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Best Western Tumwater-Olympia Inn (Tumwater, Washington State USA)

4 Case Rating
Location The hotel is located about half a mile from I-5 in Tumwater. Seattle airport is one hour or 55 miles away. Portland, OR is about 110 miles or 1hr 45 min drive. Its a great place to break up a drive in the middle of Washington for a night coming from Oregon or north Washington state. Within the area are various stores like Fred Meyer, Walmart and lots with fast food places everywhere, KFC is walking distance. Great mexican restaurant nearby. Room The spacious room had a raised high soft king size bed. The bed is comfy with mattress topper but didn't much like the pillows. There are bed side tables with lamps but power sockets are behind the cabinets. However an alarm clock does have a USB socket behind it on one side. The bed faces a large cabinet that has a large TV with full cable, microwave and large refrigerator. There is a working desk with lamp are here are plenty of sockets. There is also a sofa and coffee table, great for eating take-aways and watching TV. The room also includes a large sink that also has hot drinks machines on top. This is the main sink form the bathroom. Since the bathroom is in a small room containing only the toilet and a bath and shower combo. They offer small amenity bottles of their in house brand. An iron and ironing board is also on offer with some clothes hangers. Heating / AC is a large unit but wasn't that noisy. Decor is kind of dull but traditional. Facilities The hotel offers decent speed WIFI. Also two computer are in the lobby. There is breakfast on offer is better than most motel quite decent and includes some scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages, plenty of breads and bagels, cereals, yogurts and fruits. Plus a pancake machine, juice dispensers and coffee machine. Its as nice and the room plays the news. They also offer cookies and coffee in reception. For leisure facilities there is a small gym and adjoining room with hot tub. Plenty of free parking is offered. Staff Staff were nice and friendly with quick check-in/out. Breakfast lady was overly enthusiastic and happy. It was fine for one night, comfortable and very clean. Not quite Hampton Suites but a decent product that was good value for money.
[geo_mashup_map enable_scroll_wheel_zoom="false"] 5188 Capitol Blvd SE, Tumwater, WA 98501, USA/em>
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Sheltered Nook On Tillamook Bay (Bay City, Oregon USA)

4 Case Rating
Location Sheltered Hook is in bay city right on Oregon coast about 77 miles west of Portland, thru the stunning Tillamook forest. Small coastal town within a bay with fresh sea air. The famous Cannon Beach is only about 30 minutes drive up the coast. The small town of Bay city has a handful of restaurants and bars. 101 route north is one of the most picturesque coastal roads in the world and runs thru here. Room Wanted to experience the popular Oregon concept of a tiny house for one night. They have some in Portland but double the price and heard the Oregon coast is better place to go. The tiny cabins at Sheltered Nook is so cosy & functional. Far better than staying in any hotel & far cheaper. As you enter the home, there is a small veranda that accommodates a decent gas barbecue & two outside seating for eating. It is covered and cosy at night for smokers displaying the lighted coloured bulbs at each house. Inside is initially an open plan kitchen & living room with small stair case leading to two double beds upstairs. Very low ceiling but does have some cosy windows behind your pillow. There are plenty of sockets & lights. The living room has a sofa & arm chair with a nice warm soft blanket. It that faces this really nice visual fireplace heater, creating a mellow ambience. TV is cable with plenty of channels, DVD player is also offered with plenty of DVD’s on offer for free to rent at reception. There is also a table to pull out when dining for 2. The full stocked kitchen offers an oven, microwave, huge fridge & a decent coffee pod machine, with creamers, milks and was really nice. Also a kettle for tea lovers. Inside the refrigerator they include a breakfast basket containing an apple, homemade egg bake to heat up, yogurt & a pastry. Quite tasty and generous of them given the rate they charge. The main bed room is at the back & has a super comfy bed thanks to premium mattress topper & decent quality bedding. Flexi-reading lights, sockets & bedside table either side. Overhead fan & electric heaters that worked well. It is quite a small room that the large kind size bed take up most of it. Bathroom has a shower that worked well and they offer small bottle shampoo & body lotions with plenty of towels. It’s all in wooden decor & really has all the amenities that one would expect at your own home. Loved it very much and would certainly come back. Especially enjoyed relaxing at night watching the digital fire place. It is also secure with a peronsalised pin code access to each home. Facilities They offer free parking & have a super fast free WiFi. Each box is within each home. The reception as mentioned has DVD's and some other drink items available. Staff Staff couldn’t be more welcoming with personal explanation of home & area. They were really helpful. Overall a very nice concept & very reasonably priced for what you get.
[geo_mashup_map enable_scroll_wheel_zoom="false"] Xinzheng, Zhengzhou, China
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Sunrise Inn Villas and Suites (Anacortes, Washington State USA)

