Hotel Review Travel

Road Tripping Across New England- September 2016

We scored a pretty decent rate from Budget on the rental car, having a convenient pick up in Manhattan rather than traveling all the way over to an airport nearby. Grabbing our Ford Focus, we made the drive north to Hyde Park, NY, to visit a few national park sites. While I do earn a commission on car rentals, I usually advise my clients to book through an OTA like Hotwire or Priceline, unless they have status with the rental company.

Our first stop above was Vanderbilt NHS, one of the “smaller” mansions built by the Vanderbilts. This is also where we bought our $80 National Park pass, which gets us 12 months of amazing access to our parklands. Check it out!

We then rushed over to the Home of Franklin D Roosevelt NHS, which also hosts his Presidential Library. Since the library was closing in an hour, we were let in for free, which was incredible generous. I wish we had more time to visit!

Finally, about two miles away, is his wife Eleanor’s cottage, which is its own park unit. It was closed by the time we arrived, but we had a great time looking around the beautiful grounds.

We drove and drove and drove across Connecticut and arrived in Providence, Rhode Island to the Sheraton Providence Airport. I apologize for the lack of photos in this trip report, as my phone somehow lost all the photos. It was a very basic “typically Sheraton” room, but we did receive an upgrade to the Club level with our Gold status and being Starwood Business card holders. We appreciated the free breakfast in the lounge, which was just “normal,” the hot dish being scrambled eggs and having the usual spread of yogurt, fruit, and breads. I did appreciate the 24 hour access to waters, sodas, and some light snacks, though. Also, parking was free, which is a requirement for me in non-city center hotels.

This Sheraton is a Category 2 property, which is 3,000-4,000 points a night. My valuation of SPG points is 2.3 cents per point, so your rate would have to be higher than $69-$92 to make this a “good” use of points.

Day 2

Day 2, we headed into Providence to visit Roger Williams National Memorial. It was a quick stop, but the nice 7-minute visitor center video was a great intro to what Rhode Island was founded upon- religious liberty.

Hopping back in the car, we drove straight to Newport, Rhode Island, where we used a lot of our Expedia+ points at the Hotel Viking, one of their “VIP+” properties. The hotel charges a resort fee, which I think is a bit unreasonable, but it did include delicious lemonade in the lobby the afternoon we were there. There’s also an indoor pool and  rooftop bar and restaurant on property. Our room was the smallest on property, but its corner location gave it good views of Newport and was well appointed. The restroom was definitely tiny, smaller than many closets I’ve had in hotels, but it was so nicely designed for the space that we really didn’t mind. Remember, if you’re interested in booking this hotel (including VIP benefits), fill out the form at the end of this post.

Access into the city was great during our stay, we could walk to all the attractions. We even got in another national park site, Touro Synagogue, which does charge admission for passholders, but you do get a slight discount. The main attractions, though, are the mansions along the Cliff Walk:

They were spectacular to look at, and even prettier inside. We chose just one to look in, the famous Breakers, but a short walk on the Cliff Walk, a public easement between the coast and these mansions’ backyards, proved to be enjoyable enough for the others.

We also visited the Tennis Hall of Fame, which was well done and had plenty to look at for the tennis aficionado (which Laura definitely can be described as).

Day 3

We drove on into Massachusetts, briefly stopping in New Bedford to check out the New Bedford Whaling NHP. Amazing how New Bedford could be the center of energy for the US for a time, and now be just a relic.

Cape Cod was our next stop, staying at the Four Points by Sheraton Eastham, which is conveniently located near Cape Cod National Seashore. This was one of the nicer Four Points that I’ve stayed in, featuring an outdoor pool, two tennis courts, direct access to a bike path, an indoor pool complex with sauna, an arcade, and free cookies in the lobby.

The beach, however, is the highlight.

Day 4-6

We finally started driving towards Boston, making stops in Adams NHP to check out John and John Q. Adams’ home. We also saw JFK’s birthplace, Frederick Law Olmstead’s house, and Longfellow’s house. Lots of homes, lots of history.

Our two nights in Boston, we used my two free nights from our stay two nights, get one free promotion from our Alaska adventure and one night “mattress run.” At over $250 a night for the hotels this weekend, it was a good use! We were also two stays away from Platinum status, as we were lucky enough to get a double nights and stays credit towards status earning right before our trip. Since free night awards wouldn’t count toward this promo, rather only one night for one night stayed, we elected to check in first to the Element Hotel Boston Seaport, and then switch hotels, literally across the driveway, to the Aloft Boston Seaport the next night.

The Element was the first one of the brand that I’ve stayed in, and I was impressed. We were upgraded to a one-bedroom corner suite, which features a full kitchen. Free breakfast in the morning was delicious, with lots of options across the board. We used our free welcome beverages across the way at the Aloft hotel.

The Aloft hotel was also brand-new, and was the typical Aloft layout for our particular room, though on a high floor. I did get a chance to try out the new voice-activated rooms that premiered at the hotel this month, which if they work out some of the bugs will be very impressive and could change the way we work with hotels.

Overall, I was impressed with Boston and its historic sites. I believe that it’s now one of my favorite cities to visit, though I still hate the Patriots.

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