Some notes on hotels we’ve hit on this trip along the I-95 down through New England.
Country Inn and Suites in Saint John (okay, not technically on the I-95) is a very nice place with very large two-room suites for less than $100. Nicest place we’ve stayed in Saint John so far.
Howard Johnson’s in South Portland, ME is tired and dated. We ended up in a smoking room, which was overpowering. Avoid if possible.
The Swissotel in downtown Boston is a very, very nice hotel. It’s got huge and well-appointed rooms, it’s very centrally located, and you can often find rates as low as $139 (good for Boston) on their website or on Travelocity. Killer is the parking (true of all downtown hotels in Boston): $28 for 24 hours.
AmeriSuites in South Portland, ME is a good deal at $84 for a large suite with breakfast. Nice little indoor pool. Crappy and expensive business center (dial-up Internet on an underpowered PC for 25 cents a minute). Very convenient to the Maine Mall.
Holiday Inn in Bangor, ME (the Civic Center one downtown, not the one out by the airport) looks tired and dated from the outside, but is quite pleasant inside. Local calls are free (a first for this trip), but you pay for breakfast (though not too much).
Pete’s secret hotel tip: I’ve booked all of our hotels on this trip using CAA/AAA rates and have saved about $100US doing so. If you think you’re going to stay in more than 4 or 5 hotels in a year, a CAA membership will pay for itself. That said, I’ve never been asked to see my CAA membership card.
Pete’s second secret hotel tip: the websites of most hotel chains have a “best rates” or “lowest rates” selection when you’re searching for rooms. If you select this option, you’ll almost always exclude rates that require membership (AARP, CAA/AAA, etc.) or other special qualification that you may, indeed, qualify for. What’s more, on the Holiday Inn website, you can often find special web-only weekend rates using the special web-only rates link; these rates often don’t appear in a general room search.
Pete’s third secret hotel tip: in our experience, if you have women in your party you’ll often get better service and a better room if you send one of them in to check in to a hotel. Both my mother and Catherine have benefitted from this: my Mom scored us a palatial suite at the Moncton Holiday Inn for $112 a couple of years ago and Catherine got us a large corner room at the Swissotel in Boston. This never happens for me.