Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Visiting Independence Might Yield The Best Comfort Inn Yet!
The Good: Location, Breakfast, Rooms!, Very friendly staff
The Bad: Location, Minor value issue
The Basics: Not quite perfect, but easily the best Comfort Inn I've ever stayed at and felt I received a value for the services and amenities at, the Comfort Inn in Independence, Ohio satisfies!
As I've begun to make my push into the hotel and travel reviews, I think it's worthwhile to note that I'm quite serious about keeping my standards high for the idea of a perfect ten out of ten hotel. Honestly, I haven't stayed at one recently, maybe even yet. I travel mostly for business, but I imagine when I find a perfect hotel it is going to be a place that I find while on a recreation trip. I write that because price is usually a motivating factor in my travel plans and this universally leads me to the consistent quality and value of the Choice Hotels chain. Usually, when I'm on the road for a convention, I find that near the upscale (by which I mean "pricey") hotels the conventions are at there is usually a Choice brand hotel and usually I've been happy staying at them. Honestly, the closest to a perfect ten out of ten experience I've had so far might well be at the Comfort Inn in Independence, Ohio.
This is the Comfort Inn, OH095 in the Choice Hotel chain numbering system, in Independence, Ohio and I've stayed there five times now over the past four years. For those who have checked out my many recreational trips’ hotel reviews, you might know of my love of hot tubs. There's something wonderful about a soak in a hot tub and for years, I was spoiled at this Comfort Inn because, as a Choice Privilege's member, I was given free room upgrades. This meant that for years I was able to reserve the standard room with a king-sized bed and I could upgrade for free to the room with the king-sized bed with the 2-person Whirlpool In-Bath (which is usually about ten dollars more)! One of the things that impressed me most about this Comfort Inn was that when Choice Privileges changed their benefits, this hotel was staffed by front desk workers who honored the upgrade clause even though it was no longer necessary. This is one of the two most friendly desk staffs of any hotel I've ever stayed at (the other was in Kansas City, MO, in case you were wondering).
This is the Comfort Inn at 6191 Quarry Lane, Independence, Ohio, which is just south of Cleveland, Ohio. The location for this hotel is both a selling point and a detraction. Independence is a wonderful little town. I chose this hotel initially because the convention I was working at was down the hill at a hotel below the Comfort Inn in easy walking distance. Moreover, this is a great location for those who are looking to avoid the expense of staying in Cleveland proper. Rooms in Independence can be over a hundred dollars less per night than similar rooms in Cleveland.
The problem with the specific location is that the Comfort Inn is nestled back, on top of a hill, coming off a major road (which always seems to be under construction). The Comfort Inn is invisible from the road where one must turn and once one drives up the hill, the driveway options are not clearly marked, making it confusing to figure out how to get into the actual hotel. I've stayed at this hotel five times and I almost always miss the proper left turn into the hotel's parking lot because the hotel - when it becomes visible - is so far to the right of where it seems like it ought to be.
Leaving the hotel is problematic because the road up to the hotel becomes a one-way, so going down the hill, the occupant is rerouted in a different direction (to the right), coming out at a different traffic light. This is just inconvenient.
Outside that, the location is fine. There is not much in the way of scenery at the main entrance - though I did see a pretty huge raccoon out front once. The view from the second story rooms overlooks the valley nearby and what isn't industrialized is actually quite beautiful. There are trees and hills in the distance and it's a nice mix of human population and nature within view.
This Comfort Inn is seven or eight miles south of Cleveland proper, with a major airport only eleven miles west of the hotel. In the immediate area, there is a Denny's, a Bob Evans and a few other places to eat. According to the hotel's website, there is a movie theater nearby as well, but I've never been there. In short, the user will not die of starvation at this hotel and they are unlikely to find themselves bored by the surroundings, though most of the major attractions are a bit north of Independence.
This is a very safe area and the hotel has the feeling of being secure and away from any sort of problems. This is a wonderful neighborhood.
I've never stayed in any rooms but the nonsmoking rooms with the single king bed and the 2 person Whirlpool-In Bath. This is the most expensive room the hotel has (though, again, I've always managed to find a way around that!), at $72.89 a night + tax (that's the current Internet Users Rate from their website). The least expensive rooms are ten dollars less. The current tax rate is a stifling 15% and that's irksome, to say the least.
The rooms make one actually forget about the expense or at least feel like the occupant is getting a great deal for that amount. The king rooms are a spacious thirty feet deep by over twenty feet wide. Despite the size of the bathroom, the entrance to the room is good and wide, preventing a claustrophobic feeling some like hotels can evoke.
