December 25-26, 2013
1 king guestroom
Rate: $72/night at Hotwire.com
I would recommend Holiday Inn Express Cambridge MA for proximity to stores and the MBTA (Boston’s transit system), and value.
We booked the hotel via Hotwire without knowing the hotel name before booking. The total cost at Hotwire came up to $91.41 / night. It was listed as a 3-star hotel in the Charlestown area for Boston hotels and recommended by 95% of Hotwire guests. The amenities were:
- Free Parking
- Free Breakfast
- Free Internet
- Business Center
- Internet access
- Accessible for the blind
- Accessible for the deaf
- Accessible path of travel
- In-room accessibility
The location was very convenient. It was 4 blocks away from the Lechmere station of the MBTA Green Line (see pink). You probably won’t even need a car if you’re visiting within metro Boston.
There was a shopping center on the next block that includes Shaw’s supermarket, Rite Aid pharmacy, Dollar Tree and McDonald’s. CambridgeSide Galleria (mall) was 5 blocks away, Museum of Science and Boston Duck Tours were 6 blocks away and Target was 4 blocks away.
The lobby was modern, clean and smelled like White Citrus of Bath and Body Works.
The room hallways tho smelled a little less pleasing.
The lobby wasn’t large, but sufficient. There was a door leading to the entrance of the parking lot which was very helpful when dropping off or picking up guests. It is not a resort so there was really no outdoor space besides the parking lot and it was right by the road.
I find it a little weird that they didn’t have ice machines on every floor. They only had them on floors 3, 5 and 7.
We arrived at the hotel around 6:00 PM on Christmas day. My husband dropped me off to check in. There was no one at the desk. There was no bell so I decided to call the desk after more than 10 minutes waiting for someone to appear. Two ladies came in from outside and one said “She didn’t see me.” That was not true, coz she was smoking outside by the parking lot entrance where my husband dropped me off.
The front desk staff was honest. We left our laptop on the counter and they kept it until we remembered to get it.
Around 7:00 AM the morning after, I had to call housekeeping for soap coz I dropped the one we had in the toilet. I was told by front desk that housekeeping doesn’t come in until 8:00 AM. For a hotel that caters to business travelers that usually start the day very early, this was a little disappointing.
We were given room 810 on the top floor (8th floor). It was just two rooms away from the elevators which was nice. It was decorated nicely with modern furniture and amenities. We had a view of residential houses and buildings.
Bed was comfortable and I didn’t have trouble with sleep. We were provided with 2 firm pillows and 2 soft pillows. One of the firm pillows did seem softer than the others. I usually don’t like firm pillows, they give me neck pain. But I didn’t experience this with their pillows.
The room had great features like the little reading lights by the bed and portable table by the chair.
There were a lot of electric outlets perfect for the business traveler, but I was disappointed they didn’t have USB outlets.
The desk was movable and can double as a dining table.
There was a fridge and microwave, and a nice big mirror.
Closet was a little small.
The climate control system worked good. It made a little noise, but it was low enough for it not to be bothersome.
Housekeeping didn’t do a great job cleaning the room. I found straw cover and another object I can’t identify on the floor.
There was also a red stain on the sofa. It didn’t look like blood.
The emergency evacuation map was wrong.
The bathroom was on the small side. Toiletries were provided by Bath and Body Works with the White Citrus scent.
The shower head was nice, but it had lime deposits.
Bathroom sink drain cover wasn’t working properly. I had to take it out for water to drain.
Internet was complimentary. Password was provided at check-in. Connection was slow (left). My cellphone’s LTE connection was faster (right).
At one point at night, connection was so limited I could barely do anything.
The hotel offered complimentary breakfast M-F 6am-10am, Sa-Su 7am-11am. It was more than the usual continental breakfast I’ve experienced in 3-star hotels. The breakfast area was very clean.
There were automatic made-to-order pancakes, scrambled eggs, omelette, hard-boiled eggs, sausage patties, oatmeal, muffins, toasts, bagels, rolls, fruits, cereals, yogurt, milk, juices, coffee. Orange juice was bland.
The hot food appeared to have been bought pre-packaged.
