Sunday, October 26, 2014

Element Hotel - Ewing

Hotel Details
Hotel: Element Ewing
Dates: October 25-26, 2014 
Rate Paid: $185/night (incl. taxes)
Points Earned: 1,103 SPG points

We were driving back from Amish Lancaster, Pennsylvania when we decided that we should just stay at a hotel on the way. Since my father is a Starwood loyalist, he wanted to try the new brand, Element Hotels by Westin.

Element is an extended stay / limited service hotel concept that has a strong "green" focus on being environmentally-friendly and healthy living conscious. For example, they have an eco-friendly design and give you real silverware/glassware. However, my parents didn't really get excited about that aspect. My mother was excited about having a real kitchen, and my father was keen on staying at all 9 Starwood brands in 2014. This stay would make it 8 for the year - missing only Le Meridien.

Since we didn't have a room booked in advance, my mother called the hotel while my father was driving to the hotel. First she checked rates online at There she found an AAA rate for $161 + taxes for an Accessible Suite. However, we thought we'd try to call the property directly and see if they'd offer us a last minute discount since the room would otherwise go empty that night.

Unfortunately, since Element is a limited-service property, they didn't have an on-site reservation person. Instead, they forwarded our call to the Starwood call center where they offered us rates closer to $200+/night. No thank you.

So my mother went back online and booked it on her iPhone for $161 + $24 in taxes. Oddly enough, there were options to book a room including breakfast for an additional cost. Who would pay that premium when breakfast is complimentary for everyone at Element Hotels! Also free were (a) in-room wifi and (b) happy hour 3x a week. We didn't arrive in time to enjoy the happy hour, but that would have been a very nice touch for a limited service property.

When we arrived, the place was pretty quiet, but my father instantly loved the sleek design. It was very modern with the sharp angles and long clean edges, but didn't have the cheesy W Hotel style flare or overwhelming color schemes.

The super friendly front desk staff moved us from the accessible room to a regular King bedroom suite on the 4th floor. If the floor map is accurate, we didn't get the big suites, but as you'll see from the photos, we had plenty of space for our family of 3. We were in Room 410 not too far from the elevator.

As soon as we walked in, my parents knew Elements was going to be our new go-to hotel brand whenever possible. It had everything a small family could possibly need - space, multiple TVs, a separate bedroom...

...and a full kitchen. I mean, that was the very first thing you notice when you walk into the suite. The kitchen had a regular sized fridge, electric stove top, dishwasher and full kitchen set of plates and silverware. It was like a very stylish NYC apartment. Since this was an eco-friendly hotel, they didn't have any bottles of water. I suppose you were supposed to drink from the sink instead.

The nice feature of the room was that there was an efficient roll away table that was set under a set of closet doors with rolling stools. We pulled it out and had dinner on it (leftover Philly cheese steaks from Dalessandro's Steak & Hoagies). When we were done, we rolled it back under the closet area.

The bathroom was also a very stylish and amazingly clean. Keeping consistent with the green theme, the toilet had the option of a half flush or a full flush and the shower was a low-flow rain shower.

However, I will say that the wall mounted shampoo and body wash was probably also another green-thing, but it just looked cheap. Something I'd expect from Aloft or Four Points, but Element was at a higher price point than either of those sub-brands.

The next morning, my father went downstairs around 8:45AM to get some complimentary breakfast before they finished at 9AM. By the time he got there, most of the feta/egg breakfast wraps were all gone, so he took some of the pancakes and a few cornbread muffins. Note: get breakfast early or risk missing out!

The rest of the property went relatively undiscovered by my parents. We spent most of the morning in the room as I started running a fever. But as we checked out later that day, my father popped his head into the fitness center and business centers. He also passed by the small convenience store that sold snacks and drinks. Apparently, you could also park bikes (or rent them, we're not sure) keeping with the healthy orientation of the brand.

Over all, we were very excited about the Element Hotel brand. They really seem to target business travelers on extended stays rather than families on vacation given their geographic footprint (lots of airport hotels), so I think it would be perfect for a "place to sleep at night," but probably less so for a "vacation" where you stay on the property during your trip.

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