So you’re probably wondering, why Kentucky and why Bowling Green? Four words; Mammoth Cave National Park. As summer drew to a close and fall swung into full gear, a few friends and I decided to go have one last outdoor adventure that far enough from home that we could disconnect, close enough we could drive, and impressive enough that it was worth it. Thus we pre-booked our cave access tickets, planned our route, and bought a lot of snacks for a 6-hour long journey of I-spy and Abba karaoke.
The Tru by Hilton brand launched in 2016 and is aimed at the economical young traveler with a trendier aesthetic - read: millennial - with furniture and amenity spaces that are skewed toward matching this demographic while still fitting within the select service arm of the industry. For comparison among Hilton Brands, Tru is similar in offerings to a Hampton Inn - which Melanie & Tom reviewed over the summer - albeit in a trendier outfit. For this new concept, Hilton redesigned their room standards - shrinking the size by removing elements like desks and closets - to fit more rooms per building and offer economics that could lower the cost per night. This formula aims at carving out a new trendier niche in the select service market.
The quaint city of Bowling Green, Kentucky’s 3rd largest city and where our hotel was located, is home to the Corvette Factory and the National Corvette Museum - a great site to check out while in town. The hotel itself is located right off I-65 in a sea of gas stations, chain restaurants, and next to a dying mall with a Cinnabon. The area left a bit to be desired, but was within a 10 minute drive to downtown Bowling Green through some residential streets. Downtown had some cute dining spots as well like Mellow Mushroom Pizza, which was our favorite, and is filled with some interesting vintage buildings and automotive history. But the real star is around 20 minutes away: Mammoth Cave National Park. Established in 1941 and considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site - as well as an international Biosphere Reserve. Within its boundaries are only a small amount of a jaw dropping 400+ miles of the world’s longest cave system, not to mention some beautiful hiking trails and campgrounds.
I booked this hotel directly on the Hilton website and reserved a 2 Queen Room for $77/night with fees and taxes totaling $175 for our two nights and earning 2,772 Hilton Honors points. Paying with my Chase Sapphire Reserve, which earns double points on travel, I also earned 350 Ultimate Rewards Points for my stay.
Arrival, Check In & Lobby
After hours of screaming Mamma Mia at the top of our lungs on the drive from Chicago, we pulled off into a quintessential highway off-ramp neighborhood to start our vacation. Check-in was a breeze, it took under 5 minutes, and the staff were all extremely courteous and masked up which we appreciated as we did not see much of that around the area. We were handed our room keys and told a bit about the hotel procedures including the limited breakfast options and hours.
Like many of the people that we know, our summer travel itineraries look very different than years prior. While last year was filled with road trips, conferences and weekend adventures, this summer has a little less of that and a lot more creative at-home shenanigans. Of course in the midst of a global pandemic, life doesn’t stop entirely, but the travel experience looks a little different. For us, our family is relocating to North Carolina in less than a year, which means that finding a place to live is a necessity. With that, we travelled to Kernersville, North Carolina to explore the area and find the Standish family a lot to build a house on.
Many are likely familiar with Hampton Inn - a staple of many cross country road trips or visits near and far - so it's likely that no introduction is needed! Hampton by Hilton is a select service brand that offers warm hospitality - or "Hamptonality" as the hotel has branded it, free breakfast, complimentary wifi and other amenities based on a property's specific location. We love them for their signature waffle irons at breakfast and their consistent quality and service - regardless of where in the country you choose to stay in one. For this stay, a relatively new Hampton Inn in Kernersville was our home base!
Truthfully, Kernersville itself is not much of a tourist destination. Tucked away between Greensboro and Winston-Salem (two larger cities in North Carolina) the town itself is reminiscent of a traditional suburban town, and our hotel, the Hampton Inn Kernersville, was located right off of I-40. With each city about 20 minutes away, and our house hunting location about 15 minutes down the road, the hotel was perfectly located for us. Better yet, the North Carolina equivalent of Chicago’s Portillos - Dairi-O - was located right outside the hotel.
Our family booked through the Hampton Inn directly. Our family reports that the process was mediocre at best. When purchasing our rooms at a discounted price, the checkout timed out and the rate was no longer available. When calling the general Hampton Inn number, they could no longer honor the rate. The rate later became available online, but the process was nonetheless unnecessarily complicated.
Arrival, Check In & Lobby
We flew into Raleigh-Durham International Airport, which was conveniently located between the first portion of our destination - Wilmington, N.C. - and Kernersville. We arrived at the Hampton Inn after spending some time in Wilmington assisting another member of our family relocating, and were easily able to access the hotel from the highway. After docking our land yacht (our Chevy Suburban rental, which these tips can help you snag too), we were pleasantly greeted and quickly checked in to our rooms for the night. When walking into the hotel, the front desk was situated immediately to the left with a snack bar situated directly to the right of the check-in. To the right of the main lobby was a large sitting and dining area, where breakfast would normally be served. The lobby was very pleasant, with blue and orange accented furnishing throughout. Walking forward through the space, the elevators were on the left hand side and situated adjacent to access for the fitness center and pool.