Hotel Smackdown: Holiday Inn Express vs Country Inn & Suites

I enjoy travelling, but over the past two weeks we’ve done more driving than I care to do in such a short time having driven somewhere in the neighborhood of 3000mi in that time. Over the first week of that, we stayed in four different hotels, three of which I’m going to compare here.

Holiday Inn Express, Cambridge, OH

We stopped here for a single night on the way to our destination in Mansfield, OH, and in my opinion it was easily the best of the three hotels in this review. First, a few pictures of the room:

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Good, clean room, complete with a fridge, microwave, and DirecTV, which is a nice change of pace from the standard hotel cable setups that have no interactive on-screen guide.  Another big thing with this room (can’t say the same for the Country Inn rooms), there were plenty of outlets, including at least two on each nightstand. Lack of outlets in hotel rooms is why i carry two Belkin SurgePlus units with me, but neither were necessary in this room. For the type of hotel, the rooms have been done really well also, especially the beds. While none of the mattresses in the hotels I’m reviewing were bad, the pillows are what set the Holiday Inn Express apart from the other two, as it’s something few hotels get right in my experience. They included four pillows on the bed, as shown, with two being firm and two being soft. Nice labeling, too:

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I had one of each, and was pretty happy with both. None appeared to be true down pillows either, something I’m allergic to that could have caused me to wake up with a nasty headache (I carry Flonase with me when travelling just in case). The other thing that set this hotel apart from the other two is the breakfast. Holiday Inn Express has really stepped up their game in this area, apparently. The usual choices were there, eggs, bacon, breads, etc, but the cinnamon rolls stood out. Wow those things were delicious. Additionally, the brand has what I can only describe as a 3D pancake printer:

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The sign did not lie, 60 seconds after pressing the button it spit out two perfectly cooked pancakes on the right side of the unit. Wowza. Love it! No messing with batter or hoping that your waffle isn’t going to stick to the cooking plates, just magical pancakes that show up as if from nowhere.

The front desk staff was super friendly as well, even upon arrival sometime after 10pm. My only real complaint on the hotel would be the difficulty in finding it, which might not have been an issue during the day when we weren’t as tired. Both our GPS and our phones kept telling us where to go, but neither could really pinpoint the location, and the sign seemed a bit hidden to us, so my wife called the hotel and got clarification of where to turn. No biggie, though. Overall, a great hotel and a chain I wouldn’t hesitate to stay at again!

Country Inn & Suites, Mansfield, OH

We stayed here for four nights while visiting family. I recommended this while we were looking at hotels based on past experience with the chain, specifically multiple stays at the one in Bloomington, IL while on business in the past. I always liked that location, but was let down by the one in Mansfield. Again, let’s start with room pictures:

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The hotel itself looked pretty similar to what I remember the one in IL looking like, although the room appeared slightly outdated. It was clean, however, and the mattress was fine, but I couldn’t stand the small square pillows. They seem to be popular these days, with the Hilton we stayed at a few days later in Arlington, VA having the same type. My other main disappointment was breakfast. I recall the one in IL having a decent sized layout, a good selection of warm items every day, and never having an issue with keeping things stocked. That was not the case here. The breakfast area was small, with few warm choices. They did have the standard do it yourself waffle maker, and a few cereal choices, but they only had three warm selections each day, and of the stuff I had (eggs and bacon one morning, that was it), they really weren’t that good. The bread station was an issue too, as it wasn’t stocked very well, to the point that on our last morning, there was only a single donut left (I never saw more than 3 in there any morning), two plain bagels, a few slices of wheat bread, and nothing else.

As I said, it was clean, and all of the staff members we encountered were very friendly, but I think next time we’ll check out the Holiday Inn Express in town.

