Thursday, November 3, 2011

Comfort Inn North Shore: I Remember When It Was A Value!

Comfort Inn North Shore
Comfort Inn North Shore - Danvers, MA

Click to reserve a room directly through Choice Hotels!

The Good: Nice location, Clean rooms, Good breakfast
The Bad: New rates
The Basics: One of my favorite hotels - for sentimental reasons - falls in an objective review when the recent rate hikes rob it of its value.

Every year since 1999, I've taken a trip to Salem, Massachusetts. It's easily one of my favorite places on Earth. I love the small American village with its rich history, narrow streets and its awesome comic book shop. There's plenty to see, plenty to do and Maria's Sweet Somethings makes some of the best confections in the world. It's a very centering place for me and my yearly sojourns there leave me feeling refreshed and happy, even when the rest of my life is not. Whenever I go to Salem, I stay just outside Salem at the Comfort Inn North Shore in Danvers, MA, which is only seven miles away.

So, today when I went to book my yearly trip, I found myself shocked at the new hotel rates for the Comfort Inn North Shore. The least expensive rooms start at just over a hundred dollars. This is for the Internet User's Rate, Choice Hotels' guaranteed best rate. My jaw dropped; I've never paid more than $65.99 + tax for a room at this hotel! In shock, I sat down to consider this hotel and (to jump ahead to the end) I came to realize that for all of my love and sentimental attachment to the Comfort Inn North Shore, I could not recommend it to travelers. Did I miss something? Did Salem and Boston become huge draws overnight? It seemed inconceivable to me that I could get a better deal going to Orlando, Florida during peak travel season and stay at a hotel like the Quality Inn Airport, a similar distance from Orlando as the Comfort Inn North Shore is from Salem and Boston!

And yet, that is where I find myself now.


The hotel today is the Comfort Inn North Shore, MA081 in the Choice Hotel numbering system, and it is located at 50 Dayton Street, Danvers, Massachusetts. This is a generally nice multistory (five floors) hotel and despite the price hike, one of the interesting things about the hotel is the homogeneity of the rooms. Most all of them fall within the same size and shape and the price range (with the internet users rate) varies only by eight dollars ($100.76 - $108.76). So, regardless of the room type, the rooms here are nice and generally similar. I've stayed in rooms pretty much all along the spectrum from two double beds up to the single king bed, nonsmoking of course.

50 Dayton Street is located off one of the major expressways and the hotel is very easy to get to from the exit. The signs pointing to the hotel are easy to see and understand. The hotel is located on a hillside with the parking lot on the hilltop above half the hotel (it's an intriguing layout). The Comfort Inn North Shore is located away from major traffic, so it is quiet, out of the way and very comfortable.

Honestly, I'm not sure what's in the immediate area, though I know going left instead of right at the exit from the expressway puts the visitor near some places to shop. The reason I know so little about the area is whenever staying at this hotel, I have always eaten in Salem and returned to the hotel to watch television and/or sleep. I've never eaten in the neighborhood around the Comfort Inn North Shore.

Room Size

One of the reasons I've kept returning to the Comfort Inn North Shore is the room size. Every room I've ever stayed in at this hotel is larger than the average Comfort Inn room. Rooms are at least twenty feet wide by over thirty feet deep coming in from the door. Most commonly, I would have a room with a king-sized bed and even in such a circumstance, the bed does not dominate the space. In fact, despite the presence of the desk, two nightstands and the kitchen furniture that holds the microwave and refrigerator, these rooms are incredibly spacious.

As well, all of the rooms seem to have great views of . . . well, the hill on one side and the expressway on the other, but the windows are massive and this allows in a massive amount of natural light. This probably helps the space feel even bigger, but regardless, these are nice sized rooms with a great ease of movement for the person staying here.


My usual travel partner to Salem, for our yearly decompressions, was something of a germaphobe. The best way I can describe the cleanliness of the Comfort Inn North Shore is that this is the only hotel that I never saw her break out her Lysol wipes with to sterilize the place. The rooms are spotless.

Every trip I've ever taken to the Comfort Inn North Shore has found my room perfectly prepared, completely clean and well stocked with clean linens and bedding. Never once have I had any form of problem with the cleanliness of the rooms.

The breakfast area is a different story. The help at this Comfort Inn seems to be busy with other things during the breakfast rush and thus, when children come through the area making a mess (how is it they always have jam on their hands?!) it will often sit for a while here. That's not to say that the dining area is inherently messy or anything; it's not. Rather, this is the simple acknowledgment that I've eaten at cleaner Comfort Inns before and the layout of the dining area is conducive to adults helping themselves, but not ideal for children (chalk one up to implied parental involvement, yea!). The serving area in the dining area is a reasonably high counter on one wall with most of the food back a distance from the edge. This makes it ideal for bringing a tray down from one's room and bringing food back to your sleeping traveling companion.

Outside that, the place is perfectly clean. The pool is wonderfully maintained and the grounds look nice, what there is of them.


Amenities at this hotel are screwy, there's no better way to describe them. The least expensive rooms come with microwaves and refrigerators. The most expensive rooms with the same bed size do not. Go figure.

For the most part, the rooms I've stayed in have the king-size bed, the refrigerator, microwave, nightstands on either side of the bed, the television with over fifty channels, and the usual coffee maker, ironing equipment and hair dryer. With the homogeneity of room size, there seems to be a general homogeneity of amenities.

The free continental breakfast is good. This Comfort Inn has the waffle maker that allows the guest to make waffles. In fact, it was making waffles here that inspired us to get our Cuisinart Waffle Maker (reviewed here!) because we had so much fun making them while traveling. As well, there are four juice types, milk, coffee, cocoa, tea, fresh fruit, bagels and oatmeal packets. There are also two cereal options, yogurt, English muffins, and donuts. This is a decent spread and whenever staying here, I've never had to go out for breakfast.

In some ways, I suppose, this is a very standard hotel. I've just always gone here because it was a value and I had so many good memories here.


I believe that is changing now, though. Writing about this hotel it occurs to me how completely average the place is and with the price hikes for the room rates, it's hard to justify staying there. Sure, closer to Boston is likely to be more expensive, but I assume there are also added amenities at many of those more expensive hotels. Moreover, checking out the Choice Hotels website, there are other hotels in the area that are less expensive as well. I'm likely only to stay at this hotel again when I cash in my Choice Rewards points for a free night stay.

This is a nice hotel, but with a litmus test being value, the Comfort Inn North Shore does not hold up.


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© 2011, 2007 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

Comfort Inn North Shore
Comfort Inn North Shore - Danvers, MA

Click to reserve a room through!

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