|Twin beds with roses|
|Bare wall with TV|
Unlike some hotels we came across (but luckily never stayed in one) we had a private bath attached to our room. The bath was quite spacious. One of my biggest pet peeves in a hotel is the lack of water pressure and inconsistently hot water – this hotel was great, these issues were non-existent.
Our $50/night room rate included a breakfast in the restaurant on the first floor. The menu had about 10 items – eggs, fruit, pancakes, French toast, etc. Each morning I had either a pancake or a crepe and several glasses of fresh mango juice.
Each time we’d return from exploring Hanoi, the folks at the reception area would stop us and ask us all about our day. What did we see? Where did we eat? Where are we going later in the day? Do we need help with reservations or taxis? The staff at this hotel was beyond top notch. I really enjoyed every interaction with these folks. The one issue I had with the staff was really relating to our mutual language skills. They would say something that really seemed odd and out of place, then the whole staff would just stare at me — then they’d burst out laughing. The issue was really mine. I knew what they were saying but their turn of phrase made me unsure if they were making a joke or if they were just stumbling over the language. Rest assured – they are making a joke.
Would I stay at this hotel again? Without a doubt. While you won’t earn any points at this hotel, nor is it one of the super cheap hotels you often associate with Vietnam, but in my mind you cannot find a better hotel for the value.
The folks at the hotel will also help you book a cruise on Halong Bay or a day trip away from Hanoi — both of which they did help us with.
As I write this trip report I crave fresh mango juice. If you are going to Hanoi – do yourself a favor and book the Hanoi Elegance Ruby Hotel. I am sure you will not be disappointed.
The first of three @SPG hotels I stayed at while in New York was the W New York – Downtown. This was my first stay at this property. Located in lower Manhattan just immediately across the street from the 9/11 Memorial entrance, this hotel’s lobby is on the 5th floor, which I really like. You get out of the hustle and bustle and you can start to relax immediately.
I arrive around 15h00 and was greeted by name as I approached the check-in desk. I had not been in contact with the hotel prior to my arrival. My guess is that they had very few people checking in that day and I was the only one either queued up to arrive at that time or the only single arriving. Who knows. I was thanked for my loyalty and offered a welcome amenity. I opted for the points in lieu of the free internet or a cocktail. I was on a work trip so my cocktails were paid for by the vendor I was there to see, and I was queued up to be out of the room most of the time and my internet usage would be limited so those would have been a waste.
I was assigned a room on the 8th floor and unlike the W on 49th and Lex this room was bright and much bigger than I was expecting. The rooms I’ve stayed in at the Lex property are slightly larger than my walk-in closet at home. It’s Manhattan and I get space is of a premium – and I’ve stayed multiple times at the W on Lex, so I know what I’m in for. The downtown property was by no means spacious, but it was a nice upgrade from Midtown.
You walk in and find the bright white room with a red bed scarf that provides a huge punch of color. The white was a bit worn, but at least you could see what was dirty and what was just worn – everything here was just worn and not dirty! Whew.
The desk was under the TV, which made it almost impossible to watch TV and work at the desk, nothing critical. This layout actually made me a bit more productive too. I was right next to the elevators, which Marriott is always good about following your preferences – I haven’t had much luck with SPG regarding my placement away from an elevator.
The bathroom was immediately behind the bedroom and took the entire wall. This reminded me of the layouts of the various Alofts I’ve visited before. Obviously this is a good design layout for small spaces. The bathroom was clean and featured a nice sized walk-in shower. The closet was extremely small – and since I was in town for more formal meetings, I couldn’t comfortably hang all my clothes – not even enough hangers. I requested some additional ones as well, but none ever showed up.
The hotel also offers complimentary car service within a given radius – although I don’t know what that radius was. No free trips to the airports that’s for sure. I did use this service once, after check-out, when I was moving from the W Downtown to the Element Times Square. I usually don’t have much luck with complimentary transportation services at hotels. Someone either just beat me to it or it just stopped running. This worked out perfectly. I rode in an Acura and I had to complete a quick survey on the service and if this made me want to buy an Acura. I don’t need a car, but I told them it did, since I want this type of service to continue.
I did eat dinner one night in the hotel – mostly because there is a BLT Bar and Grill. I fell in love with BLT when we were in San Juan a few years ago. The popovers are worth the visit alone (although, I think mine are marginally better).
I often struggle with the W Hotels. Sometimes they just seem too hip for me. I really dig the design – sleek, modern, functional – but the attitude of the guests and from time to time the staff really start to grate on my nerves. By the end of the third day, I just want to go elsewhere.
Would I stay here again? In a heartbeat. I like the location. I liked the room. The price was average for a Manhattan hotel. Both the Element (obviously) and Le Parker Meridien were substantially cheaper the weekend I stayed, which is part of the reason I changed hotels. I wanted to save a bit of money (50% of the cost of the W) and I wanted to try two additional properties (and get different stay credits). My biggest complaint about the hotel, isn’t the hotel itself. It is the tons of people across the street waiting to enter the 9/11 Memorial. So many people (tourists) who don’t know where they are going. They have big bags and are bumping in to you and are just generally confused. During the week it was great. The weekend (when I went to the Memorial) it was utter torture.