Country Inn & Suites, Frederick, MD

After leaving Mansfield, we stopped here for one night on the way up to DC. We’d booked this at the same time as the one in Mansfield, again mostly based on how I remembered the one in Bloomington. This location was slightly better, and it looks like it’s undergone a small renovation the Mansfield location hasn’t seen yet. The room:

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That last picture shows the welcome sign at the front desk for Club Carlson members, with my name second on the list. Not something that I look for or need in a hotel, but a nice touch. Again, a very friendly staff, so that piece was a wash for all three hotels. Also notice on the bed is a small plastic bag of goodies we were given on check-in with a couple bottles of water and bags of snack pretzels as another welcome for Club Carlson members. Again, nice touch.

The room was clean and comfortable, but they still have the square pillows that I don’t like. Other than that, no complaints on the room.

The breakfast area was bigger than the one in Mansfield, so I had my hopes up, but once I got down there in the morning, disappointment set in again. The same meager selection of warm items, plus a waffle maker, so I had myself another waffle. The bread selection was a little better than the previous location, at least. This was a better stay than the previous one, but still left me a bit disappointed vs the one I used to stay at in Bloomington.

Overall, you can probably guess where I’m going with this: The Holiday Inn Express was easily my favorite, and a chain I’ll look to in the future when traveling. You can’t go wrong with either brand in my opinion, but the pillows, breakfast buffet, and magical pancake dispenser easily push Holiday Inn Express over the top in my eyes.

Carnival Conversations – Tampa

After a quick two days at home following our time in Ohio and DC, we drove down to Florida yesterday to bring our daughter back for her second year of college at Eckerd. While move-in day isn’t until tomorrow, my wife noticed a few weeks ago that Carnival was doing one of their Carnival Conversations events on board the Paradise today, and really wanted to attend it. While these events are held on board a ship that’s getting ready to depart, just like the ship inspections we’ve done, this is nothing like the tours.

So what is it? Well, simply put, it’s a chance to hear from and ask questions of Carnival’s senior management. For today’s event, the main speaker was Christine Duffy, President of Carnival Cruise Lines. We’d never been to one of these events before, and since we were going to be in the area anyway, it seemed like a good opportunity to see what they were about, and to hear from the line’s leadership.

The itinerary for the event was pretty simple, but didn’t allow for any time to tour the ship, so there will be far fewer pictures in this post than the last :).

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When we got to the Queen Mary Lounge, we grabbed a seat next to a couple other agents and chatted with them for a bit before Mike Julius, Managing Director of US Sales got up to kick things off. He started off by introducing us to Seth Grunes, the Tampa area Business Development Manager, who gave us a quick update on Carnival, including a brief overview of their newest ship, The Vista. Jen’s been paying attention to all of Carnival’s announcements about the ship, she she was already up to speed on it, but having a full time job to focus on, I didn’t know a heck of a lot about it. I enjoyed getting to see what’s coming, and I have to say that I completely understand her excitement about the ship and desire to sail it. Those Havana suites sound amazing!

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Next up was Christine, who spent a few minutes giving us an update on the line, and other business info specific to their travel partners (us). Having come up through the agency ranks, she’s in a unique position to make positive changes to the way Carnival works with their partners. Here’s hoping it happens!

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After that, a panel of Carnival execs, including Christine, gathered on stage listening to agent feedback and answering our questions. There’s not really much to say from this, as the discussion all centered around way Carnival can change to better allow agents to serve our customers when it comes to Carnival cruises. We’re both fans of the Carnival brand, having thoroughly enjoyed three straight Thanksgiving cruises on their ships, and the discussion today was validation of our trust in their product.

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Following the panel discussion was lunch, so we all headed to the Destiny dining room. The menu was identical to what we had on our tour of the Fantasy back in May, so I won’t waste space repeating the same food pictures in that post. While I would have liked another Guy’s burger, the food was excellent, and we did get to enjoy one of my favorite things, the warm chocolate melting cake, which is a must-have if you’re on any Carnival ship.