4 Case Rating
Location The hotel is located in Anacortes. Stayed here to be half way to Vancouver airport (2hour drive) from Olympic National park. Seattle is about 1.5 hours south and Everett about an hour. Noticed some shops, bar and fast food places less than 10 minutes walk away. The hotel is on a side road in a quiet residential area. Its in a scenic area with the coast close by. Room The room was very cosy and comfortable. Can be described as more or less like or better than a Hamptons inn or similar standard of brand but with a sort of warm cosy comfortable & boutique feel. The bed was exceptionally comfortable especially the premium soft bedding & high quality mattress topper, better than some five stars I have stayed at. Either side is a bed side table with lamp that has helpful power sockets on it, plus a telephone and a clock radio. Facing bed is a flat screen TV with full cable channels. Below is a microwave & to the side an AC unit. A Large desk is offered, convenient to work on a laptop from and also has a large mirror for those that need this. There is also a wardrobe with handy ironing board and iron. Next to desk is a large fridge and above is some small hot drink facilities. There is also a comfy modern arm chair and stool. Great for watching TV & better chair than you find in a lot of hotels these days. Bathroom was of decent size with a large oval (could fit two) bath combined with a shower. The hotel offers a full set of amenities and decent towels. Overall the room was exceptionally comfortable, the management clearly make a lot effort in the quality and detail for their guests. Facilities The hotel offers fast WIFI and worked fine. Breakfast is included and they offer bagels, muffins, a pancake machine, fruits, yogurts and spreads. It tasted nice and fresh but simple. They also offer a vending machine for snacks and drinks. Public computer is offered for those without a personal machine. Parking is also free and if your lucky you can park outside your room, otherwise less than a minute walk. Staff Lady at check-in was very kind when I called her to confirm I wont be able to make the 9pm check-in closing time as described by an popular hotel booking website that I booked with. She actually is there until 10pm and I fortunately made it but otherwise she mentioned arrangements can be made via a secure key pick up system. Overall the room is very comfortable and slept well, cannot fault anything wrong with it. If I find myself in Anacortes again, I will surely choose this hotel as it is reasonably priced for the quality of comfort you get.
[geo_mashup_map enable_scroll_wheel_zoom="false"] 905 20th St, Anacortes, WA 98221, USA
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Van Riper’s Resort (Sekiu, Washington State USA)

3 Case Rating
Location Van Ripers resort motel is in the idyllic fishing village of Sekiu. Located just beyond Olympic national park of which is 30 minutes drive away to the edge of it. Unless your fishing one of the few reasons to be here is if you are enroute to Cape Flattery - amazing spot (45 min drive) of which is the most northern western point in mainland USA. About 1.5hr drive away is Ruby beach, also stunning. Port Angeles, the closest main town with ferry service to Canada is about 1hr 15 drive & Seattle is around 4 hours. There is a diner in the village but not much else except relaxing scenic view of the coast and Vancouver Island. Chilled spot & from the room you can hear the seagulls & enjoy fresh sea air. Room The motel room consisted of two rooms, a simple bedroom with quite a firm smallish queen bed along with one bedside table, lamp & a random chair. Facing bed is a non-flat screen cable TV on wall. The bed was ok but bedding was felt old along with everything else, however it was clean, slept ok but wouldn’t describe the bed as initially comfortable. The other room is a kitchen area with a table for 2. An old style electric oven with utensils and tableware. In addition a microwave, filter coffee pot, a fridge & two sinks - one for kitchen & other to use for bathroom. Bathroom was tiny with simple shower cubicle & toilet. They offer just a small soap. However water was hot and worked well. Since you are in the middle of nowhere & mainly for fishermen who have their boat here, it’s ideal for self catering. Despite the age & lack of amenities in bathroom, the room had a great ambience & character with a somewhat Twin Peak vibe going on. Especially enjoyed listening to the seagulls & sea air thru the bedroom window as I fell asleep. Facilities The motel is simple but does offer adequate working WIFI. The reception is in a store shop where you can buy coffee, some snacks but it is mainly supplies for fishermen & Campers etc. The staff mentioned they can arrange rental boats out but stated the guest mainly bring their own. Plenty of space with free car parking. Staff Staff impressed me with their relaxed and flexible attitude. Despite check in closing at 8, I called them & explained that due to delayed flight & 5 hour drive that I wouldn’t make it until 1130pm. The guy kindly left my room unlocked for me to enter when I arrived & we did the check-in in the morning before I departed. It is unlikely I will stay here again since I saw the nearby sights I had planned. However I would recommend those looking for a cheaper place to stay closer to Neah bay & also Ruby beach. Seems like a great fishing spot as well.
[geo_mashup_map enable_scroll_wheel_zoom="false"] 280 Front St, Sekiu, WA 98381, USA
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Omni Parker House (Boston, USA)

4 Case Rating
Location Hotel is located right in the centre of downtown, right next to freedom trails. Shops, bars, restaurants and everything of a downtown city is on the door step. Perfect location for tourism and business alike. From BOS airport it takes around 10 minutes. Room The room on the top floor was quite small but ok for one person. Classical style old room but clean with wooden decor and beige carpets in a historical theme. A high king size bed is offered in which was very comfortable. Either side are glass top bed side tables, each with lamp, telephone and easy-to access plug sockets built into the side of it.There was also an alarm clock set to wrong time. A wooden desk makes up one of them and is sufficient for working on a laptop, though a large mirror faces you. There is also some small basic coffee facilities. A not so comfortable armchair is also in room and this faces a corner unit that makes up the extensive mini bar. A large TV (with over 50 channels being offered) is on top but it means you annoyingly have to face it at an side view from bed. A small cupboard has a basic luggage rack, ironing board and safe with some robes and area to hang clothes. The bathroom is poky offering the typical combined bath and shower. Very dated and amenities include soaps, shampoo and body lotion from Omni hotels. Being on the top floor, room did have a view of the town hall and also offered blacked out drapes. The window can be opened. There is also a AC unit as well. The room is paper thin walls and got woken up at 3am thanks to neighbours having a party. Facilities The hotel offers a bar and restaurant set in nice grand historical decor. However did not try the food. WIFI is free if your a member of OMNI otherwise you have to pay. There is a business centre with a computer but it is not free to surf internet. Also a souvenir shop and star bucks is in the building. On the ground floor there is a historical walk with pictures plus a full modern gym. Staff Staff are mixed, reception are ok. Restaurant host was a little judgemental when asked where lobby toilet was as he assumed I wasn't a guest. Check-in took a while as behind loads of air crew in which they should have a separate check-in like most hotels- because it takes ages as they get rooms for all their crew. The hotel is in a stately home of classical and historical significance and therefore you pay for it- somewhat like boutique hotel. However for what you get room it seems a bit over priced and it was not a quiet room either. Noisy at 10pm then woken up at 3. Bring ear plugs.
[geo_mashup_map enable_scroll_wheel_zoom="false"] 60 School St, Boston, MA 02108, USA
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Crowne Plaza JFK Airport (New York City, USA)

