SPOKANE: Oxford Suites Downtown

The Oxford Suites in downtown Spokane on the Spokane River is a study in contradiction. It hits it out of the park is some areas but fails completely in others, particularly for those guests seeking an upmarket experience.

I booked our room, a River View King Suite, directly through the hotel’s website. That’s important to understand because, when we arrived, we found the hotel was being remodeled. The website had made no mention of that. In my estimation, it should have.

But a small matter, as the workday ended well before the evening hours.

The Good

Every staff member with whom we interacted was absolutely professional. From the desk clerk who checked us in (and even tried to call us while we were on the road) to the evening bartenders to those attending guests (and keeping overly exuberant kids in check) at the complimentary breakfast, everyone was polite, efficient and engaging.

Check-in was handled quickly and efficiently, with the clerk providing us with coupons for complimentary drinks at the manager’s reception and breakfast the following morning before directing us to the elevator.

Large guest suite

Our suite, No. 227, was quite large: over 26 feet by more than 14 feet, providing over 365 square feet of living area. At 8 foot 9 inches, tall ceilings contributed to the room’s spacious feel.  The suite was well-appointed, furnished with one king bed, a sofa sleeper, work desk, refrigerator, microwave, flat-screen TV, coffeemaker, iron/ironing board, and wireless internet.

View of the Spokane River from the suite's balcony

The balcony was about 3 feet by 8 feet and had a couple of chairs, allowing us to relax and enjoy the view of the adjacent river.

Plenty of places to plug in

The work station included plenty of A/C and USB outlets to charge the variety of electronics with which we travel. Wireless Internet speed offered download speeds of 3.9 Mbps and upload speeds of 3.7 Mbps, as measured by Speakeasy.net/Speedtest. Better than most, although not best in class.

Both the bed and the convertible sofa appeared fairly new and were very comfortable. Floor lamps next to the sofa made for easy reading after dark.

The property also offers a swimming pool, fitness room, and a well-stocked 24-hour pantry.

The Bad

When I made our reservation, I specifically requested a room without connecting doors. It’s not a security issue for me so much as a noise issue.

My experience has been that adjoining doors allow much more sound to be transmitted than solid walls, and that proved to be the case at the Oxford Suites. However, we were told, “All the balcony suites have adjoining doors,” and were offered a room without a balcony. That rather missed the point of why I’d chosen that room type.

The room also failed to deliver an upmarket experience in a number of other areas.

The suite was cooled by a wall air conditioner instead of central A/C, which was one miss. Another was that the work station was right next to the air conditioner, which blew directly onto the desk and the person sitting there when it came on. Another miss.

In addition, the room had only a Keurig coffee maker (a minor miss) and lacked an in-room safe (a bigger miss).

The biggest misses, however, had to do with the washroom facilities.

The sink in the guest room instead of a proper bathroom

The sink was situated in the guest room; in an upscale property, it would be a separate room with the tub, shower and toilet. In our guest suite, a small-ish bathroom contained only the combination tub-shower and toilet. The room was so small that we had to open the door to have enough elbow room to towel off after our showers.

Higher-end hotels have tub surrounds that are tile or solid surface; the surround in our suite was a cheap-looking, one-piece fiberglass affair of the kind found in tract homes.

Bath amenities in bulk

Bath amenities - bath gel, shampoo and conditioner - were in bulk-sized bottles like you’d find in a gym and were mounted on the wall of the shower. Again, far from an upmarket experience. Finally, the shower head emitted a high-pitched squeal when water was diverted to it, doubtless annoying the people staying in the next room.

The Ugly

Beverage and dining venues had their own issues.

A sister property where we have stayed previously, the Oxford Suites in Bend, Ore., has a warm, inviting restaurant and lounge on the basement level. The breakfast room in the basement of the Spokane property was a bit Spartan but fine; the bar, on the other hand, looked like an afterthought, crammed into a disused corner of the room. Though the servers were very convivial, the bar itself was dark, cramped, and not inviting.

The next morning, the issue with the adjoining doors came home to roost when the guests in the adjoining room got up at 6 a.m. and started talking. They weren’t inappropriately loud; they were just up, preparing for the day, and having their conversation at a normal level. Nonetheless, we were awakened perhaps two hours earlier than we’d have liked because I went against my better judgment and accepted a room with an adjoining door.

Balconies facing the Spokane River

It is also quite possible that the walls are too thin, regardless of the adjoining door issue. My recommendation to the hotel’s owners: While you’re doing the remodel, spend a bit more money, seal up the adjoining doors in some of the balcony suites, and add some insulation to spare yourselves more reviews like this one.

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

Photo by Carl Dombek
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