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Near the end of lunch they did a few giveaways, including a couple of free cruises, but we unfortunately didn’t win. Oh well, but congratulations to those who did win, we’re totally jealous!

Lunch ended right about the time we had to get off (the boat was getting ready to head out for an actual cruise, after all :)), so we headed back down the gangway, out the terminal, and back to our temporary home for the weekend.

Once again, I’d like to thank Carnival for their hospitality, including all the executives for making themselves available to us for a couple of hours, and to our dining room staff, who I’m sure could have used the break between sailings to rest a bit. One of the best crews at sea, for sure!

Ship Inspection Sunday – Carnival Pride

After spending a few days in DC for some CruiseOne regional training, we headed up to the port of Baltimore yesterday morning for another ship inspection before heading home. This time, we got to check out the Carnival Pride, one of their Spirit class ships. We’ve sailed on a ship in this class before, having taken the Carnival Legend out of Tampa in 2012. Even though the Pride is the same class as the Legend, it felt like a different ship thanks in part to the Fun Ship 2.0 upgrades it underwent during dry dock late last year. I don’t know that it got all of the upgrades, but it got the big ones, like the additional food choices.

The port isn’t much to look at, but it seems like it’s set up pretty well. When we arrived, we were directed over to a parking area off to the side for those not staying on the ship, but looking over the main parking, it looks like it’s all right there next to the terminal, making it one of the most convenient we’ve been to. After parking, we headed in the terminal to check in, and after a bit of a wait were led on to the ship by our tour guide, Kathy.

The ship underwent a dry dock late last year to add some of the Fun Ship 2.0 goodness, and while the upgraded areas were nice, there are plenty of areas still sporting the Renaissance theme the ship is known for. Much like the Legend’s urn-ish theme, I just wasn’t a fan. I get wanting to stray from the normal “cruise ship chic” theme so many of the older ships have, but there were areas where the theme just doesn’t work. None of the rooms underwent any sort of renovation during dry dock either, but the ones we saw were fine. We got to see the following room types while on-board:

Deck 1: Interior (Cat 4A) and Ocean View (Cat 6A)

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Deck 4: Ocean view Obstructed with French doors (Cat 4K – Accessible), Interior (Cat 4K) and Vista Suite (Cat VS)
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Deck 6: Extended Balcony (Cat 8J), Premium Balcony (Cat 9B), Grand Suite (Cat GS)
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For the most part, pretty standard rooms, but that Vista Suite was pretty nice, especially with the extended aft-wrap balcony and walk in closet.

After touring rooms, we headed upstairs and got a tour of David’s Steak House (one of two specialty restaurants on board), the spa, the main Lido food areas, Serenity (adults only area), and the waterpark. All pretty standard, although the waterpark was a new addition in last years’ dry dock. You can see some shots of these areas in the random ship pictures at the end of this post.

After that part of the tour, we were free to eat anywhere on Lido that we wanted, which was a nice change of pace from our tour on the Fantasy where we were served in the dining room. The main reason I was happy about this is that it gave me a chance to indulge in my favorite burger at sea, the Pig Patty at Guy’s Burger Joint:

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The downside to this is that we didn’t get warm chocolate melting cake for dessert, but hey, the selection on the Sweet Spot dessert bar wasn’t bad:

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The cake pop was pretty good, the lemon meringue pie was okay, but the rest was just average, to be honest.

After eating, we decided to see the rest ourselves to speed up our departure since we had a long drive back to Charlotte, which pretty much meant walking decks 2 and 3 in order to see the theater, shops, and casino. All were pretty much what you expect on a Carnival ship, meaning if you’ve seen them on other ships in this class, you’ve seen these. Well, except maybe the Taj Mahal theater. Not sure if they were trying to continue the Renaissance theme in there (really didn’t look like it), but we just weren’t fans of the décor in there:

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The other thing to mention were the passageways on each side of the ship on deck 3 that lead back to the game room. Legend had one too, known as the enchanted forest, but this was a little brighter than that is. Honestly, not really sure what to make of these spaces. They come off as something Carnival just didn’t know what to do with, almost wasted space in our opinion:

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Overall, the ship was clean, nice (especially with the new food additions), and certainly better than the Legend in my opinion. I’d sail it in a heartbeat if I lived closer!

