Saturday, January 7, 2012

When In Grand Rapids, The Comfort Suites Grand Rapids North Is The Place To Stay!

Comfort Suites Grand Rapids North

The Good: Good room size, Breakfast, Amenities, Price, Generally good location
The Bad: Location issues
The Basics: One of the best Comfort Suites, the Comstock Park, Michigan Comfort Suites Grand Rapids North has great room sizes, good breakfast, reasonable rates and a friendly staff.

As the finale to my fabulous New York City trip with my fiance, we went to Grand Rapids, Michigan. This might seem odd, but given that she is from Michigan and we were not living together at the time, this is actually far less strange than it might otherwise seem. In returning my partner to Michigan, we scheduled in a night in Grand Rapids, with two simple purposes: to see Watchmen in IMAX (reviewed here!) and for me to propose to her. For those not "in the know," it turns out there are remarkably few IMAX prints of Watchmen and not all IMAX theaters have been able to get the IMAX print in because there are so few. So, after traveling from upstate New York to Grand Rapids, we needed a place to stay. And after the deep psychological horror and mystery of Watchmen, my fiance needed someplace to defragment and recover before I proposed.

That is where the Comfort Suites Grand Rapids North comes in. The Comfort Suites Grand Rapids North is a secluded, all-suite hotel with decent-sized rooms, a clean atmosphere and a friendly staff. In fact, were it not for the initial difficulty in finding the hotel, this would be a perfect hotel and rated accordingly.


The Comfort Suites Grand Rapids North, MI235 in the Choice Hotels numbering system (a number quite useful when making phone or online reservations), is located at 350 Dodge Street, Comstock Park, Michigan. This is a simple, four-story building set on a hill behind a few business buildings off the main road through Comstock Park. The main road, West River Drive, is a two-lane road, which is easily accessible from 131S, which is a decent highway around Grand Rapids and easy to get to from 96, which is a main arterial through Michigan. Mapquest directions get a visitor to Comstock Park easily enough. The thing is, finding Dodge Street and the Comfort Suites is a real bear.

The Comfort Suites Grand Rapids North has only one entrance, from Dodge Street, which is accessible from West River Dr. But Dodge Street is not marked on West River Dr. and there are no signs for the Comfort Suites from the main road, despite the fact that it is only a tenth of a mile away and the Comfort Suites is the only thing on Dodge St. As well, it is worth noting that the signs and lights from the Comfort Suites Grand Rapids North are not visible from West River Dr, not even at night. This meant my fiance and I drove quite a bit out of our way the first two times we tried to find the Comfort Suites and it was a bit of a pain to get into.

That said, the Comfort Suites Grand Rapids North was a decent-sized hotel that still felt cozy and had a great atmosphere. This Comfort Suites has an expansive parking lot, which may easily hold one hundred trucks and was quite well-plowed in the winter. The Comfort Suites Grand Rapids North is set back and there was a little bit of land around the Comfort Suites, so those bringing pets (I'm not even sure that is allowed) have a place they are able to run and do their thing.

Room Size

Upon entering the hotel, I was impressed by the size and style of the building. Inside the Comfort Suites Grand Rapids North is a modern, brightly-lit setting that is clean, warm and staffed by a very friendly night manager. The main lobby is inviting and spacious, with couches, bright lights and the internet terminal as well as a television that was perpetually on to CNN. This Comfort Suites appears to be a real community resource in Comstock Park; while my fiance and I were there, there were two wedding planning parties/rehearsal dinners and a business meeting. As well, the hotel has vintage movies playing in one of the rooms almost constantly.

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. As a Choice Privileges Gold member (the loyalty program for the hotel chain), I was granted a room upgrade for free simply by asking and the room being available. Thus, I went from the most discounted suite in the $65.00 online rate to the room that would have been just almost three times the price simply by asking (it helps to join the loyalty program and stay within the chain!). Visiting at the end of winter, such an upgrade was not much of a problem and I suspect that most travelers who are members of the program would not have much in the way of problems, though when big events are going on in Grand Rapids, one suspects this hotel gets filled! The desk clerk seemed eager to meet my every need and having stayed at a lot of hotels over the years, this was one of the most friendly night managers I had ever dealt with.

