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Thursday, June 28, 2012

PHL airport / Hilton Philadelphia Airport

June 2012, Weekday, 1-night, Queen deluxe #940

Status perks
I received a coupon good for an appetizer or beverage in the lounge/restaurant. The agent was going to give me a free breakfast coupon until I said that I needed to leave before the restaurant opened at 6:00 AM. She then provided the evening coupon instead. This location does not have an executive floor. 

I observed several HHonors key packets already prepared when I arrived; however, my key packet was not ready. I thought that was poor customer service since the employee had requested my name when I called from the airport for the shuttle over 1/2 hour before I checked in. I had actually called twice, and my name was requested both times.

I made my reservation at this hotel the morning of my arrival, and there were no king rooms available other than suites. I reserved the deluxe queen room instead of just the queen room because it was only a couple dollars more. I am not sure what the difference is between the two room types. The description online is the same for both rooms, and this guestroom looked like a basic non-deluxe guestroom to me. The only extra item that I could see were two bottles of water with the ice bucket.

The guestroom contained a desk and chair, soft chair, one queen bed, flatscreen TV on an armoire, two night stands with lamps, and one floor lamp. An individual serving coffee maker was set up in the corner of the bedroom area. There were hardly any electrical outlets in the guestroom. Other than the plug at the desk, there was only one spot with the coffee maker under that counter, and another in the bathroom. The lamps were all plugged in behind the bed (including the floor lamp behind the chair), and I was not about to pull the bed out to see if there was a spare outlet there. I had not packed my long Apple laptop cord, so the only place I could work while also charging my laptop was at the desk, and that seat became uncomfortable after a while.

The bathroom was small, and the door had to be shut to enter the tub/shower. The tile floor was nice, although it was kind of yucky around the area where the tile met the carpet. I included a photo to show this; however, the grime does not show up well.

This guestroom is located close to the elevator, and I easily heard the elevator bell dinging while seated at the desk in the guestroom. Fortunately, I did not hear it after I went to bed that evening. My Hilton profile is for a room away from the elevator; I am not sure if the fact that I had made my reservation the day of my arrival had anything to do with that request not being honored. I did not think guestrooms were assigned before 6:00 AM, although I do not actually know how this works.

The sunset view was great from this guestroom.

view from room 940
Food & Beverage
The bartender let me redeem my free beverage coupon for ANY beverage of my choice; not just bar brands--nice! I had a wrap to eat, which unfortunately, I do not remember all the details about because I did not complete this entire review right away. I do recall that the portion size was generous, and that it was delicious. I think it was some kind of turkey avocado wrap. I know there were not many menu items of this type, so if this is something you are interested in, you would be able to easily find it on the menu. It came with a side of fries, and when I asked if I could get something no-fried, like cole slaw, the bartender was happy to oblige.

Business center
The business center is located next to the lounge, and across from the Starbucks cafe counter. I had no trouble finding an open computer and printing a couple documents. I was surprised that the paper my items printed on was high quality photo paper! Seems like an expensive item to be providing to guests, to me.

Shuttle service and misc.
This hotel is close to the airport, and the shuttle claims to run every 30 minutes. Every 30 minutes is pretty close, although if you are deciding which time to depart for the airport, I would suggest the earlier time. I waited 1/2 hour at the airport when I arrived (even though the employee had told me 10 - 15 minutes), and we departed for the airport five minutes late in the morning. The airport was chaos on the Thursday morning of my flight. After checking my bag, I had to search for the hidden priority lane, and then it took me 40 minutes to get through security. Passengers waited in the regular security line 1 1/2 - 2 hours, and many people missed their flights. I observed several people trying to get ahead of people in line, or trying to get the security officer to let them cut--no one had any success. I let three passengers go ahead of me, who had been able to finagle priority line entrance; however, their luck ended about five passengers ahead of me.

Even though my stay at this hotel was not excellent, I thought it was satisfactory for the price I paid. I had found an excellent AAA rate at the last minute, which was less than the Hampton Inn and the Holiday Inn Express. I do not think this hotel is as nice as most Hiltons I have stayed in, and I don't think a room is worth more than $150.  

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Malvern, Pennsylvania / Homewood Suites

June 2012, Weekday, 2-nights, King 1-bedroom suite #402

Status perks
I did not receive any perks for having Gold status, although I was glad that the front desk agent acknowledged my status and stated my requests, which had been fulfilled. When I make a reservation online, I usually request a top floor corner room/suite in a quiet area with no connecting door. The agent thanked me for being a Gold member, and then stated all the guestroom details, which were exactly what I had requested.

Suite 402 is located on the top floor at the end of the hall. The guestroom door opened into the kitchen and living area, and the bedroom and bathroom were in a separate area. The kitchen contained a full size fridge, dishwasher, stovetop, microwave, coffee pot and dishes, and small table with two chairs. Coffee, microwave popcorn, and dish detergent were all provided. There was an ethernet cord on the table in the kitchen area. A couch, soft chair, flatscreen TV on a stand with drawers, coffee and end tables were in the living room.