One last thing, a big thank you to Kathy and everyone on the Pride for an outstanding time. The Carnival hospitality always shines through on these tours!

Enjoy a some more random pics from around the ship!

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Hangin With the ‘Hawks

As mentioned at the end of my last post, part of our tech conference in Seattle  a couple of weeks ago included an evening at CenturyLink Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks. The event was held on Thursday evening, and while bus service was provided from the various hotels all of the attendees stayed at, a group of us chose to walk, as it was pretty nice out, and it really wasn’t that far from our hotels.

Upon arrival, we checked in (basically just showed them our attendee bracelet for the event) and headed in to the stadium. The first order of business was to scope out the setup and see what our options were drink and food-wise. Having never attended this specific event before (the last time I was at this conference, the attendee event was held elsewhere), I really didn’t know what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised by what we found. We were all pretty tired of the conference food, and were hoping that it wasn’t the same group catering this event, and turns out it wasn’t.

There were food options open on part of the club level and part of the field level, and it appeared to be the actual stadium food stands serving up some of their normal game-day food. Score! We walked the club level, sampling a few of the items up there, and then headed down to the field level food area to see what else was available. Over the course of that trip, I think I had a small cheeseburger, some fries, a Nathan’s hot dog, and some chips. Delicious.

After eating, we headed out on to the field. We’d actually started out down there, hitting the bar for a pre-dinner drink, and to watch the Breakdance Ninjas (there were no *actual* ninjas, but they were entertaining nonetheless), but hadn’t checked out any of the other activities. While down there, we ran across Taima the Hawk, very cool of them to have the handler bring the bird to the event.

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Being a 49ers fan, I was wishing I’d brought the tiny Niners jersey my daughter’s cat wears so I could have gotten a picture of it on the bird, but somehow I doubt I’d have gotten anywhere near Taima with that jersey in hand :)

After checking out Taima, a few of us got in line to attempt field goals, which I botched badly, kicking the ball dead center and sending it under the upright. One of the people attempting the kick:

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After missing the field goal, we headed back inside to get some ice cream and rest a bit, then walked around some more, checking out a game of Jenga that was going on and watching people throw the football around the field. It was a fun event in a great stadium, and I thank the Seahawks organization for hosting/putting up with us! Some random shots from the event:

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Sleepless in Seattle

Last week I had the opportunity to hang out in downtown Seattle thanks to an internal tech convention my company holds every six months. The title of this post reflects the reality of flying from Charlotte to Seattle, as I never quite got used to the time change. I was up pretty late every night (11pm-12am), and somehow managed to wake up between 4am-5am every single morning.

Anyway, for those in the tech community, think of it like (what used to be) TechEd or the replacement conference, Ignite, but it’s internal-only for those ‘Softies in the Services division around the world. It gives us a chance to hear from our peers, the various product groups, and more importantly, a chance to network. It’s been a few years since I’ve been, and with some important releases coming up within my technology space, I figured it’d be a good time to go. I won’t bore anyone with the technical side, but it was worth it all around.

Outside of the technical sessions, what else do we do while we’re there? Well, a variety of things. I won’t bore anyone talking about the conference food, which really wasn’t all that good at any point in the week (which is true for any conference I’ve ever been to – I can’t imagine it’s easy to feed large numbers of people for 5 days), but in this post I’ll briefly discuss a few of the restaurants we ventured to over the week:

The Fisherman’s Restaurant – Pier 57

After arriving Sunday evening, three of us headed to the waterfront to get some food. We were all pretty hungry, and quickly settled on The Fisherman’s Restaurant.  I’m not a seafood guy, but this wasn’t an issue as they had a perfectly good New York steak on the menu, which came with some delicious roasted potatoes. All in all it was really good, but didn’t even come close to being the best meat I had all week.