5 Case Rating
Location Hotel is located about 5 minutes drive from JFK airport. They have shuttle buses that go every 15-30 minutes depending on time of day. Manhattan, say Mid town is an hour by car or same via the E train from Jamaica, you can pick this up at Federal circle since hotel offer shuttle buses to pick you up from there. The area itself is next to the perimeter of JFK with other hotels nearby in a residential neighbourhood of Jamaica nearby with not much to walk to. However the view is very good of the airport if you like watching planes fly past. Room The room was a large suite. You enter into a large living room where there is a 3 seater nice wide leather sofa, kitchen area with an expresso machine with star bucks pods, microwave and tableware. There is a large nice living room table for 4. This is next to a large TV on the wall and there is also a walk in closet offering an ironing board and large laptop size safe. The bedroom was large and spacious with nice colourful decor and a very comfortable large king size bed. Lamps and bedside tables either side with phone and alarm clock. Lighting options are good and plug access is plentiful with US plugs built into the lamps. There is a desk and mini fridge plus filter coffee making facility. Large TV above with full US cable channels. Digital AC worked well. The bathroom was spacious with a large shower cubicle, though the fixed shower function hot water seemed to take longer than normal to heat up. Towels are nice and thick, Temple spa branded mini amenities are offered and they include everything but no toothbrush. However the sleep therapy kit is a stand out amenity for Crown Plaza. Overall room was very nice and spacious but for a suite standard it's a shame they don't include a bath tub. Facilities The hotel offers free WIFI for two devices only, its a bit slow but acceptable for email and social media. There are chargeable options for more devices and faster speed. Catering outlets include a bar and restaurant, bar kind of food which was mixed, burger was ok but fries were uncooked since I got a take-out decided to discard them. Breakfast buffet though had a good selection of hot and cold choices. Leisure outlets include a gym with modern cardio equipment with in built TV's plus they also offer a Zen room with Yoga mats and complimentary water. There is also a snack shop, ATM and some computers at reception. There is a large car park as well but unsure if its charged or not. Staff Staff are all really friendly in areas with fast check-in and check out. Overall a decent hotel for staying close to JFK, would definitely come again if in between flights if I had no need to go to city. Only disappointing thing is the high presence of immigration police that stay at hotel & walk around looking moody. Obviously not the hotels fault.
[geo_mashup_map enable_scroll_wheel_zoom="false"] 138-10 135th Ave, Jamaica, NY 11436, USA
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USA – Boston Skyline (Boston)

USA – Big Foot (Seattle)

Days Inn Bellingham (Washington, USA)

4 Case Rating
Location The Days Inn is located on one of the main roads into centre of Bellingham, quite close to University. There is s big Arboretum a few blocks away, great for walks and the coast side park views is within 5-10 minute drive away. Seattle airport is about 2.5 hr drive /100 miles and Vancouver airport is 1hr 20 or so by car. In terms of walking distance there are fast food restaurants and a recreational dispensary across the road. Some other pharmacy and cafes not far to walk. Room The room was quite dated but comfortable for a Days Inn. A large soft double bed offered bed side tables, an alarm clock and each side had a lamp but you will need to unplug one if you need a plug. There is a large heater unit next to a large table with chairs suitable for dining. Facing the bed is a set of wardrobes with TV on top, it's connected to a separate box so it's not so easy to just turn on. However once figured, they offer about 70 channels such as main cable and HBO channels. A desk with mirror in front is shown with telephone, lamp and chair. There is also a coffee maker, microwave stacked on top of a small fridge on floor. A side open wall wardrobe with hangers if offered, and had a luggage rack, iron and ironing board. The bathroom is of standard motel size with combined bath shower unit offering small amenity bottles of body lotion, shampoo and conditioner plus soap. Overall the room was comfortable and reasonable for price paid. The only slight issue I had was the slight pong smell as you enter I think from the carpet. You don't really notice it after a while though. It does feel very dated. Facilities The hotel offers decent standard secure for multiple devices free wifi. Free parking and vending machines. It is a motel. There is a lounge seating area by reception. Breakfast is offered limited to a panacea machine, some breads, bagels, muffins and cereals. There is also some decent coffee offered. Staff Really nice reception staff, chilled out like most of the people in this town. Was able to check me in early and explained details well. The do annoyingly require a deposit despite empty mini bar but presume they have had cases of people walking off with their microwaves or TV etc. Overall good value for money in a town of the interstate between Seattle and Vancouver great for a stop over not far from Canadian border and also good for outlet shopping when not wanting to be close to Seattle area. The room could just do with a safe and some air freshener.
[geo_mashup_map enable_scroll_wheel_zoom="false"] 215 N Samish Way, Bellingham, WA 98225-6030
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Mountain View Lodge (Washington, USA)