Double doors led to the bedroom, which contained another flatscreen TV on a table with a desk chair, a king bed, and night stands. I was surprised to find a luggage rack in the closet, because this is often not provided at extended stay properties. The bathroom vanity was located outside the bathroom, and the floor was tile, just like the bathroom. There was a toilet and tub/shower combination in the bathroom area. A good quality hairdryer was provided in the vanity. I was happy to see that it had a diffuser and a cool setting.

The bedroom was located on the side of the suite next to another guestroom, and an employee utility closet was located on the other side of the guestroom in the hall. The walls are soundproofed well, because I did not hear any noise from the guestroom next door, and the hotel was full the second night of my stay.

The guestroom was clean and comfortable, although there were a couple minor issues. The refrigerator was extremely loud. It was so loud that I had to turn it off at night. I woke up every time it started running; even when I had the bedroom door on that side closed. The clock in the bedroom was not set to the correct time. I could not find a way to change it, so I called the front desk to ask how to do this. I was told that it needed to be changed by engineering with a special tool that opens the back. It was late at night, and I was staying two nights, so I asked if someone could fix it after 8:00 AM the next day. The employee told me she would take care of this.

The next morning when I departed, I started the dishwasher and left a tip for housekeeping. When I returned around 3 PM, I observed a housekeeper in the hallway, and the guestroom had not been cleaned. She was a few doors away from my suite, so I sat down to work for a bit. About an hour later, I figured she must be close to my guestroom, so I decided to take my laptop downstairs and work for a while. I observed the cart in the hallway near my room when I left. When I returned over an hour later, the housekeeper was in the suite across the hall. When I entered my room, I saw that it had not been cleaned, although the tip money and thank you note I had left were gone. I wondered if someone else had taken it. I checked the bedroom clock to see if it had been fixed, and it was still set to the wrong time. I decided to ask the housekeeper in the room across the hall, if she knew what had happened to the money, and when she would be cleaning my room. Unfortunately, she did not speak much English. From what I could figure out, it sounded like she had picked up the note and money, although I have no idea why she then left my room to clean the one across the hall. She apologized, and then entered my room to clean it. I went back downstairs again for a while. 

The guestroom was clean and smelled fresh when I returned. The housekeeper opened my door for me and apologized again when she saw me coming down the hall. I did not learn what had happened, and I suppose it doesn't really matter. No one ever came to change the clock in the guestroom, so the time was still incorrect when I checked out. The wireless and ethernet Internet connection speeds in the guestroom were both good. I thought this was impressive since the hotel was full.

Food & Beverage
The evening reception ran from 5:30 PM - 7:30 PM. Food and beverage items Monday evening included: chicken cordon blue, tossed salad, mixed vegetables, rice, potato chips, brownies, coffee, tea, draft beer, and white and red wine. I arrived near the end of the serving time, and the chicken tasted like it had been out a while. Even though it was a bit dry, it was still acceptable. The red wine was extremely sweet. Beverages were the same the next evening, and food items included: pork barbecue with extra sauce and buns, macaroni and cheese, tossed salad, corn muffins, and dessert.

I thought breakfast the first morning was more impressive than the second morning. I am not sure if timing had anything to do with that. The first morning, I went to breakfast right when it opened at 6:00 AM, and the second morning I went over 1/2 hour later than that. Items included both mornings were: juices, milks, cereals, whole fruits, and bread and bagels. Whole grain bagels were out the first morning; however, there were not any the second day. Hot items the first day were egg whites, scrambled eggs with chives, maple sausage, and tator tots. There were also apple turnovers. Hot items the second morning were scrambled eggs--which did not look as fresh as the eggs the first day, bacon, and potato pancakes.

Business center
The business center was a small room by the lodge/dining area with two computers and a printer. Everything worked both times I visited, and there was a stapler in the room that was quality enough to staple my 18-page document! Many other office items were also available, such as pens, paperclips, note pads, sticky notes, and more.

Fitness center
When I arrived at the fitness center before 5:30 AM, I saw that it said it opened at 6:00. The TV was on, so I tried the door, and it was open. The room contained three cardio machines with cardio theater, although cardio theater did not work on one of the treadmills. The room also contained hand weights, a water cooler, towels, sani-wipes, a scale, and head sets. The temperature was set a bit too warm, I thought. It was not hot when I arrived; however, it quickly got hot.

This hotel was in a good location for my stay, and I was happy with the comfort and cleanliness. I thought the rate was kind of expensive, although it also seemed high at all of the nearby properties I had checked. I reserved a king bedroom suite for the AAA rate of $170. When I was in the lobby waiting for my room to be cleaned, I heard the front desk agent tell someone on the telephone that he had one room left for $220! And then, he could not even give the caller that room because someone reserved it online before he had a chance to go in and reserve it. I heard him provide the name and telephone numbers of nearby properties at the end of the call.