Chris Barnett rhapsodizes about improvements chain-wide at Hampton Inn.
- Some of the changes you’ll soon see at a Hampton near you are cosmetic: red-carpet welcome mats and planter gardens at the entrance; black-and-white photography in the lobby reflecting local city scenes; piped-in traveling music; and a stylish front desk with nicely designed signs. Other changes are substantive: free high-speed Internet access in guestrooms and wireless Internet access in the lobby and meeting rooms.
The new guestrooms look far more residential than a road soldier’s barracks. Beds are skirted, raised 28 inches off the floor and outfitted with a handsome headboard, better sheets and four pillows fluffed up and displayed at an angle, Ritz-Carlton style. The bedspread has been replaced by a “coverlet” with some designer touches. The mattress seemed pretty firm to me. The room has nicer furniture, including a roomy desk with an adjustable lamp and a comfortable upholstered desk chair on rollers. There’s also a spacious, portable desk for laptopping and doing e-mail in bed.
Bathroom towels are of a higher quality and there’s a nicely curved rod and shower curtain. Even the sink seems a bit European. Shampoos, potions and lotions have been upgraded and a nightlight is thoughtfully included.
A supercool new feature is a clock radio custom made for Hampton. Anyone can operate it and figure out how to set the alarm. Cordell says 150 clock radios were tested and flunked before Hampton created its own idiot-proof version.
Cordell and his crew of designers and decorators haven’t scrimped. The new breakfast area resembles a country kitchen and while Hampton still dishes out the high-fat donuts, it has added sausage and eggs plus lots of fresh fruits, muffins, cereals and other low-fat foods. The coffee is pretty serious, too.
Too busy to stop and nosh? Hampton has created a breakfast in a bag that includes a cereal bar, fruit, a muffin and bottled water.
At the moment, 120 Hampton Inns a month are getting the facelift. And, believe it or not, Hampton officials swear that prices will not be kicked up to cover the chain’s extreme makeover.
I still like Hilton’s other entry into similar space better (Hilton Garden Inn) but these changes are certainly welcome.