AC Hotel Dallas Galleria Review

We’ve been on a mission recently exploring a handful of different AC hotels to get a sense of what this hotel brand has to offer.

While in Dallas we decided to try out the AC Hotel Dallas Galleria, a fairly new hotel that opened up in 2018.

In this article, I’ll give you a complete review of the AC Hotel Dallas Galleria and tell you everything you need to know to prepare for your stay.


We were in Dallas exploring and chronicling sites related to the JFK assassination and after staying at the Hilton Fort Worth wanted to also get a feel for another AC Hotel so we found this one in the Dallas Galleria area.

We paid cash for this booking which was $132 per night and earned a total of 6,120 points for this stay with Titanium status factored in and the ongoing Marriott promotions.

I value 6,120 Marriott points at around $47, so that’s about 18% back on the base room rate which wasn’t a bad return.

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

Location overview: Dallas Galleria

The AC Hotel Dallas Galleria is found about one block away from the Dallas Galleria.

The Galleria is a huge mall modeled after the (larger) Galleria in Houston.

The glass vaulted ceilings in both malls are a nod to the historic Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan, Italy (which is very close to the Park Hyatt Milan).

The Dallas Galleria (officially referred to as “Galleria Dallas”) is home to around 200 stores and restaurants, an ice rink, and also the Westin. It’s a big mall but it’s not as big (and some say not as nice) as the NorthPark Center also located in Dallas.

Something interesting about the Galleria in Dallas is that the cost of constructing it in 1982 was at least $400 million (~$1+ billion in today’s money).

This made it one of the most expensive projects of the year only behind Walt Disney Epcot Center.

The Dallas Galleria is modeled after the Galleria in Milan.

Opened in 2018, the AC Hotel Dallas Galleria is a dual-branded hotel with the Residence Inn.

Personally, I’m not a big fan of dual branded hotels because they create unnecessary friction and confusion for many guests.

For example, I saw a few guests who were very confused about the complimentary breakfast situation and were directed to go back to the Residence Inn side.

Parking & check-in

This stay was part of a road trip around Texas so we decided to park our Jeep on-site which would cost us $24 per day.

The parking garage, which is accessible via your room key, is connected to the hotel building and one entrance feeds into the Residence Inn and another entrance on the other side opens to the AC Hotel. You can enter through either entrance though because they all are connected to the lobby.

We checked into the hotel around 4:45pm so there was no need for early check in.

During check-in, the staff was pretty professional and there were no issues.

After check-in we turned our attention to the hotel lobby which I thought was a pretty beautiful area.

AC Hotel Dallas Galleria lobby

There are some really nice light fixtures that create a very modern look and feel.

AC Hotel Dallas Galleria lobby

One area of the lobby was surrounded by sectional couches and had an oversized Connect Four game to help pass time.

Other areas were just perfectly suited for lounging around or getting work done in the open spaces the AC is known for.

Much like the W, I’m a big fan of the AC Hotel scent “Between the Woods” that is pumped/sprayed throughout the hotel. It’s a perfect blend between luxury and earthiness and it just never gets old.

The room 

We had a pretty basic king room during our stay.

One of the drawbacks of the AC that I have noticed so far is that they don’t have a lot of variety in terms of rooms and upgrade options. If you’re looking to get bumped up to a beautiful one bedroom suite this may not be the brand to look for.

The bed was the classic AC design with floating headboard and USB and power outlets on each side. The AC is pretty consistent with giving you plenty of charging ports for your devices near your bed which is really nice.

One side had the thin AC phone which I love the sleekness of but don’t enjoy giving up speakerphone for sleekness.

One thing I really loved about the room was the mood lighting underneath the furniture. It added a really nice touch to an otherwise minimalist room full of neutral tones.

The workstation was in the corner and consisted of a very basic set up with a lamp and some power outlets. Nothing too fancy.

On the other side of the room was a sofa along with a coffee table that could be rolled anywhere.

A large window let in a lot of natural light, but on the second floor we did not have much of a view.

The closet area had the typical AC Hotel smart fridge, coffee maker, and safe. Something a little different was that this fridge had two water bottles and two glasses inside, which was a nice little surprise.

Read: Are Hotel Coffee Makers Safe & Clean? (YIKES!)

Another area where AC hotels shine, in my opinion, is the bathroom. In this room the bathroom was bright, clean, and modern with plenty of counter space.

I am a big fan of the dual AC shower heads.

Nothing is better than a hot waterfall shower raining down on your head after a long day of traveling.

AC hotels use the refillable Korres amenities in the shower which can be annoying when they are not properly maintained but the shampoo, conditioner, and body wash are pretty high quality.

The bathroom also had the typical European style, square toilet with a dual flush button.

As much as AC properties market their European feel it often surprises me that they don’t offer bidets. I personally think that would give it the full European “touch.”


One of the highlights of staying at an AC hotel is definitely the breakfast.

AC Hotel Dallas Galleria breakfast

It’s a beautifully presented “European inspired” breakfast with large tasty croissants leading the way behind sliced prosciutto, cheeses, and varieties of quiche.

AC Hotel Dallas Galleria breakfast
AC Hotel Dallas Galleria breakfast
AC Hotel Dallas Galleria breakfast

You’ll also have a fair selection of other breakfast items including breakfast tarts and fresh fruit such as cantaloupe, pineapple, and berries.

AC Hotel Dallas Galleria breakfast

They also had some cereal if you were looking for something a bit more traditional such as Cheerios or Froot Loops. Juices and yogurt are also available.

It’s an $18 breakfast but if you are Platinum or above you can get a $10 daily credit for you plus one person in your room that you can use towards breakfast making the price much more manageable.

The only drawback to the breakfast was the server opening up the breakfast area.

She was pretty indifferent to me when I asked about breakfast opening up and it felt pretty clear that she did not want to be there….


Another unique offering by the AC is the bar and tapas experience.

They had a nice little bar area serving up all of your traditional drinks but the AC also has a signature gin and tonic served in a glass “scientifically shaped to optimize the aroma.” We gave it a shot and it was very refreshing.

AC hotel signature gin and tonic

We also put in an order for tapas.

Each AC hotel may offer something a little bit different in the tapas department but generally you can find things like cheese and meat selections, warmed olives, and fries.

We went with the artisan cheese platter which came with some meats and bread. We thoroughly enjoyed it and I would recommend trying out the tapas experience.

AC Hotel Dallas Galleria tapas


In the middle of the courtyard there is a nice pool area where you can find several chairs surrounding the pool to relax on.

It’s also a great spot to head out to during cool evenings.

They had the fire pit running at night and Disney movies getting projected on a screen one night and on a wall the other night. It was just a pretty cool feature that I really liked about the hotel.

Fitness center

The fitness center was a little bland compared to some of the other AC hotels I’ve stayed at but was still very well equipped.

You’ll find treadmill, bikes, a stairmaster, and elliptical along with a few other machines.

In terms of free weights, you should have everything you need for a good dumbbell and kettle bell workouts.

Final word

Overall, this was a pretty solid hotel stay. I really loved the property itself and thought that it was well designed.

We weren’t able to enjoy any kind of great views and the service was lacking at times so it was far from a perfect stay. But if you are looking for a solid mid-tier hotel when staying in the Dallas Galleria area this would be a great option.

Hilton Fort Worth Review (Historical JFK Hotel)

We recently set out to document and create in-depth guides for all of the key sites in the Dallas/Fort Worth area associated with the tragic death of John F Kennedy.

It seemed logical that we would start things off at the Hilton Fort Worth, which has a close connection to JFK’s last moments.

In this article, I’ll give you a breakdown of what to expect if you stay at the Hilton Fort Worth, including some insight into the connection the property shares with JFK.


We booked the Hilton Fort Worth not because it was easy *but because it was hahd*.

Okay, sorry, couldn’t resist.

We booked this hotel because it seemed like a necessary stay for our itinerary, which was set up for us to explore all of the sites in the DFW area associated with the Kennedy assassination.

We paid $156 for one night which I felt was a pretty good deal for this historic hotel.

It was also nice to earn nearly 10,000 Hilton Honors points from this stay thanks to Hilton Diamond elite status and a special promotion. At a valuation of .54 cents per point, that’s like getting back $53 on the stay or close to 20% back on the entire stay. Not bad.

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

Location overview: Sundance Square 

The Hilton Fort Worth is located in Sundance Square, which is a pedestrian-friendly district right in the heart of downtown Fort Worth.

Surrounding the hotel, you’ll find a lot of dining options including many quality steakhouses such as: Ruth’s Chris Steak House, The Capital Grille, and Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse.

There are also a lot of shops and different forms of entertainment like theaters and concert venues. You’re also just a block away from the Fort Worth Convention Center.

In short, the hotel has a great central location for exploring Fort Worth.


Constructed from 1920 to 1921, the hotel is known for being the last place where JFK delivered a public speech and for being the location where he spent his last night before his assassination.

Although at the time of the assassination the hotel was under a different brand and name (the “Hotel Texas”), you’ll get a sense of that history throughout the entire property and even the surrounding block.

On every floor, you’ll find blown up photographs chronicling JFK’s last day, many if not all of them taken at the time of JFK’s visit to Fort Worth.

On the second floor of the hotel, you can find the historic Crystal Ballroom where JFK gave his last speech to the Chamber of Commerce and over 2,000 guests during breakfast.

