Hampton Inn ~ Richfield, Ohio

Hampton Inn tends to be our hotel chain of choice when traveling as their service tends to be a little nicer than some, pre-pandemic they had nice warm breakfast options, and I have a nice points system running with my Hilton Honors membership. It seemed like a no brainer to book at the Hampton in Richfield when traveling to Cuyahoga Valley National Park as it was just a 10-15 minute drive from the park. Sadly this was one of the most disappointing Hampton stays we’ve had in a long time.

Right away we were thrown off by the fact that we followed “masking” signs on the front door and the very cranky lady working the front desk rolled her eyes and told us if we were vaccinated there was no need to wear one despite that signs, that “they just hadn’t bothered to update signage yet.” Ok? Well don’t get mad at us for following what was being displayed!

She booked us into a room on the first floor, which was nice as it was just down the hall from a side entrance and we could have our car parked very close to have it visible from the room. She also informed us that stays that lasted longer than a night (we would be there 3) did not have daily room service and that if we needed more towels during our stay to bring old ones down to trade in for new. (This comes into play later.) We normally don’t do room service at all during our stays, so that was just fine by us.

The hotel was very busy all three days we were there despite it being the middle of the week. The first night we had particularly loud neighbors for much of the evening. (This Beavis and Butthead being your next door neighbors) but I think they drunk laughed themselves to sleep by late evening when we wanted to also sleep. So not too much harm done.

The one downfall to our room was that there was no vent fan in the bathroom. As you can imagine, this meant that our towels never really dried over night or during the day. Given we were out hiking we always showered at the end of the day, as well as morning showers. The room came supplied with 4 bath towels, so we used two the first night/next morning, and two the following night, and then decided we would go trade them in as had been the suggestion so we could have some fresh clean towels for our final night/morning. When Andrew opted to take the dirty down the person working the desk had one on hand to replace and said the rest were in the wash but to come back later. When we did, it was just our luck that cranky lady was back at work. She was on the phone on hold with Lord knows who and already seemed perturbed that we were wanting her assistance. When she finally gave us the time of day, we explained that we had brought 4 towels down earlier but they had only had one to give us, so could we now get the other three. She very snootily replied “what you need 7 towels for 2 people?” Ummm no. We already left our 4 old ones down here. We want the replacements please. She very reluctantly offered us 2 and said that was the best she could do.

This Hampton was offering a bag breakfast that still complied with their “pandemic rules” but did have an open pool (which looked disgusting and like it had stagnant water in it, so we avoided it at all costs.) They also still had their coffee area open at all times a day which meant people still lingered in the breakfast area in the morning. It was frustrating to see how many things they still wanted to use “pandemic restrictions” for where it allowed them to safe money (ie housekeeping or lack there of and bagged breakfasts) but then didn’t care at all about the mask restriction signs, communal coffee area, or an open pool. If you want more restrictions, great, but if you aren’t going to follow through with all of them, just the ones that save you money, don’t blame the pandemic, blame your poor budget.

All this being said, it really turned us off of staying in hotels and has a strongly considering only Airbnb for many future travels. I know hotels had a rough time with the pandemic, but still, try your best to give us decent service when we do choose to stay!


Super 8 Elkhart ~ Elkhart, Indiana

We spent one brief night in Elkhart, Indiana on our way to Cuyahoga Valley National Park near Cleveland, Ohio. My brain wasn’t thinking as straight when we arrived due to having to survive nearly two hours in Chicago traffic, so I failed to take any photos of our room so you’ll just have to take my word for it!

The Super 8 in Elkhart is located just off the tollway and south of the interstate. It’s a simple two story hotel like most Super 8’s are. The hotel did still have signs requesting all guests wear masks in public spaces, but given the front desk worker wasn’t even wearing one, I’m guessing this is more a suggestion at this point.

The front desk staff checked us in quickly and did give us a choice of what level we would like. We didn’t have a preference but wound up on the second floor very close to the steps leading up. I have no problem with being placed on the second level as most Super 8’s like this one, do not have elevators, so this allows able bodied people like ourselves to work with stairs and saves rooms on the main level for those who stairs might be more difficult.

There wasn’t much special about our room. It had two queen beds, your standard TV stand with TV, fridge and microwave, and a bathroom with the basic necessities. It wasn’t the best room we’ve ever stayed in but certainly wasn’t the worst either. It is showing its age with some loose shower hooks and the shower head was very low, even with me being short, I could tell it was low! But all in all nothing major to complain about!

