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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Montgomery, Alabama / Residence Inn

March 2013, Weekday, 1-night, king studio #212

Status perks and check-in
I did not look at this property close enough when I booked it, because this property does not have an interior hallway with elevators. I typically do not book this style of Residence Inn because I don't feel as safe on the ground floor, and it is difficult to carry anything more than a carry-on up the stairs.

I realized my oversight when I arrived at the hotel. It was before check-in time, so I decided to look online to see what other hotels were available nearby. I found a Homewood Suites with availability that was not too far away. I decided to go inside to find out what kind of room I would have, before deciding what to do. The front desk agent said that I had a king studio suite on the second floor, and she confirmed that the hotel does not have elevators.

Since I was traveling with a fairly large suitcase, I asked if a room was available on the ground floor, where it would be located, and if it would be an upgraded room. The agent said that she could give me a king studio suite on the ground floor on the front side of the building, but that it was not ready yet. She said that she could not give me an upgrade; that she needed to give me what corporate had assigned. I have never heard that before; however, I did not question her. I said that would be fine, and I sat down in the lobby with my laptop.

Staff provided great service assigning my room while I worked. An employee walked over to get my credit card and MR card (I was glad I had this, since I am usually never asked for it). She asked whether I wanted points or something from the gift shop for my bonus amenity, and then she took my cards to the front desk to complete the check-in process. When she brought my cards back to me with my check-in key packet, she thanked me for being a Platinum member. She said that she had been able to upgrade me to a room with a fireplace.

Guestroom #212
view from living area
This guestroom is located on the front side of the building just down from the lodge and check-in desk.  It had been recently updated, and it was clean and comfortable. I did not hear any noise from other guestrooms. Since there is parking just outside the windows, I  heard occasional noise from guests leaving or arriving. In fact, I was awakened at 5 a.m. when I heard a diesel truck start in the parking lot.

The kitchen area contained a full-size stainless steel refrigerator, complete range with stovetop and oven, microwave, dishwasher, full size coffee pot, dishes in the cupboards, and bar with two comfortable bar stools. Coffee with condiments and popcorn were provided.

view from kitchen
A desk and chair were located against the wall by the entry door, between the kitchen area and living room. There was a telephone, lamp, and ethernet cable on the desk. The Internet connection speed was good with the cord and on the wireless. I did not need an access code to access the Internet.

The living area included a couch, soft chair, footstool, lamp, coffee table, and fireplace. The couch in this guestroom was exactly the same as the couch in another Residence Inn I recently stayed in--Miami Airport Residence Inn. It was just as uncomfortable as the one in the other hotel. The style looks great, but it is not good for relaxing.

A flatscreen TV on an armoire was visible from the living room, the bedroom, and even the bathroom vanity area. There were two narrow windows in the living area, and a large one by the bed, which could all be opened. That is what I do not like about this type of hotel--the ground level windows. I think this is a nice feature if you are not a female traveling by yourself.

The fireplace was not much of an upgrade, for me, because it was a wood fireplace! I have never stayed in a suite like this that had a wood burning fireplace instead of a gas one. When I asked the front desk about this later, I was told that they have fire logs for sale in the gift shop. I did not inquire how much they cost. I wondered about the danger of someone bringing their own wood into the suite. Most guests would not know about the fireplace beforehand, because the Residence Inn website does not include a fireplace in the room descriptions. There is a fireplace on the images of the 2-bedroom suite floor plans. None of the studio floor plans matched suite 212 exactly.

The bed was comfortable and clean, and the lights and outlets on the headboard all worked. The area also included nightstands, a telephone, and an illuminated alarm clock.

A long vanity was located outside of the shower and toilet area, across from a large closet. The closet contained hangers, although there was no luggage rack. The closet doors were mirrored, and the mirror above the vanity, ran the length of the counter. There was not much room in the toilet and shower area, but at least the door could be opened fully! The shower was a tub/shower combination. The towels were good quality, thick towels. A hairdryer was provided, although I did not use it or notice the quality.

Food & Beverage
Food served at the evening social included: large vienna type hot dogs with sauerkraut, chili sauce, and other fixins; potato, macaroni, and tossed salad; potato chips and cookies. Franzia box wine was available--White Zinfandel and Chablis, and draft beer--Budweiser, I think.

I have recently noticed that some of the extended stay hotels are cutting back on the number of days that the evening social is offered, so I took a photo of the March 2013 schedule posted on the refrigerator. This hotel was only offering an evening social on two or three nights a week. Wednesday looked like the standard "BBQ" night, which is when I stayed at this hotel. I would suggest calling for the schedule, if this is a major consideration when choosing a hotel.

I was glad to see oatmeal at breakfast because I did not see much else that interested me. Hot items included: fake scrambled eggs, greasy sausage, waffle maker, oatmeal, and stir-fry with rice. This is the first time that I have seen stir-fry at breakfast. Cheese, sour cream, and salsa were provided for the eggs. Brown sugar and walnuts were provided for the oatmeal. Other items included cold cereal, white breads and bagels, pastries, milk, juice, coffee, and tea.

Fitness center
The fitness center was not very large; however, it was open 24 hours, and I never encountered other guests while using it. It contained three cardio machines with cardio theater, a flatscreen TV, sani-wipes, water, and towels. Everything was well maintained and clean.

Business center
I used the computer by the front desk to print a document without any trouble. There were no other office supplies available. The front desk agent gladly let me use the stapler at the front desk.

Pool and outside area
I did not see anyone using the outside areas since it was cool during my stay (low 60s during the day and low 40s overnight). I observed a pool, whirlpool tub, nice seating, a grill, and a basketball court. I thought it was odd that the pool was uncovered during daylight, and the whirlpool tub was covered. I would have thought that there would be more of an interest in the whirlpool tub with the cool weather, although it is possible that a guest requested that the pool be uncovered.

Suite #212 is not connected to the main lodge, so I needed to walk outside to get to the lodge. This property looked newer, and it looked like it was located in a nice neighborhood. Even though my room was not 100% what I desired, it was comfortable and clean, and staff assistance was excellent throughout my stay.