Just before that event, JFK actually gave a speech outside the hotel to a crowd that gathered during a cold and rainy November morning.

It was apparently an impromptu speech that didn’t last long but that stole the hearts of many Texans there to catch a glimpse of the president.

To be honest, it was a bit chilling to take in the ballroom and impossible to not think about the last moments of JFK.

After he gave a speech in this ballroom, he would then make his way to the airport and then fly into Dallas Love where he would embark on his final motorcade through the city of Dallas.

Hilton Fort Worth Crystal ballroom

You can watch a video of the speech here:

In the corridors outside the ballroom, framed photographs and news clippings from the time of JFK’s fateful visit to Texas are on display.

Just outside the property, there is a well done tribute/memorial with a statue, engravings, and photographs that depict JFK’s legacy as well as his visit to DFW.

Hilton Fort Worth JFK Memorial

As for the actual room JFK stayed in (suite 850), the hotel has undergone renovations since 1963 and that room no longer exists.

However, if you head to the eighth floor and go to the rooms near 808 and 810 that is reportedly where the old suite JFK stayed in was located.

Hilton Fort Worth JFK room

Interestingly, when JFK stayed at the hotel, it supplied 14 works of art from famed artists like Picasso and Vincent van Gogh for the president to admire.

The Vincent van Gogh painting on display was an oil painting “Road with Peasant Shouldering a Spade” pictured below.

If you are willing to splurge, you can shell out a couple of grand to rent the JFK suite on the 15th floor.

We flirted with the possibility of splurging on this suite but when we called to inquire about booking it, it was already booked up for the weekend.


We arrived around 5pm and decided to valet which would end up costing $32 for the night.

As we approached the front desk for check-in, we were greeted by some friendly hotel staff members who promptly got us situated for our room on the 10th floor.

We had been automatically upgraded and received notification about it a few days prior thanks to the new upgrade system Hilton is doing.

After getting checked in, we scoped out the lobby which was a nice and open area, complete with chandelier lighting and a café.

The large star found on the floor in the middle of the lobby reminded me a lot of the big star at the Hyatt Regency in Dallas.

There is a mini-market area near the check-in desk which has a cool self check out system allowing you to easily put items on your room tab.

The room 

As we entered the room, I was impressed by how spacious it was. From a square foot perspective, this room is basically a junior suite without any partition.

The king bed was pretty comfortable and all of the bedding appeared to be very clean.

On either side of the bed we had lamps with power outlets but no USB ports.

There was a sofa with a (misaligned) coffee table in front of it and behind that, were some pretty good views looking out at downtown Fort Worth.

The room had a pretty basic workstation area with a couple of outlets accessible on the lamp.

The room did have one of the air purification systems called Pure Wellness. It caused the room to have a very strong scent which to be honest was a bit overwhelming and took a while to get adjusted to.

I guess it was nice to think about how clean the air was in the room but I could have done without it due to the strong scent.

While I loved that the room was big, it did mean that the TV was extra far away from the bed.

Underneath the TV is where you’ll find the mini-fridge and also the hotel coffee maker.

As for the bathroom area, the sink is detached from the toilet and shower room. It offers a good amount of counter space and a square vanity mirror, which I have rarely seen.

It’s a interesting little set up because there is a little nook behind the sink which had some decent views out the window.

The shower was pretty spacious and modern and we did not have any issues with water pressure or soap dispensaries.

The only complaint about the bathroom is that the toilet and shower were very close together, making it a pretty tight fit.


The dining area for breakfast was very spacious and offered a lot of seating options. During other hours of the day you can also grab drinks and other snacks or meals in this area.

Due to our elite status we were given two $12 credits for a total of $24 in food and beverage credits. Breakfast was about $21 per person so this meant we were spending about $9 per person out of pocket for breakfast.

I don’t think this breakfast was worth close to $21 per person but because we were only coming out of pocket $9, I was able to live with the price a lot easier.

With that said, the breakfast did have a pretty good range of options including fresh fruit.

For hot options they had eggs, home fries, bacon, and even biscuits and gravy.

The scrambled eggs were about what you would expect for a hotel breakfast but the bacon was actually surprisingly good.

I was pretty excited to see biscuits and gravy at a hotel breakfast but unfortunately those did not impress.

They also had some other standard options like oatmeal, toast, bagels, muffins, and cereal. I personally enjoyed the muffins.

The hotel also has a fitness center which looked pretty high-quality to me.

Final word

The Hilton Fort Worth is a hotel rich in history and worth staying at especially if you have any affinity for JFK or presidential history.

For the price point, I thought the hotel was actually a pretty great deal especially with all of the Hilton promotions we took advantage of.

Overall, I was not crazy about the breakfast but I really liked the general location of the hotel and did thoroughly enjoy immersing myself in history even if the history was on the tragic side.

AC Hotel Washington DC Convention Center Review

Washington DC is a fascinating destination.

The city’s urban atmosphere along with the lack of high-rise buildings gave me some London vibes, although on a smaller scale and with a much stronger governmental feel.

You’ll have a lot of choices for hotels when exploring the Capital but if you were thinking about staying in the Mount Vernon Square area then you might want to strongly consider the AC Hotel Washington DC Convention Center.

In this article, I’ll give you a detailed review of the AC Hotel Washington DC Convention Center.


On a road trip where we knocked out 13 states in the Northeast, we decided to kick everything off in Washington DC.

We had never explored the DC area before so we wanted to be relatively close to the National Mall, where we could easily get into full tourist mode for a day or two.

After searching for hotels in the area we settled upon the AC Hotel Washington DC Convention Center — a Marriott category four hotel that would allow us to use our free night certificates for both nights.

This is a new Marriott hotel that just opened up in the fall of 2020 (a few months ahead of schedule) so we got to experience it when it was about one-year old.

Tip: Don’t get this property confused with the nearby AC Hotel by Marriott Washington DC Downtown, which unfortunately did happen to us at one point.

Although the room rates can be low for this hotel, the rates were actually quite high during October.

For the standard rooms we would’ve been paying around $600 for two nights which meant we were getting about $300 in value from each of our free night certificates. That’s really great value so we did not hesitate to jump on this booking.

I also applied suite night awards to the booking and got confirmation about five days prior, which is how we landed the corner room on a high floor.

One thing that I thought was interesting about this hotel is that they offer rooms with two king beds — something I had not seen a lot of.

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

Location overview: Mount Vernon Square

The 13-story hotel is located in Mount Vernon Square although it also closely the borders Chinatown.

The Mount Vernon Square area seemed to be a pretty busy area with a lot of business travelers which is no surprise since this where you find the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

There are tons of hotels, restaurants, and shops nearby the hotel, and although I don’t know DC very well, it felt like we were right in the heart of the city.

Back when we lived in the UK we fell in love with Nandos so we had to hit it up, as DC is one of the few places in the states where you can find it.

For a quick lunch we tried the Sol Mexican Grill which is located just next-door to the hotel and it was okay but it’s hard to compete with Tex-Mex.

Other dining recommendations you could try include:

  • Shouk
  • Kinship
  • The Capital Burger
  • RPM Italian
  • Busboys and Poets
  • Farmers & Distillers

There’s a good amount of shopping nearby including the Apple Carnegie Library which is pretty iconic. Also, just next-door is a CVS for your all-purpose needs.

The Capital One Arena is only a couple of blocks away. We ventured out just before a Washington Capitals game which meant that a lot of the restaurants were filled with fans so try to time your meals accordingly.

This hotel is also a great location for visiting the National Portrait Gallery.

As far as getting to the National Mall you are about a 20 minute walk from it.

Related: National Mall in Washington DC (1 Day/24hr Itinerary)


We parked on the side of the road in temporary parking so that I could go in and ask about the parking situation. There are three different lots you can choose from that are pretty much neighboring the property.

We chose to use an uncovered lot that was fenced in just across the street. Parking ran $30 a day.

My recommendation would be to head to your parking lot first as we found it very difficult to maneuver around the area due to a lot of traffic.

AC Hotel Washington DC Convention Center parking

After we got the parking situation figured out, we made our way in the lobby.

Large floor to ceiling windows cast a lot of natural light into the lobby area, which has a very modern and sleek feel. The property stresses an open appearance that holds true in both the lobby and the rooms.

AC Hotel Washington DC Convention Center lobby

The lobby has plenty of lounge seating and a bar at the end which always seemed to be pretty busy during the early evenings.

AC Hotel Washington DC Convention Center lobby

The agents at check-in were nice and we were issued room keys and sent to our upgraded room on one of the 12th floor in a matter of minutes.

The corner room 

It had been a little while since we had stayed in a luxury hotel and so it felt very refreshing to have such a nice view.

With floor-to-ceiling windows, the corner room had some nice city views but use caution with those shades pulled open because people in nearby high-rises can see directly into your room.

The corner room set up that we had was a little bit different from what was advertised on the hotel website. It seems this is a more upgraded version of the room, perhaps with more space?

AC Hotel Washington DC Convention Center corner room

While this was one of the top floors, DC has strict limits on high-rises so you don’t really get a true high-rise experience in this part of the city. Still, from 12 flors up the views were pretty solid.

AC Hotel Washington DC Convention Center corner room

The hotel bedding was fresh and clean and the mattress comfortable enough to offer a good night’s sleep which we needed considering the crazy amount of walking that we did exploring the National Mall.

