Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

This is: Amtrak Adventure 2019


Hotel 1: Premier Inn, London Heathrow T4
Thursday 16 May to Friday 17 May (1 night)
Room 579 (Twin, Runway View)
This was simply my latest stay at this reliable, predictable and great-value property, located within the airport itself. The runway view, while not of grandstand quality, provided an added diversion on this occasion.

Hotel 2: Westin River North, Chicago
Friday 17 May to Saturday 18 May (1 night)
Room 1117 (Traditional 2 x Double)
This hotel is well located, with a riverside setting less than half a mile from the Wrigley Building and the Magnificent Mile. We successfully used the lobby bar for cocktails, but in what was really just an overnight stay, we did not sample the hotel's other facilities.

Hotel 3: Marriott Grand, St Louis
Saturday 18 May to Monday 20 May (2 nights)
Room 1714 (2 x Double)
The Marriott Grand provided a pleasant and comfortable base for our two-night stay in St Louis. The location was convenient for walking to the Gateway Arch and most other downtown attractions, and was also handy for the MetroLink light rail system. As in Chicago, we only really made use of the lobby bar, preferring to use local places for breakfast and the main meal of the day.
(Photo no. 5 courtesy of Bruce)

Hotel 4: Westin Kansas City at Crown Center
Monday 20 May to Wednesday 22 May (2 nights)
Room 1250 (Traditional 2 x Double)
The Westin in Kansas City, Missouri is certainly conveniently located: arriving in appalling rain, we were relieved and delighted to find it directly across from the Amtrak station and accessible via covered walkway. While the hotel appeared to specialise in the convention market, it also managed to provide a comfortable base for these two tourists.

Hotel 5: Aloft Denver Downtown
Wednesday 22 May to Friday 24 May (2 nights)
Room 202 (2 x Double)
Aloft is one of the brands that Marriott gained with its acquisition of Starwood Hotels - one that is firmly positioned at the 'hip' end of the market. Even so, it wasn't over-the-top and I didn't feel remotely uncomfortable there. The hotel is very conveniently located just a block from the 16th Street Mall, with its free public transit. It is particularly handy for the Denver Center for the Performing Arts and the Colorado Convention Center. The Colorado State Capitol is only 20 minutes away on foot.

Hotel 6: Courtyard Glenwood Springs
Friday 24 May to Saturday 25 May (1 night)
Room 428 (2 x Queen, Mountain View)
This was a comfortable, smart and modern property - albeit one displaying the previous version of the logo! Situated on the edge of town, it was clearly aimed at guests arriving by car. We took a cab from the station on arrival, but soon discovered that the hotel is also served by an out-of-town bus.

Hotel 7: Courtyard Downtown/Riverfront, Reno
Sunday 26 May to Monday 27 May (1 night)
Room 424 (Accessible King)
This modern property was within walking distance of both the Amtrak station and the main downtown area. We were happy to accept a King room as the price for being able to check in around 9am on our arrival day.

Hotel 8: Holiday Inn Express, Union Square
Monday 27 May to Friday 31 May (4 nights)
Room 311 (2 x Queen)
This Holiday Inn Express is located on O'Farrell Street, a full block south and half a block west from Union Square. It is handy for a wide range of city centre facilities and for transport options that include the cable cars, vintage street cars and the BART system. While the hotel occupies a considerable amount of space on the upper floors of the building, its identifiable 'presence' at street level is quite limited; in fact, it is surprisingly easy to walk right past it! The usual Holiday Inn Express benefit of a complimentary breakfast applies.

Hotel 9: Courtyard LA Live, Downtown Los Angeles
Friday 31 May to Monday 03 Jun (3 nights)
Room 720 (2 x Queen)
This hotel has a good location across the street from the entertainment complex after which it is named. The lobby was on a much grander scale than any previous Courtyard I'd stayed at. Our 7th-floor room was comfortable, even if the view was somewhat lacking. The LA Metro was within reasonable walking distance. We did not have an opportunity to try the rooftop pool.

Hotel 10: Best Western San Marcos Inn, Morro Bay
Monday 03 Jun to Wednesday 05 Jun (2 nights)
Room 333 (King Bay View)
This hotel is situated approximately half-way between Los Angeles and San Francisco, but I chose it as an affordable base for visiting San Luis Obispo and Hearst Castle. My 'King' room was comfortable and pleasant enough. Unusually for America, 'air conditioning' was provided the natural way, by opening the window (which had a screen) and assisting the flow, if necessary, with a conventional desk fan. The layout was a bit like a traditional motel turned inside-out, with the resulting galleries along the side walls somewhat reminiscent of a prison - but obviously a whole lot nicer! I thought this layout might cause noise issues, but in reality this was not the case.

Hotel 11: Renaissance LAX
Wednesday 05 Jun to Thursday 06 Jun (1 night)
Room 843 (King)
The newly redesigned Renaissance LAX provided a stylish and comfortable final night of the trip in the USA. I especially liked the lobby, with its chic decor and comprehensive bar and dining options. Shuttle service is provided to and from the airport. Equally important, I was able to arrive on foot from the Budget car rental depot across the street.