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Now I Dislike Most Coffee Even More

I was never an aficionado of the hot coffee. All the good coffee flavor rested above the cup, only to disappoint the taste buds upon liquid contact.

Wednesday morning I had the privilege of having coffee and beignets at Cafe du Monde in New Orleans. The beignets were indeed good, and the diner atmosphere was quite nice.

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Hotel Report: Hampton Inn, Duncan, OK

Since my last recorded trip to Duncan in 2006, two more national hotel chains have placed properties in the founding city of Halliburton. I stayed at the Hampton Inn, a Hilton property.

The king-size bed was quite comfortable, and the air conditioner worked very well, quiet and cold. The TV boasted about 60 channels, about 2/3rds digital, with HBO the only premium channel. The microwave and half-height refrigerator combination was nice and convenient.

From the desk I had access to wire/wireless Internet (no problems with either) and four AC outlets. Three more outlets and two USB ports were available on one of the nightstands, but the USB ports didn’t have enough power to charge my iPod and iPhone.

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Hotel Report: Candlewood Suites, Houston (2)

I had done a report on the Candlewood Suites on the west side of Houston about 9½ years ago.  They deserve a re-do.

The queen bed was much firmer than last time. The rest of the room was very much the same:

Long desk and mini-kitchen.

The air conditioner functioned well, but it was very loud even on the low fan setting. The bathroom fan was also quite loud. The microwave and full refrigerator/freezer worked well. Four outlets were available at the very long desk.  Internet was wireless-only, but it was quick and only required one login a week. The TV boasted about 40 HDTV channels.

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Hotel Report: Sheraton, Oklahoma City

I had wanted to stay at the Hilton in downtown Oklahoma City, but the Sheraton had undercut them by $30/night. Had I known they would charge $25/night for valet, I would have called the Hilton to see if I could get free parking. :)

I got a nice, decently spaced room with textured carpet and a comfortably firm king bed. The desk and both nightstands each had two outlets built into the furniture.

Nice, unique  furnishings.

Nice, unique furnishings.

No refrigerator or microwave were available, and the breakfast certainly wasn’t free. The omelette started at $13, and one can almost double that with delivery fee, room service, and tax. With breakfast that expensive, I declined to try the restaurant.

The bathroom was a little small, the door unable to open or close when a guest is at the sink. The full-size closet took the extra space from the bathroom. The shower controls were sufficient and the hot water was hot, but the water on some days would continuously get hotter, and I’d have to readjust.

The desk had two bottled waters: the first free, the second, $2. The free one was not restocked on subsequent days. The wireless Internet was fast, but it cost $10/night or $44/week if one were not a Starwood Preferred Guest. The TV had nearly 100 channels, most of them digital, including the Showtime suite and TV channels from all the major sports leagues.

The fitness room was large, with an aerobics area, a nautilus, five treadmills, five ellipticals, and a recombinant bike. The music blared loudly enough to overcome people’s earbuds, but not my headphones.

Wednesday night had a manager’s feature. Guests were treated to two samples of wine from a variety of six. They could also have a “Mediterranean eggroll” which looked like a thick meaty sopapilla. Chocolate cookies were available in a glass jar in the lobby, and the bottled water there was free.

The lobby sported an open Link® Computer Center, sponsored by Microsoft. The curved table sported three machines running Windows 8.

Getting to the Sheraton was easy enough, but the hotel has no parking garage, making valet mandatory. Valet service was sufficient, considering the cars were parked about 7 blocks away. One’s car could be had in about 15 minutes.

HAL gets a rate of $116/night, which isn’t bad if one takes the hotel shuttle to and from the airport.

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Hotel Report: Fairfield Inn and Suites, Odessa, TX

Trying a new hotel in Odessa, I stopped at the Fairfield Inn and Suites, a Marriott property, in Odessa. This was my first Fairfield, and I was pleased with what I found.

Perhaps because of my frequent stay status, I got a nice room, oddly-shaped but about two normal hotel rooms in size:

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One television is opposite the bed in the cabinet on the left side of the wall, and another TV is provided right in the middle. About half of the 40 channels were digital. It seemed every lamp in the room had two extra outlets built into the base for portable devices. The air conditioner functioned well, considering it had to run almost all the time.

The wired Internet was acceptably quick at the “free” setting, but apparently there’s a $4.95/day tier that’s even faster. The wireless was a bit spotty, but I was at the end of a hall.

The bed was a little soft for my taste, but it had four pillows of varying firmness. The room also had a hide-a-bed, a microwave, and a refrigerator with no freezer. The room always had two bottled waters.

The bathroom was quite large but narrow. Only in the bathroom did it sound to me like the downstairs could hear my walking. There was plenty of counter space. The controls of the shower were excellent, allowing me to dial in the perfect temperature for the water. Water pressure was sufficient.

The free breakfast was comparable to Holiday Inn Express fare, but the heated items were warmed with steam trays, which was kind of nice. Individual yogurt cups and mixed chopped fruit were available. Apple and orange juice were served by machine.

The staff were professional and courteous. During the early evening, the hotel’s front desk would have soft macadamia nut cookies and chocolate chip cookies.

The fitness room was a little tight, with one elliptical crammed in the middle of two treadmills. All of the equipment worked well, and the TV worked.

The hotel sits on John Ben Sheppard Parkway, which is a six-lane street with no median, and left turns out of the hotel can be difficult. Parking is a little tight as well.

Hotels in the Permian Basin are in a boom market like Williston, but unlike Williston the major chains here have stepped up and provided some nice properties. HAL has a rate of $168 here, and I wouldn’t mind staying again.

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Hotel Report: Holiday Inn Express Denver Aurora – Medical Center

Holiday Inn Express is reliably consistent in general, and the one in Denver/Aurora is no exception.

Two outlets were available in the lamp bases at the desk and at both nightstands. The wireless internet was quite fast, and I only had to login once during my whole stay. The flat screen TV boasted about 15 digital channels including HBO and some (does it matter how many?) analog channels.

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