The size of the room is accented by the openness of the room and this is an important thing to note for anyone considering booking this type room at this hotel. If you're staying with someone, be sure you're on great terms with them; part of the reason the room feels so big and open is because the hot tub occupies a space that is traditionally a wall. When one enters one of the king rooms with the 2 person Whirlpool-In Bath, the bathroom is to (in my experiences) the left. There's a door into the bathroom and a bit of wall with the kitchen area. To the right is a wall which has the area to hang coats or other clothes. Walking into the main room, past the kitchen assembly, is the spacious room. To the left, one would expect there to be a wall (separating the bathroom from the bedroom area); there is not. Instead, that wall is open, the hot tub taking up the space that it ought to occupy.
So, you might be asking: what separates the bathroom from the living room if there's no wall because of the hot tub? Two curtains. Hope you're on good terms with your roommate! Basically, there is a curtain on the bathroom side of the tub and a curtain on the bedroom side of the tub and that's all that separates the bathroom from the sleeping area. This is great when one is in the mood to sit in the hot tub and watch television (or, I suppose, on the toilet and making that same choice, though I think one would have to move the television), not so great when one is sharing the room with a particularly flatulent friend (which is not to say that I have, but it could happen!).
This size room has the usual desk, a sofabed that folds out, a number of lamps and lights, and the usual nightstands near the bed. Even with all of this, the room does not feel cluttered. It is a wonderfully spacious room and I've found that it's a great size when one wants to have visitors in the room who will just hang out talking late into the night (usually, my friends at my conventions hang out in their hotel rooms, which are usually larger).
One word describes the rooms in this Comfort Inn: spotless. From the main lobby to the food area to the actual rooms, this is an extraordinarily clean hotel. Arriving, the toilets are always perfect (the first thing I do in a new hotel room is flush the toilet) and clean. There has never been anything in the refrigerator (there have been hotels I've stayed at with the nightmarish remnants of someone else's meal in the refrigerator!) and the inside of the microwave has also always been completely devoid of any evidence of a mess.
The area that usually has the greatest chance of being a problem is the breakfast area - which in this case is an open area in the main lobby overlooking the pool outside. At this Comfort Inn, I've never seen anything out of place, nor have I ever seen the help cleaning it up. This is a wonderfully well-maintained property and it looks good in every room. Even the stairwell is clean and appears to be cleaned daily!
The linens have always been fresh and clean and I've never had to request additional linens. The staff seems to have an adequate supply of clean, soft towels and washcloths ready, regardless of the time of day. The bedding is perfectly clean as well, which goes a long way toward promoting the ideal for a hotel room; that sense that no one else has ever stayed in the room before you.
This hotel has two of the best possible selling points of any hotel for me: a 2 person Whirlpool-In Bath and a helpful, responsive, friendly staff. The staff here has always been friendly to me, often accommodating my need for an early check-in and always providing me with a room upgrade (at least while it was a function of the Choice Privileges membership). The staff seems to know the neighborhood as well and I recall one worker being quite helpful when I needed to find a nearby post office.
Having never needed the staff to clean the room or help with any hotel related problems, I cannot judge them on their responsiveness to such things, but they seem so friendly the rest of the time.
So, the whole reason I upgrade is for that 2 person Whirlpool-In Bath. It's hard not to love that! Even when my conventions have not been great on the business end, I've been happy to return to my hotel for a nice soak in the tub (I can't wait for my next trip there when I get to use my Cinnamon Bun Heaven 3-in-1 - reviewed here! - in the hot tub!). This is a nice tub, the water pressure is good when one is showering and I've never had a problem with the water getting too cold!
The rooms also have the microwave, refrigerator, television (sorry, I can't recall how many stations this venue had!), and a great amount of space. There's the usual desk and dresser and night stands near the bed. The sofabed is convenient when friends want to crash in your room. The swimming pool outside is clean and well maintained and nice for those who like to swim in the summer.
The free continental breakfast is good, but not extraordinary. By that I mean that the selection is not wonderful, but what the hotel has is quite good. There are four types of juice, milk, coffee, cocoa, tea, hot cereal options, and at least two cold cereal options. There are bagels, muffins (a good variety) and danishes (a good variety as well). There is fresh fruit and everything seems nicely fresh and not simply a spread of prepackaged foods. While I like the breakfast, I felt that it could use more choices to make it truly great (maybe a waffle maker?).
Overall, this is a generally good value (I wish the taxes on the rooms were lower!) and this is possibly the best Comfort Inn I've stayed at. The accommodations are nice, the people are friendly and the rooms are clean. For the size of the room, there is a strong sense of value. This is somewhere I will continue to return to and I cannot imagine going to the Cleveland area and spending time and money anywhere else.
For other hotels in the Choice Hotels chain, please be sure to check out my reviews of:
Comfort Inn Airport - Las Vegas, NV
Quality Inn Meadowlands - Lyndhurst, NJ
Quality Inn West - Baltimore, MD
For other travel reviews, please be sure to visit my Travel Review Index Page for an organized listing!
© 2012, 2007 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.