Just across the street is a Starbucks, so we took advantage of enjoying breakfast there instead of at the hotel, but they were offering some kind of breakfast at the hotel that morning. Across the main drag there were also several other restaurants that were within easy walking distances and a few more to the north of the interstate. Other than that our hotel was surrounding by a lot of construction/industrial work buildings, making it seem not “as nice” as some hotel area we’ve stayed, but by no means did we ever feel unsafe.

It also was just a quick 10 minute drive south to hit the river and the main downtown area of Elkhart. We did spend some time down there walking around Island Park, which was a delight. If we had to stay in the area again, the price is right at this Super 8 to do so, but staying closer to the downtown area may be more enjoyable if they have anything to offer down that way for lodging.

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Best Western Lees Motor Inn ~ Chamberlain, South Dakota

While on our way home from the Black Hills region, we spent a night in Chamberlain, South Dakota, right along the beautiful Missouri River. We stayed at the Best Western Lees Motor Inn, that while showing its age, was a wonderful location to stay. This Best Western is two levels, with doors on the outside. It is right down by the river, so you can easily access a river walk path to the north, and there are a few restaurants close by.

Our room was right next to the lobby on the lower level. We were able to park our car right in front of our room to unload our few bags. The room opened to a spacious bedroom area, that held a bed, table/desk, armchair, desk chair, and TV stand with TV, fridge and microwave.

The small doorway led to the sink and closet area. The sink was to the left and closet to the right.

The doorway beyond the closet led to the rest of the bathroom facilities.


On of the really unique features of this hotel was that they had a separate building for the pool area. We had the whole pool area to ourselves the night we were there. It was a huge space and also contained the ice machine. Note: They do lock it after pool hours, so get your ice early!

I didn’t get any pictures of breakfast, but they had a wide selection in a room off of the lobby area. (It actually would have been on the opposite side of the wall from the TV in our room.) They had several tables to dine at and the selection had several hot options including biscuits and gravy, eggs, and a waffle maker.

We really enjoyed our stay at the Best Western in Chamberlain, and enjoyed all the time we spent in that peaceful town!

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Days Inn Spearfish ~ Spearfish, South Dakota

After exploring Spearfish Canyon, we found our hotel for the night. The Days Inn is located just off the interstate on the west edge of town. There are several shops and restaurants nearby.

I was a bit put off right away when we checked in as we were told we were “lucky” they had a place for us since they were overbooked. Seeing as how I had reserved our room months before, I didn’t appreciate being told that! Especially since the parking lot never even filled that night and I maybe saw two other guests in the hotel during our time there.

We were given a room on the second level, which was fine as we had minimal luggage to lug up the stairs to our room. I also always appreciate an upper floor level room as it means no one is walking above you.

Upon entering the room a small closet space was to the left with a luggage rack, along with the sink. Clearly they’ve had issues with people using their nice white wash cloths for makeup removal or on their motorcycles in the past, so they had a specially marked colored cloth that could be used for that purpose.


The rest of the bathroom was in a room off to the right. Standard run of the mill toilet and shower/tub.


Our room was quite spacious with two queen beds, 2 arm chairs, a tv stand with tv, microwave and mini fridge, and also a random table.


The table really threw me off as there’s no chair that actually functioned with it, so it seemed kind of pointless. I also thought it was really odd to have a hotel room that wasn’t completely carpeted (I’ve only had hard floor in beach resort rooms prior to this.) It was really weird to have laminate wood on part of it, but carpet by the beds. The whole thing made me wonder how clean the floor really got with housekeeping having to clean it in two different ways.


We did not breakfast at the hotel, but they did have a small breakfast area right down by the lobby. Overall, I was not impressed with the facility for the price we paid. I would have expected a little better given this ran me twice as much as many Days Inns typically do, but it also seemed to be the best price in town.

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Best Western Ramkota ~ Rapid City, South Dakota

This past fall, the annual fall pastors conference for our state was held in the conference center attached to the Best Western Ramkota, so it was suggested that all participants book a room there. While it was not the quality of last year’s Holiday Inn stay, the hotel was still decent, but I do think next year I’d stay somewhere on the other side of the interstate or closer to downtown where I tend to spend most of my time during the conference.

Our room was located on the first floor of this sprawling building. We had to drive around the side and park in a lot closer to our room for ease of access. Our room had two queen beds and a sliding patio door that led you to a “lovely” view of the parking lot.


The coffee maker and a large mirror were located just to the left upon entering, right outside the bathroom. I actually like having a counter a mirror space outside the bathroom as it can be a great place to do hair/make up without hogging the bathroom, or trying to cram both of us in the bathroom space at one time! As you can see the bathroom was a bit cramped!

Our two beds were on one wall, and a large TV sat on an entertainment center that also housed a microwave and mini fridge. There also was a small table/desk and chair.