Seriously, I was exhausted after day one!

Read: Do Hotels Wash Bedding Between Stays?

Both sides of the bed have lamps and power outlets along with USB ports.

There’s a small sitting chair and table right next to the floor to ceiling window.

You can actually crack one of the windows behind the chair to help you control the temperature.

There’s a minimalist workstation attached to the wall with a rack for your luggage as well.

On the left, you’ll find a lamp and power outlets along with USB ports at the workstation.

As always, I suggest you read my guide on USB ports before plugging in your device.

If you’re looking for entertainment while in your room you are in luck because a 55″ TV screen hangs overhead the desk.

Next to the workstation was a large mirror.

In the entry area you have a mini-fridge and coffee maker, along with the iron and iron board.

If you pull out one of the drawers you’ll find the Gideon Bible and Book of Mormon along with forms for hotel laundry.

Related: Laundry At Hotels? Essential Tips for Keeping Your Threads Fresh

The bathroom is pretty spacious and elegant with hardwood floors and modern fixtures. The toilets have a European feel (square seat and dual flush) which is a signature of the AC brand.

The bathroom amenities were from Korres, which offer natural Greek skincare and beauty products inspired by homeopathic remedies.

They were high-quality and we did not have to bust out our own soaps and shampoos which is always nice. 

The sink area is quite spacious and beautifully backlit. I always say you can tell a lot about a hotel room by the bathroom and this room certainly had quality bathroom features all around.

The fitness center

The hotel has really nice gym in the basement. You’ll find plenty of cardio equipment and quite a few TV screens to keep you occupied. Towels and earbuds can be found down there as well.


We were out and about so much that we did not spend a lot of time in the hotel and unfortunately did not get to try out the restaurant: the AC Kitchen which offers European-style breakfast with French croissants, artisan Berkel-sliced Prosciutto di Parma and other cured meats.

To get more of your European fix you can also try out the AC Lounge which offers Spanish tapas and a curated drink menu, including the brand’s signature Gin+Tonic cocktail.

There’s also the penthouse: Estrella Lounge, which offers a rooftop experience with live music but we did not have time to check that out (assuming it was even open when we stayed).

Final word

Overall, I was very pleased with his hotel stay. Everything feels modern and fresh and the service was solid. I thought this was a great hotel to choose for a home base when exploring the National Mall, even though the hotel is designed to cater to business travelers.

Renaissance Albany Hotel Review (New York) [2022]

Albany, New York, is an interesting city. It’s got a lot of history linked to major advances in technology and transportation like the telegraph, the first long-distance plane ride, and the first passenger rail road.

And of course there are all of the historic ties to the American Revolutionary War.

So when we visited, we wanted to get a taste of that history and chose the Renaissance Albany Hotel which sits at the site of the historic DeWitt Clinton Hotel and was reopened to the public in 2015 after a $48 million project.

In this review article, I’ll cover everything you need to know about the Renaissance Albany Hotel and give you a feel for what our experience was like.


Heading from DC to the White Mountains in New Hampshire, we wanted to break up the drive and to check out a new city in the process so Albany, New York, seemed like the perfect destination.

We chose the Renaissance Albany Hotel because we’ve had some memorable experiences in Renaissance hotels like the St. Pancras and this one looked like it would be an interesting way to spend some time in Albany.

We booked one night and utilized a Marriott suite night certificate to increase our upgrade odds. We got confirmation about five days prior to the stay that we had a confirmed upgrade and looked forward even more to the stay.

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

Location overview: Downtown Albany

The Renaissance Albany Hotel is located right in the heart of Downtown Albany.

It’s within walking distance to the New York State Capitol which is one of the most beautiful and iconic capitol buildings I think I’ve ever seen.

You also have nearby attractions/sites like The Egg, Empire State Plaza, and the New York State Museum which I highly recommend. The hotel building is also connected to the Albany Capital Center so be sure to check if any events are taking place you’d be interested in.

If you’re a fan of history/Hamilton the Schuyler Mansion State Historic Site is not far away and it’s a really cool historic site to check out. You can actually tour the mansion but you need to book in advance by calling and making reservations.

We were only in town for one night so we didn’t have the chance to explore a lot of the city but overall Albany did seem like a city with a lot to offer in terms of architecture, museums, dining, shopping, and even surrounding nature/parks. I’d love to go back and see more.

It was fun exploring downtown for a day but we did run into a couple of people who were clearly drugged out of their mind. We never felt unsafe but it was pretty much the typical encounter with the homeless you might experience in a downtown area. So just be aware of what to expect.

New York State Capitol
The New York State Capitol, built in 1899.

Experiencing the history at check-in

We arrived around 1pm and were able to get early check-in no problem. The staff issued us a room key card that we would also use for in-and-out parking privileges from the parking garage attached to the rear of the building, making it easy to get around.

Upon entering the lobby, I was immediately impressed by the historic feel of the space, which dates back to 1927 when the hotel opened as the DeWitt Clinton Hotel.

With its close proximity to the capitol this hotel became known as the “Democrat’s Hotel” while the nearby Ten Eyck Hotel on North Pearl Street was known as the “Republican’s Hotel.” It’s reported that a lot of the legislative deals were made in this hotel.

The DeWitt hotel was converted in the 1970s into an assisted senior living facility and in the 1980s it was once again converted to a subsidized housing facility. But later in 2014 the property was purchased by Columbia Development and efforts began to restore the hotel to its original look.

Two interesting facts about the hotel:

  • The architect of the original hotel, Kenneth Franzheim, has ties to my hometown of Houston which I didn’t expect.
  • The first overnight guest was a feral black and white cat nicknamed DeWitt Clinton jr.

Sometimes it’s nice to have a departure from the usual look and feel of a modern hotel and to experience a hotel that feels a bit more connected to your destination. In this case, the hotel had been around since the 1920s and had a stately appearance but with a touch of glitz — a very different experience from your typical chain hotel.

Renaissance Albany Hotel lobby

The corner room 

The corner room we were upgraded to on the 11th floor was a pretty impressive room that was extremely spacious — it’s essentially a junior suite just without any real partition. I never saw the room listed on the hotel’s website so I wonder if this is sort of a special room that is not explicitly advertised?

The rooms here definitely have a unique vibe with the decorative mineral green carpet, friar gray walls, and sparkly accents. When I first walked in, I honestly wasn’t a huge fan of the look but after spending some time in the room, it grew on me (the views certainly helped).

Renaissance Albany Hotel corner room

As soon as you enter the room there is an entry way with mood lighting where you’ll find a counter with a coffee maker, cups, and ice tray.

You also have a nice little mini-fridge underneath.

The bed was really comfy and all the bedding felt fresh. The padded headboard is pretty equipped with lamps on both sides along with some vertical mirrors and reading lights.

Read: Do Hotels Wash Bedding Between Stays?

Behind the lamps you’ll find two power outlets along with USB ports for easy and convenient charging. Make sure you read our guide on using USB ports in hotels before you plug in your device!

Under the nightstand you can pull out a Bible or Book of Mormon, common materials to find in a Marriott hotel.

Related: Why Hotel Rooms Have Bibles & Why That’s Changing

hotel bible

The layout is a little bit odd with the workstation in the middle of the room.

It’s still pretty nice (and good for dining) but I found it’s just a different vibe when you’re working in the middle of the room like that.

I really liked the modern touch lamp and contrasting carrot orange chair, even if it wasn’t the most comfortable chair.

I thought it was pretty cool to have a TV that can face the bed or swivel out to the opposite direction where the sofa is.

The sofa is actually a cool place to sit down and check out the view, which was nice to do around sunset.

There is a little cove that wraps around the room where you can find a full-length mirror and the room’s closet. It also has a nice view out the window.


Sliding doors open up to a modern and relatively spacious bathroom which was nice even though the counter space on the sink is pretty limited.

Bathroom amenities were issued by Aveda, which I did not have a lot of experience with but thought they were pretty high-quality.


The hotel’s hallways had some cool mood lighting that I thought was a nice modern twist on a historic building.

Our room had a camera right outside of it, which was a little interesting and kept us on our best behavior.

Related: Hidden Cameras In Hotel Rooms!? Tools To Find Them & Where To Look

They also had some cool Johannes Vermeer wall decoration in the hallways, which was a nice surprise since we’d just explored some of his work in DC.

Fitness center

The hotel has a really nice gym. There were no views down in the gym but there were some interesting decorative walls that sort of reminded me of a Centurion Lounge (at least from afar).

For a hotel with just over 200 rooms I thought the gym was very well equipped with both cardio and machines.


Because of coronavirus, the full breakfast experience was not available. Instead, we had credits to order breakfast via room service.

Honestly, having breakfast delivered to the room was awesome. Almost every time we have ordered room service it’s been for dinner or dessert so I appreciated the early morning convenience of just waking up and eating.

I thought the waffle and eggs Benedict were pretty tasty but I felt like the breakfast should have been delivered on a plate and not a friggin to-go box, which made it awkward to eat.


We did not have the chance to try Wellington’s but it has some pretty solid reviews on its GMB profile so it’s probably worth checking out.

Final word

Overall, I thought this was a great hotel stay. The location is fantastic if you want to explore what Downtown Albany has to offer and the property felt unique and historic which added a bit of charm to the hotel stay. I would definitely recommend them.

