Extended Stay?

Business brought us to Richmond, CA this week – three days, two nights. Commuting from Sacramento to Richmond daily just didn’t seem like a fun thing to do considering it would be anywhere from an hour and a half to two hours each way.

We’ve done these work overnighters before, staying in conventional hotels and dining in restaurants and averaging $75 a day in food expense, so decided to try a different approach and take advantage of a kitchenette to prepare our own meals.

Unless you stay at truly 1 – 2 star no-tell-motels, Richmond has limited selection of reliable brand properties. Most average about $180 and up a night for full service hotels. We decided to try the Extended Stay America Hilltop Mall/Richmond.

A technical description of this property is that it is no frills, functional, well located for our needs, and clean. While photos show carpeted guest rooms, our room has a laminate floor (looks like hardwood). There is a small full-sized refrigerator, two-burner stove, and small microwave. When you check in you can request a bin of kitchen needs such as a coffee pot, toaster, sauce pan, frying pan, china and service ware for the number of people in your party, and a dish drainer. We brought our own small “kettle”, frying pan, sponge and dish soap. Being an extended stay property, if you stay less than 3 nights there is no housekeeping, but if you need a change of towels, sheets, etc., take your dirties to the desk and they will replace them. There is also an on-site guest laundry. As I said, the key word is FUNCTIONAL!

Our personal impressions of our stay is that we are glad we took the time to do some pre-preparation for meals so that we weren’t actually having to COOK but rather heat up prepared items with minimal actually cooking to supplement. The only thing we forgot to bring or ask for was cooking utensils but even then we managed. We truly enjoyed the location – just ten minutes from where our work was – in a pretty, green (lots of trees) area. Richmond has some really sketchy areas (like where we were working) so it was nice to get out of that at night. Hilltop Drive and Richmond Parkway (our lines of travel) were easy during both morning and evening “commutes”. 

The downside to this particular property was the proliferating smell of marijuana throughout the halls and elevator.   I am not a “toker” and the smell actually makes me nauseous and gives me a headache.  Not a pleasant experience.  I know it’s legal – but non-smoking hotels are non-smoking ANYTHING – and as a retired hotelier I know the rooms that are smoked in will be as bad as rooms with cigarette smoke.  

Lunches in adorable little Point Richmond all three days were pleasant – the first day at the Great American Hamburger & Pie Co, a little corner dive-looking place that had awesome hamburgers and fries. My mushroom burger with Swiss cheese (and real hand-formed patty, lettuce leaves and sliced tomatoes) done rare/medium hit the spot! We didn’t try the pies because we were so full. We made our own sandwiches to take on day two, and wandered back to Point Richmond to a park across the street from Great American Hamburger for a picnic lunch. It made for a truly relaxing hour watching the owners and dogs in the park playing fetch – especially that  little Queensland Heeler catching the soccer ball!

One thing we found depressing is Hilltop Mall – a magnificent-looking mall that is 80% empty. I am hoping that their 2019-2020 remake revitalizes it because now it is downright creepy and feels like a ghost mall. 

All in all, though, it was a pleasant experience – both the work, the accommodations and the area.  Thank you, Richmond!