I’m back after taking a short break to get MARRIED! Can you believe it? Yes, the girl who started this blog as a single travel adventurer just tied the knot. Whoever said “time flies” was not joking! I’ll blog about more wedding stuff later because today we are going to talk about the Suite Life. Yup, you read that correctly, I said “suit”. Before we flew to our tropical honeymoon we stayed in three different suits, in three different cities, in three different days. Needless to say the differences were eye opening so I’m going to share our experiences with you all to help you decide if the upgrade to a sweet suite is worth it.
Major City/Downtown Suite
These types of suites specialize in the urban jungle traveler; perfect for the street smart, city suave, “high roller” or person who wants to make an impression. They are located in premier hotels in major cities, always have the best city views, and are multi-functional yet costly spaces. We drove straight from our wedding reception to check into the Royal Sonesta Harbor Court hotel in Baltimore, MD our first night as a couple.
When we arrived at the hotel, Tony, the parking attendant, was very friendly and offered two options for parking: valet for $40 a day with in/out privileges or self-park for $23. We chose the valet option because it was the start of our new lives together and of all the reasons to accept VIP treatment, why not on your first night together as husband and wife? Can I get an AMEN! He also loaded our luggage from the car to the luggage cart to take to our room.
We originally booked the Premier Suite, which was sadly larger than our apartment but upon arrival the room was HOT. Granted it was springtime and we love warm weather, but the heat was on full blast and it was unbearable. Through the heat we were able to enjoy the comfortable couch, free bottled water at the mini bar, and noticed the spacious dual sink vanity and separate soaker tub and shower in the bathroom. The front desk was a preset on the in-room phone, thank you Jesus, and we explained our situation. Within a few minutes a maintenance worker came to check the air and kindly offered to grab us a bucket of ice. While he worked we were able to check out the gorgeous view of the Baltimore inner harbor.
The room had wall to ceiling windows that looked directly across the street (see Hun looking out of said window above). After about five minutes in the heat the maintenance worker was not able to restore the room to a suitable condition. Bummer. The front desk called our room, apologized, and offered a free upgrade to the one-bedroom corner suite so off we went.
As a graphic/web designer I have an innate appreciation for good design. When I was little, I used to clip pictures out of my mom and grandma’s House Beautiful and department store catalogues and glue them into my self-made “book of pretty things”. I’m happy to say that the one-bedroom suite would’ve made it into my coveted album! Not only was this thing over 1,000 sq. ft., but it had a huge dining room table, three flat panel televisions (one in the living room, bedroom, and somewhere special), and had not one, but two full bathrooms. We enjoyed L’Occitane branded products, comfortable bedding, and made use of the in-room safe, iron, and tub. My hun is 6’3 and I stand at a statuesque 5’3; but we were both able to comfortably fit in the massive soaker tub together. That is quite an accomplishment!
We really felt like we were some rich couple in a posh, well-designed, modern condo, so we ordered room service to continue the vibe for dinner and the next morning for breakfast. About 45 minutes after the call, in wheeled a cart full of delicious food (it all comes at a price). I ordered the grilled crusted pacific salmon with sweet potato hash, garnished with grilled leeks and topped with a citrus honey butter sauce. Hun selected the low country fried pork chop, creamy collard greens risotto, roasted candied shallots, topped with blackberry demi-glacé. For dessert we had lemon sorbet, which tasted suspiciously like lemon Italian ice, and lemon tarts. The following morning I ordered a standard American breakfast with two eggs, potatoes, bacon, bread, and orange juice with a cup of green tea. The food was good, nothing out of this world amazing, but it was hot and well-presented. We particularly enjoyed the attention the kitchen staff paid to keeping the food sanitary with plastic wrap over the beverages and condiments for transport. If this had been a normal night and not our honeymoon, I might’ve opted to go to one of the many restaurants in the inner harbor.
What more can I say? Out of the three different suites this was my favorite! I snagged a deal on Expedia using points and sale fares to make this suite possible at under $250/night. Room service came to about $110 plus any tips. Is it worth it? I’d say ABSOLUTELY for a special occasion, absolutely! The premier suite will set you back $409 + tax and the one-bedroom corner suite around $499 plus tax and fees, so I was incredibly thankful for the deal I found online. Outside of a special occasion I’d stick to a standard room. In sum, these suites had the space, amenities, and cool features to make you feel like the experience outweighed the cost.
BONUS: Check out my in-depth video tour of the room here!
Airport Hotel Suite
These types of suites are probably well suited for the older business traveler. This person has probably traveled most of their career and has so many airline miles they don’t even care anymore. They are looking for a space that’s large, comfortable, and without the bells and whistles of the urban traveler. Function and familiarity are key – a bed, bathroom, desk, tv, couch, chair, and traditional american food all tucked neatly in a classic american design. Nothing more, nothing less. Located near major airports, these rooms are perfect for the “get in, sleep, get out” kind of business traveler whose main concern is comfort and practical amenities. We checked out of the Sonesta and drove to the Hilton Washington Dulles Airport hotel the night before our flight.
