Wednesday, September 10, 2014

BEND, OR: Hilton Garden Inn - A very pleasant surprise

I booked a night at the Hilton Garden Inn in the Old Mill District of Bend, Oregon for a recent weekend visit when I learned that our first choice hotel was completely booked. As it turns out, we may have found our new favorite hotel in Bend.

When we decided to make a last-minute trip to central Oregon to visit some long-time family friends, I was surprised to find that many of the hotels I checked in Bend – including a hotel that had become our favorite – were completely booked, even though the Labor Day weekend was behind us. As a long-time HiltonHHonors member, I went to the Hilton web site and booked a room at the Hilton Garden Inn. Because such properties can be, well, humble, I decided to spend a bit more and upgrade our room to a King Deluxe with a sofa bed and a view of the nearby Deschutes River.

Interior of Room 320
Driving up to the hotel, it was obvious that the property, adjacent to the Old Mill District shopping area and just up the bluff from the river, was fairly new. I realized I may not have needed to upgrade us, but it was a fait accompli.

As it turned out, we were delighted by what was waiting for us.

The desk clerks on check-in were as attentive and professional as many of the four- and five-star hotels at which I’ve stayed. They were young but quick and efficient, polite and refined. They confirmed my selection of room type as well as my request that our room not adjoin any others, then completed the check-in quickly. They provided a brief run-down of the amenities the property offered including the pantry next to the front desk that offered beer, wine and snacks; then provided our room keys and directions to the elevator. They did not once refer to as “you guys” nor did they use the grating phrase “No problem!” instead of the preferred “You’re welcome” or “My pleasure.” High marks for professionalism.

Upon entering our room, Number 320, we realized we should have elected to stay longer!

Shower for two
Although lacking the advertised sofa-bed, the spacious room was outfitted with a king-sized bed, an easy chair and ottoman, a work station, a microwave and Keurig coffee maker, a gas fireplace and a balcony overlooking the river and the old mill.

The bathroom brought additional surprises, including a huge shower for two. It also included the standard amenities including a hair dryer; high-quality Neutrogena lotions, shampoo, and conditioner; as well as a kit with an Emory board and cotton swabs.

View of The Old Mill
from the room's private balcony
The work station with ergonomic chair was comfortable and offered both wired and wireless Internet access, free for up to three devices. My only complaint is that the speed was a hotel-typical 1.0 Mbps as measured by SpeakEasy.net/SpeedTest, while my home Internet speed is about 50 Mbps. That's fine for checking e-mail but not very efficient for sending and receiving large files such as PowerPoint presentations.

But the view! And the room! WHEW!

After we returned home, I contacted the property's general manager who told me we had been upgraded from the King Deluxe with sofa bed and river view to a King Deluxe with balcony and river view. While the hotel's web site prices the two room types similarly, I would certainly agree that exchanging a sofa for a huge, private balcony and a fireplace constituted a major upgrade indeed.

On property are a dining venue – The Garden Grille and Bar – an indoor swimming pool, fitness center, business center and meeting facilities. Room service and the aforementioned 24-hour pantry are also available. And while our room did not have an in-room safe, the hotel does offer safe deposit box service.

The property does not offer some things one might expect to find at many upmarket properties. It does not have 24-hour room service, a concierge, or valet parking, though self-parking is complimentary. But unless those things are deal-breakers, I highly recommend the Hilton Garden Inn in Bend's Old Mill District.

I never thought I’d characterize a Hilton Garden Inn as “upmarket,” but I guess there’s an exception to every rule and a first time for everything.

Visit my main page at TheTravelPro.us for more news, reviews, and personal observations on the world of upmarket travel.



Photos by Carl Dombek
Click photos to view larger images

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