Living at the Residence Inn

Living in a hotel is fun – to a point.

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We’ve spent nearly two months living at Marriott Residence Inn, Downtown Burbank and now we NEARLY have the keys to our new house and are NEARLY ready to move out, I thought it would be a good time to review our stay.

The absolute main advantage of this particular hotel is that it’s designed for long-stay guests. The room we’re in is pretty big, we have every facility we need, and more, and the staff are extremely helpful.

Living room

Living room

Bedroom, from living room

Bedroom, from living room

There have been some challenges, which I have decided are to do more with moving to a new city, not having much to do, and only having one car, than the hotel itself. I won’t dwell on them here (perhaps in another post). Instead think of this as an extended TripAdvisor review. On that note – I give this hotel 4 stars. It’s great but there’s room for improvement.

So here’s what you get at the Residence Inn:

Free breakfast

Pancakes/French toast at the weekend, otherwise a selection of yoghurt, cereal, cake, bread, eggs and fried other things, tea coffee etc.

Eggs and miscellany

Eggs and miscellany

Cake and bagels

Cake and bagels

The food is just about ok, but some of the miscellaneous meat products can be a bit much when you’re not quite awake. Having two different TV ‘news’ programs on two TVs playing simultaneously in the breakfast room also isn’t ideal. At the weekend, it closes at 9.30am which is a bit early for us.

However, the main thing that rankles here is the amount of disposable plates and cups used at breakfast – during the week there is the option to use ceramic plates (only) and metal cutlery, but on the weekend it’s plastic all the way. I take a bowl from our room, rather than add to the waste.

You’re right; I’m not a morning person.

Free Cable

Nothing like watching HBO with breakfast.

Gym and Pool

The gym is literally nine steps from our room. I go there a lot – they have two treadmills, an elliptical, a stationary bike, and some weights. It’s pretty good. The A/C even comes on sometimes.

Not sure I'm doing it right...

Not sure I’m doing it right…

The outdoor pool is small but really warm and I’ve managed to sort-of do laps for 30 minutes on regular occasions. This is mainly during the week as at the weekend it’s full of children. Don’t they know we live here? How dare they be on holiday.

Quite possibly the best part of the hotel

Quite possibly the best part of the hotel

Laundry

The room has a washing basket and the laundry room has four washers and four dryers. At $1.25/$1 a go they are cheaper than the ones in our apartment in Cambridge and they do a reasonable job. BYO laundry powder.

The smell is somewhere between A/C, and hot and damp

The smell is somewhere between A/C, and hot and damp

Free wifi

Excellent speed – up to 10Mb/s – which certainly enough to watch plenty of Hulu and Netflix. No restriction on the number of devices etc.

Business center

There are two computers free to use, each with a printer. One of the ink cartridges is perpetually empty which is a bit annoying. At various times reception has provided me with various stationery items, as well as faxed and photocopied things for me (in colour) on several occasions.

You can also get mail sent to the hotel and they’ll call you when you have something. Brilliant.

Excellent business center

Excellent business center

Monday-Wednesday ‘social hour’

This is an opportunity to get a pre-dinner drink of reasonable wine or beer, along with snacks like tacos, olives and cheese, and mini burgers, depending on the night. You could call this dinner if you were desperate. We did once, but then had to supplement it with a giant bowl of froyo.

You wonder how much of this goes into breakfast the next day.

You wonder how much of this goes into breakfast the next day.

Mini shop

Has quite a good selection of things – snacks, booze, other drinks, bathroom stuff. Not ridiculously overpriced either.

Pets allowed

This is a negative point for me. It’s not uncommon to be barked at through a door at random times of the day and night, and early this morning we were woken to the commotion of a big dog trying to have a little dog for breakfast, along with the owner of the big dog shouting ‘I’m sorry’ repeatedly. Yeah, thanks for that.

Barking optional

Barking optional

Parking

Massive parking lot – both above ground and under cover. It’s $15/day to park. My aim each day was to get the A1 parking space, the closest to reception. It’s happened.

The best parking spot

The best parking spot

Supplies in room

We didn’t realize until the next morning, but guests are given a ‘welcome basket’ – it has tea, coffee and the best bit – a packet of microwave popcorn! When we arrived in the middle of the night from the UK it would have been ideal – if we’d noticed.

mmm popcorn

mmm popcorn

In the room you also get the standard supplies: shampoo, conditioner and soap, as well as dishwashing powder and paper towels. You also get more bath towels of various sizes than you know what to do with. I kept putting the excess on a shelf, but they still kept coming!

Really?

Really?

You also get an ironing board and iron, and a hairdryer, and tissues, and a clock radio with an ipod dock. Also, paper and pens, and sweets. Plus all the kitchen equipment (see below).

Kitchen in room

The kitchen is well-equipped. We were able to cook at least 4 nights a week. There is a dishwasher but no plug for the sink – so you’re not encouraged to do your own washing up (that didn’t stop us though).

Kitchen

Kitchen

There is also a coffee maker (I had to get the internet to tell me how to use it), a toaster and a massive fridge and freezer with an icemaker built in. And a tablecloth and napkins, if you really want to be posh. But no kettle.

There is such a cool microwave (for a non-American); if you want to make a cup of tea you put a cup of water in the microwave and press ‘beverage’. Perfect every time. No, really.

Housekeeping

The housekeeping sometimes left a bit to be desired. Again, in line with the apparent lack of environmentally friendly policies, housekeeping would change the sheets and towels, every day, despite the ‘please don’t change these’ sign being adhered to.

Please leave them!

Please leave them!

In the end, I had housekeeping in only when the trash needed emptying (every other day at most), and if I was home when she came I asked for the sheets not to be changed.

The other lack of environmentally friendly-ness: No recycle bin. I would estimate 80% of our trash could be recycled but it wasn’t possible.

Once the housekeeper put 2 mugs and a spoon in the dishwasher and set it running. Nuff said.

Location

The hotel is an easy 10 minute walk to about a million restaurants on San Fernando Blvd, and a little bit further on is the Burbank Mall, along with an Ikea, Kmart, Sears, Macy’s, and Barnes and Noble (a real bookshop!). The hotel is about a mile from the nearest supermarkets (in the opposite direction). It has great access to the freeway – it’s right outside our window – and it’s about a 20 minute drive to JPL, and Pasadena.

Not as loud as you'd think

Not as loud as you’d think

Summary

Living in a hotel has some great advantages – you don’t have to clean, your bills are much less, you have access to everything you need with zero effort.

Of the disadvantages – the main one for me is having the housekeeper come in. I felt a bit useless having someone else come in and clean, plus it was strangely annoying to know she was due at some point during the day, and kind of waiting for her to show up.

The other, silly, disadvantage of being in Burbank is that I’ve now had two months to work out where everything I need is, and once we move, I’ll have to learn that all over again. First world problems.

We’ve been really lucky to have this hotel for the exact amount of time it’s taken us to buy a house. I’m glad we had this experience – it will make moving into a house that much sweeter!

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