and business center (providing complimentary fax, photocopy, color laser printing, high-speed internet access, and various office supplies). 

The fitness room has 2 ellipticals, 2 treadmills, 1 bike, a weight machine, full set of dumb bells (5-50 lbs.), weight benches, and mats  (you can also borrow a Stay Fit Kit from the hotel for an in-room workout). 

View from room
Business Center
They also offer valet parking (US$38/day), luggage storage, daily maid service, bell service, self service laundry (one washer and two dryers), dry cleaning and in-house bike rentals (to make it easy for guests to tour the Capitol on two wheels). 
The Hilton Garden Inn is off Highway 50, one block from the New York Ave/Florida Ave/Gallaudet University red line metro station. Several restaurants and nightclubs are within walking distance.
Front Desk

Elevator lobby
The White House, National Mall and Memorial Parks, and Smithsonian Institute are a bit o a walk from the hotel. Arlington National Cemetery is seven miles away and the National Zoo is four miles away. 

It's also one mile to Union Station (the transportation hub of Washington, DC and home to Amtrak). Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport is a seven-mile drive.

Cheska and Jandy at hotel entrance

Hilton Garden Inn Washington DC/U.S. Capitol:1225 First St. Northeast Washington, D.C. 20002, U.S.A. Tel: +1 202-408-4870

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Date of Stay: June 28-30, 2017

RATING (Scale of 1 to 10)
Location: ********
Rooms: ********
Condition and Cleanliness: ********
Staff Performance: ********
Room Comfort: ********
Food and Beverage: *******
Other Amenities: ******
Value for Money: *******

Hyatt Place Baltimore Inner Harbor

The  8-storey, affordable, comfortable and relatively new (just opened last December 2014) Hyatt Place Baltimore/Inner Harbor, located in trendy Harbor East, near the gentrified neighborhoods of Fells Point and Little Italy, is an ideal and refreshing blend of style and innovation in the touristy Baltimore Inner Harbor neighborhood.
This place is alive with cultural attractions, popular shopping destinations (such as The Gallery and the world Famous Lexington Market), amazing local restaurants and family-friendly attractions like the Baltimore Civil War Museum (300 m.),National Aquarium (900 m.), Historic Ships in Baltimore (1 km.), Maryland Science Center (1.9 kms.) and  Walters Art Museum (2 kms.).
Front Desk

The spacious, modern and clean guestroom  we stayed in (Room 505), one of 208 smoke-free rooms, featured two plush and comfortable Hyatt Grand double beds, a 42" HD flat screen cable TV, a cozy corner with sofa or sofa-sleeper, state-of-the-art media and work center, mini fridge, MP3 docking station, coffee/tea maker, iron/ironing board and in-room safe.
Room 505

The well laid out and beautifully tiled private bathroom  with vanity with granite countertop plus hair dryer and complimentary amenities.  However, the sliding door doesn’t have a lock. Water pressure in the shower was wonderful. We got connected with free Wi-Fi (also available throughout the hotel) and remote printing. The view from our room, from double paned, floor to ceiling windows with blackout blinds, was wonderful. Continental breakfast was included with the room.

The hotel's Free Gallery Kitchen Breakfast features daily, customizable breakfast (waffles, bacon, scrambled and hard-boiled eggs, oatmeal, French toast, Nutella, almond milk, baked potatoes, sausages, bagels, bread, fresh fruit, etc.) with a selection of specialty beverages made with Starbucks espresso roast. At all times, there were several employees tending to the food area and tables.
Free Gallery Kitchen Breakfast

The 24/7 Gallery Market offers freshly packaged grab n’ go items.  You can order a hot, made-to-order appetizer or sandwich from their 24/7 Gallery Menu or enjoy a refreshing beverage from their Coffee to Cocktails Bar (open till midnight). You can work up a sweat at the 24-hour StayFit Gym which features Life Fitness® cardio equipment and free weights.
Coffee to Cocktails Bar

Business Center
The hotel also has than 2,200 sq. ft. of flexible meeting, wedding and event space with state-of-the-art audio /visual equipment; 24-hour Front Desk; 24-hour business center plus a small indoor swimming pool. 
Connecting/adjoining rooms are available. They also offer daily maid service, valet parking (surcharge), dry cleaning, laundry and luggage storage. Restaurants (Dinosaur BBQ, etc.) were around the corner and a convenience store (Whole Foods) was nearby. Everything in the hotel was terrific.  
Elevator Lobby

Restaurants (Dinosaur BBQ, etc.) were around the corner and a convenience store (Whole Foods) was nearby. Everything in the hotel was terrific.  The location was great, check in/ out was very quick and the staff was professional, very friendly and accommodating.  Truly, one of Baltimore's hidden gem hotels. 
Jandy, Kyle and Cheska

Hyatt Place Baltimore/Inner Harbor
: 511 South Central Ave., Little Italy, Baltimore, Maryland 21202, U.S.A.  Tel: +1 410-558-1840. Fax: +1 410 929 7885. Website: www.baltimoreinnerharbor.place.hyatt.com.