Because our family lives in New York, we travel to see family often. While we typically opt for air travel, this summer trip required the use of a car. So, we packed up our truck with snacks, toys, and a bottle of Advil, and hit the road. Instead of traveling straight through and driving the 12 hours to our hometown, we decided to make a pitstop in Columbus, Ohio, the perfect resting spot that is roughly halfway between our home and our parents' in New York.
Only staying for one night, we wanted to choose a hotel that was clean, allowed pets, and did not break the bank. Because we prefer a longer drive the first day, we chose a hotel situated on the Northern part of Columbus, one that would shorten the trip the next day. We chose to stay at the Residence Inn by Marriott in Columbus.
The Residence Inn is a category three hotel for Marriott, which would have required 15,000 points per night. For us, Marriott points are worth slightly less than 1 point so the total for the night would have been about $130 to $140 worth of Marriott Rewards. Since our paid rate was substantially less than that, we opted to pay cash with the Chase Sapphire Reserve (CSR) to earn three points per dollar spent on travel. The CSR is a must have card for any moderate to frequent traveler. It offers three points per dollar on all travel and dining, a $300 annual travel credit, and many additional perks like global lounge access and car rental protection. But most importantly, the points are extremely valuable when transferred to partners such as United , Hyatt, and others. Right now, the card is offering a 50,000 sign-up bonus (worth about $1000 in travel)!
After six plus hours on the road, we made it to the hotel. We pulled into the parking lot, grabbed some of our bags, and walked to check in. Both the outside and inside of the hotel was exactly as you would expect a Residence Inn to look. It was clean, but needed some updates as the room and furniture was a bit worn out. We noticed quickly (and excitedly) that the outdoor pool was also clean.
The check-in process was fast and the staff was friendly. In fact, the front desk staff member alerted us to the noise policy, telling us that the hotel operated strictly under the "No Noise after Nine" policy. With a nine-month-old baby, we appreciated this rule.
We headed to the room and were pleasantly surprised. We had a suite; there was a living room with a dining area and a large couch, plus a separate room with a queen bed and a shower. The room was clean, quiet, and large enough to accommodate Baby J's pack'n'play.
While Adam got dinner, Baby J and I headed to the pool. The pool was mostly clean, save for the bugs and pollen that had accumulated on top. The pool was surrounded by nice lounge chairs and tables, and a fire pit in a separate area. The only (and most obvious) thing the pool was missing was towels. I had to use the shirt I was wearing as a towel for Baby J.
When Adam returned, we ate dinner, put Baby J down, and settled in for the night. We were happy to get ready for bed. That's when we heard it. Less than 400 yards from our hotel room was the train line. Starting around 8 PM, we heard a train roughly every hour. The lights, the horn, the rattling - we were glad we brought Baby J's noise machine because, without it, he undoubtedly would have woken up. We slept so poorly, waking up every time the train passed by. Why didn't the front desk staff alert us to the train? We were disappointed and frustrated that we weren't told, since we had a baby and it was clearly loud enough to disturb our sleep.
In the morning, we ate the continental breakfast. The spread was your typical continental breakfast; make-your-own waffles, breakfast cereal and oatmeal, and the standard pastries and baked goods. We were happy to have breakfast before we hit the road for our final day and even grabbed some extra goodies for the trip itself.
The Prof's Grade: C+
The Residence Inn in Columbus was an okay place to stop for the night. It was mostly clean and the staff was friendly, but being so close to the train line made sleeping incredibly difficult. If we had been placed in a room on the opposite side of the hotel, or had been alerted to the issue prior to checking in, we would have enjoyed our stay much more.