We stayed at a few hotels on our recent trip up to the Great NW, and I have learned a few things from the experience.
First of all, whether you call it a hotel or a motel, and whether you pay a lot or a little, they have certain things in common. I should mention that we searched for places (on our phones) to stay each day, as we figured out where we would be that night. Our basic criteria included space, cost, amenities, and location. Unfortunately, we could not get a good idea of location in all cases, but we did focus on location in terms of where we wanted to go, and what we wanted to see either that afternoon, or the next morning.
Since we were a family group of seven people (four adults, three kids, 11, 14, and 16), we did need something beyond the standard room with one bed. We asked for and booked two rooms each night, each with two queen sized beds.
Basically, they all offered clean linen, barely enough towels, a little bit of soap and shampoo, televisions, and little else. Some offered a continental breakfast, at least one claimed a full breakfast (apparently based on offering waffles), and all had in room coffee (but only one with real cups, and none with enough sugar for even one cup of coffee).
Our first night was at a place called Hospitality Inn (photo, above), in Portland, Oregon, and this was conveniently located next to a pizza place on one side, and a Mickey D's on another. We found it to be adequate, and reasonable in cost. The coffee was reported to be weak, and the breakfast skimpy (my wife checked it out, and I took her word for it). We had breakfast and coffee at Mickey D's.
My son and his family stayed at the Valley River Inn (photo, above), on the Williamette River, in Eugene, on our second night (my wife and I stayed with my friend, Rich). We all had breakfast there the morning after, and liked it.
Shiloh Inn - Tacoma
The next night we spent in my old hometown of Tacoma, Washington, and this mistake is on me. I chose a location based on price, and a street address, with seeing this place on a map. This was a place called the Shiloh Inn, located immediately adjacent to a very busy Interstate 5. Naturally, we were stuck on the freeway side of the building. Noise was the main problem here, but fortunately, we made our way all the way to So. Jefferson Street, nearly downtown, for dinner at Rock Wood Pizza, and enjoyed that very much, and there was a very nice place right across the street for breakfast, called Elmers.
We booked into the downtown Sheraton for our next night in Seattle, and found it to be very good. Comfortable, and very close to so many different places. We walked down to Pike's Place Market that evening, and had dinner at a rather pretentious place called Cutter's Crabhouse.
Cutter's Crabhouse - Seattle
Then, we traveled way up north for breakfast the next morning to a little diner called Patty's Eggnest.
Really good breakfast. By this point in our journey, I was very much aware of a commonality to be found in all hotels/motels, and I'll explain that in a moment or two, after I get to our last few places.
We made our way up into British Columbia the next day, and spent that night in Richmond, right close to Vancouver's airport. This night we stayed at a Hilton, on a block chock full of hotels. There was a Sheraton and a Marriot also on that block. We tried to get into a place called the American Grille for dinner, but were turned away by a snooty person with a fake French accent (OK, it may have been real, but he was so snooty, it makes no difference. He refused to seat such a large party, and at least one female staff member indicated we should have had a reservation. I guess the fact that they can't spell Grill should have been a clue for us). We had dinner at Harold's Bistro and Bar, located in the Sheraton, and had a great meal, with a wonderful waitress. That would be the American Grille's loss. We waited for breakfast the next morning until we were back in Washington, and ended up at a Mickey D's in Bellingham.
Harold's Bistro and Bar
I have to mention that our experience crossing into, and then back out of Canada was very, very different than what we are used to encountering here on the Texas/Mexico border. First, crossing into Canada, the Canadian Border Guard was affable, cordial, efficient, and friendly. He actually welcomed us to his country. Upon our return the next day, the American CBP agent was a marked difference from every one that I have encountered locally over the last four years or so. He was very friendly, joked with us, did his job efficiently, without asking intrusive questions ("Where did you go? What did you do? Where are you going? What do you do for a living? - those are the questions I always get from agents here in El Paso). Not only that, but there was no line coming into Blaine, Washington! The line going into Canada the day before was longer. Go figure. I, for one, cannot explain why the local agents have to be so rude, so lacking in common courtesy, and, in short, so crappy.
Back on track, we managed to hit the Space Needle that day, and then caught a ferry over to Bremerton, headed for Tacoma again. John, Jr. thought it would be fun to stay in a hotel casino, and booked us into something called the Emerald Queen for that night, but all we found was a smokey casino, so we decided to look for beds elsewhere.
We spent that night at the single most beautiful place encountered on our trip, location-wise, a Red Lion. Unfortunately, this place, located on Capitol Lake, in Olympia, the state capitol, was three months into a renovation, with a good long ways still to go. Their restaurant was hard to get to, their front desk was non-existent (some tables, with computers on them), and there were indications all over the place of work yet to be done. The grounds, however, were spectacularly beautiful, with a great view over a small finger of the lake. We had dinner at Red Robin, something we still lack in El Paso, and enjoyed it. We had breakfast, free, at the hotel next morning, before heading out for our last night, in Portland.
Red Lion, Olympia
Our last night was spent at a very nice Crowne Plaza near the Convention Center. John chose this because they offered an airport shuttle to get us to the airport the next day. We drove around Portland a bit late that afternoon, and following the recommendation of my aunt, Donna, ended up at a restaurant called Stanford's in the Lloyd Center. Great menu, great food, and great service. We even had a free floor show! Our table was located next to a large window on NE Multnomah street. While we were eating, a group of young people came by, and one of the young men, somewhat the worse for drink, decided to water a tree standing right on the street. Literally! That's right. He urinated right there on a public street, reinforcing our impression that Portland strives to outdo Austin, Texas, in keeping it weird. We - unfortunately - had a perfect view for this sight that cannot be unseen.
Stanford's Lloyd Center
We also had one last breakfast in Portland, at Pine State Biscuits. This was something very different, and within easy walking distance of our hotel.
Now, about that commonality I referred to earlier. Every single one of these places has little, teeny, tiny toilets! None of them come up to ADA compliance. Now, I'm not saying that the ADA requires that hotels install higher toilets, but I am saying that toilets that are too close to the floor are not easy for old people to use. Our knees hurt! One of these was so low (I know. I know. "How low was it?") that it reminded me of what we used to call the 'Kimchi Squat' back when I was in Korea in the mid-sixties. This may not be a big thing to most folks, but for future reference, I think I will ask for ADA rooms if ever I have to book another night in a hotel/motel.