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

Hotel and Inn Review: Hyatt Place Baltimore Inner Harbor (Baltimore, USA)

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.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Hotel and Inn Review: Courtyard Philadelphia Downtown (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A)

Date of Stay: June 26-28, 2017

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

Courtyard by Marriott Philadelphia Downtown

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the historic, 18-storey full-service Courtyard Philadelphia Downtown, the largest Courtyard by Marriott in the United States, was designed by renowned architect Phillip H. Johnson. This charming testament to time just underwent a US$16 million renovation in March 2014 which retained the grandeur of its 1926 origins while incorporating state of the art systems throughout. 
When we entered the magnificent open lobby, we were surrounded by sophisticated décor and elegant furnishings reminiscent of the 1920s - elegant bronze work, plaster detailing, striking marble finishes and other unique architectural details. Our check-in was seamless and the staff was friendly and accommodating.
The hotel entrance


The contemporary, stylish guest room (one of 438) we stayed in (Room 612) had two comfortable supportive double beds with plush Revive bedding package; airconditioning with in-room climate control; magnetic key locks (room key is required in elevator to access the floor our room was on); phone; 42-in., flat-screen LCD TV with premium cable channels,  iPod docking station, coffee/tea maker, mini refrigerator,  expansive workstations, iron/ironing board and complimentary high-speed Wi-Fi (also available in public areas)

Our private bathroom had a shower/bathtub combination (with free toiletries and hair dryer). We had plenty of room for our luggage and still was able to walk around.  We also loved the comfort and functionality provided in our spacious accommodations.
The magnificent lobby 

The 61 suites have separate living areas with pull-out sofas while upgraded suites have wet bars and microwaves. Connecting/adjoining rooms are also available. 

Its hip, metropolitan Nineteen 26 Restaurant & Bar, the on-site restaurant at the lobby level named after the year of the hotel's establishment, serves breakfast, a la carte  lunch and dinner as well as all-day drinks, including Starbucks coffee to help kick start your morning.
There's also a 24-hour Front Desk, business center with workstations and printers, a 24-hour, full-size fitness center (boasting updated Life Fitness cardio equipment, dumbbells and weight machines) and valet parking (for a fee). They also have over 10,000 sq. ft. of flexible meeting space, including two Grand Ballrooms (3,404 and 2944 sq. ft.) and accommodating up to 250 people, plus 11 meeting rooms.
The elevator lobby

The indoor swimming pool and whirlpool hot tub they advertised was not operational.  They also offer housekeeping, concierge, dry cleaning, laundry and room service (during limited hours). American Express, Diners Club, Discover, JCB International, MasterCard, and Visa credit cards are accepted.
The hotel, ideally located in the “Heart of Center City,” is located across from the City Hall; one block (3-min. walk from) to the Philadelphia Convention Center; and within walking distance of the financial and historic districts, Avenue of the Arts and some of the finest restaurants and shopping the city has to offer. In 2015, it received the Green Leader Bronze Award and  Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor.

It is 200 m. from Reading Terminal Market; 300 m. from Fairmount Park; 500 m. from The Art Institute of Philadelphia; 600 m. from The Historical Society of Pennsylvania and The Library Company of Philadelphia; 700 m. from Walnut Street; and 900 m. from the African American Museum and Atwater Kent Museum.

It is also 1.2 km. from Rittenhouse Square and Mütter Museum; 1.3 km. from Barnes Foundation; 1.4 km. from National Liberty Museum; 2.1 kms. from Philadelphia Museum of Art; 3.5 kms. from Philadelphia Zoo; 6.1 kms. from Liberty Bell Center and 10.9 kms. from Philadelphia International Airport.
Room 612

Courtyard by Marriott Philadelphia Downtown: 21 N Juniper St, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107, U.S.A. Tel:+1 215-496-3200

Friday, 23 June 2017

Hotel and Inn Review: Hampton Inn Manhattan Grand Central (New York City, USA)

Date of Stay: June 23-26, 2017

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

Hampton Inn Manhattan Grand Central

This vibrant 3-star, high (20 floors) but narrow  (there are only 8 rooms on each floor making it really quiet) hotel has 148 rooms, all decent in terms of size for Manhattan

Our  traditionally decorated, non-smoking airconditioned room (307) was equipped with electronic key lock, twin double beds, a 32” flat-screen LCD TV, NDD/IDD phone, plush bedding, ensuite bathroom with free toiletries, a work desk, tea and coffee-making facility, hair dryer, safety deposit box and ironing board.  

They had ample drawers and closet space. Some rooms have city views or a balcony with stunning panoramic views of the iconic Midtown Manhattan cityscape. Free Wi-Fi was offered in all areas, including rooms.


Reception Area

Coffee Shop
The coffee shop offers Continental and American cuisine. Breakfast (6 - 10 AM) features hot coffee or tea, waffles (DIY), cereals, bread, bagels, pork patties, milk, potatoes, sausages, omelettes, yogurt, fresh fruit and pastries.  

At the hotel lobby you can have, 24/7, free hot coffee, hot tea, hot chocolate, cold lemonade, and home made cookies. 

They also have a 24-hour front desk, ATM/cash machine on site, 2 elevators, luggage storage, fitness center and a 24-hour business center. They also offer laundry, dry cleaning, valet, daily housekeeping, tour/ticket assistance, airport shuttle (US$50),  fax and photocopying services.


The hotel is located in Turtle Bay, just north of Tudor City, within Midtown East, a great choice for travelers interested in restaurants. It is easily accessible to public transportation as Grand Central – 42nd Street underground station is a 500 m./5-min. walk away. 

You can hop on the FDR Drive or Queens Midtown Tunnel for direct access to LaGuardia and JFK International Airports. Times Square, located 1.3 kms./15-min. walk away,  is a 10-min. ride via underground while Central Park is 2.1 kms. away. A variety of dining and shopping options are also within walking distance. 
Business Center

The hotel is located to major landmarks such as the Chrysler Building and the UN Headquarters building, both 320 m. away, Grand Central (500 m.); Fifth Ave./Bryant Park, Pierpont Public Library and  New York Public Library, all 800 m. away; Saks Fifth Ave. (1 km.); Empire State Building and Museum of Modern Art  (MOMA), both 1.13 kms. away; Times Square (1.3 kms.); Madison Square Garden (1.8 kms.); and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (3.3 kms.).
Front Desk
The hotel is well maintained and all of their staff were very extremely nice and courteous to a fault. The young ladies at the front desk (Front Desk Manager Ms. Imela Castilla and staff Ms. Dashanda Cheatham and Ms. Soribel Diaz) happily provided us information about directions, subway, local establishments, etc. Ms. 

Christina Shagana and Ms. Marlen Alvarez (from the Dominican Republic), over at the coffee shop, were great with their friendly smiles an great hospitality. the adorable Christina even went the extra mile to send over a bag of chocolate chip cookies to our room for my grandson Kyle.  Kudos to Gen. Manager Ms. Elizabeth Ardiles for making our stay really comfortable and memorable. Truly the best value in New York where guests can get more for their money. Highly recommended.


Fitness Gym

Hampton Inn Grand Central: 231 East 43rd St., Midtown East, New York, NY 10017, USA.   Tel:  +1 212-897-3385. Fax: +1-212-897-3386. Website: www.hilton.com/Grand_Central.