Last week, Kristin and I realized that we finally had a weekend off together. I looked to see if there was anything in the area for us to do and I stumbled upon “The Great Balloon Festival,” in Lewiston, Maine. Once we decided we would go, I started to look for hotel reservations. I quickly found out that I didn’t have many options for hotels in the Lewiston/Auburn area. There were a couple of Hilton properties, Marriott property, and some smaller hotels. After doing some searching and price checking, we decided to stay at the Hilton Garden Inn.
We arrived to the hotel around 11 am already checked in, but our room wasn’t ready, since people were still checking out. I really like the fact you can check in through the mobile app and select your room. It definitely made the process easier and very fast. Once we arrived, I did ask if we could get our room earlier, I was told checkout wasn’t until noon and they would have my room ready soon after that. In addition, I asked if there were any rooms overlooking the river and there weren’t any, but that was okay with me, especially after seeing our room. Every time we left or entered, we were greeted with a smile and the staff was very nice.
One improvement I think could be made, sending notifications when your room is ready. We didn’t know when our room was actually ready, we had gone out to the festival and came back a few hours later. IHG has a pretty good system, where they take your phone number and send a text message when your room is ready. That would be a nice addition to the check in process.
We don’t have points directly with Hilton, but we do have Membership Reward points. That would not help us this time, there were no rooms available using points. I recently wrote about different ways to save money with booking hotel rooms. I had done a few searches using Hotels.com, Orbitz, Rocketmiles and a few others, but I found booking directly with Hilton to be the best option. I was able to use my AAA discount and book the room for $183. 60 . Using our AAA discount took another $20 off the hotel price and that was worth more than the extra points/miles I would have earned booking on another site.
Currently Hilton ahas a Double points or miles promotion and I decided to earn double Hilton points. I should earn about 2550 Hilton points for my 1 night stay. I booked using my Citi Premier since it earns 3 Thank You points per dollar on travel.
Once I knew I would book directly through Hilton, I decided to see if there were any portal bonuses, this is what I saw:
Topcashback, has been not tracking all of my orders recently, so I have been avoiding them. Ebates is usually a sure bet, but I felt earning 3 AA miles/ dollar was a better return than 2%. Since the miles earned would be on the price before taxes ($170.00), I would earn 510 AA miles, 549 Thank You points and 2550 Hilton points as well.
Thankfully we still had money left over from my cash back earnings earlier this year, so I cashed in the cash back and we didn’t pay for the room. :-).
I was able to select our room through the app when I checked-in and I chose a room at the end of the hall on the top floor. When we walked in, I was actually very impressed with the room.
Once we entered our room, we had a hallway that lead us to the rest of the room. Not sure I have had that before and I thought it was pretty neat.
The room itself was much larger than I thought it would be, especially for the price of the room. There was a full size couch, that could be converted to a pull out bed. The bed itself was very nice and I learned later, there is a way to set the firmness of the bed, depending on how you like your mattress. The couch was very comfortable and on the other side of the bed was a comfortable chair.
I thought initially I would want a view of the river, but the river itself wasn’t anything special, unless you like bad graffiti on the walls of the nearby brick buildings. We actually could see the Balloon Festival from our window,but you had to look all the way to the left.
We decided to eat breakfast at the hotel and I liked the set up of how it was done. It was an all you can eat buffet style, but you ordered the food to be made and brought to your table. There was an extremely long list of items you could order. The meal itself was average and if there were other options close by, I would probably eat somewhere else. I couldn’t find any smaller diners (which I love to eat at!).
The meal was charged to our room, so I should receive 3 Thank You points per dollar spent on breakfast, instead of 2 points on dining. 🙂
The Hilton Garden Inn was a fantastic hotel and I will definitely consider staying at one of their hotels in the future. The staff was extremely friendly and the room was extremely nice. Being able to check-in and select a room was a great feature and I would recommend using it if you haven’t. I can’t remember the last time I stayed at a Hilton hotel, but I know I will certainly consider them for future stays.
What Hilton brand is your favorite? Have you ever been to a Balloon Festival?
Since we went to a Balloon Festival, here are some pictures from the festival