Thursday, June 13, 2013

Embassy Suites

Still trying to wrap up some loose ends from the Colorado trip. Here's one: of the three suite-type hotels we stayed in throughout the trip - StayBridge Suites, Candlewood Suites, and Embassy Suites - which one is the best?

(This post explains why we chose those particular hotels. Basically, with Marla, we needed rooms with a separate bedroom and living area, so that Marla could sleep in a room by herself. Here's what the StayBridge room looked like:)

Here are the key differences between the three hotels, as I saw them:

Kitchen. Our room at Embassy didn't have a kitchen, but StayBridge and Candlewood did. We used the kitchen to prepare dinner once at the StayBridge. Most of these suites come with kitchens because they're designed to be "long term accomodations" (a week or more), but the thing is, we're not getting these rooms for the kitchens. We just want the two separate areas. So, we can do with or without the kitchen. By the way, I think the reason Embassy's rooms don't have kitchens is because they would rather you eat in their in-hotel restaurant. (Embassys aren't really made for week-plus accomodations as much as they are for conferences.)

Free breakfast. Candlewood does not have free breakfast, but StayBridge and Embassy do - not only that, but their breakfasts are really nice! On the other hand, I don't want to put too much weight on free breakfast, because I think we generally tend to overvalue it a bit. For example, everything else being equal, is a hotel that's $115/night with free breakfast really "better" than a hotel that's $100/night without free breakfast? Not really. That "free breakfast" isn't really free. That, and when we have a long driving day ahead of us, we usually opt out of the hotel breakfast anyway. But in-house breakfast is more convenient, and it just isn't a proper road trip without hotel breakfast, no? So I'll still hold the "no breakfast" thing against Candlewood, but only a little.

Bathroom access. The floor plans at StayBridge and Candlewood were almost identical...except for access to the bathroom. At StayBridge, you enter the bathroom from the bedroom area (preferable, since that's where we were sleeping). At Candlewood, you enter the bathroom from the living area (not preferable, since that's where Marla was sleeping). However, at Embassy, there were doors to the bathroom from both the living area AND the bedroom. Winner! Honestly, why aren't all of these rooms designed that way?

Hotel design. If you've ever stayed at an Embassy Suites, then you know the design. It's a square with the middle hollowed out, so that when you walk out the front door of your hotel room, you get a nice view of the ground floor (where they serve breakfast), and of the entire hotel, really. And, the elevators are see-through! I've always been a fan. StayBridge and Candlewood just look like normal hotels from the inside. (Another word about the elevators: Marla was scared of them at first, but apparently the see-through elevators at Embassy completely changed her perspective on them, because now she can't get enough of them. Or, maybe it was when she discovered all the buttons.)

Social hour. I thought this was interesting: StayBridge and Embassy had social hours from 5:30 to 7:30 every day (or nearly every day), with free appetizers and free alcohol provided! We never went to any of them, but if drinking with random hotel guests at 6 PM is your thing, then there you go.

Privacy. On the flip side, if you want to limit your contact with other human beings as much as possible, then Candlewood is the place to be. Every Candlewood Suites I've stayed in (two or three, I think, including the one in Wichita) seemed to have hardly anybody staying in it. In fact, while there were certainly other cars in the parking lot, I'm not sure I've ever seen another actual guest in any of the Candlewoods we've stayed in. No social hours or breakfasts here! Everyone just stays in their hotel rooms, I guess. Not only that, but the front desk didn't open until 7 AM, so if you want to check out at 6 (as we did), you can do so without talking to or seeing anybody at all! We weren't in Wichita very long, but still...a Candlewood Suites seems like it would be a great place to hold a covert meeting of some kind.

Price. Which hotel was cheapest varied according to which city we were in, which is why we stayed in three different ones, and these three in particular. (Homewood Suites and Residence Inns, and maybe a couple of others that fit our requirements, were generally more expensive.) So, it's hard to make a generalization that one is "usually cheaper" than the others. This is more dependent on location and competition than the hotel chains themselves. By the way, I don't think it's a coincidence that in Memphis and Denver, the parts of town with the best hotel rates also had the worst traffic.

Conclusion. If the prices are the same, then for us it's Embassy, StayBridge, and then Candlewood, in that order. Also, we'd be willing to pay a little more for Embassy than StayBridge (maybe $10/night), and also more for StayBridge than Candlewood (another $10/night).

1 comment:

Adam said...

Of course, you don't have to mingle with others during social or hospitality hour. But it's a great way to snack if you are hungry or unwind.

It's not exclusive to suites either may Hampton Inns I have stayed at for work offer it as well. Of course each have varying degrees of quality.