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Mmmm, steak…

Elliot’s Oyster House

A couple days later, we ventured down to the waterfront again. Earlier in the day, I’d scouted out a place that looked awesome, Radiator Whiskey (a description of ‘Meat, Whiskey, Beer‘ will get me every time), but it wasn’t to be, as they were booked until after 9pm. Brushing our disappointment aside, we walked around a bit more until we ended up down in the same waterfront area where The Fisherman’s Restaurant is. This time, we stumbled on Elliot’s. In a word, excellent. Once again, I had the New York steak, and it was easily better than what I’d had Sunday night. This one came with some delicious garlic mashed potatoes, and as shown in the pic, I added a glass of Whistle Pig 10yr Rye, which I enjoyed as well. The place is a little pricey, but the food and service were excellent.

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Loulay

Of the restaurants we visited, this was probably my only disappointment. I ate here for lunch on Wednesday to meet up with members of one of my account teams, as we’re scattered all over the east coast, and for the most part hadn’t had the chance to meet in person before.

I had the beef burger, and while it was fine (the fries and garlic aioli were the best thing on the plate, imo), it was the overall lunch menu options that left me a bit disappointed. That’s not on the chef, that’s on me. I’m fairly hard to please, and don’t really go for the more fancy fare. I’m very much a meat and potatoes kind of guy, so I was glad they at least had a burger on the menu. Regardless, it was nice to meet everyone face to face for a nice relaxing lunch that didn’t involve the conference food.

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MOD Pizza

On the last day of the event, a couple of us had really had our fill of the conference food, and decided to step out and find some pizza. We’d noticed MOD while walking around over the course of the week, so we headed there, and were glad we did. I’m a fan of thin crust, and ordered a mini Mad Dog, adding black olives and mushrooms, and it was delicious. I went mini so I could order some garlic strips as well. I wasn’t a big of a fan of those, as I tend to like actual garlic bread better, but live and learn. They’re apparently opening an MOD in Charlotte, about 6mi from where I work, so I see more lunch trips to MOD in my future :)

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Radiator Whiskey

After seeing the menu and visiting the place in person during our failed attempt to eat here a few days earlier, a couple of us decided we weren’t leaving Seattle without trying this. I was able to get reservations on Friday prior to heading to the airport, and our persistence was rewarded. The place is pretty small, hence the difficulty getting in, but it’s a cool atmosphere with some really good food, and of course, more whiskey. I had the fried pork shank, and after spending some time studying the rather large whiskey list, decided to go with the staff recommendation, which was pretty good:

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The pork was some of the best I’ve had in a long time, being perfectly cooked and just melting in your mouth. The herb aioli sauce it sat on was an excellent compliment to it as well. On the other side of the table, the guy I was eating with ordered something off the specials menu, which was some sort of turkey dish (not the confit). I generally despise turkey, but tried his, as the sauce it was cooked in looked delicious, and looks were not deceiving. That was some really good turkey!

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That about covers it for the food. Several of us also hit YardHouse one night, but it wasn’t really for the food, so I didn’t feel like including it here. All in all, our restaurant choices proved successful, and I’ll definitely be returning to a couple of those the next time I’m in Seattle.

Next up: I’ll cover our conference event at CenturyLink Field on Thursday night!

Hotel Review – Holiday Inn Laurel West

Once again, life gets in the way and causes me to write this up a lot later than I wanted to, but hey, at least it’s finally done :)

While on our last minute trip to D.C. two weekends ago, we spent a night at the Holiday Inn Laurel West. We had to book the night before, so there really wasn’t much time to do research, other than reading a few reviews on some of the travel sites. One other factor limiting our options was the presence of our dog, but fortunately this hotel was pet friendly. Unfortunately, that was one of a very small number of positives of the stay.

