Imagine a Soviet era mental health facility. Now imagine it abandoned in the winter. Then imagine being sent to the furthest corner of the compound and going into a room to find it clean and well appointed but resembling a museum display of 3-star American hotel from the late 80's or early 1990's. If you can achieve this, then you will have a good picture of the Albuquerque Clarion Hotel.
We stayed here because we were driving back to Kansas City from Phoenix on New Year's Day and had to take an extra-long route due to roads being closed from a huge winter storm. I had a lot of points and free nights in my Choice Hotels account and we had our dog so had to find a pet-friendly facility. This was the highest-rated place on Trip Advisor in Albuquerque that met our criteria.
I cannot say that this is a bad hotel by any means. It was clean, the beds and bedding were of a good quality and one of my personal measures, the quality of the bath towels was very good. There was just a feeling that something wasn't quite right. This was probably compounded by the fact that there was an unusually cold snap going on so everything seemed bleak. A lot of Clarions are former full-service hotels that could not maintain the standards for certification and I suspect that this may be one of those. It has three cell-blocks, I mean room blocks, that you have to go outside to get to and seeing as we had booked a suite, ours was at the far end of the most distant one. The lobby is a vast expanse of cheap laminate flooring that was a danger signal to me when I entered. As I drove around to our room, I could not help but notice that the lot was surrounded by razor wire and that judging by the few cars, we were almost the only guests. The exterior door to the room block was behind the rough wooden staircase to the second floor that one sees in cheap apartment buildings and the hallway was dimly lit and dated, adding to the Gulag atmosphere.
The hotel seems to be very proud of its breakfast. I wish that I could concur. There were a couple of breakfast cereals, some dedicated bacon and rock hard, cold slabs of what looked like McDonald's hash-browns. The coffee was undrinkable but there was plenty of orange juice and some other juice that looked like dark stale urine. It was not identified so I didn't try it. A very welcome touch though, was that they had real plates and silverware, something that I do not see in much nicer hotels than this.
The room service brochure boasted of a selection of foods available in the store. this turned out to be a half-dozen choices of candy bars and boxes of clothes soap. We dined out at a gem of a restaurant called Tomato Cafe that was nearby.
As I said, the room itself was fine, although dated but we woke in the middle of the night, freezing cold to realize that the humming that we had been hearing was not the heat/air-conditioner which was actually turned off.
I used points to pay for our room so I cannot complain about the value. I don't think that I would pay to stay here and that if my company travel planner booked me in here, I would ask her to switch me after one night. I don't think that I would want to spend more time than that in the Twilight Zone.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Top rated hotel located near Journal Center in northeast Albuquerque, within close proximity to everything ABQ has to offer. Our upgraded one bedroom suites feature one king bed or two queen sized beds, a separate living area with sofabed, two televisions, microwave and mini refrigerator. Hot breakfast is included, as is WiFi and New York Times. Our upscale hotel features 168 smoke free rooms, business center, seasonal outdoor pool, and fitness center. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Country Inn Albuquerque