4 Case Rating
Location Mountain view lodge is located just off HWY 12, a few minutes from the town of Backwood. Mt. Rainer national park is about a 18 mile drive away. From Seattle airport by car takes just under 3 hours drive and about 100 miles away. Portland is just over 2 hours away. The lodge is an area of stunning nature & about 3 min walk is a flowing river, great for photos. Packwood is small mountain type town with a small logging locals type vibe. It's very chilled & picturesque with Mt Rainer view seen from it. An old scene like going back in time and does offer a handful of restaurants, small food stores, liquor and tobacco store, a salon bar and a few shops and gas station. If you like Burgers then try Cliff dropper - delicious hand made burgers. Room The upstairs standard room was simple but cosy, it's located on inner side of the motel so my windows views was of the garden but directly outside windows are hotel corridors. However the curtains are thick. The room has nice old style wooden wall decor of bright colours. A heater unit and AC unit is offered, the heater worked well. There is a nice antique desk and drawers, all wooden style. The double bed was comfortable and one side has a wooden bed side table with a nice lamp. Plug sockets on wall nearby. Facing the bed on top of the wooden drawers is a smallish TV that offered plenty of local cable channels at least 40, it worked well and was sufficient. There is a fridge in the room and a old wooden desk with large mirror in front plus telephone. The wardrobe is an open closet with luggage rack and coat hangers. Bathroom offers a shower cubicle with plenty of towels plus body lotion and shower gel mini bottle amenities. Overall the room is cosy and appropriate value for money for this idyllic hiking country area. However don't expect a safe or hot drink making facilities. Facilities My room had free wifi with a password and worked fine. Note the area has no phone reception, so having wifi is helpful in planning your day. The lobby though does offer some leaflets and was told they offer breakfast there at 730 in the morning, however had to leave earlier than that so didn't experience it. There is a vending machine for drinks though outside. The grounds of the hotel offer a nice garden with small lodge rooms surrounding it & I believe a communal outdoor fire place. There is a pool that likely opens in the summer and a children's play area. The hotel offers free parking & the highway is right outside but it's very quiet at night. Staff Reception lady was really nice, she offered me a room upgrade on ground floor if I paid hotel directly and cancel my Hotel com reservation. However since I collect nights I declined. She did offer a helpful map of the area for forest hikes & where to eat. Overall it's a old lodge but cheapest in area and it was good, very cosy, very clean, quiet and comfortable at end of October which is not high season as the sky passes were closed. The proximity is great being close to drive to popular hikes and skiing area. Wildlife is also in this area & you may see a elks on the property. I would definitely stay here again if I came back to mount Rainer.
[geo_mashup_map enable_scroll_wheel_zoom="false"] 13163 US Highway 12, Packwood, WA 98361-9786
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Rodeway Inn Encinitas North (California, USA)

3 Case Rating
Location The hotel is located in the town of Encinitas which is around 25 miles to San Diego and 100 to LAX airport. The beach is around 15 minutes walk away and on the immediate vicinity is some restaurants, bar and many surf shops- along a main road. The beach, at least moonlight is about 5 Minutes drive away and is very scenic and clean beach with cliffs etc suited more for surfers and families. US1 is about 2 miles away. Room Room was presented with door open in which concerned me as it was 5pm when I arrived but when returning back to reception told by staff they leave the doors open to air them, which seemed a bit odd since the place is a open motel so anyone could of just gone in and damaged or removed something. First place to stay which leave their doors open. The motel room is quite spacious with a soft double bed. Only one side has a bed side table, which has a lamp with a convenient plug socket. However to actually power the light initially you have to use a wall switch by the door. There is also a phone. In front of bed is a large set of drawers with a medium sized fridge and microwave on top. A smart TV faces the bed and includes a full cable. There is a open wardrobe and ironing board in corner of room plus a table with two chairs, say for eating. Above the bed is a large fan and also seperate AC / heater unit. The bathroom has a combined bath shower and separate area for the sink. Amenities include x2 small bottles of shampoo and soap. Tiny towels are offered as well. The pull switch to run the main bath tap requires quite a pull, the hotel need to oil it. Overall the room was ok & the bed was comfy, the carpet & bathroom taps just gives it this dated feel. Facilities The main facility is car parking though it does get full. They have placed a smoking area in the car park away from everything with no chairs. There is free wifi for multiple devices that is secure. In reception is some hot drink machines are offered which I believe are complimentary. Staff Staff were friendly but odd, when asked at reception, if an in & out burger place is nearby (a friend told me to try it) was kind of told your in the wrong town "people here are into mediation & cycling not fast food". Confirming that I probably have to drive to nearby city. However there are two in & out burger places in Encinitas & funnily enough the one I went to was so full all seats were taken - so I guess he is a in & out hater, though my short time in Encinitas did appear it's a holistic type city. I guess they have had prior problems but you have to sign a form for the plastic key card, agreeing to a fee incase you loose it and signing a $150 fee if you smoke in room. Overall and I stayed here over a weekend on a trip to LA as everywhere was so expensive & full. This was only reason I ended up here so unlikely I would come back - it doesn't offer great value for money.
[geo_mashup_map enable_scroll_wheel_zoom="false"] 1444 N Coast Highway 101, Encinitas, CA 92024-1443
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Dollar – Hyundai Tucson 2016

