The Space Capsule Shower Stall, The Silo, and The Lie-Flat Seat — No, Not Aboard an Airplane: My First Time Staying at a Sleep Inn
During a recent road trip, I needed to stop off somewhere near Beckley in West Virginia for the night — and I decided on the Sleep Inn Beaver – Beckley hotel property due to its location near where I wanted to go the next morning; and also the less expensive room rates when compared to similar hotel properties within the region.
The Space Capsule Shower Stall, The Silo, and The Lie-Flat Seat — No, Not Aboard an Airplane: My First Time Staying at a Sleep Inn
I have never stayed at a Sleep Inn hotel property before and thought I would give it a try for the aforementioned reasons. Sleep Inn is a “Rest and Refresh” mid-range brand of the portfolio of the Choice Hotels International, Incorporated lodging company.
The two-story lobby area of the hotel was rather nondescript. After waiting several minutes for the front desk agent to arrive, I was checked into the hotel property.
Because the hotel property is only two stories in height, it is not equipped with an elevator, as the second floor is only accessible via stairs. Guests with mobility issues are strongly encouraged to reserve a room on the ground floor of the hotel property.
Off to the side of the entrance to the hotel property is a nice sitting area, which is furnished with two chairs, a coffee table, a small table, two lamps, a window, and a television mounted on the wall.
Complimentary sugar cookies and hot beverages — including coffee, decaffeinated coffee and hot water for tea and hot chocolate — await guests at the far end of the lobby. Cups, lids, condiments and napkins are also provided.
I was not interested in taking a sugar cookie as I do not care for them — although I will sometimes eat sugar cookies, they are usually too dry, sweet and plain for me — so I cannot comment on it.
Adjacent to the main staircase is a business center with two desks — but equipped with only one computer, monitor and laser printer.
Next to the front desk is a place to dispose of plastic and paper refuse which can be recycled — as well as for regular garbage — and a dispenser of hand sanitizer is mounted on the wall.
Books are available for any guest who wants to relax and read them, as the carousel is located just beyond the far end of the lobby; while a somewhat creepy Santa Claus wearing sunglasses was placed on a landing between floors of the main staircase.
One can purchase bottled water, bottled soda, a variety of candy, or assorted snacks in one of the two vending machines located in a small vestibule on the ground floor of the hotel property…
Two double beds awaited me in my room. The bed was reasonably comfortable enough for a good night’s sleep.
The above photograph of this view of the room shows the locking sliding door — not a conventional door — to the bathroom in its closed position. The door on the right is the entrance to the room.
A night stand with a telephone, an alarm clock, a note pad, a pen, and two lamps with electrical outlets at its base separated the two beds; and a partial wall separates the sink area outside of the bathroom from the bedroom area.
The room included a full-length mirror, a small flat-screen television, a small refrigerator, a microwave oven, and supplies for coffee. Noise constantly putted away from the refrigerator, which was otherwise operating normally: putt putt putt putt putt putt putt putt putt putt.
A coffee maker, an ice bucket, four sealed plastic cups, four sealed paper cups, napkins and three packets of coffee were on the top of a cabinet which housed the refrigerator and microwave oven.
The paper cups are sealed in a way which I had never seen before: two cups are in one twisted plastic wrap. Meanwhile, when I sat in the chair by the desk, I unexpectedly flopped all the way back in a near lie-flat seat position.
Fortunately, I figured out which lever on the chair corrected this function and prevent the “lie-flat seat” position — as well as how to use it. The seat back stayed rigid once this lever was in the proper position.
The chair is by the desk, which had a lamp and a guide to the hotel property on it — and the complimentary Wi-Fi access to the Internet worked well. On the right was an open storage area — no real closet was in the room — which included a folded luggage stand, an iron, hangers, a shelf, and a safe.
The safe was situated on a stationary hollow box which had no other purpose than to support the safe. It had no door or drawers; and it was permanently attached to the wall and floor adjacent to the climate control unit.
…and the sliding door to the bathroom is open in the photograph shown above — but what is that curved wall in the center which resembles a silo?
