This review is long overdue as I stayed at the Clarion in May but better late than never! I was there for a wedding and I must admit, I wasn't expecting to be so impressed with the accommodations. I am a total hotel snob and even stay at hotels in my own city, just for fun. I've stayed at almost every 4 and 5 star hotel in NYC so trust me; it takes a LOT to impress me. I usually stay away from the more budget-friendly hotel chains because I'm so picky but this Clarion isn't your typical 3 star hotel. Let me tell you why:
--The rooms are immaculate and the furniture was totally up to date and in good condition, not to mention HUGE. They have windows that actually open in addition to air conditioning that worked very well (I like to sleep in the cold).
--The water pressure was fantastic and the water stayed hot
--The toiletries were good enough to work on my long hair, which never happens
--The walls are either soundproofed or just really well-constructed because I didn't hear any outside noise
--Each room has a medium-sized fridge large enough to store your own food & drinks, as well as a microwave
--The beds are very comfortable (mattress not too hard or soft) and the bedding is of a proper thread count, soft and clean
--The sofa was actually very comfortable as well and pulls out into a bed, though I didn't use it and can't comment on how comfy it is as a bed
LOCATION & GROUNDS
--Perfect location, close to everything you need (liquor store, grocery, pharmacy, bank, restaurants & fast food)
--The grounds are well-kept and the parking lot is gigantic. You can pretty much have your pick of parking spots and get very close to your room, which is great if you have a serious over-packing problem like I do
--There is a lovely outdoor pool in the courtyard that is very clean and large enough to actually swim in, as opposed to a lot of the "pools" you find in newer hotels that are about 3 ft deep and could fit maybe ten people.
--The hotel staff was very gracious and accommodating. Everyone was really nice and went out of their way to meet my ridiculous requests, such as bringing me a plate from the breakfast buffet because I was too hungover to get out of bed (room service doesn't start until lunchtime). Now that's what I call service!!
--Housekeeping is very respectful and even if you don't have the "DND" sign on your door, they don't start banging on your door at 8 am trying to clean. They are very quiet and courteous.
FOOD & DRINK
--The restaurant on site, which I believe is called Ike's, serves excellent pub food. They have a pretty decent menu selection and everything I tried was really fresh and good. It's a basic American menu but the quality is much higher than what I was expecting. Surprised again!
--The bar at Ike's doesn't skimp on the liquor and the prices are very reasonable, especially in comparison to NYC (I'm hesitant to say too much about the price, lest someone from the hotel reads this and decides to start charging more)
CONVENTION CENTER / RECEPTION HALL
--As I previously mentioned, I was in Tom's River for a wedding and the reception was at the hotel. I was surprised to see how large the reception hall was. They had a full DJ booth set up with all of the gear and a proper dance floor and still plenty of room for tables to comfortably seat all of the guests. It wasn't cramped at all, you had plenty of room to move among the tables and visit with everyone.
--The catering was great (though I don't know if this was provided by the hotel or not) and all of the staff on site for the wedding were professional and pleasant
And last, but not least:
--The price for these rooms, considering everything I just mentioned, is really a steal. You can't get a better deal anywhere, not for the quality and service.
The one and only con for me was the fact that there wasn't an elevator on my side of the hotel (there may have been one somewhere else on the premises, I didn't ask) and I had to carry my heavy suitcases up the stairs. But it's only a two-story hotel and the stairs were wide so it really wasn't a big deal. I just figured I had to come up with something negative to say because no hotel is perfect ;-)
Take it from this hotel snob: If you care about cleanliness, comfort and service, the Clarion is your best bet in Tom's River.
Note: I totally forgot to take any pics due to my drunken stupor but I checked out the photos on their site and they are a proper representation of the rooms and grounds.