We stayed at the Hampton Inn for my daughter's second visit to the University of Pittsburgh after being disappointed at the high price of another local hotel. I was a little concerned because of some bad reviews here and, in particular, certain photographs of the "neighborhood" posted by another traveler, but recent reviews were encouraging so we decided to give it a try. We paid $109/night booking directly through the hotel (Pitt discount rate), which is less than half what we paid at the other place.
We were very pleased. The hotel was easy to reach on the 28X Airport Express ($2.60) -- about a 3-block walk which, even in the rain carrying luggage, was not too bad. The front desk staff, especially James, were always friendly and helpful. We had a king room with a sleep sofa on the 6th floor (had asked for 2 doubles, but the hotel was completely booked when we made reservations and when we checked in). The bed was exceptionally comfortable, the bedding luxurious, nice flat screen TV, desk and nicely appointed bathroom. Although the place was packed, our room was very quiet and dark and we slept well each night.
The view from our window was exactly the same as in the photos posted here, but just beyond the vacant building across the street are rows of businesses, houses, and the river, with a nice view of the hills in the background (at one point I saw the most beautiful rainbow in the world from that window). The hotel abuts a little theater and is across the street from a large women's hospital, and the traffic on Forbes Avenue is constant. As two women traveling alone, we never felt unsafe (of course, we took the ordinary precautions we would take in any city), and we did a lot of walking at all times of day and night.
The free shuttle was amazing. Since we had seen the school already and only wanted to do a couple hours of the planned program there, we came this time to get a sense of the city and we used the shuttle to get us all over town. The drivers, particularly Raymond, Paul, and Susan (I may have her name wrong), went out of their way to get us where we wanted to go, when we wanted to get there, and to point out Pittsburgh sights along the way. We got to the theatre district Friday night (saw "The Big Bang," one of the funniest shows I've ever seen in my life and excellently done), shopped at the strip early Saturday morning (awesome, awesome, awesome), saw the Bodies exhibit and an Imax show Saturday afternoon (these were by cab, since they were out of the 3-mle range), and ate at Abay, an Ethiopian restaurant in Shadyside, on Saturday night. The hotel staff helped us find and get to all of these places, which was particularly appreciated because we didn't know the city at all.
The breakfast is another nice benefit. Hot food each morning, cereal, yoghurt, fresh fruit, and a decent tea and coffee bar set up all day. It was pretty crowded, but there seemed to be enough seats to go around and it was remarkably quiet given the number of guests in one place. Also, there are about a million restaurants nearby. Forbes Avenue has just about every ethnic cuisine you could imagine, all reasonably priced, as well as the typical college pubs and the infamous "O"s hot dog place. We re-visited a lovely tea house and ate noodles at a small Chinese place. There didn't appear to be any fancy restaurants in the neighborhood, but we were happy with what was available.
There is a computer and printer set up in the lobby, which we were always able to access when we wanted them. This was great for researching shows, checking in for our flight home, and, for my daughter, keeping contact with friends.
My only concern was the distance of the hotel from the university. It's a decent walk, at least 6 long blocks from the Cathedral of Learning (and farther, still, to Carnegie Mellon). We didn't have any problem because we both like to walk, but I would caution visitors to the schools to bring good walking shoes. As far as I can tell, there are only two hotels that are closer -- the Westin and the Holiday Inn Express.
All in all, we had a great stay at the Hampton Inn. Since our daughter will be going to Pitt in the fall, I plan to stay there often. I would recommend this hotel without reservation.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.