Help me cushion the leaving-home blow.
August 17, 2008 11:43 AM   Subscribe

I'm moving from Boston to Cincinnati in a few weeks, and am doing the drive to OH on my own. I'd like to stop halfway through and stay the night - someplace not expensive, but hopefully someplace nice (to help cushion the blow of leaving 'home' for good). However, Travelocity et. al. are just giving me HoJos, Holiday Inns, etc, all for quite a bit of money per night and generally with questionable cleanliness. It seems logical to get off the highway to find a place that's not going to rip me off - but how do I find a nice, clean, mostly inexpensive place while knowing nothing about the area I'm hoping to stop (Rochester/Buffalo/Erie, PA)? Can you help?

I have this awful mental picture of checking into a hotel and finding a dingy room with basic cable, threadbare sheets, with a rotten shower, and feeling terribly lonely on my first night of my new adventure. If at all possible I'd like to avoid this scenario - but being a grad student I don't have much money to help insulate myself from this. Getting off the highway seems the best idea, but I need to know what I'm driving towards for the end of the first day - so I turn to the Hivemind for some local tips.

I should add that my route is flexible at this point. Google maps tells me to take 1-90W and drive through upstate NY, bypassing most of PA (fine with me!) on the way into Ohio. It seems the easiest and speediest, but I can alter this if it might be worth my while for an enjoyable night.

My price range is up to about $150 a night. I know anything right on the highway is going to be pricey for not the nicest room, but that's mostly the limit of what I know to search. Short of punching every town in a reasonable distance to Orbitz (which I've already begin to try, with little result), that is.

Can you help find me a comfy spot for what is bound to be a bittersweet night?
posted by AthenaPolias to Travel & Transportation (16 answers total)
My wife and I have usually found Hilton Garden Inns to be quite nice (Fayetteville, NC was an exception, not as nice as we expected). Of course, they are not cheap. But you said you wanted to pamper yourself a little. And in our experience they are usually modern, clean, have free internet access (wire or wireless depending) and the staff is polite and professional. In other words, except for that one time, no surprises. Some of them have a great buffet breakfast (not complimentary, but great). We mainly travel the Eastern seaboard so we can't speak for going West.

I looked on their site and they have at least one on your route (I think) but it's in Buffalo which may be toursity/pricey. But you say your route is flexible.

I have no connection with HGI except as a customer.

You may also want to check out Trip Advisor which I found useful planning my last road trip (particularly for the customer comments and ratings).

Good luck with the move!
posted by forthright at 12:12 PM on August 17, 2008

For road trips I've never bothered making reservations except when (A) staying in a city or (B) staying on a Fri or Sat. I've done over a hundred weekday / small town motel walk-ins in my life on road trips and have never been turned away. For road trips I just stay alert to where a Best Western is in a town (not a city) along the way. If you want to put a place under the magnifying glass, I recommend -- they've got a massive collection of reviews of individual motels & hotels. The reviews vary in quality and are sometimes nothing but axe-grinding but if you read enough of them you'll learn to spot a place with problems.

Yeah, I know what you're saying about online booking... it can be a real racket. I used Travelocity last month for a trip to Atlanta and it was trying to put me in business hotels, quoting me a minimum of $575 on top of my airline fare. I nixed that and paid only $165 by booking separately at a motel (note that since I stayed in a city, I booked the reservation to be safe).
posted by crapmatic at 12:12 PM on August 17, 2008

If you can't find anything more local/cool, you can generally count on Holiday Inn Express for cleanliness, comfortable beds, nice sheets/bedding, and good bathrooms. Most are either new or newly remodeled. Hampton Inns also have good beds.
posted by paleography at 12:13 PM on August 17, 2008

Oh--and for online booking, try kayak. It compares prices from travel websites and hotel websites.
posted by paleography at 12:15 PM on August 17, 2008

Welcome to Cincinnati!

What about a bed and breakfast?

I recently stayed a Comfort Inn in Washington, PA that was brand new, and I thought quite nice.
posted by dpx.mfx at 12:21 PM on August 17, 2008

Buffalo has a Hampton Inn downtown that is brand new and supposedly quite nice, a Comfort Suites in the Theater District (there is a Fridays in the lobby and it is right on the rail line), and a Days Inn in the Allentown neighborhood (near downtown).
I would not recommend the Adams Mark or the Lenox.

There are also a few B&Bs in the Elmwood Village district of Buffalo, I can get the details for you if you're interested.

