This review is of the Country Hearth Inn (CH) in Freeport, Texas. My stay was over the one night of 15 July 2006.
The CH-Freeport, part of the Country Hearth chain, is a two-story motel (not hotel). It's on 2nd Street just off Velasco Street (FM 523). It's in a mixed residential/commercial area and directly across from Capt. Elliott's Party Boats.
Previously, I had twice stayed at one other CH (Columbus, TX), having one bad experience and one much better experience, each due to the quality of the hotel management.
The night before the CH-Freeport stay, I was thinking about taking a weekend getaway trip to the Surfside Beach area, but I wasn't 100% sure that I would go. Per a Web-search, all Surfside motels and several in Clute & Lake Jackson (several miles away) were already sold out. I hesitated to book a room on the CH website for $49 due to the strongly stated 72-hour cancellation policy, so I appeared at the CH-Freeport as a walk-in. The nice Indian managerette, upon hearing my request for an upstairs room, cheerfully said, "Oh, I'll have to charge you for two people -- there are two beds." My rate was $55 + tax = $62.
The motel looks attractive enough from the outside, and the landscaping is appealing and nicely maintained. The motel's parking is all on one side of the property. I walked up one of the several concrete staircases and around to the far side of the building, facing 2nd Street with Capt. Elliott's Party Boats on the other side. One of the CH's second-story concrete walkways was so cracked and uneven that I questioned its structural integrity.
My room had dark (black), unvacuumed, worn carpeting. The only ceiling light was a heat-lamp-type bulb near the window. The first table-lamp in the room had no on/off switch and no light bulb. The other two table-lamps, which did work, were too dim to light the room effectively. There was a round table (with old smudges on it) in the front of the room, and a desk (also with old smudges) in the back, each with dirty chairs.
The bathroom faucet was corroded. The TV remote was missing its "volume up" button. The fold-out suitcase rack was completely rusted. Someone's old chewing-gum was stuck on the edge of the bathroom counter. Next to this gum was the room's only significant amenity -- a coffeemaker with packaged coffee and condiments. There was one small bottle of CH shampoo.
The motel has a nice-sized rectangular pool. I chatted briefly with the three men swimming in it, who turned out to be local residents and employees of Capt. Elliott's Party Boats across the street. Who knows why they were there?
After time on the beaches, I returned to the room and showered. The bathroom was very small. The water pressure was on the lower side of adequate. The bathtub loudly creaked underfoot, and had I weighed more than 190 lbs., I would have feared cracking the tub. The tub's design was such that the bar of soap and bottle of shampoo would slide off during one's shower.
Bright spots: All bath and bed linens smelled very fresh. The room's air conditioner (not on when I arrived) proved very strong, and it served to drown out most noise from the outside corridor and beyond.
At 10:15 p.m., I wanted to find a fountain-drink and a snack. Nothing was open nearby. I had to drive a full 2.5 miles all the way to Hwy. 332 (leading to Surfside) to the Buc-ee's convenience mart. When I returned, an outdoor, increasingly drunken tailgate-type party was in its earlier stages at Capt. Elliott's Party Boats.
I wanted to read the newspaper while lying on the bed, but the light was too dim, so I had to sit at the back desk on the filthy, sagging chair. I then wanted to research something in the local phone book. Despite a pallet of "new" local phone books (dated December 2005) in the motel's lobby, my room had only a November 2004 edition.
The party at Capt. Elliott's had picked up in intensity at 1 a.m. My bed, which "looked" saggy, was indeed that; my back hurt in the morning. I was awakened twice (briefly) during the night by a shout and a door slamming.
At 8:15 a.m., I stepped out of my room. The doorways on either side had garbage set out in front of them, despite a trash-can not ten paces away. Another guest approached me and said, in friendly drunken manner, "Yew got a cigarette? I'll give yew a can of Red Bull for it." I had no cigarettes, and he lurched away disappointed.
At 8:30, I went to the unstaffed lobby for the "breakfast." It consisted of a loaf of not-too-fresh bread, a toaster, some melting butter, warm orange juice, an empty milk jug, three glass containers of various dry cereals, packaged muffins, and no coffee to be seen anywhere. Perhaps Management thought (unlike ANY other motel ANYwhere) that because there was coffee in the guest rooms, no more was needed elsewhere.
Checkout consisted of my returning to the (still-) unstaffed lobby and waiting to turn in my key. Eventually, a sleepy 9-year-old girl appeared and took my key without a word.
To potential guests: Stay in Lake Jackson or Clute (but not at the Motel 6) if you possibly can; the extra distance to Surfside will be small potatoes. Book at this Country Hearth only if you'd otherwise have to sleep in your car, or if you're prepared in advance by this review for what you might have to put up with.
Country Hearth Corporate, we have a problem. The building is dilapidated; service is nonexistent; furniture and fixtures are inadequate; and the clientele needs to be viewed as more than merely the patrons of Capt. Elliott's Party Boats. If this were my first impression of Country Hearth Inns, it would be my last. If I were in charge, I'd immediately sell the property and de-identify.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Cambridge Inn and Suites Freeport offers guests an outdoor pool, free Continental breakfast served from 5:30 am to 9 am, free high-speed wireless Internet access, business center, fax/copy service, free parking with room for large vehicles and small pets are accepted with additional charges. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Cambridge Inn And Suites Freeport Hotel Freeport