Hubs is having a hard time booking a hotel.

On our last trip (turning apartment-hunting into a weekend shake-up), we got spoiled.

le meridien main

A lot.

le meridien bar
Photos from Le Meridien Chambers in Minneapolis.

Now we’re trying to turn our drive from Minnesota to New Jersey into a weekend shake-up. Not a long vacation, but a chance to experience a new place’s energy and shake off the doldrums. And poor Hubs is doing his best to find a good deal in Pittsburgh or Cleveland (including being flexible about our dates to find the best deal), but everything pales compared to Le Meridien.

I had to break it to him that Le Meridien was awesome, but it is unlikely to become our new standard. Cue the Charlie Brown sad music.

AD charlie brown
From the Arrested Development Wiki page. Hubs really did this walk in our kitchen. There really were lounging guinea pigs in the background.


Lodging: Location, location, location!

Although I love staying in a nice hotel, what I love most is staying in a central hotel.

The Comfort Inn we stayed at for our August 2011 “honeymoon” in San Diego (which was a combined vacation and conference…as most of our vacations so far have been) was tiny. We had just enough room to scoot around the bed. Most of the finishes were outdated and worn. But we got a great rate, and I would stay there again in a heartbeat.

Although it was small, it still met our basic needs. We didn’t need a work space, just a “home base” and sleeping area. They included a small fridge and microwave, so we picked up some microwavable meals from a local grocery store to save money and time on meals. (One of my biggest disappointments with going vegetarian 5 years ago is the loss of lunch meat sandwiches on trips. I’m a picky eater and haven’t found an equivalently easy/satisfying replacement yet.)

Comfort Inn
From the Comfort Inn website. Never trust a fish-eye lens. (I think our room was actually smaller than this, but it’s a similar set-up.)

There’s a difference between outdated and dirty; the comforter may have been old, but I didn’t feel afraid to have the sheets touch my body. (Unlike our Minneapolis-area Motel 8 experience in May 2013.) And the staff were as friendly and helpful as we could ask for. (Definitely unlike our Minneapolis-area Motel 8 experience.) They may have had a room labeled “Business Center and Laundry Room (Really)” (no exaggeration — wish I could find the picture from my old phone), but they had found a way to offer both services and were able to laugh with guests about the juxtaposition of washing machines with printer-ready computers.

CI business laundry
From the Comfort Inn website. The laundry machines are cleverly hidden behind the photographer. 

They also offered breakfast. We usually stay in places with breakfast, so I hadn’t realized how helpful it was until we stayed at Le Meridien Chambers in Minneapolis. Hunger is a trigger for migraines for me, so when we had to go out and find a good breakfast place, mornings got less pleasant. (Note to self–always bring protein bars, especially if the hotel doesn’t offer breakfast.) Again, the breakfast area was tiny, but it was well-stocked and very functional.

The main reason I would stay there again? They were in the heart of the Gaslamp district! We had a blast on foot, and San Diego’s great train system was just a few blocks away. We literally could have gone to Tijuana on that train.

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From Google Maps. No idea what the blue points are.

The hotel was also a few short blocks from the convention center (I was there for a conference, remember?). And in San Diego, I really enjoyed the quiet, overcast morning walk. (San Diego was where I realized that full sun day after day bothers me. I have issues. And I realize now that bright sun is another migraine trigger. But I’m also a twisted Midwesterner who distrusts continued good weather.)

So although there were many reasons I loved our experience at the tiny, outdated Comfort Inn, the biggest reason was that it was exactly where we wanted to be, at a price that left money for us to do everything we wanted in San Diego. And by the end of our stay, I kind of liked having the sink outside the bathroom.