My wife and I recently took a three-week road trip through the spectacular mountains and valleys of the state of Pennsylvania. We deliberately stayed at budget/economy motor inns so that I could compare the facilities and service. How tolerant my wife was to agree with this arrangement for the sake of my research. Our driving route took us from Queens, New York (our home) through New Jersey and Pennsylvania. We made the following overnight stops in beautiful Pennsylvania:
Audubon: one night in a Homestead Suites (for a family wedding)
Ephrata: two nights in a Hampton Inn (for sightseeing in Lancaster and Amish country)
Linglestown: two nights in a Comfort Inn (for sightseeing in Harrisburg and Hershey)
Chambersburg: one night in a Sleep Inn (for sightseeing in Chambersburg, which was torched by retreating Confederate Army troops during the Civil War). We ate lunch at the newly-restored and spectacular Omni Bedford Springs Resort.
Somerset: two nights in a Hampton Inn (for sightseeing of Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1934 Fallingwater home for the Kaufmann family)
Pittsburgh: 5 nights in the Crowne Plaza Hotel (for a visit with our son Joshua, his wife Susan, and two grandsons, Sam and Will)
State College: one night in a Fairfield Inn (for a visit to Penn State University and the famous Creamery, a vendor of ice cream, sherbert, and cheese operated by students of the Department of Food Science in the College of Agricultural Sciences.
White Haven: one night in a Comfort Inn (for sightseeing in Stroudsburg and the Delaware Water Gap)
Rockaway, New Jersey: for a dinner visit with our daughter Benay, her husband Mark and two granddaughters, Samantha and Anaya.
Evaluation of motor inns
All front desk and housekeeping employees were competent and helpful. We were pleasantly surprised by the friendliness of the various staff members.
Homestead Suites at US$125 per night was one of the most expensive. It was also the best of the bunch because of its kitchen facilities and the size of the bedroom. Amenities: indoor pool, free Internet, free breakfast, refrigerator in room. This Homestead Suite property has installed a safety feature that should be present in all hotels: corridor exit signs at floor level which can be seen in case of fire (because smoke rises and obliterates exit signs at the ceiling).
Hampton Inns, Ephrata (US$125 per night) and Somerset (US$100.80 per night) were well-designed and well-managed. Both had excellent free breakfast offerings including hot entrees and fruit. The Hampton Inn in Somerset actually served free hot casseroles of macaroni and cheese and crabcakes along with popcorn, cookies, soda, and bottles of water in the late afternoon. Amenities: indoor pool (Ephrata), outdoor pool (Somerset), free Internet, refrigerator in room.
Comfort Inns, Linglestown (US$116.99 per night) and White Haven (US$62.99 per night) were both older motor inns, which were only partially upgraded. Amenities: indoor pool, free Internet, free breakfast, refrigerator in room in Linglestown but none in White Haven.
Super 8, Gettysburg (US$87.30 first night; US$116.10 second night) small room with no refrigerator. Amenities: indoor pool, free Internet, free breakfast.
Sleep Inn, Chambersburg (US$98.99 per night) small room but new motor inn. Amenities: outdoor pool, free Internet, free breakfast, no refrigerator in room.
Fairfield Inn, State College (US$90.25 per night) well-designed, new motor inn. Except for no refrigerator in room, it was one of the best for the money. Amenities: indoor pool, free Internet, expanded free breakfast with hot oatmeal.
Crowne Plaza, Pittsburgh South (US$119 per night) is a full-service hotel but its amenity package was inferior to less-expensive properties: no free breakfast, no indoor pool, no refrigerator in room, but some exit signs in the corridors were installed at floor level.