If you have stayed in this hotel, you can add your rating below:
REVIEW: Conrad Condado Plaza, Condado PR
November 22-24, 2012
1 king room
Rate: $98/night at Hotwire.com
I would recommend Conrad Condado Plaza for the location and cleanliness.
We booked the hotel via Hotwire without knowing the hotel name before booking. It was listed as a 4-star hotel in San Juan with the following amenities: Near Beach, Oceanfront Property, Casino, Fitness Center, Pool(s), Restaurant(s), Business Center, Laundry Facilities (self-service), Golf Nearby, Tennis Nearby, Spa Services, Accessible for the blind and deaf, Free internet, Accessible path of travel, In-room accessibility, Accessible bathroom, Handicapped parking, Roll-in shower.
The total cost at Hotwire came up to $115.64 / night. We had to pay a resort fee of $13.43 / night at the hotel upon check-out.
The location is convenient. It is close to Old San Juan and Pan-Am cruise terminal ($12 taxi ride + $1/luggage). Restaurants are a walk away, tho there were 4 restaurants on site and Starbucks.
The place was modern and clean. There were two towers – Ocean and Lagoon tower. As the name states, the Ocean tower overlooks the ocean, while the Lagoon tower across the street overlooks the bay. A bridge connects the two towers on the Mezzanine (2nd) floor.
The grounds were maintained beautifully.
The staff were friendly and very willing to help. One of the pool concierge was about to leave to get something, but when she saw me a little confused (but I didn’t really need her), she came running back with a big smile to ask if she could help me. We couldn’t open our room door and asked for help from one of the housekeeping staff. Apparently, we just needed to push the door harder. But the staff didn’t stop there. He proceeded to help us with our luggage.
We were given a room (774) in the Lagoon tower overlooking the bay. It was one room away from the elevator. The room was very clean except for the chair that had a couple of faint stains on it. The room was nicely decorated with modern fixtures.
The TV was 27″, quite small for the size of the room. The bed was comfortable and I love how big the night tables were. I had my laptop and other gadgets charging on the night table by my side.
The bathroom was nice, but tiny. It had a nice shower head with a couple of settings. Bath amenities were from Clear by Jean-Jacques. Hairdryer wasn’t very powerful.
The balcony was a good size furnished with 2 chairs and a table and had a nice view of the bay.
They had 4+ restaurants on-site including Cafe Caribe, Pikayo, Eight Noodle Bar and Denny’s. Cafe Caribe and Pikayo were pretty pricey. We ate at Denny’s for breakfast and it was your typical Denny’s, food was okay. We ate at Eight Noodle Bar for dinner and food was pretty good. Service was a little slow.
Internet was complimentary and provided by AT&T. Connection was slow. I preferred using my phone’s LTE connection.
The hotel had 2 pools and a waterslide by the Ocean tower and one pool by the Lagoon tower. The beach was by the Ocean tower and it was tiny. It was a public beach as well.
They had a self-serve laundromat by the Ocean tower with 4 washers and 4 dryers. It cost $2 per wash and $2 per dry. Laundry and softener is included in the price and is dispensed by just pressing on a button.
Beach was small and public, but well-maintained.
If you have stayed in this hotel, you can add your rating below:
REVIEW: Yotel, NYC
Image from Hotels.com
August 25-26, 2012
First cabin with terrace and hot tub
Rate: $359 + tax at Yotel.com with Travelzoo promotion
I would recommend Yotel for the location and modern ambience.
We were able to book using a Travelzoo promotion and paid a total of $415.45 for one night at a spacious “first cabin” which is similar to a suite in other hotels.
The hotel is a walk away from Times Square, but not a short walk. It is a 10-minute walk from the closest subway station. Regardless, the area is pretty convenient with a CVS right across the street and restaurants everywhere.
The hotel was clean and decorated accordingly with the technological amenities the hotel offered. First floor lobby is practically manned by technology. Kiosks lined the left wall for checking in and out. A robot on the right side of the lobby holds your luggage for you. There were a couple of hotel staff in the lobby to help out the technologically-challenged. The main front desk manned by humans was on the 4th floor. You have to go to the 4th floor to get to the elevators that service the cabin floors.
We haven’t had much interaction with the staff except when housekeeping came to drop off extra towels I requested. He was quite friendly.
