Hello, travelers. Fresh off of our acclaimed (Thanks, Mom) “Dining Gems” series, now we want to continue the momentum. Today, we begin a series of articles on the hotel/motel lodging gems in this great country. Let’s face it, the best meal you’ve ever had can’t save a trip if it is punctuated by dirty carpets, wi-fi that make you say “Why do I try?” or bedbugs.
Say it with me, “Ewwww!”
So, we drove the highways and byways in search of the best in lodging gems. What were our criteria for the search? Glad you asked.
1. We avoided chains…for the most part. God bless chain hotels, but it is hard to categorize a Holiday Inn Express as a “gem” when the experience is the same over 90% of the time. That’s not a shot at HIE, because their cinnamon rolls stay in our memory for a half day, minimum. That said, we wanted to step off the chain and seek out places that may not spring immediately to mind.
2. Something special required. A gem is something that sparkles, thereby improving its immediate environment. A hotel gem will do the same. Whether it be in value for the money, a special breathtaking view, an amenity causing the gem to stand apart or something else. Our gem will be special, therefore an important part of your trip.
3. Does money matter? Of course it’s a thing, but it isn’t the only thing and it’s a moving thing. Here’s a story to illustrate. I remember the first time I spent over $100 a night for a hotel.The year was 1994. It was an oceanfront room, overlooking the Pacific in the resort community of Seaside, Oregon. The $126 room rate was an awful lot! Now, we regularly pay $100 a night. That’s what is meant when we say “a moving thing.” Oh, the room that scandalized me for its $100 price. It’s $219 if I want it tonight…offseason. So, we felt like we needed to set a price for our gems, and 219 bucks isn’t that price. At that number you should expect dinner and a movie too. So, we settled on a top end price of $150. (I know, it still seems high.)
4. Timing is everything. I could probably have found a better price on my oceanfront place if I scheduled it for a couple of months down the road. For our hotel/motel gems, we set our arrival date two months ahead. Most travelers know whether they are going out of town that far in advance.
With the ground rules set, are you ready to go on this journey with Gildshire’s Travel and Nature Magazine? Today, we start out west, driving south to north.
Ayres Lodge, 1251 Tavern Rd, Alpine, California. We have to start right out with a confession. With an address on Tavern Rd, we weren’t expecting this place to land on our list of gems. Our ultimate bad. The Ayres Inn has developed a strong and loyal following of return customers. What are they finding that makes this a gem? The lodge motif in the public areas make one feel like they are in the middle of the forest, even though the freeway is steps away. Speaking of nearby, San Diego is a half hour west and the Cleveland National Forest is closer yet, just to the east. Call (619) 202-8583, or visit the hotel website for a reservation. Our price was $120 a night.
Old Town Inn, 170 Highway 101, 170 Hwy 101, Florence, Oregon. The Oregon Coast is known for its sweeping ocean views, the color green and rain. Too many folks forget that the rain is greenery’s birthplace. Without rain the Oregon Coast is Mesa, Arizona, and no one wants that. The town of Florence rain forest, just a few miles from the ocean. Some say that’s the best of all worlds. Florentines do, at any rate. The Old Town Inn is tucked into Florence’s historic Old Town (see how that works) district. Steps away are the busy shores of the Siuslaw River, as well as shops, museums, and restaurants. The value for the money is the gem quality at Old Town Inn. Call (541) 205-0491, or visit the hotel website for a reservation. Our price was $99 a night.
Lake Quinault Lodge, 345 S Shore Rd, P.O. Box 7, Quinault, Washington. When the words “hotel/motel getaway” come up, city lights and noisy casinos shouldn’t spring to mind. Places such as Lake Quinault Lodge should. More than 2.5 hours from a town of any appreciable size, this is away from it all done right. A beautiful facility, but Lake Quinault Lodge doesn’t rely on its looks to be a gem. It’s location surrounded by both lake and rainforest does the heavy lifting. The rooms are great, but the historic lobby itself invites us in with a picturesque quality that appears almost other-worldly. Call 844-288-4894, or visit the Olympic National Park website for a reservation. Our price was $124 a night.
The Davenport Grand Hotel, 333 W Spokane Falls Blvd, Spokane, Washington. Far from Interstate 5 and the population centers of Washington State, you will find the city of Spokane. Originally, called Spokane Falls, the city has one of the largest urban waterfalls in the world, running right downtown. Nearby, the stately Davenport Hotel stands sentinel. The hotel itself, and the amenities therein tell the tale of gem worthiness. The ultra-modern rooms (automated window shades, anyone? Keurigs for you coffee pleasure?) and caring professional staff bring business and leisure travelers back again and again. Spokane, by itself is a gem of a city, so the Davenport adds value to the experience of a traveler getting to know it. Call 844-631-0595 or visit the hotel website for a reservation. Our price was $134. (The Davenport is now part of the Marriott Group, but we aren’t daunted by that.)
These gems offer sparkle to your time away from home, however they aren’t the only ones in the country. Check with us again next week to see our hotel/motel picks in the intermountain west. Doubtless, they will invite you to their part of the world, just like these invited you west. Hit the road, Jack, and don’t you come back…unless you take us with you. Please, travel safely.