Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

This is: Waves, Wine & Warmth (2018)


Hotel 1: Premier Inn, Heathrow Airport T4
Friday 30 Mar to Saturday 31 Mar (1 night)
Room 714 (Double)
This was the second of three consecutive 'big trips' where the hotel stays were topped and tailed with a night at the new-build Premier Inn adjacent to Heathrow's Terminal 4. As expected, this was a predictable, standardised experience at an affordable price. A view of the nearby Hilton represented a change from last time, and was a somewhat wistful reminder of previous times. I also made use of the in-house Costa Coffee during this stay.

Hotel 2: Westin Denver International Airport
Saturday 31 Mar to Sunday 01 Apr (1 night)
Room 1305 (2 x Queen)
This hotel is just a few steps away from the main terminal building at Denver International Airport and the new airport station, but it is much more than merely the most convenient option for an overnight stay. Think of classic Westin high standards and luxurious comfort, then place all this in the context of an architecturally stunning  modern building, and finally add in the convenience factor. Specific features include the Grill & Vine restaurant and the Sky Lounge & Bar. Trust me, the generic term 'airport hotel' does not begin to do justice to this property.

Hotel 3: Westin Long Beach
Sunday 01 Apr to Tuesday 03 Apr (2 nights)
Room 1445 (2 x Double)
Superbly situated on E Ocean Blvd, opposite the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center, this is an impressive hotel that is well placed to capture a generous slice of both the corporate and premium leisure markets. It certainly provided a comfortable and convenient base for me to explore and for Bruce to work. It's difficult to comment further, however, as we tended to use local shops, bars, cafés and restaurants for our other needs. With the Renaissance just along the street and a Courtyard a couple of blocks away, the combined Marriott / SPG group showed a strong presence in downtown Long Beach.

Hotel 4: Towneplace Suites Phoenix Chandler  
Tuesday 10 Apr to Thursday 12 Apr (2 nights)
Room 323 (King Studio)
This was a recently built hotel near the Fashion Center Mall, which made it reasonably handy for access from and to Interstate 10. It was also my first experience of this particular Marriott brand. My King Studio came equipped with a sink, fridge-freezer, microwave, hob, dishwasher, crockery and a coffee machine. A basic breakfast was included and while proper plates were provided, it was otherwise similar to the offering at Hampton Inns in the USA (i.e. not as good as the breakfast at Hampton by Hilton in the UK).

Hotel 5: Hilton Tucson East  
Thursday 12 Apr to Saturday 14 Apr (2 nights)
Room 504 (King, Mountain View)
This was a very stylish and attractive hotel situated on E Broadway Blvd. I quickly formed the impression that it had probably been recently refurbished. Staff were particularly friendly and helpful. The Italian restaurant on the second floor looked very classy, but having a noisy bar as its centrepiece simply ruined the ambience for me. There was a useful ittle coffee shop in the lobby. Despite this property's undoubted attractions, I had a major issue with constantly slamming doors, which was bad enough to result in two nights of poor sleep. I don't even think it was entirely the fault of inconsiderate guests, as I had to work hard to prevent my own door from slamming shut. Surely it must be possible for a hotel of this standard to install self-closing doors that don't do so with an almighty bang!

Hotel 6: Fairfield Inn, Sierra Vista  
Saturday 14 Apr to Sunday 15 Apr (1 night)
Room 321 (King)
This hotel was located in a large retail park in Sierra Vista, and it seemed to be more or less brand new. It appeared to be pitched at a similar level to Hampton Inn (or Marriott's own Towneplace Suites, but minus the kitchens). Despite this, clean, modern and even stylish lines were evident in the internal decor. A further giveaway on the property's young age was the generous provision of charging points for mobile devices. Paper plates were used for the inclusive breakfast, but on the positive side fresh fruit was available.

Hotel 7: Courtyard Tucson Airport  
Sunday 15 Apr to Monday 16 Apr (1 night)
Room 331 (King)
This hotel has shuttle service from Tucson Airport, a feature which wasn't relevant to me as I was using it for my final road-trip night stop. The Courtyard brand is a step up from both Towneplace and Fairfield, and this was nicely illustrated by the fact that this hotel featured a proper bar and bistro. Having said that, it was also a little more dated than my other two Marriott properties, with no USB ports. I was invited to play an 'Elite' game at check-in and managed to win a free breakfast.

Hotel 8: Curio 'H', LAX  
Monday 16 Apr to Tuesday 17 Apr (1 night)
Room 1022 (King Corner Deluxe)
This joint Homewood Suites / Curio new hotel is one of the closest to the airport, being located just prior to the large 'LAX' sign at the end of W Century Blvd. The two hotels share a common lobby space. I had checked in online for this stay and was intrigued to hear the front-desk agent remark that I had chosen his favourite room! And indeed, I think it was an excellent choice: nice and private, spacious and with a notably high ceiling. The entire property (or at least, the Curio part of it) had an uber-stylish, contemporary look and feel. Instead of operating the elevators in the established manner, you had to indicate your destination as part of the 'call' function; a car would appear within a few seconds and no further instructions were needed. The coolest feature of all was Hannah, a robotic device for delivering items to rooms. (She was not yet up to doing room service - I asked!)

External soundproofing wasn't brilliant: I could hear both traffic noise and aircraft noise. Neither of these bothers me, however. I tend to have a much worse reaction to 'people noise', and there was none of that.

Lurking among all the positives, however, was one absolute shocker: they had no liquor licence!!! Oh, there was a very attractive-looking bar, but it served soft drinks only. In a very classy, full-service hotel, I assumed that  my server was joking at first and reacted accordingly, until a sheepish expression and a slight roll of the eyes conveyed to me that she was being completely serious. I went on to watch numerous dropped jaws from other guests. One assumes that this was some kind of 'opening glitch'. Once they get it sorted - and they surely must! - this will be my favourite LAX hotel.

Hotel 9: Premier Inn, Heathrow Airport T4
Wednesday 18 Apr to Thursday 19 Mar (1 night)
Room 453 (Double)
See Hotel 1 above - this was essentially an identical experience.