We have been Choice Privileges members for a few years now, and made this reservation including the member number. I made sure to note in the "special requests" line that we preferred a top floor room, and one away from the elevator. Being pregnant, I am an even lighter sleeper than usual, and from past experience I know that generally the closer you are to the elevator, the louder the room is what with people walking past and chatting while waiting for the elevator. I called the hotel the day ahead to double check that my room request was noted, and after being put on hold for 5 minutes, was assured that it was. When we arrived around 9:30 pm, we were told that there was only one room left in the King Suite category that we had reserved, and that it was on the second floor, quite near to the elevator. I was well aware that my room request was not guaranteed, and based on availability, but I was expecting to at least have it taken into consideration before arriving to check in! Especially since we are members of their rewards program. It was clear that the requests line is just for decoration, and that the rooms are strictly on a first come, first served basis. Since we arrived at 9:30, we got the left-overs. Anyway, that was the way it was, and, trying not to be too disappointed, we made our way to our room. Stepping off the elevator, I was a little confused, and again disappointed, because the old, dark hallway with stained tile and carpet and very noisy ice maker that we entered was nothing like the airy outdoor hallway with railing that was pictured online. I soon realized that the lowermost 2 or 3 floors were the only ones with enclosed hallways, on account of the adjacent parking garage. Lucky us. The room itself (room 203) was fine at first glance, though it was so low to the ground that the boardwalk lights shown squarely in one's eyes, severely hindering viewing of the ocean at night. The hotel is set up so that there are no guest rooms on ground level, so even though we were on the 2nd floor, we were actually on what would be a 3rd floor level. This was a small comfort. However, once daylight hit I was very disappointed to find that we were still too low to the ground to watch the waves wash in on the beach. We could see them rolling in and breaking, but then they disappeared because of how the sand on the beach is banked. Watching the waves from the balcony is one of the top reasons we make sure to get an oceanfront room when visiting VA Beach, and this was the only time in several years of visits that we have had such a low room that we could not watch the waves wash in.
The room was NOT as clean as it should have been. Surprising, based on the number of positive reviews I had read prior to booking the room. There were numerous small hairs around the upper edge of the sink bowl, in the shower, on the ledge surrounding the shower, and around the edge of the bathroom floor. Gross. If it hadn't of been so late at night, and we hadn't of been so exhausted from a long day, I would have requested a room cleaning before touching anything. There were also what looked like dried food and a white, dust-like substance on the kitchenette countertop, as well as dried food in the sink. The small tile strip on the floor in front of kitchenette was sticky. The mini fridge was already cold, which was quite nice, but we found that while the back half of the fridge was plenty cold, the front half was barely cool enough to keep our food at a safe temperature. And we couldn't find a dial to turn it up, though it may have been hidden under the strange ice chunk at the back center of the fridge. Also, there was no ice compartment in the fridge, which meant we had no way to keep our ice packs frozen for our return trip home. Not a huge bother, since we just filled zip-locks with ice, but something to plan for if you're used to mini fridges having freezer compartments.
In the bedroom, there was a large window in the wall beside the head of the bed, which was not pictured in the online photos. Of course, there was a nice, thick curtain covering it, but it was rather weird to have a window looking out into a dingy hallway. Once we tried to go to sleep, my fears were confirmed in that it let in a LOT of noise. You could hear everyone who walked past, and who used the elevator. We were awakened to some folks having a disagreement in the hallway near the elevator, and we could have easily made out what they were saying, if we were so inclined. Being well after 1am, we were not so inclined. (We also did not call the front desk, so that was our bad.)
The king bed did not have a wide enough mattress pad. It was a good foot short on either side, and created a ridge where it ended. Very weird, and uncomfortable for both my husband and myself. However, the bed did not creak, which was nice.
The plentiful lighting was very nice and bright, and the updated furnishings and decorations were nice, and as pictured in the hotel's online photos.
The bathroom toilet was a source of constant frustration for both my husband and myself. I'm not sure who designed the bathroom, but they clearly did not take into consideration that one day someone would actually have to sit on the toilet to relieve themselves. The wall beside and in front of the toilet slants out at such an angle that one must sit on the smaller-than-normal toilet *sideways* to avoid their knees/head hitting the wall, and having the toilet roll holder in their lap. I should have taken a picture of it, because it even sounds absurd to myself now as I type it out. Neither of us are large, by any means. I have always been thin, and even at 23 weeks pregnant am smaller than most of the ladies we saw on the beach. So it is not a body size issue.
There was no sliding door to the balcony, but we were able to easily prop open the heavy solid door with a balcony chair to let in the wonderful ocean air and sound of waves. That is, until the smell of cigarette smoke filled the room. Looking out, there were what appeared to be several homeless folks, and a few unsavory characters, gathering on the three benches smack out front of our room. These must have been "their" benches, because they were there for several hours every single one of the 4 nights of our stay. And every night we had to smell cigarette smoke if we opened our door or tried to enjoy our balcony. Very disappointing for someone who is allergic to cigarette smoke. So, try very hard to arrive at check-in early enough in the day to request an upper floor room. It's worth the view and clean ocean air. Also, it's worth the privacy, as we were low enough that those on the boardwalk could easily see into our room at night if our lights were on and the drapes open. (We know this because we left our lights on one evening while we walked the boardwalk in front of the hotel.)
Now a few positives. The breakfast room and exercise room were on the 4th floor and had large glass windows overlooking the boardwalk and ocean. This was a wonderful start to our day, and as we were 2 floors higher here than in our room, we had a much better view of the waves washing onto the beach. The exercise bikes and equipment were newer, and placed perpendicular to the windows overlooking the ocean... spectacular view!! The breakfast attendant was very pleasant, and she kept the breakfast bar well stocked until breakfast ended at 10AM. There was a lovely assortment of breads and donuts with jams, PB, butter, and cream cheese, cold cereals, whole fruit, make-your-own waffles, hard boiled eggs, yogurt, several juices, nice coffee bar, etc. Plus, every morning, there were two hot foods in the warmer: egg rounds (not sure if these were real eggs) sometimes folded over with melted cheese in the middle, with either sausage, ham, or sausage gravy and biscuits (that one was my favorite!!).
The pool was also on the 4th floor, on the back side so it would have gotten the afternoon sun. However, this was closed. Since we visited before Memorial Day, I was not surprised to find it still closed for the season, but having seen no mention of this when checking in online, and not being told at check in, I was actually assuming it was in fact open. It looked like it would have been a nice space though, with round fire pits along one side. Many other hotels already had their pools open, so if this is important to you, be sure to ask ahead of booking if you're visiting offseason.
The WIFI was great. We sat on the beach directly in front of the hotel, and was pleasantly surprised that the signal was strong enough to allow connected browsing on the beach!
I was actually planning on giving this review 2 stars, since I figured that's about what our room itself was worth, but I changed my mind after checking out. We passed a cleaning lady in the hall who was extremely pleasant, and the lady at the front desk was extremely nice!! She went above and beyond to make pleasant and happy conversation with us, and, since they weren't too busy, allowed us to keep our car parked in the garage for a couple more hours after checking out.
So, all things considered, (and in spite of the numerous hairs in the bathroom), I believe this hotel gets an overall 3-star review.