Thursday, October 14, 2010

California Dreamin' – California Motel Prices and Perks

While David and I didn't explore a cave or experience Mardi Gras in our motel rooms (See the article below about the Madonna Inn.), we did have comfortable, quiet accommodations and some great, “free” (included-in-the-motel-rate) breakfasts.

Using all the resources on the Internet, we made choices based on reviews, ratings, and the hotel websites themselves. Since we were only disappointed once, we finally concluded, after sampling seven different motels sprinkled throughout the central coast, that California offers excellent value in the $70-90 rate range.

So, what can you expect from a hotel that charges $70-90?
You will find a courteous staff that makes check-in and check-out fast and easy. The person at the front desk often is able to provide helpful information, too, about good local restaurants or driving directions to points of interest. In the room itself, there should be a table and chairs, a desk or desk and bureau combination, bed (s), side tables, a TV with remote, a luggage rack, coffee maker (with coffee/ tea, and sugar and creamer packets), ice container, alarm clock, telephone, and black-out drapes. The adequately lighted and vented bathroom should contain towels, wash cloths, a bath mat, hairdryer, and toiletries (shampoo, soap, lotion, and shower cap). Every motel/hotel in this price range also included a mini-refrigerator and microwave, except for our motel in San Francisco where we paid an additional $5 a day for the frig.

All of the motels, except the one in San Francisco, offered a complimentary breakfast. Compared to some of the simple croissant and coffee breakfasts we experienced in Europe, the first meal of the day in the United States is a more lavish affair. Every motel offered pastries, cereal, milk, juice and coffee and most of them included fresh fruit, yogurt, hard-cooked eggs, and waffles.

A few notable motels also offered a happy hour the night we checked in where guests noshed on cheese and crackers or cookies while they sipped their wine or cider. These motels also had swimming pools, exercise rooms, and an “office” with Internet access.

While David and I do not prefer hotel rooms (We'd rather rent an apartment if we're going to be in one city for several days or a week.), we were pleased with the value we experienced on this trip. Because every room came with a refrigerator and microwave, we often finished up a day of sightseeing with a stop at the local market for a special treat which we ate in our room before heading out for dinner. Since we had ample “free” breakfasts and a late afternoon treat, we only paid for one restaurant meal a day. That helped keep expenses to a minimum and that always makes us happy!

Practicalities -

We saw signs on the backs of two motel room doors that quoted prices of $300 and $400 although we only paid $89 and $76.  The managers explained that we weren't special (Wouldn't it be lovely if we got discounts like this all the time?) as those higher rates applied only once a year during festival week.  I guess that the town requires that the highest rates be posted, but it's comforting to know that they're the exception rather than the rule.

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