Have you stayed at the W Downtown? What’s your favorite Starwood Property in Manhattan? Are you still shocked at the size of the rooms at the W on 49th/Lex?
|Door-less toilet alcove.|
|Great walk-in shower and modern vanity|
|Mini-Fridge, safe and coffee maker in closet.|
|Main area of standard room|
|View from the room|
As you all know one of my biggest hotel pet peeves is a total lack of electrical outlets near the bed. This hotel did a pretty good job of having outlets — the biggest problem? The outlets were laid out so that your standard mobile device chargers could be plugged in (they were too big and the outlet was at the very bottom of the lamp base).
The hotel itself was actually quite nice — and the restaurant Province was good too (we just had appetizers and some cocktails only). We didn’t have much interaction with the hotel staff at all, other than check-in and check-out (and the quick help from maintenance when they replaced our bathroom light bulbs), but all in all, I thought the stay was pretty good.
Since it was early July, we were able to get a very good rate and the location seemed pretty good too – we walked around the corner to grab dinner with a friend in Phoenix and we passed by several restaurants that looked like they had some decent selections. I would definitely give this property another go if I were staying in downtown Phoenix again.
Have you stayed here before? What is your favorite Starwood property in Phoenix? Does it surprise you how dead downtown Phoenix is on a weekend as much as it did me?Be the first to know when a new post is published: sign up to receive them via email or directly in your RSS Reader. Follow me on Twitter or Google Plus too!
Tipping the housekeepers at a hotel is a topic you see regularly on travel blogs. For some it is as standard as tipping at a restaurant. For others it’s as common as tipping your dentist: Just doesn’t happen. For me, I usually leave a bit of cash – especially if I’ve stayed a few days. I leave a lot of cash if I feel it is necessary (ahem, the Standard Hotel Downtown LA).
Yes, these folks get paid a wage. Is it a living wage is a topic for another blog. These folks are doing a service for me and I appreciate it. I can also afford to put down a few dollars a day as a tip. When I was younger (early in my career), I really didn’t have the money to do so and consequently, I didn’t. I didn’t notice any service difference either. But seriously, do you tip only so you can get better service?
This brings me to this morning. I’ve been staying at the Aloft O’hare for 10 nights so far – I am staying a total of 18 because of housing changes (a different blog will walk through that). I’ve asked for no housekeeping service since I’m working during the day and I am terrified Lilly will get out and she’ll be gone for ever.
I went downstairs this morning and asked for immediate housekeeping (as I am going out later this morning). I had to visit the front desk because my phone still doesn’t work in my room, but luckily the internet is back up and running.
I know this is a pain in the ass for these folks. They have their routine down and demanding an immediate visit from housekeeping isn’t ideal…plus the room hasn’t been cleaned in 10 days and Lilly sheds when she’s nervous and well anytime you have a litter box in a small area it gets kind of gross.
|Lilly and I hanging out at the bar while the room is serviced.|
As the housekeeper knocked on my door, I grabbed Lilly and stuck her in the carrier and headed downstairs. I preemptively tipped the housekeeper $10 (as that was all the cash I had on me, except for a bunch of singles–she’s a maid, not a stripper). She was shocked and tried to push it back in my hand. I insisted. To me this is a thank you for being so understanding and for the extra work she’ll have to do. If she takes it as a bribe to do a better job, so be it. That’s not my intention.
I wonder what percentage of people here actually leave tips for the housekeeping staff.
|Bathroom vanity with mini-fridge|
I am disgusted when I enter a room and find a gaping toilet greeting me. How hard is it to close the lid after you clean it.
|Shower Room and Gaping Toilet|
The main room, on the other side of the closet wall, consisted of a king bed, a small desk and a chair in the corner. The bed was the standard Aloft bed – which isn’t as great as the W Bed or the Westin Heavenly Bed, but I do find them to be quite acceptable. A whole hell of a lot better than the Hotel Indigo beds.
|Main room with desk|
|Bed and Chair – Mike relaxing|
|Another bed / room shot|
Since we arrived so late, I didn’t get a chance to take a picture of our view until the next morning. Whoa, what a beautiful industrial Arizona view, eh? Makes you want to sit and stare out the window watching the world go by, doesn’t it…
I didn’t get any pictures of the common areas, unfortunately. We arrived too late and were in a hurry the next morning. The service at the bar was very lackluster. All the servers were too busy on their phones and attempting to coordinate an ad hoc karaoke party amongst themselves – they need not quit their night jobs to be singers, that’s for sure. Unfortunately they didn’t even know the items they were serving. We asked one server about the beers they had on tap and she suggested we go up to the bar and look — then she left us. It took us quite a while to get our check too – everyone was a little preoccupied that night.
I would stay at this hotel again, but only if I had either a late arriving flight or an early departure the following morning. There really isn’t any other reason, in my mind, to stay at this hotel. I must admit, I do like the Aloft chain. They are consistent. Interestingly enough, as I write this review, I sit in an Aloft near O’hare and the room is EXACTLY the same as the PHX room, except I got stuck with two queen beds and no chair. Sometimes it is nice to find a reasonably priced hotel that is extremely consistent.
Have you stayed at the Aloft – PHX before? Do you dig the Aloft or do you prefer slightly more glamorous digs?
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