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.
Guestroom / Suite
Each room number plaque featured a unique picture and was embellished with a “welcome”. Walking into the room felt like a continuation of the lobby, with orange and blue tones featured throughout the space. It felt incredibly spacious even with a king-sized bed, small couch and a large piece of furniture that dualed as a desk-TV stand. The walls were accented nicely with artwork of coffee, trains and a “Bull” Durham sign, which was a nod to the history of the area, which is known for its tobacco production. The main room itself felt homey and welcoming.
In contrast to this initial feeling, the bathroom felt slightly sterile, with almost entirely white finishes and no pops of the orange and blue colors throughout the rest of the hotel. Though we are no interior designers, we felt that the lack of color was a rather sharp contrast in comparison to the warmth in the rest of the decor.
Despite this inconsistency in decor, the bathroom was sparkling clean and the shower had sufficient water pressure with the shower head offering multiple settings.The room included Neutrogena products including shampoo, conditioner, soap and bath soap. Though a nice brand, the amount provided to us was on the smaller side. Due to COVID-19, the cleaning crews were not making rounds unless upon request, which meant that we had to ask for more shampoo and conditioner later on. This was not a terribly inconvenient activity given the circumstances, but could have been potentially aided by providing us with more upfront based on the number of nights we were staying.
Amenities & Features
This Hampton Inn offered a workout room, outdoor pool and meeting spaces - a pretty typical offering for the brand. Members of our family used the workout room throughout our stay. Though small, the amount of equipment was impressive for the size with three treadmills, an elliptical, a bike, weight rack, home gym setup, mirror, mats, and medicine balls. The equipment overlooked the outdoor pool, which was closed due to COVID-19.
Food & Beverage
The hotel itself normally offers a free hot breakfast, but opted to replace it with a self-service station from the hotel’s grab and go market that sits next to the check-in desk. In the mornings, guests could heat up individually wrapped breakfast sandwiches and mini pancakes in the microwave. Coffee was provided along with other breakfast staples such as Orange Juice, Apple Juice, and Milk. Given the circumstances, the hotel staff were incredibly flexible with what could be grabbed: In addition to the breakfast offerings, we were told we could take anything but the beer and wine, which meant we had free access to anything from the microwaveable breakfast options to candy (we did take peanut M&Ms one morning). Pre-packed brown bags were also provided which included a piece of fruit, yogurt and a granola bar. Though a hot breakfast would have been preferred, the flexibility, and “on-the-go” feeling with what we could take from the pantry was a bonus and we deeply appreciated their dedication to customer service; however, we did miss the signature waffle iron.
Though we have already alluded to many changes in our summary of our stay, the hotel itself had many rules in place to account for COVID-19. In addition to the modified breakfast station and changes in cleaning service, masks were required of guests and workers in the lobby - much like Jeremy’s recent experience at the Hyatt Regency Indianapolis. In addition to this, the gym was set up to only allow one person at a time in ½ hour time slots. The fitness room did not provide materials to wipe down the equipment, as it was expected that staff would wipe down the gym after every use. Though good in theory, the first time Melanie used the gym, she was allowed access without being notified of the half hour time slots, and wasn’t notified of the hotel rules until she visited the next day. Applied consistently, the idea is a decent one, though it may not have been executed as intended.
Overall, our stay was pleasant, homey, and clean - perhaps the most important element during times like these! Though we find it unlikely that many would come to visit this hotel in Kernersville, NC, we can imagine that it is a nice home-away-from-home, for those who are on business trips, or simply staying the night for a stop along the road. Finally, we highly recommend a stop at the Dairi-O next door… though the line is intimidating, calling in your order and picking it up curbside is relatively quick, and their burgers are quite tasty!
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