The aforementioned — and quite bizarre — curved wall which resembles a silo is for the shower area of the bathroom…
…and the rounded corners of the glass door at the entrance of the shower stall resembles a space capsule upon first impression. Why reserve adjoining rooms when you can leave the annoying family members downstairs whom you do not adore and take the space capsule shower stall pneumatic tube up the silo to your own room?!?
The curved wall on the right of the space capsule shower extends into the bedroom area in order to afford more room inside of the shower stall.
The sink area is outside of the bathroom and has no privacy — other than the aforementioned partial wall on the left side and the full wall and sliding door on the right side to the bathroom, which includes the space capsule shower stall, toilet, towel rack, and an ample amount of assorted towels.
In addition to an electric hair dryer mounted on the wall, the “peaceful sandalwood” line of amenities by Zenses includes a bar of soap with essential oils; conditioner, shampoo and lotion. Another bar of soap is in the space capsule…
…er…I mean shower stall. Why do I keep stalling on that one?!?
Just know that the soap has a strong scent; so if you are sensitive to strong scents — I am not sensitive — you may want to bring your own soap.
The only part of the view from the room of the remainder of the hotel property and its parking lot which is worth mentioning…
As printed on the signs outside of the room where a complimentary breakfast is served every morning from 6:00 until 10:00, shirts and shoes are required in the breakfast room.
That seems to be an odd place for shirts and shoes to be stored — I would have chosen a laundry room — but okay.
I wonder what would happen if a guest arrived for breakfast without pants and underwear…
The breakfast room is nothing special. In fact, the ambiance in it was slightly depressing.
All of the items offered for breakfast are at two areas in the breakfast room, with the majority of them on the far end…
…and the remainder of the items — including hot beverages such as coffee and tea, two types of dry cold cereal in bulk dispensers, packets of instant hot cereal, bananas, apples, sugar and other sweeteners, creamer, and disposable bowls and cutlery — are located on the other side of the breakfast room.
Hot items included sausage patties, limp strips of wrinkled bacon, scrambled eggs, and potatoes with red peppers.
This crock pot contained hot grits.
Assorted jams, jellies, ketchup, and honey accompanied the biscuits, doughnuts, pastries and slices of white bread.
Next to the toaster and waffle iron — with which you can create your own waffles — is a refrigerator containing assorted flavors of yogurt, hard boiled eggs which were already peeled, and individual containers of butter and cream cheese.
I am not sure why, but the waffle just did not taste as good as at the breakfast buffets of comparable hotel properties. I still ate it. The orange juice barely resembled orange juice. I did not like it.
Warning: Watch Out For This Deceptively Worthless Fee Sneaking Onto Your Hotel Bill
I do not always have a chance to review my folio when checking out of a hotel property because I am pressed for time; so when I returned from a recent trip to review my receipts and folios, one total caught my attention, as it was slightly more expensive than I expected.
I was quoted an American Automobile Association rate of $62.10 for my stay at the Sleep Inn Beaver – Beckley hotel property, with an estimated total of $69.55, which sounded good to me.
However, when I reviewed the receipt, I noticed that the total cost of my stay was $71.15 and wondered why the total cost of my stay increased…
…and there was the cutlet — er…I mean culprit — which is outlined in red in the photograph of the folio, which is shown above: a charge of $1.50 for what is identified as Safe w/ltd Warranty was added to the bill.
I immediately called the hotel property in question and asked the person who answered the telephone what exactly is the charge of $1.50 for Safe w/ltd Warranty.
“That is for the use of the safe in your room,” she replied.
“I never gave consent for adding that fee to my bill,” I said, “nor did I use the safe at all anytime during my stay.”
“Sir, that additional fee is clearly stated on what you signed when you checked in. You could have simply said that you do not wish to pay it.”
“That’s deceptive,” I bluntly replied, not recalling seeing any verbiage of that kind — not that it matters, because that is not something which is typically found on the agreement when checking into a hotel or resort property.
I was then put on hold while she checked a guest into the hotel property — at 12:40 in the afternoon.