The Best Western Ramkota in Rapid City does have a few fun perks in that they have a restaurant onsite (Minerva’s, although this means no free breakfast included.) and they have both a standard swimming pool and a waterpark pool in separate rooms across the hall from each other. Due to having the waterpark, they require all guests to wear wristbands if using either of the pool area, but this helps keep out non-paying people from using it! We didn’t use the waterpark space as it’s just us two adults, but did enjoy some time in the pool and hot tub. The main pool area also contains a small kiddie pool off to the left of the entrance, the hot tub is to the right.

Because of the hotel’s crazy expansion of buildings, there also is a nice courtyard area in the middle. You can access if from several hallways and also the main pool area. They have several tables out in that area where you could enjoy a meal. Some lower rooms even open up to the courtyard, and they also have little doggie clean up bag posts so you could take your furry friends out to that space.

While this is not my favorite place to stay in Rapid City, it worked out just fine for the time we were there. We probably won’t stay here again, but I wouldn’t discourage people from staying here either! For me the location just wasn’t as great as others.

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The Westin Tampa Waterside ~ Tampa, FL

Rev Sites and Bites here. This past July I traveled to Tampa, FL as a delegate to our church body convention. For the 7 nights that I was in Tampa, I stayed at the Westin Tampa Waterside. Since their were 1400+ participants taking part in this convention, we were all pre-assigned to hotels within walking distance of the Tampa Convention Center. Fortunately for myself, the Westin was very close and I could see the convention center from my room. The large four story building directly across from my room on the water was the convention center.

The room was very clean and well kept. The construction of the building was such that I could not hear any noise from the hallway. Their were no signs of any wear and tear on the carpet, nor any paint or wallpaper peeling. Overall a great room.

The breakfast that we had was catered by the hotel for our group. This breakfast of eggs and other standard breakfast meal items was delicious. We had the buffet option a few mornings and one morning the staff brought us the food at our tables. Either way, it was a delicious meal to get me going in the morning.

Though I lacked the time and attire to use it, I was impressed with the fitness area and amount of equipment offered.


The pool area was impressive and looked out on one of the waterways that connected to Tampa Bay. The pool was close enough to the water to see boats docked along the waterway. It was a bit of a maze to find the pool, but the signs were well marked for the hunt. One had to go to the main elevator, go to the third floor, then exit the elevator and go down a hall to the private elevator to the pool. The hall was thankfully clearly marked with a sign and a mural of a person swimming to guide the way.

There were many great shops within walking distance of the hotel as well as access to the Tampa Trolley just across the bridge that gave easy access to downtown Tampa.

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Baymont Inn~ Grand Forks, North Dakota

In early July, Andrew’s grandfather passed away, and we needed somewhere close to stay during that time. His grandparents farmhouse is in a small town west of Grand Forks, so we opted to stay in Grand Forks overnight.

This Baymont seems to be in a newly developed part of town and our hotel seemed very new. We were greeted warmly by the clerk at the front desk and quickly given keys to our room. The elevator is right by the desk and if you are traveling with a pet, they even had a nice water bowl right by the desk.

There was a small closet to the right upon entering our room and the wall also was home to the sink area. The bathroom contained a toilet and tub/shower just off to our left.

The room was quite spacious and the decor had a nice modern vibe to it.


We reserved a king size bed, which was flanked by a nightstand on each side, and also a small ottoman on one side which worked well to store our luggage atop.

Centered in front of the bed was the TV stand, that also contained a small fridge and microwave. A desk was located just beyond that.


The hotel has a pool, which I did manage to snag a picture of, but due to being there for a funeral, we didn’t end up using it. I did think it was nice that they had a small shower area right into it. So many places say you should shower before entering, but generally speaking, never give you that area.


The breakfast area was huge. I took a few pictures upon our arrival as the area was empty and nice and clean. They had tons of seating and a really nice buffet area. We did not end up indulging in breakfast as we decided to try out the Tim Horton’s that was just across the street.

Finally the lobby area itself was huge and very modern. There was plenty of seating space and even a gas fireplace for those cooler North Dakota months.


If we ever need a hotel in the Grand Forks area again, this place is at the top of my list. The price was right and the hotel had a lot to offer.

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Days Inn ~ Austin, Minnesota

On our way down to the Quad Cities area, we made a pit stop in Austin, Minnesota for the night. While there, we stayed at the Days Inn. It was a small hotel, but the price was right, it earned us more points with Wyndham rewards, and the location was convenient.

Check in was very easy for us upon arrival at the Days Inn. There were two levels at this hotel (no elevator), but our room was just up the stairs one the far end of the hotel. We were able to park our car close to the back door and easily use that to access our room.

