Saturday, December 31, 2011
When Visiting The Meramec Caverns, The Comfort Inn In Sullivan, Missouri Is Not Bad.
The Good: Good breakfast, Decent room size, Generally clean, Public internet, Very friendly staff.
The Bad: Public areas have stains, Pool over-chlorinated
The Basics: A good hotel, but not extraordinary, the Comfort Inn Sullivan is a good place to stay near the Meramec Caverns in Missouri.
As my annual trip to Las Vegas, Nevada is now underway, I have begun the fun of stocking up on travel experiences to review! This year's journey to the West involves fixing some problems in Michigan for my partner, then cracking down to Missouri for the Meramec Caverns (reviewed here!) before a sustained drive to Las Vegas for our convention. As I've pretty much milked her Michigan home for reviews, I now find us three days into our trip, waking up together at the Comfort Inn in Sullivan, Missouri.
I made reservations a few days back for the Comfort Inn in Sullivan and I was lucky to get a room. Staying on a Saturday into a Sunday, the hotel was sold-out and given the popularity of the nearby Meramec Caverns, it is easy to see why. This is a part of Missouri where there are few main roads and many hills. In other words, there are very few options. Fortunately for my partner and I, my favorite chain has a presence in this area.
The Comfort Inn Sullivan, MO210 (in the Choice Hotel numbering system, a good number to have if making a reservation on the phone, etc.), is located at 736 South Service Road West in Sullivan, Missouri. This is right off exit 225 on Interstate 44, which is the only major interstate through this part of Missouri. This is only five miles south of the Meramec Caverns, which is the biggest attraction in this part of Missouri. It is a bit out of the way for St. Louis visitors, but for those looking for an overnight in the Midwest, this is an excellent location for a stay near the local attraction. Mapquest provides solid directions when the address was input.
The Comfort Inn Sullivan has two entrances, right off Service Road and another by going through a convoluted series of parking lots if one misses the first right onto Service Road. Because the three-story Comfort Inn is the highest building in the area, it is very easy to find and navigate by sight from the Interstate exit. The hotel has only fifty-nine rooms, though, so parking is limited pretty much just to hotel guests and the lot barely holds sixty cars. The parking lot wraps around three of the four sides of the hotel. There are no grounds to speak of; it is essentially in what appears to be, a hotel to stay at in the middle of more or less nowhere. Our view was out onto the parking lot and the fast food joints next door. The Comfort Inn Sullivan is a three-story hotel and it was not next to anything we could see, save restaurants, a park or cemetery (my partner and I debated this, but did not investigate closer) and the interstate.
The Comfort Inn Sullivan almost looks like an office building, though it is not unsightly. This is designed to be a place to crash. Rooms here are designed for comfort, but it is not a resort-type location. We checked in on a Saturday night and were greeted by a very helpful (if somewhat overworked) clerk. There were no rooms to utilize our free upgrade for, so we stayed in a room with a king bed - the entire hotel is nonsmoking. The room ran $76.00 after the taxes for a night, which seems to be a great rate for this area considering how few places there are and the demand from the Caverns.
Upon entering the hotel, I had to wait for a clerk to return to the desk, given that he was off running an errand for another guest. He was accommodating and friendly, but it was clear with the hotel packed he was being run ragged. Check-in was very quick, despite the wait from the clerk and there were no problems with us getting the exact room we had reserved.
As for our room, we found ourselves pleasantly surprised after a day on the road to arrive at the Comfort Inn Sullivan. The room was a bit longer and wider than some we had stayed in recently and it immediately made us feel safe and invited. Measuring twenty-nine feet deep by thirteen and a half feet wide, the room included a king-sized bed, a giant closet with mirrored doors when one walks in (enhancing the feel of space in the room), a desk and a full bathroom with shower/tub, toilet and sink. The room felt large and inviting and it was well-lit, once the high efficiency bulbs actually lit up (we had to throw the switch several times before this happened).
The atmosphere at the Comfort Inn Sullivan was generally good, but not overwhelmingly . . . anything. The staff was remarkably friendly, but the cream-colored walls in the room made it seem a little dimmer than other rooms we've stayed in. As far as cleanliness goes, all of the major things were clean, but there were some issues. We had a nonsmoking room, as always and it smelled perfectly smoke free. There was no evidence or trace of scent that would have indicated it had ever had a cigarette smoked in it. Indeed, the entire hotel smelled good, save near the pool which smelled very chlorine like.
Every time I enter a new hotel room, I flush the toilet (past experience has proven this is an excellent thing to check out right away!) and the Comfort Inn Sullivan easily passed the first flush test with no difficulties. However, it seems the toilet is a bit low-flow and might require two flushes to clear the bowl. Water pressure in the shower was nothing to write home about, but the shower head was a nice one with three settings allowing some spray variation, which is nice.
The wallpaper in the room was tasteful and none of the wallpaper or paint was peeling. However, the rugs throughout the hotel looked a little darker and stained and walls in the public areas were similarly dingy, as if they had been dusted with a wet cloth. There were smears in as few public places, like the stairwells, but generally, the hotel felt clean.
The Comfort Inn Sullivan has a pretty decent package working for it for a hotel in the Choice Hotel system. In every room there were the standard coffee packets, lotion, shampoo and conditioner, along with an air conditioning unit and the usual bars of soap. There were also tea bags with the coffee as well and that was a nice touch!
The friendly staff (including the morning breakfast nook workers) was consistent and kind and there was a 24 hour coffee and tea service. The tea service had two different flavors of tea and there are packets of sugar, sugar substitute and powdered creamer. In addition to the coffee from the room, there was coffee in the lobby with tea and hot cocoa packets, insuring that the guest need never go thirsty.
The free continental breakfast at the Comfort Inn Sullivan was one of the better ones I have had at a Comfort Inn. This hotel was emphasizing the hot food options, with the trademark Belgian waffles that the Choice Hotels are known for. In addition to fresh made Belgian waffles (there were two stations!), there were eggs, sausage patties, biscuits and country gravy! The hot foods were kept hot with hotplates and there is a microwave to heat up anything that cools (our room had a microwave and refrigerator as well!). There were three types of prepackaged GM cold cereals, milk, and apple and orange juice from carafes. There were pre-sliced plain bagels and white bread for toasting as well as cream cheese and margarine for condiments. As well, there were minimuffins and four types of danish. This was a good spread and we were surprised that they even had a few yogurts!
There was an indoor pool and we did go swimming for a change (it's something we've gotten into a habit of). It is very shallow and the hot tub that is next to it has almost the same level of chlorine the pool itself has. The indoor pool was plagued by higher than usual chlorine or chlorine alternative and the whole pool area smelled chemically as a result.
There is also a free high speed internet in every room, though the traveler must provide their own computer. This is one of the last hotels I've been to in a while, though, that has a high speed terminal in the lobby, though it is terrible for privacy given its orientation. The television has sixty-nine cable television stations (I swear we only watched the Weather Channel that night!).
While we were eating breakfast, the hot food ran out and the staff quickly arrived upon mention of this to refill it. Regardless of the general mediocrity of the rest of the hotel, the staff truly makes this one shine.
The Comfort Inn Sullivan might well be the best chain hotel in the Sullivan, Missouri area, but relative to all hotels everywhere, it is simply average. Even so, there is a small-town feel to the hotel and the staff there is consistently friendly and helpful, making one feel quite welcome.
For other reviews of destinations in Missouri, be sure to check out my reviews of:
Comfort Inn Warrenton, MO
Comfort Inn Worlds Of Fun Kansas City, MO
Quality Inn & Suites Historic Saint Charles, MO
For other travel reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!
© 2011, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.