Hampton Inn Salem| Boston Massachusetts Review [2021]

Salem Massachusetts is one of the coolest spots we’ve visited in recent time. We wanted the full Salem experience so we visited in the month of October when crowds can get a bit crazy.

Despite dealing with some busy streets, we felt very good about our choice to stay at the Hampton Inn Salem, a property that just opened up in late 2020.

Here is a full review of the hotel so you know what to expect if you choose to go with the Hampton Inn Salem.


We made this booking several months in advance which is something I highly recommend that you do if you plan on visiting Salem in October.

Several October weekends were sold out many months in advance so if you plan on staying at this hotel on a weekend my advice is to book wayyy in advance.

Also, if booking for October, be aware that Salem gets extremely busy on the weekends during this month and even weekdays can be pretty hectic closer to Halloween.

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

Location overview

The Hampton Inn Salem is located right in the heart of Salem and in my opinion is one of the best locations you could choose for a hotel.

You are just minutes away from Essex Street which has a ton of iconic attractions and popular sites to see in Salem, including those from the Salem With Trials.

As far as walking distance goes, here are some ETAs:

  • The House of the Seven Gables: 14 min
  • Salem Witch Museum: 10 min
  • Salem Common: 11 min
  • Peabody Essex Museum: 6 min
  • The Witch House at Salem: 8 min

If you are interested in doing a tour of Hocus Pocus filming sites you can find several of those nearby.

Guests are also just steps away from the Lobster Shanty which is a fabulous restaurant I would recommend you to check out if you were looking for some good lobster rolls in Salem. Boston Burger is great burger joint that is also super close. For breakfast, you could look into the Ugly Mug Diner.

If you are into cannabis there is a dispensary directly next-door called Seagrass Salem Dispensary, which I found to be a quality dispensary.

Overall, the location really is just about as good as it gets.

Related: Can You Smoke Weed in a Hotel Room?

Lobster roll from The Lobster Shanty.


This hotel stay was part of a big road trip we did in the Northeast where we hit up 13 states in 8 days!

On the day of check-in, we drove in from Plymouth, New Hampshire after doing some leaf peeping and on the way stopped in Kittery, Maine for some great lobster rolls at Bob’s Clam Hut.

When you arrive at the hotel, there is a parking garage attached to the hotel and there should be an attendant on duty to help get you situated with parking. The attendants were very on top of their job which was nice.

They admitted each automobile individually into the garage which was a little bit inefficient but given that this was October in Salem they probably had to take extra measures to prevent parking issues. Parking was $18/night.

At check-in, due to Diamond status we were offered welcome gifts of drinks and snacks. Because we had been snacking so much on the road trip we declined the snacks but we did snag a couple of water bottles.

The staff at check-in was exceptional and did a great job of making us feel at home and asking us if we needed anything.

Masks were required in the hotel as Salem has a pretty strict city wide mask requirement for indoor businesses.

A new hotel but old Hilton Honors branding materials?

The room 

The king room is modern and spacious. The comfy bed comes with a floating headboard and floating nightstands. There are lamps on both sides and you also have plenty of power outlets and USB ports for convenient charging.

Related: Should You Use USB Ports In Hotel Rooms? (Stay Away!?)

There’s a workstation with plenty of outlets (three power outlets + two USB ports) and a comfortable rolling chair so if you need to sit down and knock out some work, there’s a great space to get that done.

There’s also a large mirror right in front of the desk in case you need to keep a close eye on your appearance while working, I guess?

The workstation is connected to the entertainment area which has a large 55 inch TV, which was perfect for watching the MLB playoffs during our stay.

We actually stayed at this hotel when we went to Fenway for the Astros versus Red Sox game and I did not think the drive into Boston was bad at all. You just need to figure out your parking situation, which isn’t very difficult to do.

Under the TV you’ll find the microwave, coffee maker, and mini fridge. Next to all of that you’ll find the ice bucket.

Related: Are Hotel Coffee Makers Safe & Clean? (YIKES!) 

We were put on the top floor which is the sixth floor. As far as the view went, there was an interesting rooftop outside but we did not have much else to look out to.

The bathroom was really nice and came with some quality Neutrogena amenities.

We did not have any issues with water temperature or water pressure with the shower.


The parking garage is directly connected to the lobby which is nice and open, although on the smaller side.

The hotel lobby has some iconic signage behind the check-in desk which I thought was cool to see, especially when you first arrive in Salem. It really drives home where you are: “The Bewitched City.”


On the third floor, the hotel has a lounge-type area where you can enjoy breakfast and perhaps even conduct business meetings. I honestly wasn’t expecting this type of hotel to have such a nice and spacious lounge area so this was a nice surprise.

It’s a really cool set up where there are booths with their own TVs which I thought was really interesting (at least in theory).

The problem is that not all of the TVs are synced so you can hear echoes while trying to enjoy the TV which is actually very annoying. In fact, I started to feel like I was going a little bit crazy with the echoes, and I actually had to finish my meal in a hurry so I could get out of there!

The hotel offered what I referred to as a continental plus breakfast. You have options for hot food items like eggs, sausage, and potatoes and also other options like oatmeal and cereal.

You could also make yourself a waffle with the waffle maker.

Other options included pastries, fruit, and some really good banana nut bread.

Related: What Hotels Have Free Breakfast?

Fitness center

The Hampton Inn gym is located on the third floor as well.

For only having 113 rooms, this is actually a pretty good-sized hotel gym in my opinion.


The Hampton Inn also has a beautiful indoor pool area (located on the first floor).

Final word

Salem Massachusetts is definitely a unique destination. While it is a bit touristy (okay, let’s be honest it’s hella touristy), it’s still a very cool spot to check out and it is possible to escape from the tourist areas by walking around the city.

In terms of location, I think the Hampton Inn is one of the best hotels to stay at when visiting Salem because it is right in the middle of everything.

Residence Inn Boulder Broomfield/Interlocken Review

We recently took an extended trip up to Colorado where stayed at the Residence Inn Boulder Broomfield/Interlocken for a majority of our time. (I’ll just stick with “Residence Inn Boulder Broomfield” for short.) This was a pretty solid stay and this was definitely a property that I would recommend for a nice relaxing, extended stay. Keep reading below to find out why.

Booking the Residence Inn Boulder Broomfield

We sought out to escape the heat in Arizona, do some epic hiking in CO, and also to earn Marriott Titanium status with this stay.

Success was met for the last two goals but a heat wave was sitting over Denver during our stay so temperatures were actually about ten degrees cooler in southern Arizona! So much for beating the heat….

We decided to book this particular hotel largely based on the location to our hikes (and because it was dog-friendly).

Related: Bringing a Dog to a Hotel: Essential Tips for a Good Stay

We wanted to be close enough to Rocky Mountain National Park to make a day trip out of it while also being close enough to our other destinations like Keystone, Colorado where we stayed for a couple of nights in order to acclimate for hiking Grays Peak.

In the end this was not the best plan.

If you want to visit Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) I think you are much better off just staying in Estes Park which we eventually did.

The reason is some of the trailheads are located pretty far into the park and if you are driving out from Denver/this hotel you could be looking at four to five total hours on the road which is not ideal, especially if you need a really early start due to park reservations.

Ultimately, I ended up paying cash for this hotel booking and unfortunately was not able to stack the booking with any type of Amex Offer or ongoing promotion. But still, we hit Titanium so that was nice!

Location overview

The location of this hotel is perfect for someone looking for a lot of standard eating options located nearby.

Within walking distance you have: Wal-Mart, Benihana, Jason’s Deli, Five Guys, Popeye’s, and other establishments for poke, pizza, and Mexican food. There is also a movie theater next-door and a shopping mall with plenty of eating spots as well.

The entire area just felt very nice and so if you are looking for that type of vibe this will be perfect.

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!


At check-in, we were greeted by a helpful and friendly staff member. We stayed at this property for nearly 2 weeks as it was a true extended-stay and during that entire time I thought the staff was pretty great.

The room 

You can basically choose from three different room types: studio, king suite, and two queen suite.

Since we were traveling with our dog we decided to book a king suite so that we could put him in a separate area at night. The king suite is pretty spacious at 634 square ft.

We were placed on the first floor right next to an exit which was extremely convenient for the pup. The drawback of being on the first floor is that you have people walking across your window view but we did not spend much time in the bedroom during the daytime so this was not a big deal.

I thought the bed was pretty comfortable. The pillows and mattress are not on the same level as a nicer hotel but because this was an extended stay we brought our own pillows and blankets and used them.

The headboard had built-in nightstands on each side with two USB ports and two power outlets, which was super convenient.

Related: Should You Use USB Ports In Hotel Rooms? (Stay Away!?)

The bedroom had a large HD TV, which we were thankfully able to set up our Apple TV with.

Outside of the bedroom, in the living room area you’ll have a sofa, working station, small dining table, and TV. The end table to the sofa and the desk both had two power outlets and two USB ports making it really easy to move around the suite with your electronics. As you can probably tell from the picture below, the sofa wasn’t so comfy.

The Residence Inn is one of the most popular hotel brands that offers a full kitchen. In this case, we had an oven and range, medium-sized refrigerator with freezer, dishwasher, and microwave.