The bathroom was off to the right upon entry, and we were pleasantly surprised with the newer looking vanity top and a whirlpool tub! Yes, I did take advantage of that!

Our king size bed was centered nicely in the middle of the room. Excuse the chaos of the picture. I snagged these in the morning before we left!


Similar to our Days Inn stay in Des Moines a few months prior, they had a “closet” space located on shared wall of the bathroom/bedroom space. I think it’s odd that once again it wasn’t in the entry way or closed off, but this seems to maybe be a new trend in Days Inns.


In front of the bed was a large TV stand/dresser and a smaller stand that contained a microwave and fridge, with a desk off to the side.


The Days Inn also had a small breakfast area, with a separate room that contained tables and the coffee maker area. As is typical of Days Inns, the breakfast options were limited, but we still found something good to eat.


Overall the hotel isn’t much to write home about, but it worked for a place to lay your head. It was located just off I-90 and near both a Walmart and Hy-vee, as well as several restaurants.

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Days Inn & Suites by Wyndham Des Moines Airport ~ Des Moines, Iowa

Over Memorial Day Weekend, we made a trip down to visit friends in Southern Illinois. We left after Andrew was done with work, and knew we would only make it part way so we booked a hotel in Des Moines, Iowa for the night. We opted for the Days Inn near the airport as it was budget friendly, closer to the south end of town for an easy getaway the next morning, and part of our Wyndham rewards program.

The parking lot for the hotel is a little interesting to get into, as it’s behind another hotel and off of a busy street that is rather difficult to make a left turn on when heading south. It also is a very unique building as it appears to be two separate hotel buildings that were joined in the middle to create a hotel twice the size of a normal Days Inn.

We got lucky, and after checking in, our room was in the same building as the lobby, so it was just a short elevator ride up to our room. Upon entering, the bathroom was to the left, and a small closet containing a luggage holder was on the right.

We had a king size bed that faced the TV set. It was later when we arrived to town, but if I remember correctly we did watch a little bit of TV before turning in for the night.


I did find it awkward that despite the closet in the entry area, there was a separate rod on the one side of the bed, along with the ironing board. Why not just stick it in the closet? Just past the TV there was also a desk. As you can see, the lighting in the room really was not helpful in getting decent pictures.


The one other thing the room had to offer was a cozy chair on the other side of the bed. As you can see, for us it turned into a luggage holder for the night!


The Days Inn near the airport worked for the night, and would be a great place to stay if you need to get there the night before a flight or the night a flight returns as they offer transport to the airport, (which is right across the street), and also have deals for leaving your car parked there. It worked for a cheap night stay for us, but I wouldn’t want to stay here long term.

Our breakfast selection was good, and we did end up staying a little longer in the morning while we waited for a storm to roll through. The weird thing was they were broadcasting previous news and weather when we were trying to get updated weather info from the local news channel! The hotel also has a pool, but since it was in the other building, we never ventured over to check it out.

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Microtel Inn and Suites by Wyndham ~ Moorhead, Minnesota

The night before Andrew’s half marathon in Fargo, we stayed across the Red River in Moorhead, Minnesota, as prices were slightly less. I was a little nervous to stay in a Microtel, as the one other memory I have of staying at one was in Tennessee when I was 11 on our way down to Florida and I just recall lots and lots of big bugs making their way into our room! Ha! But that could just be because we were in the South! This Microtel, however, greatly impressed me as it looked to be quite new and close to a plethora of restaurants just across the interstate, (including a Noodles and Co., which is a staple before any race Andrew runs!)

Our room was on either the second or third floor and was very spacious! The bathroom was off to the left and while small/standard hotel size, it had lots of shelving space to store items.20190517_151454

The room was divided into two sections, the main living area and the bedroom area with a small divider between.


As you can see the TV could be viewed from either area and the desk area was somewhat shared between the two.


To the left in the living space area there also was a small kitchenette area that contained the bare basics of coffee maker, microwave, mini fridge and a small sink.


Our room contained a king bed, and we also greatly enjoyed the small window seat in our room. It gave it a nice homey touch.


This hotel was definitely worth our money and also so courteous to those running the race. Breakfast hours started after we left, but they had a small bowl of fruit out with a sign wishing runners good luck, so we were well taken care of in that realm.

I would certainly stay here again for future races or trips to Fargo in general as it certainly beat the prices of hotels in Fargo. Do plan ahead if you stay here for marathon weekend though as streets were already being closed off as we followed Google Maps directions to reach the FargoDome. We would have been much better off sticking to the interstate to avoid those closures!

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