I will start out this review by saying that I usually don't stay at hotels this upscale. My preferred chains are the Choice brands, Comfort, Quality, and Sleep. However this was a post-Christmas getaway for me and I felt like treating myself and my event was held right on site so I also stayed for convenience reasons.
The Renaissance Charlotte Suites Hotel was the host site for the 2013 IchibanCon anime convention. I stayed two nights at a special convention rate of $109/night. I was arriving from out of state, and arrived at the airport at about 8:00 in the morning and called the hotel's shuttle. By 8:35 the shuttle still had not arrived so I called back to the hotel. Ten minutes after that, and 45 minutes after my first call, the van finally arrived. The driver was apologetic about being late. I arrived at the hotel at about 9:00. Pulling up, the hotel does have a commanding presence - it looks like an impressive place to stay. I was immediately checked into my room. I was very pleasantly surprised - considering that a huge convention was ready to start that afternoon, I wasn't expecting to have a room ready for me that early in the morning.
The check-in area is a bit different with a cluster of small check-in desks instead of a single large one. The lobby opens up into a beautiful atrium with a circular skylight and lovely fountains and water features. It had a large clock mounted on a lamppost directly in the center of the atrium, which ended up proving to be very helpful for me to tell what time it was and when panels at my convention were starting or ending. The hotel has three glass-lined elevators, and unlike the elevators at every other anime convention hotel I've stayed at, I never had any problem with these elevators - they arrived quickly and I never had to wait long for one.
The hotel has nine floors with many of the rooms overlooking the atrium area. My room was #428 which was a king suite tucked in away from the atrium. While I wasn't afforded much of a view, it was quieter back there and I didn't have a huge picture window looking directly in from the hallway. Of all the "suite" hotels I've stayed at thus far, the suites at the Renaissance have had the best layout of all of them. There is a full door dividing the bedroom from the rest of the suite and the bathroom is the largest I've seen in a hotel. In fact the living area of the suite alone was probably at least as big as your typical hotel room. The suite was very nicely decorated with upscale furnishings and an "earth" color scheme of muted yellows, browns, and reds. The room had two LCD televisions, one in the living area, and one in the bedroom. It also had a pull-out sofa bed, large desk, and wet bar with refrigerator. Real glasses too, not the cheap paper cups. The beds had perhaps an overabundance of pillows, but nonetheless the beds themselves were excellent. I pretty much fell right to sleep, though that might have been me being tired after the day's events as much as it was the beds. The alarm clocks looked cool and had iPod docking stations, but setting the alarm was a needlessly complicated process with no clear instructions on how to do it. Perhaps that should be included in the hotel's information book (which was actually a little pocket-sized directory instead of a full-sized bound folder). There was some minor fading and chipping of the wood furniture, and the brass enclosure to the lock to the room was a bit corroded, but all in all the suite was in very good condition and exceptionally clean.
The convention area was overall attractive and well-kept, if perhaps a bit too small for the event... crowding in the hallways was a constant problem. At an anime convention like this event, there will be a lot of photographs of attendees in costume being taken, and unfortunately the convention space here isn't lighted well enough for that purpose... I frequently had to photograph others multiple times because my pictures kept turning out too dark. The only really good space for photos was in the atrium and then only between 10-3 during the day.
Staff overall was very friendly and helpful especially considering that folks like us who were dressed up as Pokemon and Sailor Moon characters are definitely not the typical clientele for them.
The hotel itself is in an odd business park location in Charlotte with very little around in terms of shopping and restaurants. Fortunately their shuttle van also goes to the Woodlawn light-rail station, from which you can get to restaurants, the local Harris Teeter grocery store, or anywhere else you may need to go (I do recommend stopping by Harris Teeter for sodas and snacks if you're staying for a while; the prices in the on-site convenience store are a bit high). Still, I decided to eat in at the hotel's Clock Tower restaurant for dinner (in its own section of the atrium area) both nights. Many menu items were expensive and the menu offers very little selection for those with egg allergies like me, but I was able to order wings and fries from the bar/appetizer menu, which not only were one of the more reasonably priced items on the menu, but I also received a generous portion of both. During the day Saturday and Sunday, the hotel also opened up a kiosk that sold pizza slices, chips, and sodas at pretty good prices, which was a big benefit for us who were spending all our money at the vendors at the convention.
My biggest gripe is with the $12.95/night room Internet charge which I believe is a corporate Marriott/Renaissance policy. I refused to pay it, instead using the lobby's free internet access (fortunately the lobby here offers a nice, relaxing setting and plenty of seating in which to do this) when I could and my own broadband USB stick while in the room. I still don't understand why upscale/luxury hotels charge for in-room internet while much less expensive chains offer it for free. At check-in, the $25/night (would have been $50 for me) hold for incidentials (since I was paying with a debit card) was clearly explained for me. I personally had no problem with this, but other travelers might, so this is just a heads-up. And actually, I never did see this hold on my online bank statement, so the hotel must have released the hold within a day of my checking out.
But for the price I paid, I was very impressed with the Renaissance Charlotte Suites Hotel. The convention area might not have been a perfect match for the event in terms of size and lighting, but as far as I could tell everything ran as smoothly as possible. The lobby/atrium was beautifully decorated and my suite was comfortable, clean, and attractive as well. For the price I paid, I would definitely stay again, except perhaps next time with a car so I would have more eating options.
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- Also Known As:
- Renaissance Charlotte Hotel Charlotte
- Charlotte Renaissance