Car Rental Company: Dollar/Thrifty Company for Purchase : Expedia Location : HNL –  Honolulu International Airport Upon arrival at HNL, you need to get a bus. This is located outside of arrivals in the middle pavement - follow the clear car rental sign posts as all buses go from there.  The bus only for Dollar and Thrifty comes every 10 minutes or so and takes around 4-5 minutes drive to get from airport arrivals to car rental location. Getting back was quick as buses are frequent. The centre is quite small but offers four self-service machines or two desk clerks. Staff Staff at desk was fairly upbeat and friendly. As everything was pre-paid she simply confirmed his back to me and did not upsell for better car or say offer zero liability insurance upgrade or even mention GPS etc. Despite booking stating Jeep Cherokee or similar, she simply said we don’t have jeeps and assigned another mid-size SUV- the Hyundai Tucson. I also assumed there was zero liability since this was first car hire place I have been to where it was not mentioned. Upon returning the vehicle at 7am staff did a quick check and the service was very quick with bus wait time less than 10 minutes back to the terminal. Car  Selection There was only one mid-size SUV available: Hyundai Tucson. Car Review - Hyundai Tucson (Automatic) Mid Size SUV was only about £4 difference to the very basic model so I decided as I was in Hawaii, an SUV would be most suitable. Seating Excellent electronic functional seating including lumpur support up and down levels – all easy to understand side switches. Very comfortable seat including and would happily drive this for long periods. Overall 8/10- just an outer thicker armrest would be preferable for ultimate comfort, which is not offered. The central arm rest is comfortable with a spacious storage box inside. Controls Controls were very straight forward and simple- excellent user friendliness for someone unfamiliar with Hyundai. Bluetooth was easy to set up with I phone.  There is a small central screen which has many functions even shows live tyre pressure on each wheel which I guess is handy for long drives. Hand brake for instance is a push pedal seen clearly rather than a button. Economy power controls for saving on fuel plus easy to use cruise control. Weaknesses were no auto window blinds but type of motion shows up on the digital screen between the acceleration and rev dials- it just is not automatic. AC is not individual for each front seat which for a new 2016 car was disappointing. The car does offers great power options that include X3 12V car power sockets, 1 in boot & 2 under console with USB & AUX audio socket. Space and Storage Storage offers decent space for two large cases and more, as you expect on an SUV, but unfortunately the car hire company did not provide a cover. Therefore, people can see items thru the window, though they are tinted. Good spacious storage by central rest though and side pockets plus drink holders. Driving Car has generally adequate power & acceleration as you expect from an SUV, though felt more powerful than the Jeep Renegade- especially on flat roads at high end speeds. On road up hill and flat the drive is smooth & effortless. Strong braking as well. For an automatic the revving was not high on acceleration when moving up gears that I find on other cars. Audio Audio is adequate and very much like the Jeep Renegade in that precision sound positioning anywhere in the car worked very well with overall decent sound but not quite as good quality speakers as the Renegade. You can customize the treble, bass and mids but no general settings. There seemed to be a restriction on volume so found this annoying and this maybe the car hire did this rather than the car. But all types of music was fairly good though slightly lacking in bass. Fuel Efficiency Fuel wise I drove the whole island of Oahu, stopped numerous times but didn’t count the mileage however I did about half a tank which was only $17– but fuel at that time in Hawaii was exceptionally cheap considering I had a largish vehicle.  It seemed more efficient than the Jeep Renegade. Verdict The Hyundai Tucson impressed me, it was an easy to use controls, comfortable car to drive around Oahu. The price I paid via Expedia was £36.27 / $56 / € 57 with staff offering no upsell, assuming the price covered the insurance waiver – it seemed very good value for an SUV. Sound is not that great due to the sound level restrictions. There is also no personal AC per front seat which is unusual for a 2016 car. However, plenty of in car power options & connect-ability was good for phones. Storage whilst spacious could do with being covered but this may of been decision by rental company because with seats down in back, a surf board could easily fit in. I wanted a jeep and ended up with the Hyundai and was pleasantly surprised.

USA – Hawaii Surfboard Rentals (Oahu, Hawaii)

USA – Waimea Valley (Oahu, Hawaii)

USA – Traditional Hawaiian Hula Dancer (Oahu, Hawaii)

USA – Oahu Island Map (Oahu, Hawaii)

Paradise Bay Resort (Oahu, Hawaii)

