Review: Battle House Renaissance in Mobile, Alabama (and My Strangest Taxi Experience)

I spent Thursday night at the Battle House Hotel, a Marriott Renaissance property. It was booked at my host’s $99 rate there, so a fantastic value for arguably the nicest hotel in town and certainly the nicest one near my morning meeting.

The lobby of the hotel is fairly grand.

When I checked in my Marriott Silver status — yes, I’m a silver from nights last year (while I’m a Hyatt Diamond and Starwood Platinum from nights, and a Hilton Diamond from a promotion targeted at American Airlines Executive Platinums) — was acknowledged in a funny way. The agent said, “Do you have dinner plans for tonight? Because of your silver status we have an offer where you will get 500 bonus points if you join us for dinner in the dining room here.”

Umm.. yeah. Because of my silver status they want me to dine in the restaurant. And they’ll reward me with about $4.

When I declined the agent said, “well, we’re supposed to ask.”

I was assigned a room in the tower part of the hotel, which was a walk from the lobby and essentially through the lobby of an office building. That worked for me, actually, since my meeting in the morning was in the office building itself. I’d just have to head back down to the lobby and use a different set of elevators to get up to the offices.

I went up to my room on the sixth floor. I had a large bedroom with a relaxing chair and a desk. I would have liked the side table to be on the same side of the room as a power outlet, though. That way I could have plugged my phone in while leaving it bedside. I like to set my phone’s alarm for early mornings, but have it nearby when I do.

The television wasn’t HD, and while I never used to think this mattered and never thought I had poor picture quality years ago it’s always striking now whenever I’m in a room without it.

The room had a nice large bathroom, though I would have been happy to give up the tub and have a shower cabin that was larger and with a tray for bath amenities rather than having shampoo placed at ground level inside.

Before heading to bed I took the breakfast door knob tab and filled it out. I don’t know why, but I had never done that before. Room service opens at 6am, my meeting started at 8, I figured it would be a good idea to eat something and by ordering it the night before I could select for food to be delivered between 6 a.m. and 6:15 a.m. — but if I ordered when they opened I probably wouldn’t have food until after 6:30.

I ordered the American breakfast (I don’t recall what it was named), $19.95++ for choice of eggs, breakfast meat, hash browns, bread, coffee/tea, choice of juice.

When it was delivered around 6:10am, the woman who brought it said they had given me toast instead of the muffin I selected and she’d have to return to correct that. I told her it was fine, not to worry about it, though it turned out they had given me neither the muffin nor the toast. And they forgot to give me a coffee cup, too.

I searched the room and found the coffee machine and paper coffee cups in the cabinet beneath the television, so all was fine. The coffee was pretty good. The bacon I ordered was cheap, thin, and greasy and I didn’t eat it. But I had breakfast, and it was reasonably priced for room service and meant that I ate before getting my day started.

My meetings were over by 11 a.m., a couple of blocks away. I needed to get back to the Mobile airport. There’s no Uber in Mobile. Instead of looking up a cab company on my phone and calling for one, I walked back to the hotel thinking I might either see a cab along the way or there might be one easily accessible from there. No such luck.

I walked up to the front of the hotel and asked about a cab to the airport, they said they’d call one. Moments later they let me know it would be about 15 minutes.

I went inside the hotel lobby to wait, as it was quite cold. While I waited for the cab I went to the hotel desk and asked them to email me a folio. It was taking awhile and the woman at the desk apologized — I told her not to worry, I had 15 minutes to wait for a cab. She commented, “Oh, that’s fast, it usually takes a lot longer than that!”

The driver who picked me up was quite professional and a huge contrast to my experience on the way from the airport to the hotel the night before — where I was treated to a discussion of college football, the unethical behavior of football players off the field, how they (and Bill Cosby) drug women, and the driver’s thoughts and preferences in women. I know all about his favorite body parts (he likes them when they jiggle). And Jennifer Aniston.

Now, I like to engage in conversation with cab drivers, to learn about a city and where they like to eat, to learn how their business model works (whether they own the cab, whether they have to rent it from a company, what regulatory barriers they face). But I just wanted that drive to end as quickly as possible


About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary ┬╗

More articles by Gary Leff »

Comments

  1. My thoughts after reading this and some of the missed opportunities to provide excellent service:
    I have a pet peeve for attention to detail and it annoys me when those in the service industry fail to come through on precise instructions for something I requested. Look I have been there done that and I know how much people get paid but take pride in what you do and you will have success in life.

  2. You mean the criminal, non-money making, lawbreaking hitchhiking company, Uber, that only exists by a smartphone software worm doesn’t provide dirty conversations about women? From what I hear Uber actually provides prostitution services (and a rating scale between 1 and 5 stars), and worse.

    When I stayed at the HGI at JFK, I requested a cab, instead I got a private car operated by Zimbabwe’s President Mugabe. After that, I will never stay at the HGI again. If I say ‘cab’, I expect a yellow car with a meter, not an SUV with a pig.

    May Uber be 100% destroyed. Thanks.

  3. At least the Marriott was trying to cross sell by encouraging elites to eat at the hotel.

    Hilton (I think) doesn’t even give points on incidental spend unless you book the room directly. That really discourages spending money in the hotel.

  4. @Jason, Plenty of Jews eat bacon. And lobster. And cheeseburgers. People get too hung up on rules from thousands of years ago.

  5. Gary, I have a hard time believing that in all your travels THAT was the most unusual taxi experience you ever had.

  6. The BattleHouse is a nice property. Did you find anything about the property that you could positevly report on?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *