Hotel Review: AC Hotel New York Downtown

We needed a hotel in New York for a quick weekend trip. We were only staying two nights and wouldn’t be in the room much. We’d also be heading out of our normal area to visit Peter Luger Steak House in Brooklyn. With a seemingly endless number of possibilities, my focus narrowed when I saw an AMEX Offer for $40 back when spending $200 on a Marriott branded hotel. I looked for a hotel which would cost just over $200 per night and I found one.

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Does Reading Reviews Diminish Your Travel Experiences?

First of all, please keep reading reviews. Particularly ours and the ones from other BoardingArea bloggers but also those on TripAdvisor, Oyster and whatever other sites you want.

The question I’m asking is can reading too many reviews diminish our enjoyment from traveling? I’ll use hotel reviews as an example. For a popular hotel, it’s possible to find online reviews that will show you almost every inch of the hotel from the exterior to the lobby and full views of the room including the bathroom, closet and coffee maker. You’ll know exactly what you’re getting before you even go. Does that take away the wow factor we used to get when walking into a place not having any idea of what we were getting?

I’m writing this because I’m currently wrestling with this issue myself, after our recent trip to London and a stay at the St. Pancras Renaissance hotel. Here’s our review of the stay 🙂. While I had a great time and thoroughly enjoyed our stay, I had a sense the whole time that somehow we were missing out on something. Here’s why:

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Hotel Review: St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel London – Junior Suite

For our trip to London, choosing a hotel was one of the easiest things I had to do. Knowing that we were staying for five nights, I immediately started to think about hotels where I could get a free night. The Citi Prestige gives the fourth night free on paid stays but I didn’t want to pay for a hotel this trip. Hilton offers the fifth night free on award stays for anyone with Silver status and above, but I didn’t have enough Hilton points for a long stay in London. If you have the IHG Premier credit card, you get the fourth night free on award stays but we still have the older Select version of the IHG card so that wasn’t an option either.

The other program that offers a fifth night free on award stays is Marriott Bonvoy. We had plenty of Marriott points and I’m trying to burn them in a smart way before the first points devaluation (already past) and the future implementation of Off Peak and Peak pricing.

Once I narrowed my focus to Marriott, there was one hotel on our list of places we really wanted to stay.

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Hotel Review: Hilton Garden Inn Charlotte/SouthPark

The Hilton Garden Inn Charlotte/SouthPark is located down the road from the SouthPark Business area and across the street from the SouthPark shopping center, just south of Charlotte. There are a Ruth’s Chris, Palm and DelFrisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse just minutes away, so it’s clear hotels in this area are catering to those visiting the many surrounding office complexes. As I was visiting for my first work trip ever, it was nice to have many restaurants in the area that were open late and accustomed to solo diners showing up to catch a bite at the bar just before closing time (and with expense account that allowed me to eat at them).

The Hilton Garden Inn shares a building with a Homewood Suites but for my entire stay, I managed to stay in “my” side of the hotel. The Hilton Garden Inn side of the hotel consists of 160 rooms spread over seven floors. Parking for the hotel is located in a (usually full) small lot across from the entrance and a two-story parking garage. There’s no charge for parking or any type of hotel fee charged at this hotel.

Hilton Garden Inn Charlotte/SouthPark
4808 Sharon Rd.
Charlotte, NC 28210

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Hotel Review: Kimpton Gray – Chicago, IL

It’s not often that you get to stay overnight in a life insurance building that opened back in 1894, but Kimpton isn’t your everyday hotel chain. Now part of the IHG family of brands, Kimpton has a flair for taking extraordinary spaces and turning them into phenomenal hotels. The Kimpton Gray in Chicago is a perfect example.

I’ve already written about how I used my IHG Select Credit Card free night certificate to pay for the room instead of paying the $400+ a night that rooms were going for at the time. The Gray fit our needs for a quick weekend in Chicago, it was located in the Loop and right off the CTA from O’Hare and the United Center. While rooms at this hotel can be expensive, they’re really nice.

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