In addition we had a small sink, coffee maker, and toaster. So this was a pretty well-equipped kitchen considering that you don’t always get an oven in these type of set ups.

Related: Are Hotel Coffee Makers Safe & Clean? (YIKES!)

The bathroom was pretty standard. Simple and clean is about all you can ask for at a hotel like this.

They did give us an accessible room which meant some extra contraptions in the shower.


The lobby area is very spacious and modern and I really liked the seating area located near the back which opened up to the pool area. A lot of natural light and some cool, modern lighting fixtures gave the space a nice look and feel

Adjacent to the lobby, there is a pretty large bar area and quite a few different seating cubicles.


The free breakfast set up was pretty nice. It was set up in a very open area and consisted of what I would call a continental plus breakfast. It had all of the essentials of a continental breakfast such as muffins, fruit, and juice but it also had hot food offerings like eggs, sausage, potatoes, and even a waffle maker.

Related: What Hotels Have Free Breakfast?

Fitness center

The fitness center here was very spacious and modern. You could find all of the essential machines you would need for a good workout and I liked that the cardio section overlooks the lobby from the second floor. Pretty cool design.


There is also a nice outdoor pool area which was staying pretty busy due to the excessive heat wave.

There was a cool little fire pit area next to the pool along with some areas where you could have a nice little cookout. A lot of people congregated out here during the evenings when it got cooler.

The laundry room had a few different washing and dryer machines that you could purchase credits for via an app called PayRange (note this is not used for all ResidenceInn properties). You might also be able to use quarters as well.

The hotel also had some amenities you don’t usually see.

There was this cool little movie room which can be rented out. Normally it is a little bit more cozy with beanbags but I think a business was renting out the room when we viewed it which is why it looked a little bit more like a corporate setting.

They also had a library room which felt somewhat like a lounge and could also be rented for events I believe.

Final word

I really enjoyed the extended stay at this property. I really do like the location because of all of the nearby restaurants that make it so easy to grab something to eat. It’s also nice to have a Wal-Mart next door to an extended stay property. Overall, the hotel felt relatively new, clean, and modern. For me personally, it was not the best hotel for a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park but depending on your objectives when visiting it could still work.

DoubleTree Flagstaff, Arizona Review

We recently took a last-minute trip to Flagstaff, Arizona and decided to try out a new hotel: the DoubleTree Flagstaff. This was a very nice stay that was almost completely positive except for one major flaw.

Overall, I enjoyed my time though and would definitely consider coming back again. Keeping reading below to see what the experience was like and how much value we were able to earn with our bonus points!

Booking the DoubleTree Flagstaff

We decided to take a last-minute trip to Flagstaff to check out the amazing “Chocolate Falls” nearby (picture below) and to hike Kendrick Peak — one of the tallest peaks in Arizona.

We paid cash for two nights with the total coming out to $488. With our Hilton Diamond status (the top level status) and the ongoing Hilton promotion that we found on WalletFlo, we earned over 15,000 points! At a valuation of .5 cents per point, our 15,145 points came out to $75.72 in value. That’s about 15.5% back, which is pretty solid.

We also used an Amex Offer which allowed us to save $45 on the booking so the true price came out to $443. If you factored in the value in points and the two $28 food and beverage credits we received, out of pocket was more like $312.

Location overview

Flagstaff is such a great hub location for many outdoor attractions like trips to the Grand Canyon, Sedona, etc. In this instance, we knew the monsoon rains had the Little Colorado River flowing which meant the amazing Grand Falls a.k.a. “Chocolate Falls” was flowing nice. So we made our way out to that site and it was breathtaking!

Related: 18 Arizona National Parks & Monuments to Explore 

As far as the immediate location around the hotel you have pretty much everything you need. There is a Safeway next-door along with a shopping center and Target/Wal-Mart are close. Nearby eating establishments include Chick-fil-A, Raising Canes, and Chilis among many others.

Check-in (early check-in granted)

At check-in we were greeted by a super friendly hotel agent. We went through the usual booking verification stuff and then they broke out the famous DoubleTree cookies. It was my first time trying this out and they were seriously amazing.

Related: What Time Is Check-In for Hotels? (Early Check-In Tips)

Hilton DoubleTree cookie bags
Hilton DoubleTree cookie

Because we were traveling with our dog (read tips on that) we didn’t get an upgrade and were put in the separate building where pets are allowed. It’s in the back of the hotel but connected and not a long walk from the lobby.

The room (Two Queen Beds)

At 364 square ft. the room was a little compact but not too cramped. There are basically just two beds and then a small reading chair in the corner. As far as the bedding went, Sweet Dreams plush-top beds and pillows were very comfy. Got some great rest before our hike!

There are power outlets in the lamp between the beds and the alarm clock has a USB port. I did appreciate the Antelope Canyon artwork in the room, as that’s one of my favorite spots to explore.

Related: Should You Use USB Ports In Hotel Rooms? (Stay Away!?)

There is a nice workstation with ergonomic chair and all of the menus and prices you need to know about beneath the glass along with a phone. (We tried to use room service with this phone unsuccessfully but more on that later.)

The window opened up to a nice view of some beautiful pine trees, which is something I truly love about Flagstaff. This is also a nice area for walking your dog.

There is a decent sized (37 inch) HDTV in the middle of the room complete with HBO. Beneath that, you will find your mini fridge, hotel safe, tea/coffee cups and maker, and glasses/ice bucket. There are no microwaves in the room.

The bathroom was nice and came with a backlit mirror and one sink and a combined shower/bath.


The lobby is a nice open area with a fair amount of seating and cozy two-sided fireplace, which is ideal for a location at 7,000 feet elevation.

By the fireplace you will find a little sitting area and a workstation with a couple of computers and a printer.

This is also where you can find the hotel bar. During our stay, Flagstaff High School was having their 50th reunion and this entire bar area was filled with a bunch of 70 year old partygoers living their best life, which was a pretty awesome to witness.

The hotel is home to two restaurants: Sakura Teppanyaki and Sushi (voted #1 sushi in Flagstaff) and Woodlands Restaurant. Sakura offers teppan table shows on certain days but you’ll need to make reservations for that.

We used our daily $14 food and beverage credits (from Diamond status) to eat at Woodlands Restaurant. I enjoyed the club sandwich but they have a lot of different options.

The Doubletree Flagstaff also offers room service but it was pretty much a no-go for us.

Our phone calls would ring endlessly and then when we would go down to check with the restaurant they claimed they never received any calls. The one time we got ahold of them they told us we would have to come down to order and that we only had a couple of minutes to do so before closing (they wouldn’t take the order over the phone).

The next time I came down to put in an order (after no one answered) they recommended I stay downstairs and wait for the order to “save” on the delivery fee. At that point I was thinking they should be waiving delivery fees considering that the whole purpose of room service is to conveniently order food from your room and they had already denied me twice.

They then proceeded to bring me a warm bottle of sparkling water and a very so-so desert. It was just a very underwhelming experience.

The hotel has an indoor hot tub and also an outdoor pool, flanked by beautiful fir/spruce trees.

There is also a nice fitness center at the hotel. It has a handful of cardio machines including treadmills, ellipticals and an exercise bike. But they also had a decent free weight section. The only drawback is that there are no windows which is a shame considering all of the beautiful pine trees outside.

In the back of the hotel there is a little outdoor venue set up. The DoubleTree Flagstaff has 6,500 sq. ft. of event space, seven meeting spaces, including a 350-person Grand Ballroom so they definitely put on a lot of events here.

The back area of the hotel is also a good place to walk your dog as there is a lot of grassy area.

Final word

Overall, this is one of the best pet friendly hotels in Flagstaff. It’s conveniently located, the rooms and facilities are nice, and the staff was very friendly, too. They just need to figure out the room service situation and it would be a much better guest experience.

Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos Review (Food, Beaches, & Pools) [2021]

Choosing an all-inclusive resort can be difficult because the quality can vary so widely between resorts. And because you will probably be spending a lot of money, you want to make sure that you pick the right resort.

One respected brand for all-inclusive stays is the Hyatt Ziva.

So on a recent trip to Los Cabos, I was eager to try out the Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos. In this article, I will give you a detailed look at this resort. I also have many sub-articles that you can check out that will give you a more detailed look at some of the facilities like the restaurants and spa.

Related: Tipping in Mexico: How Much to Tip and When to NOT Tip


We paid for our three night stay with the Chase Sapphire Reserve and earned 3X the points on the purchase. During our stay in July, we paid roughly $500 per night for the suite. 

We received an upgrade from an Ocean View One Bedroom Master Suite to an Ocean Front One Bedroom Master Suite, which I would highly recommend for reasons that I will talk about below.

The key difference is that the ocean front is directly on the beach while the ocean view just has a view of the beach.

If you want to use points to make your Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos booking, rates start at 20,000 World of Hyatt points per night.

Tip: Use WalletFlo for all your credit card needs. It’s free and will help you optimize your rewards and savings!


The resort is not located in the heart of the party central known as Cabo San Lucas. Instead, it is found in historical San Jose del Cabo which is much more laid-back. It is a short 10 minute taxi ride from the resort to the city center of San Jose (Plaza Mijares) which I would highly recommend visit to.

If you want to head to San Lucas, it’s about 30 minutes away. 