The hotel was tucked in an industrial/hotel circle with not much else nearby, which aids my “get in, get out” theory. We drove through the parking lot around a few banquet rooms to park our vehicle in one of the free parking spaces. A few people smiled at us on the way in, but nobody was there to take our bags. Check-in was simple and we were off to our 1 king bed non-smoking junior suite.
Honestly, nothing really wowed me about this suite. Don’t get me wrong, it was clean and well maintained, but it was in need of a design overhaul. It was hard to capture a good photo because everything – the walls, carpet, and couch – everything was in this old shade of yellow next to burgundy. And don’t even get me started on the outdated printed fabric…Nevertheless, the room had a sizable bar area with mini fridge, desk, bistro table and two chairs, Cuisinart coffee maker with coffee, a separate tub and shower (even though the tub had a shower installed in it, too), single vanity, and fresh towels. It had what you needed to be clean and presentable the next day.
We didn’t order room service; instead we took advantage of the Executive Business Lounge access granted to those who pay for the privilege. This lounge is only open to the business and suite class of rooms. We entered the lounge using our key card shortly after arrival and snacked on cheese, crackers, fruit, and non-alcoholic beverages (alcohol available for a fee). We also printed our boarding passes from the computer without issues. The best part about the lounge was the lovely attendant who graciously took our plates to the trash and kept everything tidy. In the morning we had a new attendant who was kind, but not as attentive as the lady the night before. All of it really didn’t matter because we had to catch the shuttle to the airport for an early morning flight.
Is it worth it? I’m leaning towards yes. Overall the hotel was clean and decent. Coming in at the cheapest of all three suites at about $140/night including tax, I enjoyed the executive lounge access and the “park, stay, and go” promotion, which allowed us to park our car on site for up to 7 days while we were on our honeymoon in Mexico. A standard room runs around $88 or $95 with breakfast. The extra space was nice, but honestly not necessary when a standard room would do the trick. They have a very nice shuttle that runs every 15 minutes from 4:30am until around midnight for arrivals and departures from Dulles- this was the best part about staying at the Hilton.
Last but not least, these types of suites are built for a couple. Newleyweds, anniversary celebrators, or anyone couple looking for a romantic venture to a tropical destination. This traveler is looking to be pampered to the highest level, as the resort is a AAA four diamond property. Soft yet study and large four-poster bed, marble flooring, private balcony, separate tub and shower units, dual vanities, you name it – they have it. From the Hilton we boarded a plane and landed in Cancun, then boarded a private transfer to Secrets Capri Riviera.
The resort is located in the resort part of town. Unless you plan to drive (I don’t recommend driving), a shuttle is necessary from the airport. We booked the Amstar shuttle from the resort website for about $120. Once we passed the overly zealous and kindly aggressive fake tourism salespeople at the airport the Amstar rep met us, checked our names off their list, gave us a cold bottle of water, and sent us on a 30 minute air-conditioned van ride to our resort. I’ve heard from more than a few people about the dangers of Mexico and it’s true, there are dangerous spots in Mexico, just like any other country, but we did not experience any issues during our week-long stay. I grew up in southern California so the news and media shenanigans surrounding Mexico were not enough to persuade me to stay at home, although there was a point where our Honeymoon was almost sabotaged by the drug cartel; I’ll share more on that in a later blog post. Anyways, when we pulled up the driver had to check in at the closed front gate to make sure we were guests at the hotel before gaining entry.
Although our Preferred Club Level Deluxe Ocean View room was small compared to the other two suites, the service far surpassed them all! We spent the most time here so we could take advantage of everything the all-inclusive resort offered. Non-motorized water-sports, top-shelf drinks, spa treatments, you name it we did it! The toiletries bore the Secrets brand and they were a-plenty! There were the standard shower caps, soap, lotion, and shampoo bottles but they also threw in a razor blade, sewing kit, shoe shine kit, toothbrush with toothpaste, grooming kit, and sunblock. If you forgot an item there was no need to worry. The room had a hand steamer and full-sized ironing board with a bag to put laundry in for dry cleaning at an additional cost. Turn down service seemed to happen whenever we left the room because we came back to a clean and organized room every few hours with chocolates on our pillow, a bath robe, slippers, and a fun floral design. Room service was available in 45 minutes anytime between 6am and 1am from a set menu. It is totally worth it!
Another reviewer mentioned this on a TripAdvisor post and it is worth mentioning here again – housekeeping will always set the tv to this really weird yet mesmerizing channel that loops an “artistic” video all day. You can’t help but watch it and if you watch long enough, you might find yourself in bed with your partner. IJS. Out of all the suites, this room was the only one to have a closed off toilet area (phone included), a jetted bathtub, and a button to light up a “do not disturb” light outside of your room.
Is it worth it? ABSOLUTELY! We purchased this package as part of a bundled deal on Expedia that included a direct flight, so I’m not exactly sure how much we paid for the hotel by itself but the entire trip was under $2,400 for two people for 5 days. That totals less than $500/night; given the original price for a room only is around $620/night. They offer specials from time to time, but I think the best deals are through other booking engine sites unless you catch an amazing deal directly on their site. Without the deal is it still worth it? Possibly not, especially given the size of the room, but the deals are a-plenty and with a view like this? It’s a no-brainer!