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Here we are again in a university town, this time Ann Arbor. This town is great. Books, coffee, food, cocktails. Almost everything you need, but still no good hotel.

The Residence Inn is a Marriott property, and it is brand new. It’s pretty much what you would expect of a mid-tier mid-market Marriott hotel. Shiny suburban fake is the style. NPS has different style.

When the reservation was made, we requested a high floor and a Panoramic City View Suite. The first room we were assigned was 414 which is ADA formatted. When asking for a non-ADA configured room instead were assigned down to 214. The rooms are almost exactly identical. Moving down was a big mistake because traffic noise starts at 5am. Alas.

So much for the high floor request.

The manager, having heard tell of checkin problems, was very gracious. We had a nice chat. His valet staff is super.

The view from 214 says it all

The room is filled with lots of shiny new veneer cheap furniture that looks better than it feels when you use it. The suite includes a kitchenette.

Entry hallway kitchenette

desk room

desk room couch

View from the bed to a nice bank of windows

large (impersonal) bathroom

The real problem is the shower, which is partially glass and partially plastic. It is open to the huge bathroom without a glass door. Cold air makes for a less than stellar shower experience.

shower. not approved

Anyway, we knew what we were getting into when we agreed to come to Ann Arbor. Apparently, there is a copy of The Graduate here too BTW. Sure wish university towns had better hotel kung fu!

Dinner at Mikette was delicious. Great service.

The cocktail scene in Ann Arbor remains vibrant. A Sunday night visit to Nightcap was optimal in all respects. Andy was a blast behind the bar.

Because there was Handy in the house, we present, The Handy Handy
1.75 Thomas Handy Rye
.3 oz Del’erborista ultra-bitters
.3 carpano antica
2 dashes scrappy aromatic
Stir. Strain. Express orange peel and drop in.

Three showerheads for the Residence Inn in Ann Arbor. Dang university towns.

Again I find myself at a sub-optimal hotel. This time mostly because Hartford, CT appears to be off the hipster beaten path. At least my friend Drew is accumulating Marriott points! The Marriott Hartford seems to be like most Marriotts. You can decide whether that’s a good thing.

This is a plastic shower.  Bane of this blog's existence.

This is a plastic shower. Bane of this blog’s existence.

The rather unfortunate report on the shower is that not only is it plastic and over a tub, but also the hot water is tepid and there is no water pressure. Because the pressure is bad, the plastic showerhead does not work properly. All of this results in the worst shower of 2014, and sets the bar nice and low. Life is too short for a bad shower.

Hamster cages for everyone. Even Drew’s super Elite status lands you a room like this.

Bedroom 717.

Bedroom 717.

TV homage.  Bedroom 717.

TV homage. Bedroom 717.

Tiny plastic bathroom 717.

Tiny plastic bathroom 717.

At least the concierge floor is on 21 and there is a nice view and some almost acceptable net.

Frozen tundra from the Concierge Lounge.

Frozen tundra from the Concierge Lounge.

There’s just not much more else to say. Two lowly showerheads and no surprise for this place.

On the restaurant side of things, Max Downtown is world class, but standard issue. Want a good meal? Max will do it. Decent wine list and a great slab of cow.

Dogs on the water.

Dogs on the water.

OK, I admit it, I’m from the South. I grew up in Tennessee on a creek with a bunch of brothers and dogs. So I am biased about Mobile, Alabama having been exposed to water and dogs this afternoon by my gracious host Alec. A day like today makes travel worth doing.

The Battle House is a Renaissance Hotel (part of the Marriott chain). That means it can only get so good. But for a Marriott property, this one sure beats the living daylights out of the Goldman Sachs owned Sawgress in Florida. Come here instead, it’s way better.

The lobby is gorgeous.

Battle House lobby dome.

Battle House lobby dome.

The rooms? Well, pretty generic Marriott. I am on the concierge floor in room 8138.

Two double beds.  Why?  Because you must need two beds for some reason?!

Two double beds. Why? Because you must need two beds for some reason?!

At least there is room for a chair.

Chair.  Just one.  No proper entertaining in this room unless you use both beds maybe?

Chair. Just one. No proper entertaining in this room unless you use both beds maybe?

And a desk pod with super inconvenient electricity. We have laptops and phones that need charging people!

Desk pod.  Needs work.

Desk pod. Needs work.

While we’re on minor flaws. There is an ancient clock radio with pathetic sound capability. (I tried it, believe me.) Yes, we brought an ipod too along with our other devices. Marriott does not know what that means. And if you want “enhanced” high speed net, prepare to pay $6 a day. That is just stupid. The default “high speed” internet (a term used loosely here in Alabama) is 500Kb/sec max throughput on a good day.

The bathroom is nicely appointed with a real glass shower pod. It’s not upscale, but it’s not plastic either.

Glass shower.  Too thin.

Glass shower. Too thin.

But did we come to Mobile for the Battle House? Nope. We came for the time on Mobile Bay and the Fowl River.

We came here for this.

We came here for this.

Mixology this trip was imported in the “doctors bag” from Virginia. Liberals all around. (Just don’t try and sit in the chairs all at once.)

The Battle House gets a low four showerheads rating. But Mobile itself? Well, I’ll be back if they’ll have me.

Abandoned boat on the Fowl.

Abandoned boat on the Fowl.

Gator.

Gator.

Cypress in the morning.

Cypress in the morning.