We were given cabin 814, a first cabin with terrace and hot tub. It was a very nice room and very spacious especially for a NY hotel.
The big space however wasn’t fully utilized. The closet was tiny when it could have been bigger.
There was really no night stand. The desk is tiny which is situated on one side of the bed serving as a night stand on one side. A bed table is tucked in on the other side of the bed which was nice. The king bed wasn’t soft, but I found it fine.
The TV wasn’t small, but watching all the way from the bed (too far) makes the size inadequate. The room was pretty clean except for one feminine wash packet I found between the couches.
The bathroom was pretty spacious with a huge shower. The bathroom walls were glass and curtain and blinds covered the walls for privacy. I like that there was a door in the bathroom that opens into the terrace.
The shower head was nice. The heated towel rack wasn’t working.
There was not a lot of counter space in the bathroom. There were 2 bath towels, 2 beach towels, 3 hand towels and a very soft bathrobe. Instead of the boxed facial tissues you usually find in hotels, there were 2 travel-size facial tissues which I hated. There was only one very tiny trash can located in the bathroom which I found insufficient.
The terrace was huge, but there was no view. The sides were covered with metal fences and tall greeneries. I hate that there were no lights in the terrace except for the small spotlights lighting the greeneries.
The hot tub was a 2-person tub, though 4 of my girlfriends and I did fit in there. The plug for the drain didn’t work very well in covering the drain. Sometimes we had to let the water flow while we were in the tub to keep the water at level.
Each cabin floor had a “mini kitchen” galley and the 8th floor galley was right across our room. Your room key card is needed to access the galley. The galley was equipped with ice, water and coffee machine, microwave, small fridge, and a soft drink vending machine. There were complimentary coffee, tea, latte, espresso and hot chocolate which was a plus.
If you have stayed in this hotel, you can add your rating below:
REVIEW: Candlewood Suites Boston-Braintree, Braintree MA
March 14-15, 2012
1 Queen studio
$92/night via Hotwire
I recommend this hotel for the value, amenities and proximity to South Shore Plaza Mall.
I got very nervous after reading all the negative reviews on Tripadvisor. We got to the hotel and saw a sign about their renovation. We got in our room and were pleasantly surprised! Our room was very clean, modern and newly renovated. The newly renovated rooms were A LOT nicer than the photos on the hotel’s website.
It was a last-minute trip I booked the day before check-in. I went to Hotwire, booked a 2-star hotel for $92/night without knowing what hotel I would get. It would have cost us about $119/night if not booked through Hotwire. $119 was the cheapest I could find that time on other sites for any 2+ star accommodation.
The hotel was a 15-minute drive from downtown Boston without traffic. It was very close to I-93. I suggest bringing or renting a car.
It was very close to South Shore Plaza Mall and other retail stores. A movie theater was also close by, located across the mall. There’s a good bakery (Konditor Meister) at the end of the road. However, the road the hotel was on was pretty secluded and I am not sure if I’d walk it alone at night.
There was a strong smell at the hotel’s parking lot. It could have been the paint from renovations. The lobby was tiny but looked nice and clean. There were only 2 chairs. The front desk counter was tiny as well. The front desk staff was staying at another counter behind the front desk counter and I found it awkward talking to her that far.
I was only able to see the first floor as our room was on that floor and it looked clean. The hotel halls had a faint smell, but it wasn’t a bad smell.
There was no scenic view from this hotel. You would see parking lot, highway, and trees.
Check in was a breeze and front desk staff was friendly. Since we were only here one night, the front desk was the only staff we encountered.
We had room 113 which was a queen bed studio. The room was pretty large and equipped with a small kitchen. The room was clean and had mostly new furnishings except the refrigerator and dishwasher. It looked like the flooring was replaced too during the renovation including the tiles in the bathroom. Our view was the back parking lot.
Eastern Caribbean Cruise 2011 – Day 1
Sunday, November 13, 2011
We decided to get to Miami a day before cruise embarkation to anticipate any delays. We flew Delta from JFK and flight was uneventful. There was no delay flying out and we arrived 20 minutes early in Miami.