Driving up as late as we did on Saturday, and stopping in the city for dinner before going to the hotel, we were both pretty tired when we arrived. After checking in, we grabbed our suitcase and the dog and headed up. The lobby itself was fine, but as soon as we got past the main desk, we could see that the hotel was definitely under renovation, as a number of reviews we found online mentioned (apparently this hotel is being converted to a Doubletree). No biggie at that point, it wasn’t busy when we got there, so the fact that only one elevator was operational wasn’t an issue. Arriving at the room, we realized they’d given us the wrong room type. Instead of a single bed, we had two doubles. Too tired to deal with it, we pretty much just changed, chose our beds, flipped on the TV for a while to relax before going to sleep. It wasn’t until Sunday that we really got a look at the hotel itself. Before I get to that, I’ll mention my other main positive of the stay, the mattresses. Both were Tempurpedic, or had Tempur toppers on them, and we found them very comfortable. We have a knock-off version at home that we love, so it was nice to not have to switch between memory foam and spring, even just for the night.

Here are my initial shots of our room, which had not undergone any renovation yet. Sorry about the blurry desk/TV shot, I was tired:

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The next morning, Bayley and her boyfriend were set to come meet us at the hotel just before 11am, so we had a chance to take the dog out for a walk and check out the hotel. The renovation is real, as we saw all of the old furnishings from some rooms stored on the back side of the hotel as shown below. I’d have liked to see an updated room, but we just had to deal with ours, which really looked dated compared to other Holiday Inns we’ve stayed at in the past. The inside of the hotel was more of the same. The hallways looked pretty run down, and as mentioned, only one elevator worked, so each time we went to use the elevator Sunday morning, we had to wait. One time we just gave up after watching two full elevators arrive, and took the stairs down. I never did get interior shots, other than the renovation sign, so here’s what I got outside:

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I can’t say how the cafe in the lobby or the steakhouse attached to the hotel were, as we didn’t use either, since both of our meals in D.C. were at the previously reviewed Scion Restaurant in DuPont Circle, but apparently the steakhouse, which is currently an All American Steakhouse and Sports Theater, used to be an Outback based on the signage in the hotel. No biggie, as I said, we didn’t eat at either place. We did notice that the breakfast buffet here, like other Holiday Inns we’ve stayed at, isn’t free. Not a huge deal to us since neither of us are really breakfast eaters, but with all of the work going on, maybe make that free during renovations as a way to thank guests for choosing to stay.

I can’t really say anything else about the place, other than we likely wouldn’t stay again while it’s undergoing renovations. We’ve been pretty happy with other Holiday Inns we’ve stayed at in the past, so this one was a bit disappointing. Overall thoughts:

Pros:

  • Comfortable Tempurpedic mattresses (or topper), at least to us
  • Clean room
  • Staff was friendly
  • dog friendly hotel
  • Stable (but slightly slow) internet access

Cons:

  • Obviously dated, both inside and out, but undergoing renovations
  • Only one working elevator, makes it hard to get in/out of the hotel during busy times like check-out
  • Paper thin walls, which is a huge pet peeve of mine. Not long after we got there, some family that apparently had rooms on either side of the floor started running down the halls and talking loudly. Not quite sure why they felt why that was warranted at 11pm, but after a few minutes or so, it subsided.
  • Very few available outlets in the room (and none on the nightstand), and the ones that were available had loose plugs, making it hard to keep devices connected. Normally I carry two of my favorite little Belkin accessories with me to counter this, but being so short notice, I forgot to grab them.
  • No fridge or microwave.
  • The security/privacy lock on the door didn’t work. In fact the cutout in the metal plate (receiving side) wasn’t even close to lining up with the latch.