3 Case Rating
Location Hotel is located in the Kahaluu Bay Area. It is around 40 minutes drive from HNL airport and around 45-1hr drive from Wakiki. It is just located of the Kamehameha highway which is the main road up to the north shore where in my opinion are the best beaches in Oahu. Nearby around 10 min drive is a the town of Kahaluu where you will find shopping outlets such as of Macy, Sears, etc. The hotel is located on a lagoon that is not a beach and low non-moving water so for beaches you will need a car. However the location is very idyllic and relaxing. Room The room was basically a one bedroom apartment offering three rooms plus a balcony with seating. The living room offers a large sofa, old wooden style but comfortable with a lounge glass table plus a high table with stools presumably for dining. On top they offer a free large bottle of water - but don't take it home otherwise it will cost you $25. However they also offer a complimentary eco friendly branded bag, perfect for the beach. Plus delicious Hawaiian macadamia nut chocolates plus large decaf and regular coffee but no tea. The room offers a large wooden TV cabinet with a medium sized TV offering time warner cable. There is a large wardrobe with an ironing board, iron and huge set of drawers. There is an overhead fan and the room is dimly lit giving a romantic feel for both dining & relaxing on the sofa. The next smallish room is a full functional kitchen offering electric stoves, microwave, coffee machine, toaster and medium size refrigerator. All with pans and plenty tableware/cutlery for 4 people. The bedroom is spacious offering a soft and comfortable king size bed with clean soft linen. Bed side drawers & lamp on each side, one with a alarm clock that offers the old style iPhone/iPod plug, which I doubt is used much. There is no phone in the room or TV. Another large set of drawers is offered and in front of bed is large sliding door wardrobe with at least 10 coat hangers. Two branded robes are also offered and luggage rack. Sliding doors in bedroom lead to the balcony with my room - 15 a view of foliage. Though heard other rooms do generally offer views. Two chairs are offered. The bedroom also has an Separate AC unit - old style which unfortunately blows to one side of the bed. Though there is an overhead fan. The bathroom is quite simple with the typical motel shower bath combo. Worked well but shower head is covered in limescale. Amenities include dispenser shampoo/body wash & conditioner plus body lotion, all hotel branded. Overall the room is self catering apartment, cosy & romantic for a one looking for simple cosy than luxury or anything innovative. There is no safe and no working desk but this is really for couples or friends on leisure travel. Overall a spacious apartment just quite an old creaky wooden property. Facilities The hotel offers free parking something hard to find in Oahu at any hotel that is less than $500 a night. Rooms are set up in 4 or 5 buildings so you park according to your building. Free wifi is also offered, which worked adequately until abut 11pm then simply couldn't even load my email but then worked fine at 530am next morning. This is a self catering hotel but they do offer free breakfast but had too leave too early to catch a flight to try it. There is a small pool with jacuzzi & sun loungers. Also on floating docks to sit & enjoy your drinks. Plus a barbecue. They also have a dog garden as well as the hotel is animal friendly. In addition because of the $30 resort fee (everywhere charges this) they do offer free beach towels, kayaks and snorkel rental. Various activities are offered thru the week. Dinner is only offered 3 nights a weeks but includes a set menu of various courses and includes Hawaiian entertainment at $40. There is no bar unless it's a dinner night. However in the sheet guide they give you, staff can arrange any activities etc. Staff Staff are the highlight, they were very helpful and hospitable. The only issue that I experienced was that they double charged me the resort fee and after numereous phone calls and emails they eventually refunded me. Other than that though, they were friendly staff.
[geo_mashup_map enable_scroll_wheel_zoom="false"] 47-039 Lihikai Dr, Kaneohe, Oahu, Hawaii
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Killing a Day At The Mountains Near Los Angeles

