Thursday, December 15, 2011
An Affordable Escape For Love, The Comfort Inn Fairgrounds Is An Average Hotel.
The Good: Decent room size, Comparatively affordable, Clean
The Bad: Lighting is poor, No pool, Breakfast was unimpressive
The Basics: A good, but in no way superlative, hotel, the Comfort Inn Fairgrounds makes for a nice, clean place to stay while in central New York.
Yesterday my wife and I went away for the evening and I discovered that my abilities to stay on-top of things were seriously limited by only having my iPod Touch to connect to the internet. In addition to learning that I am particularly inept at using small touchscreen devices, I learned all about the Comfort Inn Fairgrounds, in Syracuse. Living just outside Syracuse, NY this was the nearest place we could go for a romantic night away from our pets and family without taxing our finances. Sometimes, it’s nice to shake up the routine and just get away.
While the Comfort Inn Fairgrounds certainly helped with that, our overnight was more about relaxing and having downtime to cool off than it was a sign of a great hotel. In fact, the Comfort Inn Fairgrounds was entirely mediocre and while I am able to recommend it objectively, it was not my favorite place ever to spend time with my partner.
The Comfort Inn Fairgrounds, NY090 in the Choice Hotels numbering system, is located at 7010 Interstate Island Drive, Syracuse, NY. This solid stone building is back off the highway. Route 690 is a major arterial around Syracuse and Exit 2, the Jones Road exit, puts the visitor off in visual distance of the Comfort Inn. In fact, the only way I knew where to turn was by sight as there was no sign for Interstate Island Drive. That road is little more than a driveway off Jones Road.
The Comfort Inn Fairground has only the one entrance, from Interstate Island Drive off Jones Road and an expansive parking lot. The parking lot can easily hold one hundred trucks and was quite well-plowed in the winter. The Comfort Inn Fairgrounds in Syracuse is a big building next to what appeared to be a factory with trucks in it and it is well outside the city proper. There are no grounds to speak of coming into the hotel. MapQuest and similar programs give accurate directions to the hotel.
Upon entering the hotel, I was somewhat impressed by the breakfast area, which is what the main lobby is for all intents and purposes. Walking into the hotel is like walking into a cafeteria with a decent amount of lighting coming from the giant windows and greenhouse-like beveled ceiling above. In the breakfast area was a television and two couches, in addition to the tables. Right opposite the food area was the front desk and there I checked in.
The hotel staff immediately greets guests and every member of the staff that I interacted with was friendly, kind and knowledgeable about the area. In fact, when I was checking in, the staff was remarkably friendly. Given the abandoned nature of the hotel as we visited in mid-winter, we were enthusiastically given a room upgrade when I asked (I am a member of the Choice Hotels loyalty program).
As for the room itself, this was a strangely space-deceptive room. It looked and felt as large as other hotels my wife and I have stayed at, so we were both fairly surprised to discover that it was only twenty-five feet deep by fifteen feet wide. Our upgraded room included a king-sized bed, two person hot tub (in the bathroom), the usual television and desk combination and a comfortable reclining chair in the corner. Only from experience at similar hotels in the chain made me realize that the floor-length mirror next to the bathroom was a door to the coat closet! Despite how much stuff was in the room, the room felt surprisingly spacious and my partner got a good running start to leap on the bed.
From the first moment I opened the door to the room at the Comfort Inn Fairgrounds in Syracuse, I had a good feeling about it, though some of it clearly came from just being out of the cold. The entire first floor of the hotel is now nonsmoking entirely. The nonsmoking room smelled appropriately like nothing. There was no evidence or trace of scent that would have indicated it had ever had a cigarette smoked in it. Instead, the entire hotel smelled good. But one of the things I noticed almost immediately was that the room was underlit. This was a problematically dark room, despite having four light sources in the bedroom area. The bathroom, for example, was poorly designed, with a single light near the mirror and a heat lamp next to it. With the curtain closed to the shower, it was exceptionally dark taking a bath or shower!
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 this Comfort Inn easily passed the first flush test with no difficulties. The shower, hot tub and toilet were all clean, as were all of the linens. None of the towels had spots, nor did the sheets or the comforters.
The wallpaper in the room was tasteful and none of the wallpaper or paint was peeling. This was a very clean hotel. The common areas were all clean and well-maintained. I cannot speak to the cleanliness of the grounds, as they were entirely covered over in snow during my visit, but the parking lot was well maintained and plowed. The breakfast area was clean as well. The entire atmosphere was warm, inviting and sterile in the physical (not connotative) way.
The Comfort Inn Fairgrounds 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, shampoo, and lotion, along with an air conditioning/heating unit. There were also two tea bags with the coffee as well, which I am finding now as some of the nicer hotels in the system! We cranked the heat up and within ten minutes we were toasty enough to truly enjoy the room.
The room we stayed in was the second-largest in the hotel (apparently there is a single suite somewhere in the hotel, which was unavailable) and ours had the kind bed and a two-person hot tub in the bathroom. First, it was very comfortable, but because it was in the bathroom, it was a little cramped for two adults. However, it had very easy-to-use controls in the tub and came with a little information sheet which informed users exactly how to operate it. Simply pressing a button on after the tub was filled activated the jets and that was a nice touch.
The free continental breakfast at this Comfort Inn, however, was very mundane. While everything seemed fresh, the selection was not was impressive as at other Choice Hotels I’ve stayed at. Still, there were three types of cold cereal, milk, apple and orange juice, lemonade and iced tea from a machine. There were English muffins, packaged bagels, blueberry muffins, donuts, and raisin and white bread for toast. There was, as well, the trademark waffle maker, and fresh batter and a lot of syrup. There were two types of yogurt and fresh oranges and bananas, which was nice in the middle of winter. However, outside the oatmeal packets and waffles, there were no real hot food options (others have had eggs, sausage, and gravy and biscuits).
This hotel did not have a pool, but it did have a small weight room. There is also a free high speed internet in every room, which I was able to access. As I gave my wife a massage, she played on-line on our iPod Touch (reviewed here!).
The television has approximately sixty cable television stations and the television was sizable. Our room had a microwave and refrigerator freezer, both of which worked well. I recall there being a desk as well, but I did not use that. This room, in the off season as it is now, would regularly have cost $83.99. I imagine it is booked well in advance around the time of the New York State Fair in August, but other than then, it seems like it is out of the way for most travelers.
All in all, this was a clean place to crash with a nice bed and tub for a night, which is what my partner and I were looking for for the night. This makes a decent place to stop when passing through as well.
For other hotels in the Choice Hotels chain, please be sure to check out my reviews of:
Comfort Inn Elryia - Elyria, OH
Comfort Inn Carrier Circle - Syracuse, NY
Comfort Inn East - Indianapolis, IN
For other travel reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!
© 2011, 2010 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.