Wednesday, November 5, 2014
A Little Place To Stay In Nowhere: The Sleep Inn & Suites Conference Center In Eau Claire Underwhelms.
The Good: Charm of location, Generally affordable, Good breakfast
The Bad: Light on amenities, Terrible customer service, Cleanliness issues.
The Basics: The Sleep Inn & Suites Conference Center in Eau Claire is an affordable place to sleep, but not at all a destination of choice for travelers, even to Eau Claire!
When it comes to travel, there are seldom aspects more disappointing than a bad hotel. Virtually every destination I have been to has had something to recommend it or some activity worth checking out. But when one finds oneself in pretty much the middle of nowhere, with little to do in an area, a bad hotel can just be miserable. My recent trip with my wife to Minnesota involved a leisurely return trip and we gave Wisconsin two days on the way back to Michigan. That put us in Eau Claire, Wisconsin for almost an entire day and were it not for the Octoberfest celebration we found at the nearby Leinenkugel brewery, our day in the area would have been an utter waste. Part of the reason for the disappointment we found in Eau Claire was the Sleep Inn & Suites Conference Center we stayed at there.
Despite being in a charming little shopping center around nothing else in particular, the Sleep Inn & Suites Conference Center was the worst hotel we stayed at on our trip and it made it impossible for me to recommend this hotel.
The Sleep Inn & Suites Conference Center, WI139 in the Choice Hotels numbering system (a number quite useful when making phone or online reservations), is located at 5872 33rd Ave. in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. This is very much the outskirts of Eau Claire and there is nothing about, save the gas station/shopping center/sports bar that the hotel is adjacent to. In fact, the shopping area acts as an extension of the hotel; one may walk from the hotel lobby down a hallway all the way to the gas station at the other end. The Sleep Inn & Suites Conference Center is a simple, multi-story building set right off the interstate.
The Sleep Inn & Suites Conference Center has two entrances, from the parking lot and the shopping center. Mapquest directions are more than adequate for finding this hotel.
The Sleep Inn & Suites Conference Center has a motor lodge feel, though the rooms were only accessed from a central hallway, not outer doors. Given that it was surrounded on three sides by a parking lot - the final side was adjacent to the building next door - the feel of a motor lodge was not entirely an inapt analogy. The Sleep Inn & Suites Conference Center had a disproportionately large parking lot, which may easily hold one hundred trucks, probably to accommodate traffic to the shopping center and the conference center.
Upon entering the hotel, I was surprised by the size of the lobby. The lobby had a high ceiling and a very open feeling and was well lit, the only part of the building that was. I waited more than five minutes before a member of the hotel staff bothered to show up to man the front desk.
The hotel's desk clerk greeted me entirely apathetically and seemed utterly disinterested with checking me in. I had prepaid for my room and that seemed to confound the worker at the front desk when she did show up.
As for the room itself, this was a fairly medium-sized and mediocre room, plagued by a lack of good lighting. Measuring thirty-one feet deep by fourteen feet wide, the room included a king-sized bed, a small sofa, bathroom with shower and bathtub, desk, and a nightstand on each side of the bed. This room has the standard closet as well and dresser with the television. The room felt a bit cramped by the bed and my wife and I were treated to a view of the roof section and sixteen-wheeler parking out our window.
From the first moment I left the lobby at the Sleep Inn & Suites Conference Center in Eau Claire, I was disappointed. The wallpaper was not peeling, but it was darker than looked clean and the rugs - especially in the hallways leading to the room - were not as clean as they ought to have been. The entire hotel’s second floor smelled; the room and hallway smelled to such an extent that we were not at all surprised to discover that there were multiple dogs on the same floor as us.
Every time I enter a new hotel room, I flush the toilet and this Sleep Inn & Suites Conference Center easily passed the first flush test with no difficulties, which surprised me. The shower, hot tub and toilet were all clean. Still, some of the towels had spots, though the bedding was clean.
The wallpaper in the room was tasteful and none of the wallpaper or paint was peeling. Still, I found several spots on the wallpaper, even at eye level, both in the room and in the hallways. Moreover, the lack of decent lighting throughout the hotel gave it a dank feeling that made the stay a little less pleasant.
The common areas were all clean and well-maintained. The lobby was clean, though the breakfast area was not kept clean during breakfasttime.
The Sleep Inn & Suites Conference Center has only the standard amenities, at least in our room. There were the standard coffee packets, shampoo, soap, and lotion, along with an air conditioning unit. There was no microwave or refrigerator available to us. The hotel did feature wi-fi which was fairly reliable, but not particularly fast.
This hotel had a free breakfast. The breakfast was fairly standard; it had sausage, biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs, waffles and multiple bread products (muffins, bread for toast, danishes). There was yogurt, juice and cereal options as well.
In the room, the television has approximately forty cable television stations and the television was one of the smaller I've had in a Choice Hotel. Even with the online deal prepay price of $76, the Sleep Inn & Suites Conference Center was not a good deal for the quality.
Ultimately disappointing, the Sleep Inn & Suites Conference Center is just a place to crash, but it is not a particularly good hotel and it is not in a noteworthy part of the country.
For hotels in the Choice Hotels chain in the Midwest, please be sure to check out my reviews of:
Sleep Inn – O’Fallon, IL
Quality Inn & Suites - Eagan, MN
Quality Inn By The Bay – Traverse City, MI
For other hotel reviews, please visit my Travel Review Index Page for an organized listing!
© 2014 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.