As for the room itself, this was the largest one I have ever stayed in, at least in the Choice Hotels chain! This is a huge room for a location intended just for sleeping in, though if there were conventions or such going on at the hotel or nearby, this is exactly the type of suite that would be great for room parties! Measuring thirty-five feet deep by sixteen and a half feet wide, the room included a king-sized bed, two person hot tub, bathroom with shower and bathtub, desk, kitchen area and other furniture. This room has the standard closet as well and dresser with the television as well. My fiance and I took a few minutes to allow ourselves to appreciate the size of the room. This was actually one of the only hotels I have stayed at where there were two telephones in the room, which was pretty handy when we called a friend of ours in Seattle after three a.m. to tell her we were both officially engaged now (my fiance actually beat me to the punch with the proposing, getting me two nights prior in Rochester, NY).


From the first moment I opened the door to the room at the Comfort Suites in Comstock Park, I had a great feeling about it. The entire hotel is now 100% Smoke Free. The nonsmoking room smelled like nothing at all. 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. In fact, the only scent the hotel had was in the pool area. The pool was well-sealed by glass doors and the hallway outside it did not smell like chlorine, which was impressive in its own right. The weight room has a faint smell of sweat, but we did not use it (we stopped in to check it out, though).

Every time I enter a new hotel room, I flush the toilet and this Comfort Suites 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 an exceptionally clean hotel. As well, the hot tub was dry and sparkling and had additional towels when we entered the room. The refrigerator was spotless.

The common areas were all clean and well-maintained. I cannot speak to the cleanliness of the grounds, as we did not spend much time outdoors. But the grass looked pretty decent for early March and I imagine with the overall quality of the rest of the hotel that that would be well-maintained in the season. The breakfast area was clean as well, which was quite an accomplishment given the sports team that was there the morning we were. All through breakfast, though, there was an attendant keeping the breakfast area spotless.


The Comfort Suites Grand Rapids North 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, conditioner, and lotion, along with an air conditioning 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!

The room I had had a two-person hot tub and I would be remiss if I did not mention this. First, it was extraordinary and easily could have fit three people (for those looking to bathe a bunch of kids at one time). Second, it had very easy-to-use controls in the tub. The press of a button started the jets and another button turned them off. The hot tub was exceptional and operated flawlessly, and it only took about ten minutes to fill up.

The free continental breakfast at this Comfort Suites was a decent one. Everything seemed fresh, which is always a nice touch. There were two types of cold cereal, milk, apple and orange juice from a machine. There were English muffins, plain bagels, danishes (at least four different flavors), white and raisin bread for toast and three varieties of muffins. There was, as well, the trademark waffle maker, and the Belgian waffles here were good, and fresh batter and a lot of syrup. As well, the hotel had hot scrambled eggs in a patty, sausage and cheese, so one could make an egg muffin sandwich! As well, there were two types of yogurt and fresh oranges, apples and bananas, in the middle of winter! The hot scrambled eggs were a bit dry, but otherwise, breakfast was absolutely ideal.

There is a nook near the front door which had a free high speed internet terminal. My fiance did not like the lack of privacy on the terminal, but I was less bothered by that and more distressed by the fact that the room's television was right above the computer and so people watching the television were pretty much staring at whomever was using the computer.

In the room, the television has approximately forty cable television stations and the television was sizable. Our room had a refrigerator freezer, but no microwave. There was a desk as well and it was conveniently located near the hot tub. This room, in the off season as it is now, would regularly have cost $159.99. That might seem stifling for most travelers and honestly, it seemed pricey to me, but I tend to always recommend shopping around anyway, so there are deals to be found here.

One of the other little nice touches was that the breakfast area was an open area that was open 24 hours with coffee and this Comfort Suites had real nice International Delight coffee creamers, which encouraged my fiance to come out of our room for hydration and caffeine!


Easily one of the best in the chain, the Comfort Suites Grand Rapids North in Comstock Park, Michigan was wonderful. When a traveler is able to check in with someone who is friendly, be given a great deal on the best rooms in the place, and get quite a lot of coffee and creamer, it is hard to complain. Still, finding the hotel is problematic and the arrangement of the public internet terminal was somewhat irksome as well.

For other hotels in the Choice Hotels chain, please be sure to check out my reviews of:
Quality Inn Niagara Falls
Quality Inn Brockton - Brockton, MA
Comfort Inn North - Las Vegas, NV


For other travel reviews, please be sure to visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2012, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
Comfort Suites Grand Rapids North

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