San Jose del Cabo has a charming old town feel to it due to its Spanish colonial history that dates back to the 1700s. In San Jose del Cabo there are a lot of little shops, galleries, restaurants and other places to check out among the colorful backroads. You really owe it to yourself to checkout this town.

It is also known for the art walk that takes place every Thursday, which unfortunately we were not able to do.


After flying in on American Airlines Main Cabin Extra, we arranged to be picked up from the airport and were transported in a Cadillac Escalade.

We initially booked a Chevrolet Suburban for $150 roundtrip but were bumped to a Cadillac Escalade, which goes for $230. If you want to stick to a budget you can book a shuttle from the airport for $28 round-trip.

The Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos has a wide driveway that is covered and leaves plenty of room for multiple vehicles. I liked that the entrance was gated and that there was always an attendant there.

We arrived a couple of hours before check in and we were allowed to store our luggage and receive our bracelets while we waited for our rooms to be ready.

In my experience, it is rare for an all inclusive resort to allow you to check in early because they are usually running at high capacity.

The lobby is pretty huge. On one side there are information desks and on the other side you will find the check-in desks.

There was a separate check-in line for Hyatt elite Members (Explorist and Discoverist) although the main line was not very long. There is also a premium check-in area that you could utilize if you are Hyatt Globalist.

Resort premises

The Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos is one of the best looking resorts that I have stayed at.

As soon as you make your way through the lobby you will be amazed by the money shot, which looks out over the main pool and out into the deep blue Pacific ocean. For sure you will want to stop and snap a photo as you step through this breezy passageway,

The premises throughout the resort are beautiful, especially with all of the towering tall palm trees.

The landscaping is well-maintained and you will find many brightly colored flowers lining the clean walkways.

In the center of the resort you will find a lagoon area that consists of a tranquil cascade of pools that are not made for swimming but more for lounging.

In this area, you will find several platforms with comfy seating and fire pits. You owe it to yourself to spend at least one night hanging out on one of the floating fire pit platforms.

The area near the Lagoon is also where you might find a pop-up crepe station or some other type of eating station or events like an art walk.


The beach here is rough. And I’m not just talking about the sand.

The waves are powerful and the undercurrents are even stronger. This means that you probably will not want to go swimming because it can be so dangerous, especially for people who are not strong swimmers.

So instead of swimming in the ocean, your beach experience will be mostly limited to strolling around on the sand or lying around in a chair or cabana. You might also spend some time admiring the view.

If the idea of reading a book while listening to the waves pounding sounds like a dream to you then this will be your dream destination.

There are some beaches that you can drive out to that are swimmable in the nearby area. For more on the beaches in the area click here.

One bedroom ocean front suite

I really liked our one-bedroom oceanfront suite. I did a detailed review of the room here so I would suggest you check that out if you’re interested but I will summarize how I felt about it below.

Our suite was very spacious. It had a nice little dining area that had some bubbly and some chocolates waiting for us when we arrived.

There was also a pretty spacious living area that was connected to the balcony. The living area had a comfortable sofa and a large TV. It also came with a small refrigerator that was loaded up with some beer and other beverages.

The bedroom was also extremely spacious as well. It had a sofa that I believe pulled out into a bed and also a large king bed.

It also had a large TV.

And of course, you can’t forget about the oceanfront view which was just amazing, especially since you could see it from the bed.

And of course the room opened up to the balcony outside which was also very big. I absolutely loved the view looking out to the hills and mountains.

The bathroom was pretty nice as well. I thought the tub was a little bit on the small side but everything else was pretty nice.

Related: What is a Resort? (Breakdown of Different Types)


When you are staying at an all inclusive resort, obviously the dining is a huge factor. Unfortunately, some all-inclusive resorts are known for their mediocre dining.

However, this resort was pretty solid in the dining department.

Did every meal just blow me away? Of course not.

But did I feel like this all inclusive resort was a step above the other all-inclusive resorts I have visited? Yes.

I have reviewed some of the restaurants in closer detail so in some cases you can find a link to those restaurants below. But I will just give you an overview of my experience.

Before jumping into the reviews one thing you should know. These restaurants do not always open at the times listed on the website. This caused some confusion for us and I think it is one thing the resort needs to work on.

So if you are trying to plan out your day you may need to contact the resort and ask what times the places will be opening and go from there.

La Plaza (International buffet)

Breakfast buffets are super important to me at all-inclusive resorts. I like to have a lot of variety and different ways to start my day each morning when it comes to what I want to eat. I also want to look forward to breakfast every morning.

I felt that this resort had a great breakfast buffet. As you can tell in my review, there are many different options for you to select.

I like that they had quality traditional American breakfast options like: egg omelettes, bacon, sausage, and even waffles, french toast, etc.

But I also really enjoyed the Mexican dishes that they had.

The lunch here was also on point.

I would highly recommend that you take advantage of the Mongolian Grill. Seriously it was amazing.

You simply choose your noodles and your proteins and whatever else you want to be cooked up and they will cook it up in a matter of minutes. This was definitely one of the highlights for lunch to me so don’t pass it up.

You can read the detailed review here.

Zaffiro (Italian restaurant)

I really enjoyed Zaffiro. It is located right on the beach and you have amazing views as you dine.

For dinner we tried their Italian breaded fried calamari which came with some tasty lemon and garlic oil. We also tried their pizza, which I thought was pretty good.

Overall, this was one of my favorite places for dinner for sure.

I did visit them for their “hamburger day” but was not super impressed. The hamburger patty just did not taste or feel high quality to me and kind of turned me off, despite how good it looked on the outside.

Coco Loco Snack Bar

Coco Loco Snack Bar is a great place to grab a snack while enjoying the pools. It is located just outside of the main pool area and you can choose from a lot of different types of snack foods like fish tacos, burgers and others. This place won’t disappoint when you have the munchies.

Coffee House

The Coffee House is a nice cozy place to grab some coffee or perhaps some pastries. I felt the quality of some of the pastries were lacking just a little bit but overall it was still a good place to grab a bite to eat to hold you over. You can read the detailed review here.

Deli Cactus (24 hour lounge)

I really loved the 24 hour lounge. It just had a really cool vibe on the inside and I like that there were so many grab and go options like sandwiches.

If you are getting ready to head out on an excursion all day this is a great place to stop by first to grab you a snack on the way out.

DoZo (Asian restaurant)

I really loved the Asian restaurant DoZo and we tried their teppanyaki grill which was amazing.

The chef was one of the best that I think I have ever seen which is saying a lot since I had eaten at a lot of teppanyaki-style grills. You can read the detailed review here.

Bon Vivant (French restaurant)

I felt that that the French restaurant was a little bit overhyped. It wasn’t bad and I tried their chicken Cordon Bleu which I thought was okay but the restaurant seemed to be a little bit overrated if you ask me.

El Cortijo (Spanish restaurant)

I really liked the look and feel of El Cortijo.

The service was great here and we enjoyed some of the different tapas and appetizers that they had to offer. The mojitos were on point and the lamb chops were not bad either.

Tip: Use WalletFlo for all your credit card needs. It’s free and will help you optimize your rewards and savings!

Bars & Lounges

There are a few bars that you can enjoy at the resort.

Now here is the thing, I do not drink. So what am I doing reviewing all-inclusive resorts? Well it is a long story but I only bring it up to explain that I didn’t experience the bars from the perspective of someone getting tipsy, buzzed etc.

With that said, the bars and lounges did look pretty cool.

There is a tequila bar which is right behind the lagoons.

There is also a sports bar, Spirit of 1968, which looks really cool and is full of pool tables and TVs. We visited during the women’s World Cup and the sports bar was pretty lit. So if you are visiting during a major sporting event this would be a great place to watch the game.

There is also a swanky lounge that is connected to the main lobby.


There are multiple swimming pools at the resort and I reviewed them in more detail here. 

The main pool is located right in the middle of the resort and it is the first pool that you see when you make your way to the lobby. From the lobby, it is a very impressive view with the pool and in the foreground and the beautiful deep blue Pacific in the background.

It is a wide pool area and it is lined with chairs and you can find some cabanas surrounding the pool. The prices for the cabanas vary based on the location and the size. If you want to find out more about the pricing you can check out the review article I did on the pools.

Then there is the infinity pool which is smaller and closer to the beach. This is also where you can find a couple of the hot tubs.

This was a chill pool and I liked that it had a swim up bar.

The resort also has an adults only pool. I really liked the look of this pool and liked that it was connected to the swim up rooms.

It also had a nice bar area with a cool cactus garden on top. The adults only pool had a much more laid-back vibe as you would probably expect. It also just felt more sleek and the modern which I really liked. My guess is that this pool was added on more recently.

Finally, there is also the water park area. This has extremely shallow water but has a cool slide area for kids to splash around in and have fun.

You can read more about the pools and how to read the cabanas here.

Club lounge

The resort has an exclusive club lounge that is available to those staying in premium rooms and those who have top elite status. It’s a nice little area where you can grab some cold and hot food items and just relax.

The club lounge isn’t quite as valuable at an all inclusive resort because it is offering you a lot of things that you already are getting for free. But in this case you can find more premium liquors if you would like at the club lounge.

It’s a cool little spot and also has a great view of the pool and ocean. You can check out the full review here.

Fitness center

The fitness center is not the nicest fitness center that I have ever seen but it is still pretty good and has a lot of different machines for you to use.