Every time I visit LA my return flight is always at night, therefore with the hotel standard check –out times, there is always a whole day to kill until my return flight. With so many 24 hour visits, in last few years I have been hiring a car and exploring.  Prior to this website launch, I drove around Hollywood and had a few great meal and drinks in Malibu at Moon Shadow, saw Venice beach, saw Santa Monica, even drove out to Santa Barbara and San Diego. One thing has always intrigued me though; this comes from having a window seat as you fly in to LAX – that large mountain range in the east that really shows how huge LA is really is in terms of space. USA-Los-Angeles-Mountains_From-Aircraft Please note these picture were not taken during this visit as they show snow capped mountains, which wasn’t the case. USA-Los-Angeles-Mt.Brady_Mountain-Range_From-Aircraft I know it’s where the locals go Skiing in the winter, making LA the all-round place beach and Ski possible lifestyle. So I decided on this trip to spend my free day before my evening flight and check these mountain out. Some small research indicated Mt.Brady was the closest place to go and it is where the highest peak is. Looking at cities to stay nearby it seemed the city of Chino was a good location to stay, really because the road the hotel was located on leads directly all the way straight up to the Mt.Brady Road. Chino is famous for its Prisons. The city has the typical US atmosphere of a new city, large lots everywhere of main highways with super markets, large stores etc. Rather dull and no as such like walking main town area (like Santa Barbara), at least that I could see it seemed everywhere you need a car. It was a long drive from LAX, around 1.5 hours away. I hired, well choose the Jeep Renegade, I wanted a SUV to get up the mountain. It was ok of which fortunately had an excellent sound system so I was entertained for my driving experience with my music. So the next day I woke up late as shattered since I flew from London, via Manilla. I put Mt.Brady in the GPS and off I went. It took about 30 minutes until I got closer to the mountains, even in Chino, whilst looking at google maps it looks relatively close to the mountains but during the day light, the mountains seemed miles away. Mt. Brady road I heard is the road to the peak where my objective was to have a beer at the Top Of The Notch Restaurant (insert link) ; the restaurant on the top. So the road winds and turns through the dry California terrain, which shows scattered thin forest and dry rocky lands. You drive thru some tunnels and the road is quite fun with some stunning landscape scenary en route. USA - Mt.Brady-Road (California) USA - Mt.Brady-Rd-View (California) Eventually you arrive at the town of Mt. Brady. This small little town consists of a post office, restaurant, small store and information centre. The wooden cabin style buildings look unchanged for over 50 years, it gave a feeling of going back in time which was nice. So I stopped at the visitor information centre where I got my Mt. Brady magnet and was clearly directed by the enthusiastic old man as to where this top of the mountain restaurant is and ski lift. He even was encouraged to show me all the hikes to the top. Beyond Mt. Brady town, is when the road becomes the most fun, it winds with tight incline up bends round and round, and this is when the x4 wheel drive SUV really coped well. I mean any car would have got up there as this was spring with dry roads but I am not sure about small cars in the winter. There was a lots of road signs warnings of ice and mandatory chains on wheels so if you come in the winter prepare for this. The roads are quite tight, with not much places to stop, but if you’re lucky and no one is behind you you can stop and get a photo out of the window. Finally, I made it to the ski lift. There is a small porta cabin with car parking of which just sells clothes so was pleased I got my magnet in Mt. Brady town as there is nothing in the way of souvenirs at this place. This is where you have the option of hiking up there (3.5 Miles) or be like me and be lazy (also I was against time) and take the ski lift. The ski lift costs quite a lot I thought, round trip $25. But it was fun and worth it, if you don’t want to hike. USA - Mt.Baldy Ski Lift Sign (California) I love ski lifts, since never skiing before I am new to them and love how you just hang there.  It's my 2nd time, last time was in Krasnoyarsk Siberia and the route up to the restaurant takes about 15-20minutes. It was the end of April and warm in the car parking area, so I thought nothing of staying in t-shirt and boarded the ski lift but as I ascended I noticed how many people coming down on the opposite side had coats and wrapped around there face, a couple different people coming down screamed to me "bro its freezing up there" I guess highlighting the fact I as in a T-shirt only and yes the higher I got ascends the freezing winds lent chills thru my body. However not much I could do now, but anyone going up I would highly recommend a hoody even in summer, as its this high wind that is freezing. USA - Mt.Brady Ski Lift (California) As you see in the above picture the landscape is kind of unusual, its obviously so dry from the drought that has been damaging this state, but it’s like very rocky, dusty with the odd pine tree, bush here and there. There are walk ways below as I watched some of the hikers doing the various routes, some easy, winding but longer routes with slower incline and shorter like below the ski lift that had high inclines, I saw a few doing this one from my lift, they looked experienced both of which had climbing sticks. Either way when you get up it looked as though you will be tired and this I would not say is for the non-healthy un-recent exercised like myself. Also not for young children. Arriving at the top you land right by the restaurant, the people that warned me were right it was freezing up there a wind that blows freezing ice chills- even the ski lift guys have scarves covering their mouths with overhead hoodies. I even noticed on the mountains nearby snow still existed in patches and there I was in a T-shirt. USA - Mt.Brady Ski Lift (California) I headed straight to shelter to the famous restaurant ‘Top of The Notch’ after looking at the signage outside, confirming that it is over 10,000ft now.   A map shows the route to the actual summit is about 3.5 mile walk away, I was disappointed I didn’t have time and a jumper to do this but it simply was too cold to stay outside for more than 15 minutes. The Ski lift going up was painful enough and I was dreading the descent with winds ploughing face on at you. USA-Top-of-the-notch-restuarant mountain map (California) The restaurant is sort of bar cafeteria range. It’s simple, nothing special really just the view being the highlight and all the bar food reflected very high calorie junk food, burgers, hot dogs, the sort of food you would find at a dive bar. The bar tender explained people don’t want salads after they have climbed 7 miles, they need high calorie food to retain their energy. Overall a burger will set you back $14 and appetisers like fries are $8 so it’s not that cheap but to be fair you in a unique location and the price reflects that. Apparently a cafeteria is usually in operation but wasn’t when I was there. Other than the bar/restaurant there is not much else, some sort of shop with hoodies (I was tempted but at $45 I thought they were over priced). There was no staff at the shop either and sort of seemed not in operation as all clothes were disorderly. I wasn’t sure what to eat so went with the bar tenders advice and took chilli cheese fries. It was a mess to eat and quite heavy but was enjoyable with a beer. USA - Chilli-Cheese-Fries Mt.Brady (California) So I finally achieved my objective and had a beer outside looking over the view, which was stunning. [gallery type="slideshow" link="none" size="full" ids="5862,5863,5864"] After my beer, it was time to be brave and head back down on the ski lift. Certainly it was a struggle in the T-shirt but hey the view was so amazing that I just absorbed the atmosphere and allowed my arms to freeze up. Obviously the lower I got the warmer it became so once down at base, it was fine to be in a t-shirt. USA- Mt.Brady- Ski Lift Down On the drive back down the mountain I noticed more things like this awesome looking bar called Buckhorn Lodge, shame it was closed as it had a real old authenticity about it. Looked like an interesting place to stay if I ever came back. USA-Buckhorn Lodge-Mt.Brady Rd (California) At one point on the drive down I stopped for a photo, which really showed the different landscape ground from the top, which incidentally isn’t snow but rock and rumble to green pastures and forests. USA - Mt.Brady Landscape Photo (California) So that was Mt. Brady. Worth it for a day out of LA if you’re staying in the city and want some time out from the glitz to see some nature, as well as Ski if your there in winter. Don’t expect the Rockies, in Colorado but nonetheless a fun drive up, amazing view and interesting landscape. It was a day well spent finally seeing those mountains. If you’re like me and need to get to LAX after expect 2-2.5 hours’ drive at the least from the bottom of the Mt. Brady road.  This maybe because I did this at 5pm in rush hour. My GPS back to Alamo car rental in Inglewood took me off the interstate for some reason on to Slauson Avenue for 7 miles taking me thru the cities of Vernon (the smallest city in the LA metropolitan area) and Huntington park. Avoid this road if you can as so much traffic and took 1 hour to do 7 miles since so many traffic lights. However, it was interesting an area of LA that is far from the glitz, factories, poverty & derelict buildings. With the Sun slowly going down, it did feel a bit like the movie ‘Training day” as I drove past these neighbourhoods. USA - Slauson Av. Huntington Park City (California) This area of LA seems like the Mexican part of the city as there is so many taco places and shops in Spanish. It was interesting to see; making the wait in traffic I suppose better than be gridlocked on the interstate. I liked this Alloy place that I drove past. Overall a nice day out and made my flight to Manilla. USA - Miranda Tyres- Huntington Park City (California)  

