Friday, January 27, 2012

Good Hotel, Bad Hotel

In my first week of traveling for work, I stayed at the Renaissance Atlanta Midtown.  It was very nice.  I like the location, everyone was nice, the room layout was good, and the only real complaint I had was that a temporary tent style convention next door to the hotel made a lot of loud noise one night.

For my second week of travel, I couldn't get a room in the Renaissance.  In fact all Marriott hotels that were close to Marta stations were booked up for rooms at the rate acceptable to my client.  (I have now booked well in advance to prevent this from happening again, but I just didn't have enough advance notice to save my second week).

So... for week 2, I was at hotel that I won't mention specifically by name (hint: It's a 1 letter name that matches my maiden name initial).  This hotel was at the Buckhead Marta stop, and met my requirements for expenses.  I figured it wouldn't be too bad to spend 1 week in a different hotel.  It was only week 2, so I wasn't really committed to the Renaissance yet.

I do not like this other hotel... and now I'll tell you why. These are my impressions from walking in the door to examining my room:
  1. When you walk in to the lobby, it's slightly dark inside... What?  Are they too cool for full lighting?
  2. The lobby was full of scented candles.  I like scented candles.  We keep wall flowers in house all the time to provide a nice scent.  But this was obnoxious.  It was the sort of smell that makes a statement - a big turn off for me.
  3. The music playing in the lobby was a little too loud and unignorable.  It's was more than background music.
  4. The decor in the lobby annoyed me too... it was going for that eclectic feel, but was completely forced: "Hey look: We have a ball and a jacket and a picture display casually in a display case" - It just screamed "I'm trying too hard to impress you with my eclecticism".
  5. There weren't enough people checking in guests, so I had a ton of time to observe the lobby and form opinions 1-4.
  6. When they did check me in, I went to the elevator to meet with much confusion.  On the first floor (no basement) there was only one elevator button with a triangle pointing down.  At every elevator I've ever used before, that means "I want to go down".  But there's no down to go and there's no up button.
  7. I didn't have enough time to really assess the elevator button situation because an elevator arrived, and I took that opportunity to jump on without pressing the confusing call button. But I didn't get far, I pressed my floor number and it turned off before I saw the card reader.  I tried inserting my card to no avail.  I wound up taking 2 short rides up and down before a polite guest told me that their cards had not worked at first, and I probably wasn't doing anything wrong... I went back to the front desk.
  8. The woman at the desk reprogrammed my cards and I returned to the elevator bank.  I took another inspection of the elevator panel and noticed that the front was held on with several pieces of scotch tap.  Scotch Tape?! This time I took the courage to punch the "down" button assuming that it would work since that's the only button they have.  Behind me I hear, "Oh, Sweetie, that won't work." Now, there are multiple problems with this:
    1. It was a hotel employee that shouldn't be calling me "Sweetie"
    2. The down button is confusing enough; say something more than "that won't work".
    3. There's scotch tap holding on the panel, but you couldn't use a little more tape to put up a message explaining how to use the elevator that obviously has issues?  It's a hotel, there's got to be new confused people every day. - Put up a Sign!
  9. It turns out that you have to mash and hold the elevator button for it to work. After doing that and getting on the elevator, I try my card again.  One of the 2 cards still didn't work, but luckily, the other card finally let me go to my floor and room.
  10. In my room, I found an efficiency style bathroom that opens into the bedroom, and the shower just had a half glass wall (It didn't close completely)  The whole bathroom area is very compact, and just awkward and uncomfortable. 
  11. I didn't like the decor, but I can recognize that some people just have different taste.  What I can't get over though, is that the TV on the wall opposite the bed is mounted in front of a mirror.  So you can't watch TV without looking at yourself in the mirror.  I don't dislike looking at myself, but I'm not so vain that I need to do it all the time.  That's just weird and off-putting.
  12. The AC unit is a little weird, but I did eventually figure out how to make it quite down.  
  13. There was a nature sound machine making noises when I got to the room... why?  
And those were just my first few minutes in the hotel.  Here's a couple pictures of the room:
Cramped bathroom... note the shower wall
TV and Mirror combo

Over the course of my 2 night's stay, I made additional annoying observations:
  1. The shower is as dis-functional as it looks, and in ways that hadn't occurred to me until I had to use it:
    1. Because of the positioning of the half glass wall, you can't turn on the water without standing in the blast of the shower head.  That would be okay if they had one of those spiffy instant hot water systems, but they don't.
    2. The shower head was one of those big rain style shower heads, so I couldn't really point it away to turn on the water, and I never think those give enough concentrated water to rise well.
    3. When I first saw the half glass wall, I thought it was weird, but I figured someone had worked out the mechanics, however odd and pointless, to make it so you didn't need full covering to enclose the water - WRONG!  It got water all over the floor... and on the toilet paper which was on the wall next to the open end of the shower.  Luckily (or perhaps from learning a small lesson) they hung a robe on the hook there to somewhat shade the toilet paper so it only got a light misting and wasn't completely saturated... I didn't use the robe though.
    4. The water temperature steadily increased throughout the shower... to a point of scalding, which would generally only be a small thing, but when you add constantly adjusting the temperature to being weirded-out by the half wall, trying not to flood the room, and being unable to rinse well in the rain shower head, it's just too much.
  2. The bed was not particularly comfortable... too soft and the cushion under the sheet was lumpy.
  3. Everything started with the aforementioned initial that is the hotel's namesake.  None of the signs were straight forward because they're phrased in some convoluted way to incorporate that letter.  Too much!
  4. Once I finally learned how to use the elevators, I looked around a little more and discovered that the floor mats in the elevator are changed out as the day goes on.  Saying "Good Morning" and "Good Evening" (and those are just what I saw).  As I add this to my list, I think if I didn't already have a list of reasons to hate this hotel, I might find that a cute touch, but it really just made my eyes roll.
All in all, this hotel was way too "hipster" and full of itself for me.  I'm glad I got reservations at the Renaissance for the other weeks of my travel.

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