Another February, another — and the last — TED conference in Long Beach, CA (next year, the conference is moving to Vancouver, B.C.). In past years, I’ve reported on staying with Chloe at the Hilton Long Beach, the Renaissance Long Beach, and the Hotel Maya, the last of which was, until this year, our favorite. I still yearned a bit for the Hotel Maya as I walked past it, but my favorite things about it (its evening lighting, and guacamole & chips on the patio of its restaurant) I could still enjoy while staying at another hotel — and the fact is there’s only so much food prep you can do with a Keurig coffee maker. Facing another week of hotel room meals, I decided to try the hotel next door to the Hotel Maya — a Residence Inn, and be sure to include “Downtown” in its name, because there’s a second Long Beach Residence Inn in an entirely different part of town. Please note that we paid our own way at the Residence Inn Long Beach Downtown — I will always let you know when something I’m reviewing has been paid for by someone else.
Put briefly, the RILBD — I simply cannot keep typing out its full name — is a comfortable, pleasant place to stay. It lacks the Hotel Maya’s wacky charm, but for us, the fully-equipped kitchen tipped the balance in the RILBD’s favor.
I suspect the RILBD is in the midst of a gentle rehab — the lobby was fresh, but the carpets elsewhere were a little frayed. All was spotlessly clean, however, and the front desk staff could not have been kinder or more welcoming to Chloe (and to us). Our room, a one-bedroom suite with a king bed on the 4th floor, looked like this from the front door:
Walk through the bedroom door and turn left, and here’s the bathroom/closet area:
When we checked in, the guy at the front desk tried to find us a “studio,” since he admitted he liked them a little better — in his opinion, they seem larger because there’s no wall between the bedroom and living area — but they were sold out. We were perfectly content with the room we had, but I am curious now about the studio option.
Things we liked: The kitchen was small but complete, equipped with microwave, a couple of burners, a full-sized fridge, and a miniature dishwasher. I had brought a few items (serrated knife, collapsible mugs and bowl), but never used them; the kitchen was stocked with silverware, dishes, and crucial cookware. Daily cleaning was optional, and we opted out of it. The room smelled strongly of cleaner when we arrived, and I was just as happy not to have that repeated. Dishwashing supplies were provided, so we could keep the kitchen clean ourselves with a minimum of effort. The bed was comfortable, the pillows were workable, and there was satisfactory water pressure. The wifi was free, and fairly satisfactory.
Things we found appealing but never used: A grocery shopping service. The pool. Complimentary breakfast and evening happy hours (the hotel was hosting what must have been all the attendees of a baker’s conference, and the dining area was packed with contented-looking folk).
Things we regretted: I would have liked a bathtub, and perhaps other rooms than Room 409 have one. Be sure to ask, before you settle in and unpack. The couch was uncomfortable. The hangers were odd — they were real hangers, not those wretched alternatives that some hotels have to keep you from stealing them, but the shoulder supports were unusually short. If you plan to bring the Armani suit, pack a hanger for it.
As you can see, the good things clearly outweighed the bad. Add on the plus side of the balance the location — on the same side of the harbor as the Hotel Maya and the Queen Mary — and you can understand why my husband shook his head and asked why we hadn’t stayed at the RILBD all five years.
As I mentioned, the staff greeted Chloe with joy, and as the week went on, all of the shifts learned her name. There’s a quick morning walk option (walk down the ramp, turn left along the water, and cross the top of the boat ramp to the small park you can see out of the hotel’s back windows) and an excellent long afternoon walk option (descend the ramp, turn right, and walk along the water past the Hotel Maya, through the waterfront park, and past the Russian sub to the Queen Mary — for bonus points, turn right around the perimeter and under the front pavilion of the old Spruce Goose dome to the park and waterfront on its far side). We paid a one-time pet fee of $100.