We booked the Hyatt Summerfield Suites near the airport. It was a nice hotel and I highly recommend it. However, their shuttle is not very reliable. The shuttle took 40 minutes from my first phone call to the arrival of the shuttle at the airport. Check-in was a breeze and the unit was nice.
I called front desk to get us a cab that will fit 5 people and the cab was waiting for us as soon as we got to the lobby. The cab ride cost $23+tip to Dolphin Mall. The mall was huge. Going back to the hotel however cost us $25+tip. The cabbie was surprised we gave him a tip. I guess they don’t tip cabbies in Miami huh?
The hotel was one block away from a shopping center with Publix. So my husband and I went around 9pm and bought some midnight snacks and breakfast for the next day. Our unit had a full kitchen.
Reviews after the jump…
REVIEW: Hyatt Summerfield Suites, Miami FL
November 13-14, 2011
Rate: $222.98 via Expedia.com
I would highly recommend Hyatt Summerfield Suites Miami Airport if you want to be within close proximity of the airport.
We booked the hotel as part of a flight and hotel package via Expedia. We only stayed one night as a pre-cruise accommodation. We originally booked a 2-bedroom 2 king unit. I called Expedia to upgrade to a trio (2-bedroom, 1 king, 2 queen unit), but they didn’t have any available in the system. So the Expedia representative told me to call the hotel directly. I did and the hotel representative made a note on my reservation that I was requesting a trio. Upon check-in, the front desk staff saw the note and found us an available trio unit at no additional cost.
The hotel is about 5 minutes away from the airport, but we never heard noise from the airport. It is one block away from a shopping center that had Publix, Chinese restaurant, Starbucks, Office Depot, etc. which was great. There are a lot of stores along NW 7th St which is one block away from the hotel. The hotel is a little far if you’re in Miami to go to the beaches. But for a pre-cruise or post-cruise stay, it was perfect. It cost us about $28+tip taxi from the hotel to the cruise port, $23+tip from the hotel to Dolphin Mall, and $25+tip from Dolphin Mall to the hotel. You can also catch the 7 bus on NW 7th St to Dolphin Mall.
The hotel was clean. The lobby was small, but there were plenty of seating for guests to hang or wait. The grounds was well kept.
Since we only stayed there one night, we only got to meet the front desk staff. They were very nice and willing to help. I always bothered them for a taxi that would accommodate 5 people and we never had to wait. A taxi was always waiting for us as soon as we got to the lobby.
Our room (327) was nice except for the face towel left on the floor in the king bedroom. I guess housekeeping don’t vacuum the floors after every guest.
REVIEW: Wyndham Skyline Tower, Atlantic City NJ
September 9-16, 2011 (but only stayed for the weekend)
2-bedroom corner unit
Rate: $139 exchange rate via RCI (timeshare)
I highly recommend Wyndham Skyline Tower for its location, cleanliness, and the spacious units/rooms. I would definitely stay here again if I ever want to go back to Atlantic City. However, I don’t recommend Atlantic City for non-gamblers like me. For more photos, feel free to contact me.
It was one big block away from the boardwalk, but a little more north of where most of the boardwalk activities and people were. It was right by Pacific Ave where you can catch a Jitney. Since the place was located closer to the North end, the area by Pacific Ave and Atlantic Ave looked a little shady. I wouldn’t suggest walking there at night. Drive or catch a cab.
The hotel didn’t have a casino. But Resorts casino was right next door. Taj Mahal and Showboat were also close by. You can get to the other casinos on the boardwalk by Jitney or just walking on the boardwalk. It was also an easy and short drive to Borgata and Harrah’s by the marina.
If you’re looking for a place to eat nearby, restaurants on Pacific Ave are less expensive than on the boardwalk of course. We ate at Perry’s Cafe (Pacific and Tennesse Ave) for breakfast and it was good. It wasn’t nearby, but we decided to try the famous Waterfront buffet at Harrah’s. The food was delicious and there were a lot of selections, but I had better. We paid $30+tax per person.
The hotel didn’t have a big loading/unloading area. However, the street right infront of it wasn’t so busy that it didn’t pose a problem. The lobby was nice and adequate in size. The hotel overall was very clean. I saw people cleaning all the time, especially on the 6th floor where the activities center and other amenities are. The place wasn’t as big as the other known hotels/casinos, but I liked it that way.