If you do plan on stopping in Buffalo for the night I can offer food recommendations near your hotel that won't be budget killers (and will be better than, say, the Fridays chain or whatever). Buffalo, surprisingly, has some of the best affordable food you'll ever find.

There are cheaper hotels by the airport (actually in the suburb of Cheektowaga), but I don't know how they rank quality-wise.
posted by Kellydamnit at 12:43 PM on August 17, 2008

The Hampton Inn in downtown Buffalo that Kellydammit recommends is quite nice, though often more expensive than you think (e.g., $200). I go to Buffalo all the time and I love The Mansion on Delaware which, sometimes (but not always) falls into your price range. If you need a break, there are many fun things to see and do in Buffalo; check out the Darwin Martin House, a FLW masterpiece.
posted by carmicha at 12:52 PM on August 17, 2008

When traveling alone, a well-recommended B&B is much homier than a corporate motel. I like B&Bs because you can usually open the windows in your room. You can relax in a real living room or porch.

The "Off the Beaten Path" series of travel books has been a good source in my travels, for low cost lodging, restaurants, and diversions. Your library may have them. You can take them with you and mail back to the library when you get to your new home.

I've had good experiences with the B&Bs recommended on Lanier's site, though she tends to recommend expensive places.
posted by valannc at 1:12 PM on August 17, 2008

I go to Buffalo all the time and I love The Mansion on Delaware which, sometimes (but not always) falls into your price range.
Wow, really?! I know the place, it's STUNNING, I live only a block or two from there. I figured it was way more than the given price range since it's AAA however many lotsa diamonds and so on. That it was basically a rotted shell of a house before they restored it makes it even more impressive. Totally worth checking it out, the building is jaw-dropping to anyone with any love of Victorian architecture, and it's in Allentown, which is a great neighborhood.
posted by Kellydamnit at 1:50 PM on August 17, 2008

AthenaPolias and Kellydamnit, the Mansion on Delaware has a lot of different room configurations. Depending on availability, I've paid from $129 to $229; sometimes it's higher, but then I start feeling weird about it vis-a-vis my clients and go elsewhere. Recently they've been getting rid of excess rooms on Orbitz too. The price includes an evening cocktail/glass of wine (or two) and a pretty tasty breakfast too.
posted by carmicha at 3:48 PM on August 17, 2008

Welcome to Cincinnati. If I were you, I'd wing it unless you knew you wanted to stay near some place in particular but that doesn't seem to be the case for you. If you aim for interstate exits that are 20-25 minutes outside of a city center you can find a decent but not spectacular room for relatively cheap. Frankly I don't like spending a bunch on a nice room just to experience it by myself.
posted by mmascolino at 5:06 PM on August 17, 2008

hotwire has always been good to me. You don't find-out the exact location or hotel until booked, and can't cancel, but you specify the area, and the results are sorted by price with the star-rating and the some features of the hotel. You usually get a deal because they're just trying to fill their unbooked rooms. Beats calling around if location isn't too important.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 4:55 AM on August 18, 2008

Are you member of AAA? If so, pick up their New York tourbook, and check out Rochester & Buffalo, but also Geneva.

If you want to stop in Rochester by getting off I-90 a ways, two B&Bs I know of that come highly recommended are Dartmouth House which is in a cute neighborhood, close to downtown and The Inn at Mt Vernon (warning:main page has bird sounds) which is in a gorgeous park location. You can barely tell you're in the city. There's no wireless, but there is a great breakfast.

If you would rather not stray too far from I-90, there are a lot of motels in Henrietta NY, easily accessible via I-390, but I don't have direct (or even reliable second-hand) knowledge of them.

I'm a RochesterMeFite, so if you do decide to stop here or in the area, feel free to MeMail me for more info.
posted by knile at 6:07 AM on August 18, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone! These are some wonderful suggestions. I'm caught up in other details right now with both my move and finishing up at work, so I haven't had time to do more than preliminary poking around in the links/information you've all left me. But I'm confident I'll find a pleasant room now due to everyone's help. Thanks so much for taking some of the uncertainty out of the process for me!

(and thanks for the welcome notes as well! :) )
posted by AthenaPolias at 1:35 PM on August 18, 2008

I spent a lot of time on THIS website before our drive from Buffalo to Chincoteague. Our timing didn't work for many of the places we looked at - but I had fun exploring links and considering some of these places.
posted by peagood at 8:55 PM on August 18, 2008

Here's a random suggestion that I offer half-prepared while sitting in lecture. Maybe there's something happening in Chautauqua, NY, during your drive. There are B&Bs there.
posted by billtron at 12:39 PM on August 19, 2008

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