I thought it was cool that they have this soccer-style pool table.

They also had an outdoor basketball court — something that I have not seen at many hotels.

There is also a tennis court. I’m not sure if you can rent tennis rackets but you could always ask.

I liked that there was an outdoor terrace with lounge chairs and a great view of the pool.

Just check out that view.

Zen Spa

I was not fortunate enough to try out spa treatment but I still did take a full tour of the spa. I have to say that it is one of the most amazing spa facilities I have seen at a hotel. It’s a large two story facility and I think it’s just a beautiful venue.

I was able to take a peek at some of the massage rooms like the couples massage room. The rooms are spacious and come with showers and some even have tubs, along with a sink area to freshen up. I was just very impressed with how they looked.

I would highly suggest for you to check out my full review of the facility here.


There is always something going on at the resort. When you check-in, you should be given a schedule of all of the activities to expect during the week.

There will usually be beach and pool activities going on throughout the day. These vary but some activities that you might find consist of: pool biking, aqua aerobics, beach volleyball, trivia, ping-pong, beach soccer, and foam parties.

When it comes to the nighttime entertainment they will put on shows, have live music, art walks, and other theater shows. So be sure to always check the latest schedule to see what is going on.


The hotel offers a lot of recommended excursions. You can check out the different prices and options below. Just keep in mind that the prices are subject to change.


The service really stood out at this hotel. Each time we walked buy a staff member in the hallway we were always greeted with a smile and a nice gesture. The staff in the restaurants were also extremely attentive and pleasant to deal with. And I never had a bad encounter in the pool area or anywhere else in the hotel.

So overall I would give them five stars out of five.

Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos FAQ

What is the best room at the Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos?

There are many great rooms at the Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos but I would recommend booking an Ocean Front One Bedroom Master Suite if you want to experience the beachfront from a balcony.

How expensive are rooms booked with points?

Rooms booked with points start at 20,000 points per night.

How far from the city center is the hotel?

It is a short 10 minute taxi ride from the resort to the city center of San Jose (Plaza Mijares).

How much does the shuttle cost from the airport?

You can book the shuttle for $28 round-trip.

Can you swim in the beach at the Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos?

Swimming is not recommended because the undercurrents are so strong.

What restaurants are at the Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos?

La Plaza (International buffet)
Zaffiro (Italian restaurant)
Coco Loco Snack Bar
Coffee House
Deli Cactus (24 hour lounge)
DoZo (Asian restaurant)
Bon Vivant (French restaurant)
El Cortijo (Spanish restaurant)

Is there an adult only pool?

Yes, there is an adult only pool.

Final word

Overall, I was very pleased with this all-inclusive resort. It definitely was a step above some of the other all-inclusive resorts that I have stayed at. I liked that there were some quality dining experiences and that the main buffet was very legit.

The hotel is also just a beautiful property and has some great views especially from the higher floors. If you can swing it, I would definitely try to go with an oceanfront room because the views and sounds are simply amazing.

Hyatt Place Keystone Review

We recently visited the beautiful Hyatt Place Keystone on a summer trip to Colorado. This hotel seems to be primarily a winter destination for those looking to snowboard and ski but it also is a nice summer destination.

There were hardly any visitors during our summer stay which made the experience very relaxing and enjoyable. In this review article, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about the Hyatt Place Keystone.

Booking the Hyatt Place Keystone

We were completing a bit of a mattress run (for Titanium with Marriott) in Denver but decided to head up into the mountains for a couple of days to acclimate before our first 14er hike. The Hyatt Place Keystone sits around 9,400 feet so it seemed like a perfect place to do that.

I decided to use a free night certificate from my World of Hyatt Credit Card along with 15,000 points to cover two nights total. When doing this you need to call the hotel ahead of time so that they can link your reservations and keep you in the same room but you will have to remember to reactivate your room keys during your stay.

With taxes and fees, each night came out to around $220, which offered about 1.46 cents per point in value for the 15,000 points. That’s not the best value I have received with Hyatt points but with the upgrade (discussed below) the value was much better.

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

Location overview

The Hyatt Place Keystone is located in Keystone, Colorado which is about 1.5 hours west of Denver and 20 minutes to Breckenridge.

Keystone, full of mining and logging history, is a small unincorporated mountain village with a population of somewhere around 1,000. It’s known for being home to the Keystone Resort — the only place to offer night skiing in the area.

The town has 20 lifts including two gondolas, two express six-pack and four high speed quads. Find more on the trails here.

The Snake River runs right behind the hotel and there are little walkways that take you on bridges over the river for some nice strolls. It’s truly scenic and worth it to check out.

You’ll find a lot of condominiums nearby but also a decent selection of restaurants. When we visited in July 2021 some of the restaurants were still shuttered from covid but many of them were completely open and did not require a mask.

Directly adjacent to the hotel is a place called Goat Soup & Whiskey Tavern. We didn’t try it out but I saw they had a lot of good reviews for both their soup and whiskey. There’s a Mexican restaurant directly across the street called Dos Locos Mexican Restaurant & Cantina which we did try and while we loved the queso the entrées were just okay.

If you walk about 15 minutes east you will hit the heart of the town: River Run Village.

This is where the Keystone Ski Resort is found and where you can find a lot more restaurants, the gondola, some ice-skating, etc. We tried the Pizza On the Run and felt like the pizza was pretty average. (Overall, none of the places we ate at in Keystone were a home run.)

We were going to give the gondola a shot but it was $33 per person (only day passes sold) and that would’ve only given us about 1.5 hours to utilize. That was a hard price to stomach considering Telluride offers free gondola rides.

If you head west from the hotel you can also find major attractions just minutes away like Keystone Lake, which is the largest maintained outdoor ice rink in the U.S. Keep heading west and you’ll hit Dillion where the Dillion Reservoir is located — a great scenic drive.

Be sure to check out the Sapphire Point Overlook which is found on a short loop trail (.6 miles, 36 feet in elevation) offering some pretty great views of the water and surrounding peaks.

Sapphire Point Overlook

Check-in (early check-in granted)

On the way to the hotel I was able to confirm that we would receive early check-in so we were able to get into our room around noon. The hotel staff member specifically mentioned my Hyatt Discoverist status, when offering me early check-in which was nice and I think the third or fourth time I’ve gotten early check-in due to Hyatt Discoverist status.

At check-in we were also able to confirm an upgrade to a Mountain View room. Although we were only placed on the second floor it was still a really nice view.

The total cost for the upgraded room would’ve come out to around $530 for two nights. So I basically got $265 in value for my free night certificate and for my 15,000 points which came out to a more respectable 1.76 cents per point.

The hotel offers both valet and free parking. You can find some parking spots below the hotel and others surrounding the property. To access the parking follow the one-way lane that takes you underneath the property.

The room (Mountain View King Bed)

The Mountain View King bed is small to medium sized room at 300-square-foot but it’s got mostly everything you need.

A as soon as you enter there is a full-length mirror and on the other side, a small, single-serve coffee/tea station.

Tip: head downstairs to the lounge area to pick up more tea flavors.

There is also a nice little mini fridge below the coffee station but no microwave.

Directly beside the coffee station, you’ll find the work station, which comes with a comfortable chair along with power outlets and USB ports. The large 42 inch TV is just to your side but you can swivel the screen so that it faces the bed a — feature I thought was pretty cool about this room.

There is also a little sitting area with an ottoman which looks out to the view. I really enjoyed sitting on the sofa and watching the rain roll in from the mountains. (If you’d like, you can open up one of the smaller windows by turning its handle.)

The furniture does feel a bit cluttered given the limited space but ultimately this was not a big deal to me with the large windows that open up the room.

The king bed was really comfortable, so I don’t have any complaints there. There are lamps built in to the floating headboard on either side of the bed and you will have two power outlets at your convenience. On one side you’ll have the phone and on the other side, the alarm clock.

The bathroom was nice and clean and came with a single sink and KenetMD Skincare amenities.

The shower is pretty spacious (long). The water pressure was fine but this was one of those hotel showers where there is a very thin line between warm water and scolding hot water. So pretty difficult to find the sweet spot.


On the main floor, there is a nice cozy lounge area complete with a fireplace and large flatscreen TV.

There is also a bar area with plenty of seats surrounding it. (It is just behind this area where breakfast is served.)

Near the bar area there is a station for coffee and tea and also a Soda Stream machine.

If you are not familiar, Soda Stream is a company that produces sparkling water products. They have small machines that you can use in your kitchen to create your own sparkling water and it is one of the best purchases we have made in the last couple of years.

But at the hotel they have an industrial machine that serves up all kinds of different flavors. They had just set it up whenever we arrived and so they were adding new flavors every morning. It was all complimentary when we visited and it was a very nice surprise (although I will say that the level three carbonation is not as strong as the at home machines).

Beside the bar area there is a decent amount of seating with some nice views and you can also opt to sit outside if the weather is cooperating.

The breakfast was a pretty standard continental breakfast with juices, cereal, milk, fruit, Jimmy Dean sausages, etc. I’m not sure if there are any more offerings during non-pandemic times but you can take a look at the breakfast spread below.


The Hyatt Place Keystone has a really nice gym with most of the basic equipment you’d be looking for.

Hot tubs

There are three different hot tubs you can choose from at the Hyatt Place Keystone.