The default temperature was a little on the cool side. It wasn’t a problem coz you can control the temperature in your unit anyway, but it’s gets really cold in the hallway.
There were only 2 guest elevators and 1 service elevator. Because of the number of floors, there may be a wait for the elevators. We didn’t experience that much wait maybe because it was no longer peak season. We experienced the longest wait on Sunday morning when a lot of guests were checking out.
Bahamas Cruise 2011 – Day 1
Monday, June 13, 2011
Embarkation – Port Canaveral FL
I like how I could check in my flight on my phone and I didn’t have to print my boarding passes. I got to the Delta terminal at Laguardia airport around 5:40pm and I haven’t seen a line that long for Security. I was worried, but I was able to catch my 6:55am flight. I had a rolling carry-on, a backpack and my camera bag. But at the gate, they only allowed 2 bags, so I had to check in my rolling bag at no charge. Unlike American, US Air and United (7-hr flight!), we were served complimentary drinks and choice of pretzels, peanuts or cookies during the 2 1/2-hour flight. I always look forward to the cinnamon cookies, they’re my favorite.
My uncle and his family checked in at the Hyatt hotel right in the Orlando International airport the day before. My uncle was waiting at the hotel atrium which was also the airport’s atrium before you get to baggage claim.
The hotel was pretty nice and big, but the elevators were located in only one side of the building so it was a long walk going to the other side where my uncle’s hotel room was located.
We drove to Port Canaveral for our Bahamas cruise on Royal Caribbean Monarch of the Seas. It was pretty easy to get there – I-528 E all the way until you see signs for your ship’s terminal.
Cruise lines usually have daily newsletters that contain the day’s activities, specials, and other info. These daily newsletters get delivered to your stateroom the night before except of course on embarkation day. Royal Caribbean’s daily newsletter is called Cruise Compass. Below is the Cruise Compass on embarkation day, click here to download the Cruise Compass for the entire cruise. It was in our cabin when we checked in.
Reviews after the jump…
Southern Caribbean Cruise – Day 8
Sunday, May 1, 2011
Disembarkation – San Juan PR
We did express walk-off and had to meet at the Island Dining Room at 6:45am. I like how they had us waiting in the dining room where we can sit and let us disembark in groups. However, some cruisers didn’t listen to the cruise staff. Instead of going further into the dining room where there were seats, they stayed in the pathway and blocked it.
We reached the gangway around 7:20pm and waited for about half an hour to retrieve the dive knife they took from us. The cruise security had trouble finding our knife. You would think they would have it by the gangway. That was a big hassle for us the whole trip. The dive knife was 4 inches and had a blunt tip. Their steak knives were sharper, not to mention had pointed tips. A couple of times, they let us take it inside the ship, the rest of the cruise, they took it from us and we had to retrieve it every time we leave the ship for our dive trip.
By the way, the International Cafe was open early on disembarkation day. So grab something to eat while waiting to disembark.
Sunday, May 1, 2011
It was a rainy day today. We went straight to our hotel (Intercontinental in Isla Verde) from the ship. We took a taxi and paid $19 (taxi rate) + $4 ($1 each luggage) + tip.
We got there around 8am and our room wasn’t ready. So we just left our bags with the bellboy and got picked up by our tour guide Asha from Natural Wonders at 10am. Asha took us to get some authentic Puerto Rican food by the road. I don’t remember exactly where. It was delicious. And I love the homemade hot sauce!
We then headed to the rainforest. We first went to a part of the rainforest that is not usually visited by tourists, but still beautiful. Unfortunately, because of the weather, one of the trees fell on the road and we couldn’t get by. We then continued to other parts of the rainforest.
We went to Ceviche Hut in Luquillo for a late lunch. The food was great especially the ceviche, but it was pricey. After lunch, we headed to the beach in Luquillo then went back to the hotel.
We booked the cheapest room (2 double beds with cityview) at Intercontinental. But when we got back to the hotel, we were given an oceanview room at the top floor! It was great!
We ate dinner at Mi Casita at the shopping center across the hotel. The restaurant was highly recommended and there were a lot of people. However, we weren’t impressed.
Reviews after the jump…