Alamo – Jeep Renegade

Car Rental Company: Alamo Location - LAX Alamo and National Car rental are located in the same location, the location is further out than the other rental places I have used (Sixt, Thrifty & Budget). However way more efficient, at least time I was there. Alamo used many self-service machines, I was a bit wary of this since I have a foreign driving license but it meant at empty line to see an actual Human, since all American driving liciense holders were using these machines.  This made my check-in under 10 minutes, so far better than Thrifty (1 hour) and Sixt (20 minutes). Staff Staff at desk was pleasant enough and just literally did the paper work, he did no upsell or anything and literally within a few minutes just said go to Line 4 and choose your SUV. Nice and quick service. Prefer less of the upselling as its hard to understand some of the things they cover say damage waiver etc when you bought this online from a non-US website. Car Selection At the SUV selection there seemed to be the choice between Jeep or Chrysler. I already hired a Chrysler before so wanted to try a jeep. They had various kinds (about 3-4). The Renegade looked interesting and very new so went with that. The Jeep Renegade An SUV was hired on the basis because I was driving up to Mt. Brady so wanted a 4x4. Seating The car had fairly easy to use automatic seat functions to get comfortable, though in general its not as comfortable as the Chrysler, not sure why as the Renegade offers lower and upper lumper support, even at a slight recline it still felt too upright. You can raise your seat as well, perhaps I raised it too much. I don’t think I would choose this car if I was driving for long distances Controls The controls were all quite straight forward and user friendly, actually much better than most cars- the central computer screen is very easy to navigate. Without GPS it offers audio functions, telephone, media and displays things like outside temperature, direction of travel. The actual screen behind the steering wheel also offered options of time, speed or direction of travel- though there are traditional speed and rev circular counters. Lights set to auto were fine, except be wary of the fog light- it seems like a button easily hit I didn’t realise I had it on until an hour into my drive. The best part though of the controls was the audio function, I haven’t function so detailed that the touch screen can pin point where you want to audio to come to, for instance you can select just the rear right seat or in between the back seat. It really works well but I found the best is the middle of the four seat car. There is also an Audio in & USB in central area, plus another USB under central arm rest. The USB immediately recognised my I Phone so there was no time spent finding it, controls while driving for thing like EQ are very easy on the touch screen. AC are personal each side and worked fine – dial counters that were easy to use to select desired temperature. Space and Storage There is a sufficient size of boot for a large case seating is adequate at the back for comfortable space. The issue though remained that there is no cover for the boot. This made me worry since going to a shopping mall etc, meant all your belongings are clearly seen through the back window – making it desirable for break-in. I certainly wouldn’t leave it for any length of time. I had also two laptops in small basg in the front and there is no under seat space. Jeep renegade simply doesn’t offer any cover for your bags inside the vehicle, be wary of that- especially where your parking. Driving The Jeep renegade is a smooth ride, its benefits is driving up mountains, it coped well though reved up quite high. One thing is weak is interstate or motorway driving, its just boring. It really has a slow intake of acceleration. Comparing to say the Evoke in which obviously is a bad comparison, it just doesn’t have that much power behind it. Even putting your foot down takes a while for the car react and then hits the rev counter very high. I would say overall great car for mountain or offroad driving but boring for general car driving. Audio This was the stand out feature of the Jeep renegade, the sound system is pretty good, it was definitely better than the Mustang and Camaro. This is likely because of the box design of the car but bass lovers will love this car. I listened to a variety of music, drum n bass, Hip hop and techno and the bass really rumbles the car like your in a night club. Its maybe better for bassy music as classical was not that great. However it was really a powerful sound system they had in the standard model, it felt like I had a big sub-woofer inside. Fuel Efficiency I drove in total around 6-7 hours in total and the fuel gauge half a tank, which cost $27 to fill up- its efficient for a SUV. Verdict For the price paid £27 /US $40/ €35 for 24 hours, it was good value for money and was good for my drive into the mountains beyond Los Angeles. However, it’s a boring drive on normal roads but if you’re a music lover, the sound system will keep you well entertained. It looks pretty cool with nice alloys and felt like a safe/strong car in case of a crash.  The controls also very user friendly. Dropping off at Alamo was also straight forward with frequent bus services back and forth to airport made no long wait. The bus is conveniently right next to where you drop the car off.

USA – Mount Baldy (California)

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