The first one is located on the bottom level, just outside of the parking garage. It has some privacy glass surrounding it so you can enjoy the hot tub with some degree of privacy, even though it’s found near an entrance to the hotel.

The other two hot tubs come with a view.

One is located on the fifth floor and the other is on the sixth floor. Both should have towels for you on-site.

We spent some time relaxing in the hot tub on the sixth floor and it was very nice especially with the amazing view.

There is also a pool that is shared with other nearby facilities. You just need to show your room key in order to access the pool but we did not try it out during our stay.

Final word

Overall, this was a great little summer getaway. The primary reason we stayed here was to acclimate to a higher elevation (which seemed to have worked for our hike by the way). But I enjoyed pretty much every aspect of the stay. The service was great and I really enjoyed soaking in the hot tub with such beautiful views.

Loews Ventana Canyon Resort Review |Tucson, Arizona

Loews is a smaller but luxurious hotel program (27 hotels as of 2021) that I had never tried before, so I was very excited to book a stay at the Loews Ventana Canyon Resort in Tucson, Arizona. It was a short stay but very memorable and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this resort to anyone headed to Tucson. Check out what the experience was like below.

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

Booking the Loews Ventana Canyon Resort

We booked through the American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts (FHR) program. It’s a great luxury hotel program with properties located all around the globe. The major plus of booking with FHR is that it also provides you with the following benefits for your stay:

  • Noon check-in, when available
  • Guaranteed 4pm late check-out
  • Room upgrade upon arrival, when available
  • Daily breakfast for two people
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi
  • Special amenity unique to each property

It’s perfect to use when staying at hotels where you don’t have elite status and in this case there is no Loews elite program (anymore) so it made perfect sense to use the program to stay here.

We found a rate for a Ventana Patio King Bed Room going for around $180 and with taxes it came out to right at $200. This meant that we could use the new hotel credit from the American Express Platinum Card to completely cover our one night staycation.

With the addition of the $100 property credit and $70 breakfast credit along with the upgrade, we were able to receive about $400 in value while only paying $30 out-of-pocket for the property fee. Not a bad deal at all.

Location overview

This resort is located in one of the most scenic spots in Tucson — the Catalina Foothills.

Specifically, it is built right by Ventana Canyon which means that you have access to great hiking trails next door. Seriously, we hiked Ventana Canyon and had amazing wildlife encounters with a desert bighorn sheep, desert tortoise, and tons of birds (see the video below).

Beautiful scenery in Ventana Canyon

You are also in close proximity to another hiking hotspot Sabino Canyon, which offers some of the best trails in the area including: 7 Falls Trail, Phoneline Trail, and Blackett’s Ridge. Mount Lemmon is also close by and is a must when in Tucson, especially if you are seeking cooler temperatures and a change of scenery with beautiful pine trees.

There are a ton of restaurants and shops in the nearby area as well so this resort definitely is in a prime location.

Check out some footage from the hike below:

Check-in (early check-in granted)

We called ahead and the hotel assured us that we could check in at 1 PM so we arrived right on the dot.

I was immediately impressed with the landscaping at the resort as you don’t typically see a lot of bright green grass in this area of the country. I also appreciated how the tones and patterns of the structure blended in with the natural surroundings.

Once we made our way to the lobby, check-in was very smooth.

There was a trainee working the front desk and so things went a little bit slower but I understand people have to get experience somehow so it was not a big deal.

Also, the employee providing the training was doing a good job of providing direction to the new employee and simultaneously facilitating the check-in process — something that requires a good deal of patience.

Fortunately, the good service we got at the beginning lasted throughout the entire stay which left me with a great impression of this hotel brand.

I was able to confirm that we would receive an upgrade and we had the choice of a city view or mountain view. I think both views would be great but I am definitely a mountain person so we went with the mountain view.

At check-in you should be issued basics like a map, wristband for the pool, and breakdown of the facility operating hours. You can also opt to receive a text message with a link to all of the menus and other information you would need for your stay.

There are multiple parking lots so depending on which side of the hotel you are on you want to choose the one closest to your room. You can also access the hotel via side entrances which also have elevators near them.

There was a pretty potent smell in the elevators and in the hallways. It wasn’t necessarily a bad smell but I think it had something to do with the construction that was going on at the time.

The room (Mountain View King Bed)

When we entered the room, the temperature was already set to the upper 60s which was a nice surprise since outside temperatures were in the triple digits (105º).

The Mountain View King bed is pretty spacious and about what you would expect in terms of square feet (450 sq. ft./42 sq. m.).

There is a little coffee and tea station as soon as you enter the room. The mini fridge is a little bit hidden underneath there so make sure you don’t miss it as you’ll find some much-needed water bottles inside.

On the other side is a closet in which you can find two bath robes.

The king bed was extremely comfortable in terms of the softness of the matress, bedding, and pillows. Each night stand on either side of the bed has a lamp with one power outlet. On one side you’ll find the phone for a quick and easy access to the front desk and room service and then on the other side you’ll find an alarm clock.

Next to the bed there is a little seating area.

There was a pretty basic workstation with multiple power outlets and USB ports for easy charging which I appreciated as I had a few meetings to knock out. I should also point out that the Wi-Fi was solid during this stay and despite being so close to the mountains, cell phone service was not an issue.

There was a large flat screen TV on top of a dresser with plenty of drawers.

The bathroom is awesome as it houses a huge bath (which also has the showerhead). There is only one sink in the bathroom but a good amount of counter space. Also, it came stashed with Julien Farel bath amenities including bar soap, body wash, hand sanitizer, and lotion.

One slightly odd feature of the bathroom and entry area is the tile. It has an uneven finish so it is like walking on large cobblestones which doesn’t necessarily feel the greatest on your feet although I could see how some people would like it.

The bath/shower utilizes a sliding glass door to keep water in when showering. There are no jets in the oversized bath but it is still pretty relaxing to soak in such a large tub.

The mountain view from the fourth floor was fantastic as well with inspiring views of the Santa Catalina Mountains covered in beautiful saguaros.

We had a direct view of the pool and koi pond (with kois big enough to swallow you if you fall in).

The waterfall is a little bit tucked away but we still had a great view of it from our balcony.

I highly recommend watching the sunrise and sunset from your balcony because the lighting on the mountains is truly beautiful — it is hard to beat golden hour in the desert.

One of the things I really loved about the balcony is that it is pretty deep which allows you to have a lot of privacy when relaxing on the balcony.

If you are on the fourth floor some of the balconies have an enclosed ceiling while others have the more open one which unfortunately does not offer as much shade.


There are a number of facilities at the Loews Ventana Canyon Resort. There is the pool, gym, spa, tennis court, golf course, multiple restaurants, gift shops, etc.

Some of the facilities like the gym, spa, tennis courts, and the Flying V restaurant are located in a separate building from the main hotel. It’s a very short walk so it’s not a big deal.

They even have a little nature trail that winds through the property and provides you with interpretive panels that give you some interesting insight into the vegetation and wildlife of the Sonoran Desert.

They actually have a desert tortoise exhibit and of course one of the stunning features of the resort is the waterfall. I would highly recommend taking a stroll on the paved path to the waterfall one morning or evening during your stay.

The waterfall structure is all natural but the flow of the water is pumped from the hotel during most of the year when the falls go dry.

There is also a butterfly garden and upper terrace area but we were not able to see everything due to some construction going on.


The lobby is pretty open and there is a lot of seating areas in the adjacent Cascade Lounge.

You’ll also find a large multi-panel television that is perfect for watching a sports event.

The west wing of the property is where are you will find all of the meeting space. You can also find a gift shop as well but note that these are not all open during the week.

When you exit the lounge area there is a terrace area with an interesting quartz collection.


There is a good size pool located right in the middle of the hotel. Around the perimeter of the pool, you’ll find plenty of lounge chairs and some umbrellas to help you escape the unrelenting Arizona sun.

There is a bar and seating area (Bill’s Grill) near the pool with umbrellas for shade and also high pressure misters to help you cool down.

You can also rent cabanas for around $300 per day. These cabanas have nice seating and TVs inside and come with complementary fruit platters and I believe nonalcoholic drinks.

You can also jump on some cornhole if you were in the mood.


The gym was pretty big and had tons of different equipment in there. You definitely can get a great work out although I would recommend hitting the trails instead.

Dining facilities

The dining options include the Canyon Café, Bill’s Grill, the Cascade Lounge and Patio, and the Flying V (which you may need to make advance reservations for). The hours are different based on if you are visiting during the week or a weekend so make sure you pay attention to those.

The only restaurant we were able to try out was the Canyon Café which we visited for breakfast.

We fully utilized the $70 FHR breakfast credit and pretty much sampled all of the main dishes they serve like eggs Benedict, avocado toast, and waffles.

I really enjoyed everything and the service was fantastic as well.

We also utilized the $100 property credit for various room service requests including a ton of sparkling water and an interesting caramelized banana split dessert dish.

If you are in more of a hurry you could also visit Barista which is a grab and go breakfast that opens at 6 AM.

Final word

This was just a fantastic stay all around. In terms of bang for buck I feel like we received a ton of value due to the low price and all of the FHR perks. If you visit, try to get out and do some hiking in the nearby trails to really get a sense of the scenery. I would happily recommend this resort to anyone coming to the area.

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