4 out of 5 stars
Last fall, we had the misfortune to deal with a minor emergency at the Radisson hotel in Fresno, and I swore I would never (knowingly) stay at a hotel from this chain again, since they didn't even bother to address my complaint. So, imagine my surprise to check-in at the Country Inn & Suites by Carlson when we went to San Diego and discover...you guessed it...Radisson is part of their network! Sigh, it's tough to vote with your hard-earned dollars when you don't have full disclosure, but wading through all of the information requires fortitude and more research than I care to do when I am looking for a bargain, lol. However, I would have been doing this place a disservice, because I was very pleasantly surprised by their atmosphere and service.
The first lovely amenity I noticed as we walked into the lobby was a pair of shiny metal dog dishes with water...at two different heights! What a nice touch and a unique way of indicating this is a pet-friendly hotel. I noticed the bowls at an additional exit, so they definitely are welcoming to their four-footed guests.
The check-in desk not only has a couple of complimentary newspapers to choose from, but there was also a cookie station! Otis Spunkmeyer cookies in several varieties were in a little display case along with the makings for coffee or tea. What a lovely touch, especially for those who need a quick pick-me-up.
The room was fine, it looked and smelled clean, and we were fine with it being our temporary home away from home for a few days, particularly once we got the thermostat to actually work! There's a Chili's restaurant within walking distance, so we were set until we found the other local restaurants. A complimentary breakfast was included with the room which also had a small refrigerator (with an odd set of buttons so it would have been nice to have an instruction manual) which managed to keep our sodas cold, as well as a microwave. The downside, although I suppose it is a luxury, was the down-filled pillows. That is lovely--if you don't have a spouse who is allergic to the feathers! There were substitutes in the closet, but silly me, when I felt them, they didn't feel much different from the down-filled ones, so I was nervous about using them. I am sure we confused the maid the next morning with our request for new ones, when all I should have done was remove the double pillowcases and looked for the label. Sigh, live and learn.
I was tempted to try out the bathtub, now that California is not so strapped for water, but alas, I think we are still discouraged from taking a bath since I couldn't find a way to stop up the tub. Oh, well.
Of course, we didn't need much in the way of amenities since we were doing the tourist tour during the day, but it was a little disconcerting to have a screaming neighbor...who sounded off in the early morning, and early evening the next day. Next time I will try to be more proactive and call the desk instead of putting the pillow over my head or turning the TV up, lol.
The best element of all? There was a little alcove on the way to the elevator...with...surprise! A lending library! Now, I'm always an ardent supporter of anything that promotes reading, and discovering a collection of books with a variety of books for all ages and tastes was such a wonderful discovery. (I discovered I have gotten really behind with the Rita Mae Brown 'Sneaky Pie' series, lol)
It's called the Read, Relax, & Return program and features books from Penguin Random House. You are encouraged to borrow a book, and if you aren't done with it by the time you check out, you are welcome to take it with you and return it to any hotel in the chain. Now, I suspect I will have to mail mine back, because I don't think I am that close to a Country Inn...although I might call the Radisson near my alma mater and see if I can return it there.
So...this hotel definitely gets my stamp of approval!
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