While I was on hold, I checked the confirmation message which I received via e-mail message, which is shown below in its entirety with the exception of any personally sensitive information…
…and although plenty of space was provided for advertising such items as renting a car, no indication was given anywhere within the confirmation message of any fee for use of a safe during my stay.
I even started going through the booking process of a mock reservation…
…and although a fee of $15.00 per night per pet was indicated under the section of Hotel Alerts, once again was there no sign of a fee for the privilege of using the safe.
I clicked on the question mark next to where the estimated taxes and fees are included on the potential reservation…
…and the only information which was there was sales tax of 12 percent.
…was there no indication of any charge for usage of a safe.
After being put on hold, she agreed to remove the charge from the folio — and although I was appreciative that the charge was easily removed, I should not have had to take the time and effort to call the hotel property in the first place to resolve this issue in my favor.
By the way, I have no idea about the details of the limited warranty. Perhaps the safe itself was under a limited warranty?
Worse, nowhere in the booking process was there any indication that guests would be charged a fee of $1.50 for use of the safe — whether or not you actually do use it — and my confirmation via e-mail message of my reservation has the total estimated charges at $1.50 less than my final bill; and nowhere in that e-mail message was the possibility that I would be charged that fee.
Even though guests can decline on paying that fee for the safe at any time during the stay, the agent behind the front desk still should have verbally disclosed it during the process of checking in a guest. Despite the option of the guest to be able to remove the charge from the folio, I maintain that sneaking a fee onto a bill is deceptive at best.
This fee for usage of a safe was not disclosed at all until the guest physically arrives at the hotel property — and ideally should be required to be disclosed at some point during the reservation booking process even though it is not technically considered mandatory.
Wait: Hotel Charges Use of Safe Plus Tax — But Not Responsible For Valuables?!??
You might have noticed that the math did not quite add up when I was charged $1.50 for use of a safe — with limited warranty — in addition to my room rate and tax when I stayed at the Sleep Inn Beaver – Beckley hotel property in West Virginia.
The initial estimated total for the room when I reserved it was $69.55…
…but when I checked out of the hotel property, the total cost for the room was $71.15.
The difference of $1.60 is due to the sales tax of nine cents which was added to the bill. I suppose it was rounded up to ten cents…
…but when I received the revised folio for my stay, I was refunded a total of $1.59 instead of $1.60 for the fee plus tax.
If the hotel property really needs that penny, they can keep it.
However, what I found as an ironic twist is that I was being charged for the use of a safe “with limited warranty” — whatever that means…
…but look at the bottom left corner of the folio, which states in capital letters “NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR VALUABLES” above where the guest is to sign in agreement.
So Who Cares About $1.60, Anyway?
A guest may see the folio upon checking out and say, “That charge is only $1.60 more. That is nothing. Who cares? I’ll just let it go.”
Let us say that this hotel property has an average occupancy rate of 50 rooms per night. At $1.50 per room per night for the fee of usage of the safe, that totals $75.00 per night of extra income for the hotel property, which becomes $27,375.00 for the year.
That is a sizeable chunk of extra change for the hotel property — even if it is reduced to $10,000.00 per year due to fewer guests or refusal to pay the fee from more than half of the guests.
Meanwhile, the extra share for the government of roughly ten cents per room per night for the fee is as much as $1,642.50 in taxes per year, which is not bad at all.
So wait a minute: I was being charged for the use of a safe “with limited warranty” — whatever that means — which I did not use at all; but the hotel property is not responsible for valuables? Is protecting valuables the sole purpose of a safe? Am I missing something here?!?
If you are looking for a place to stay in the Beckley area of West Virginia, the Sleep Inn Beaver – Beckley hotel property will serve its purpose for a reasonable room rate. Just ensure that you let the person behind the front desk know that you are unwilling to pay the $1.50 fee plus tax for use of the safe and to not add it to your folio.
Despite the issues and quite bizarre features — such as the space capsule shower stall and silo — I recommend staying at this hotel property, which is conveniently located off of Interstate 64 and Raleigh County Memorial Airport and not far east from Interstate 77, which is also the West Virginia Turnpike. The room is well appointed for the price point and is suitable for a reasonably comfortable short stay — but I would not consider staying at this hotel property for a week or more.
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