Let me start by saying we got a room at a good rate as part of a group booking ($129/night). Although I read the poor reviews, I opted to stay here because it’s connected to the Convention Center, which is where our volleyball tournament was.
Thanks to the other reviewers, I at least knew enough not to pay $20/day for valet parking. Instead, I was able to park at one of the metered spots (free on weekends) beneath the underpass, across the street from the hotel. If, however, you’re here during the week, just use the parking deck (which is apparently $12 day “with in/out privileges” or $8 without). When we entered the unimpressive and crowded lobby, we encountered a line about 10 parties deep. However, the check-in desks were well-staffed and the line moved quickly. Again, based on previous reviews, I had requested a room in the newer section (i.e., Atrium), but was told by the check-in clerk that I did have one of the newer rooms, though it was in the tower.
When I saw how small and dated the room was, I called Guest Services to try and secure a room in the atrium but was told the hotel was sold out and that even if there was a room available it would be more expensive, which made no sense to me (I mean a double is a double…there is no distinction on the website between rooms in the tower or the atrium. Perhaps that meant that since we had a group rate, they booked us all into the undesirable tower and would charge more for a decent room. (I tried again the next day to no avail.) I also called about getting a mini-fridg in the room. “No problem”, I was told, “but it’s $25 day”. Come on, $25 a day for a mini-fridg? Instead I filled the garbage can with ice (since the ice bucket is miniature-sized) to keep a few things cool.
Okay so the room was small, bland and frankly, it didn’t feel very clean. Maybe it was because the beds (though made) looked lumpy, the lampshades were askew, the carpets stained in places, hairs were left in the sink… or all of the above. I will say the beds were fairly comfortable. (There I found something else that was good.)
There is no free wifi in the rooms. Maybe it’s me, but I would rather pay a higher rate and have everything included than a lower rate where I feel like I’m being nickled and dimed for every single thing.
Also the bathroom in our tower room was very small. I had to laugh when I read the manager’s comment in response to another reviewer’s complaint about the size of the bathrooms. The manager countered that bathrooms in Europe are equally small. Of course they are, but guess what? We’re not in Europe. If you’re offering me a view of the Eiffel Tower, a small bathroom might seem like a good trade-off. If I’m overlooking highway in downtown Birmingham, not so much. Secondly, the toilet made the weirdest moaning noise after being flushed. It also continued to run at times until you jiggled the handle. Finally, the shower was “lukewarm” at best when turned all the way to the hot position.
There is not much of anything around the hotel (besides the convention center and the Westin). So on Friday night, we took a $16 taxi ride to dine at Gian Marcos, which was very good Italian restaurant set in a residential neighborhood in Homewood. On Saturday I called Guest Services to get a recommendation for a place we could “walk to” for lunch. They told me there really wasn’t much but could recommend the Pub at the Westin (found this very odd since Sheraton has its own restaurant, but since they are both part of SPG, I guess it’s all in the family). By the way, skip the pub at the Westin. It was overpriced and underwhelming.
There is a very nice outdoor shopping area not too far from the hotel (about a 12 min drive) called The Summit. The Summit also has several restaurants (chains but decent food). This is where we should have gone for lunch and instead had dinner that evening.
When we came back to the room Saturday evening, it appeared the maid may have been there, thought I wasn’t sure at first because only 1 of our 2 beds was made. My daughter had her own blanket and pillow on lying on her bed, but I don’t know how this was any excuse for not making it. Also, one of trash cans hadn’t been emptied clean.
To add insult to injury, the hotel assigned rooms on our floor to a bunch of high school prom-goers. (What age do you have to be to rent a room anyway?) I should have known something was up when I saw a big “Quiet Zone” poster as I stepped off the elevator. I mean really… did you think a sign was going to deter teenagers from congregating in the halls and letting their doors slam about a hundred times from 2:30 – 4 a.m.?
I will say the Concierge desk was helpful the few times we requested assistance over the weekend. They pestered the cab company Friday night for the taxi which was running late. On Saturday, they provided a sheet with a number of shopping areas (though didn’t seem to be knowledgeable about any of them). And on Sunday, the woman at the Concierge desk went above and beyond the call of duty to help us retrieve a lost item from Lost and Found (she personally walked us to the lost and found location).
Breakfast options in the Tower included a small counter in the lobby with Starbucks coffee, tea, cereal, fruit, and a few other options. Or you could walk over to the Atrium where there was a buffet in the hotel restaurant or some “grab and go” choices directly across from the restaurant (including a chicken biscuit which rated far inferior to Chick Fil A according to my daughter). I also walked into the gift shop early one morning (I was the only customer at the time) and tried to make the eye contact with the gift shop employee. She never even picked her head up to greet me.
In summary, I found The Sheraton completely lacked any charm. (If I had a room in the Atrium, my experience may have been somewhat different, since a friend told me the rooms were larger and nicer). But from the moment of our arrival, I just felt like I was part of a herd.
If you’re attending anything at the Convention Center, it is definitely convenient. But even then, I would think the Westin is a much better choice and has the same connection (actually all 3 are connected to each other). I wouldn’t stay here again even with the benefit of the connection. Overall, it was sub-par and disappointing…not what I would have expected, especially being an SPG member.
Don't take a room in the Tower.
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.