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American Hotels (USA, Canada and South America)
Reviews of Hotels in USA, Canada, Mexico and South America
I live in the UK but have worked for American companies for most of my working life, so I travel extensively in the North (and South America) both for business and pleasure. Here are some hotel reviews from my many trips to USA, Canada, Mexico and South America:
From lodges and wood cabins in Canada to old and new hotels in San Francisco and Silicon Valley in California and archeologists' lodgings in Mexico. Travel advice and recommendations.
Please also see the full articles about some of the vacation destination:
National Parks, USA
Canadan Rockies and Vancouver Island
Inca Trail, Cusco, Peru
Bear Hill Lodge, Jasper, Canada
Almost a log cabin
Bear Hill Lodge is really a motel, but the rooms have the feel of individual log cabins. It is inexpensive, but reasonably comfortable and cosy and just a short walk from downtown Jasper, the shops, restaurants and bars.
This is really a motel, so room service was minimal and the rooms basic, but with rather more charm and character than most motels. There was sufficient space inside the cabin and a picnic table outside. Family cabins appeared to be rather larger than the one I stayed in.
The staff were efficient and checking in and out was easy.
There was no food available here, but good restaurants were available just a short distance away.
Jasper is a fairly small town, with very little traffic and the lodge is in a good location for accessing by car. There isn't much night life, apart from the bars and restaurants nearby. The location is quiet and away from the main downtown.
Silicon Valley Sheraton, San Jose, CA
I have staying in this hotel many times over a fifteen year period, in a wide range of rooms, from the simple, room with two double beds to the large suites and pool-side family apartments. The hotel is in reasonably good condition, with fairly standard features in the rooms. The design is uninspiring and there is no real view, apart from the car park, from most of the rooms, although in the distance from outside it is possible to see the mountains. The rooms are more than ample in size, even for the standard rooms and while not excitingly decorated, they are comfortable and have coffee making facilities in the room.
The architecture is not exciting, nor offensive and fits in with the style of this fairly modern area. The staff are generally friendly and helpful. There is one restaurant and a bar which also sell simple bar food. The restaurants does a good buffet breakfast or for significantly more cost it can be cooked to order. In the evening the restaurant is also a pleasant place for a meal. There is an outdoor swimming pool and hot-tub. The bar, which occupies a separate building, just a few tyards away from the main building has the character of an American sports bar, but is quite a good place to have a drink or a fast food style meal.
The restaurants has a good range of food, mostly of a North American style, with a slight mexican influence and a good selection of Californian wines. The ambiance is quite good for an American business hotel, and service is quick and many of the staff speak reasonable English.
The mountains in the distance look inviting, but this hotel is mostly surrounded by roads and business buildings. It is in a good location next to the Montague Expressway, on Barber Lane. It is possible to walk to a small selection of Chinese restaurants just a mile away, on Barber Lane, although the side-walk does run out before you get there, but everything else need to be driven to. Downtown San Jose is just a few miles away, with plenty of bars, restaurants and clubs to keep you entertained. San Francisco can be quite a long drive away, depending on the traffic.
The Majestic Hotel, San Francisco, California
The hotel that didn't burn down
This hotel is very different to the majority of hotels in San Francisco. It is just far enough away from the downtown area to have missed burning down during the fire that followed the 1906 earthquake, so it is, by American standard, ancient. I have stayed at this hotel several times, at the weekends, while working in Silicon Valley during the week, and it is, for me, a breath of fresh air after the ultra modern environment there. This is however the sort of hotel you will either love or hate; If you want a modern international business style hotel don't stay at the Majestic, but if you want to experience something from a different era that captures some of the history of this wonderful city, then this would be a very good choice.
The bedrooms at the Majestic Hotel are really quite special and very different to any other hotels I have stayed in, in California, with antique, or at least good reproduction furniture and a very old fashioned feel. They seem quite dark and you don't get much of a view from the rooms, but big enough not to be cramped. The bathrooms are also in a antique style, although again probably good reproduction furniture and roll-top baths with ornate feet.
Because of the relative age of the building it is architecturally very interesting in this fairly modern city, with a grand entrance and relatively ornate facade. The interior is decorated in an antique style which is quite dark, but welcoming. The staff were friendly and helpful. There is no convenient parking, so in general it is best to hand over the car keys and have the hotel staff dispose of your car, until you need it again. San Francisco is not a good place to drive anyway, and downtown is walking distance away.
The hotel bar is cosy and continues the theme of antique furniture and fairly dark decor.
There is a good restaurant with similar ambiance to the rest of the hotel and a good range of dishes on offer, although San Francisco has a wonderful selection of restaurants which compete with this and I would be inclined to eat elsewhere, unless I was there on business.
The location several minutes walk away from the edge of the downtown area, which means it is perhaps a bit quieter, but is slightly restrictive if you want to keep popping back to the hotel. It is possible to park in the street nearby for up to two hours at a time, but if you want to park for longer you will need to give the car to valet parking or park in one of the long term car parks. Generally it is best not to use a car, but to walk, use the cable-cars and taxis. Nightlife and shopping in San Francisco are excellent, and Japantown is very nearby and Chinatown and the Chinese cultural centre not too far away.
North American Photos and Souvenirs
Hacienda, Chichen Itza, Mexico
The Hacienda Chichen is where the archeologists lived, next to the famous Chichen Itza site, their bungalows now form some of the accommodation. Big lazy lizards wander around the garden. It is only a couple of hundred yards from the Chichen Itza site entrance, quite peaceful once the coach parties have gone back to the Yucatan beach resorts and probably the perfect place to stay.
The rooms were fairly basic, but with air conditioning. Everything you should need to enjoy the rather fantastic location.
There are pleasant gardens around the old bungalows that now form some of the rooms of this hotel. The location is perfect for visiting Chichen Itza site, which is right next to the hotel and there would be no other reason to come here. Excellent, enormous tequila-based cocktails were served outside on the veranda although the food wasn't particularly good.
The only shopping opportunities are to buy souvenirs of the site. Transportation links are good, with many buses arriving each day from the beach resorts and other major cities and towns. Once the tourists have gone back to their beach resorts it is very peaceful in the evening.