I don't blog about every little trip. But when you're absolutely blown away by someone doing a stellar job, it's just a decency to give them credit. And word of mouth is still an incredibly effective tool... even if it is on the Internet. Who knows? Maybe this is my first entry into a career of travel blogging!
There was a vintage motorcycle show in Charlotte, NC this weekend. I saw the invite some time ago but it crept up on me fast. But I thought it might be a great chance to check out some motorcycles, maybe expand my portfolio and meet some people. Might be a foot in a door that could lead to more work.
I can sleep in a tent on the ground but a great room is always welcome. I never book the cheapest rooms because I'd like to stay someplace that doesn't gross me out. But I can't afford high priced hotels. So I usually book a little upwards of the cheaper places and hope I get a decent room. I quickly booked a room at the SpringHill Suites Uptown. The website had nice pictures but what would you expect? The price wasn't "dive-on-the-side-of-the-road" cheap. But way cheaper than "luxury hotel". If it looked like the pictures and didn't have bedbugs or cardboard walls, it would be a good deal.
When I was growing up, I couldn't wait to move to a city. So much going on! But as I got older, I found that I preferred the semi-rural I once couldn't wait to escape from. Maybe it's just a comfortable place. So I'm not a fan of cities. Beautiful from a distance. But I don't like riding there. I don't like traffic. And they always seem like barely controlled chaos. Some people thrive on that. For me, it's overload. But I do what I have to do to get the job done and I headed up to Charlotte with cameras on-board.
I made a bee line to the hotel so I could establish a foothold. SpringHill Suites Uptown is about as close to the center of the city as you could ask to be. That can be great.. or not. I pulled up to the hotel and walked up to the door where the valet greeted me and, after I said that I just wanted to park myself, explained where I could park. He was so nice for someone who was just told he wasn't getting money. A word of caution.. parking rates can get crazy. Valet parking was $25 for the whole day no matter how many times you came in and out. I'll probably valet park next time.
Checking in, the staff was unbelievably courteous. I asked for a high floor, hoping to get some skyline shots especially after dark. The hotel is right next to Staples Center so I didn't get any spectacular views. It was okay and worth a shot or two. With a little previous research, I probably could have asked the right question and I'm positive they would have hooked me up with a better side. I suspect they would have let me change rooms after I checked in but I just didn't think to ask.
The hotel has a nice decor to it. Some nice little eccentricities, like the lights hanging from bicycle chain but still very classy. It all feels very new and fits nicely. The room was quite nice! Everything was clean and comfortable. Not huge. But plenty of room with a desk to work at and USB charging ports on the wall outlet. Nice touch. And, of course, there's that great view of the Staples Center. I dropped my stuff, grabbed the essentials and headed off to the bike show to take pictures and check out the rides.
After coming back, I stopped off at the hotel to drop off my essentials before I got something to eat. Every time I passed a hotel employee, they greeted me like they were glad to see me and asked if I needed anything. "They are SO incredibly nice here!", became the slogan of the weekend.
Fitzgerald's Irish Pub is about a block away, well within walking distance. Lots of great sounding food but I can recommend the barbeque burger. I opted to pass on the lounge at the hotel. I had work to do. But if it's anything like the rest of the hotel, it would have been exemplary. Looked like a groovy place.
After a good night's sleep, I hit the breakfast area for a hot breakfast that was the best hotel breakfast I've had in a while. I like breakfast. It's my favorite meal, probably because I don't usually eat it. So hotel breakfast is a big deal for me. And this was very good. I ended up getting into a conversation with one of the guys working the breakfast area who asked if I was a photographer.. Was I here on business?.. etc. He was also super polite and kept thanking me for raving about the hotel. I felt like I should have been thanking him for giving me a stay to rave about. Certainly, for a really fine breakfast.
On the back of the door in the room, there's some paper about late checkout policy and... a bunch of other words. Two lines on there said something about Queen Size Bed.. $1099.. and King Size Bed.. $1099. I have to admit, I was lazy and didn't actually.. you know.. READ it. That would be too much like reading instructions. But I looked around the room and considered the staff and started wondering if maybe I didn't screw up and rent a thousand dollar room. And the little puff of smoke shows up on your shoulder and says, "Well... it IS the heart of a beautiful city.. and it IS a really nice hotel. That would explain why the staff is so courteous." and the puff shows up on the other shoulder and says, "Yeah.. but $1099?? Come on. Nooooo! You booked it in a hurry but not THAT fast!"
I reassured myself, shrugged and decided that maybe it's $1099 if I steal the bed... somehow figuring out how to get it to the parking garage from the 11th floor without anyone seeing me and greeting me with a warm smile. I shouldn't have to say it but I will.. I didn't steal the bed and the room was under $150 after taxes.
Just walking around in a 3 or 4 block radius, I found pictures to take. I can imagine what I'd find if I seriously committed to go exploring. Charlotte is very photogenic. Now that I have a place to stay, I will be going back more often.
So.. massive kudos to SpringHill Suites Uptown in Charlotte. They all deserve fat raises. Thank you all again for a terrific stay!