I think that about covers it. It served the purpose of a quick overnight stay, but if we’re able to make it back up for a longer trip near the end of summer, we’ll be looking elsewhere. Anomalies happen within any brand, and overall it doesn’t sour us against staying at other IHG properties in the future.

Good Eats in DC – Scion Restaurant

Last weekend we made a completely unscheduled overnight trip up to DC. Bayley’s two weeks working at Woodward had come to an end, and both of her options for a ride home fell through, so early Saturday afternoon we hopped in the car and headed up to DC to get her. We decided to take our dog Indy with us, so before leaving Jen did a quick search to see if she could find a restaurant in the area that was dog-friendly (the search was literally “dog friendly restaurants in Washington DC“). The first hit in the results took her to BringFido, which led her to Scion Restaurant in the Dupont Circle area. It wasn’t all that close to our hotel, but we liked what we saw on the menu and decided to stop there for dinner as soon as we got to the city, so on the way up I used OpenTable to make a reservation for 7:45pm, noting that we had a dog with us.

When we arrived, parking was a bit of a hassle, but after hunting a bit we finally located a space on the street a few blocks away and walked over to the restaurant. When we got there, I stayed outside with Indy while Jen went to check in. While they had our reservation, the note that I put in OpenTable about having a dog with us apparently didn’t get transmitted to them, and as a result they weren’t quite ready to seat anyone with a dog since the end sections of the patio where they allow dogs weren’t set up. No matter, with a very friendly attitude they jumped right on it and set up the corner that had an awning over it and seated us quickly. Definitely a good start to the evening!

After being seated, we ordered our food and drinks. I decided to try something on draft, and chose the Sun King Wee Mac Scottish-style ale. I’m not a huge beer guy, so I don’t often call out what I drink, but this was one of the best beers I’ve had in quite a while. For my dinner, I ordered the Scion burger (sans onions and pickles) and Jen got the LBJ Mac and Cheese. I should also mention that when they brought our water out, they brought a plastic bowl full of water out for Indy, too, and kept it refilled while we were there. Nice touch!

While waiting on our food, it started raining pretty good, so we ended up switching tables in that same little corner area to avoid water runoff. I think due to water running in on the ground, Indy got a little wet (but not a big deal), but we stayed dry the whole time, even with the downpour it turned in to. Once the food arrived, we dug in. My burger was excellent, as were the garlic fries, which were some of the best garlic fries I’ve had. Jen’s mac and cheese was really good too, although she realized something we already knew from past experiences, that she’s not really a fan of lobster meat. Oops :)

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Overall we really liked everything we had, and the service was outstanding the entire time. Our experience that night led us to come back for brunch the next day with Bayley and her boyfriend. Thankfully it wasn’t raining this time, but the food and service were just as good. It was noticeably busier, but they had space for us in the opposite corner of the patio, so even at noon, we were seated right away. While I was tempted to get the Scion burger again, I ended up going with the cinnamon vanilla french toast. In a word: wow. It was absolutely delicious, and one of the only times that I’ve eaten french toast without any syrup. The vanilla drizzle was more than enough to top it, and I enjoyed every bite. Jen got the New Orleans Benedict (See the above ‘brunch’ link for a description), and while she enjoyed most of it, she wasn’t a big fan of the Cajun Hollandaise sauce that was on it. Bayley went with a side of mac and cheese and breakfast potatoes, both of which were delicious, and her boyfriend had the Scion burger.

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As mentioned throughout this post, both meals were absolutely delicious, and the service was outstanding. The Dupont Circle neighborhood that the restaurant is in is pretty cool, even if it was a pain to find parking (all parking garages we found were closed both times). We wish we could have spent more time in the area, but being on a compressed schedule that had us arriving in DC around 8pm Saturday and leaving right after brunch on Sunday, we simply didn’t have any time. Hopefully we’ll get some time to drive back up late in the summer before Bayley goes back to college. If we do, we’ll definitely be stopping at Scion again!