Accommodations, DESTINATIONS, Road Trips, TRAVEL, Travel Planning, United States

Beware of the Hotel Bargain

Microtel San Antonio Northeast, San Antonio TX
The lovely picnic area, right next to the rusting dirt movers!


We all know that if it’s too good to be true, then it’s probably not true – and with few exceptions, you get exactly what you pay for.  Deb and I wanted a cheap hotel for our first night in San Antonio and that’s exactly what we got, so no surprise here.

Decision Path to Disaster

Now I’m not so cheap or adventurous that I’d purposely stay in an awful hotel, but I will look for bargains.  In fact, I’d first planned to stay somewhere in San Marcos or New Brunsfel, but all the reviews of their bargain hotels made it sound as if these hotels had served one too many drunk river rafters – dirty and smelly being the biggest clue.

But I know Microtel.  I’ve stayed at several of them and they have all been great.  They weren’t always the latest and greatest, but you got a lot for not so much dough and they were clean.  Enter Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham San Antonio Northeast.  I know, for $45 a night in San Antonio I should have figured out there was a problem, but I didn’t.

Microtel San Antonio Northeast, San Antonio, TX
How about a cookout?

Maybe our first clue should have been how difficult it was to find.  On the map it looked as if it would be easy to get to, but maps can be deceiving, because what’s in a convenient place might be hard to reach.  Our GPS had to take us around and around and around until we finally broke a few laws and made it to the parking lot.  Then there was a sigh of relief.  The outside looked as if it had been freshly painted and the landscaping was under control.  The cars all looked as if they were driven by people with a sense of propriety and the lobby was nice.

Checking In

There was one couple ahead of us in line, but I was more interested in the breakfast bar than I was this anonymous couple.  That was until I figured out who they were.  He was a rugged type, with a beard that was a day or two old.  He was wearing a black t-shirt with “The Trucker’s Prayer” emblazoned on the back.  I found that to be at least a little bit interesting, because they’d arrived in a crossover van.  It didn’t seem as if English was his first language.  In comparison, his companion was a beautiful young woman with cafe au lait skin.  Her hair was in a semi up-do.  She had on great shoes and a cute short set with very, very short-shorts which showed off a pair of perfect legs. She flashed me a great smile.

Microtel San Antonio Northeast, San Antonio, TX
And that small blue awning across the parking lot. That’s over the pool with it’s great view of the highway.

Though I was not listening carefully, I figured out that the clerk was trying to explain the hotel’s cash policy to the man.  If you pay cash, you have to leave a $50 deposit at the desk.  When you’re through with your stay, they inspect the room to make sure everything is OK and then you get your $50 back.  It seemed reasonable on the surface and then the woman cooed, “Just put it on your credit card, baby.”  Something clicked in my brain and I figured out what most of you had already realized.  This was a hooker with her john.  That made them very interesting.

The conversation went on for a few more clicks, but the baby was not going to put it on his credit card and the Microtel wasn’t going to change their policy, so eventually the pair left.  The funniest thing was that the female half of the pair turned around at the door and said, “We’ll be back,” in her outdoor voice.  I want you to know I do not hold this episode against the Microtel.  They can’t help who walks in the front door and they had a policy in place to keep that kind of stuff at bay.


The clerk was very nice to us and very helpful with suggestions and directions to the Riverwalk.  It also wasn’t the hotel’s fault that I don’t drive those luggage carts real well.  Deb helped me load our bags and walked ahead to open the door.  Unfortunately, the cart decided it was more interested in the swimming pool than it was the interior of the hotel.  Nice clerk person appeared out of nowhere and got me going in the right direction.

The clerk had given us the very first room past the lobby, so that gave me a pretty secure feeling.  Deb stuck her card in the door, but it took both of us to shove the door open.  Whoever chose the carpet, which was still pretty new, had selected a style that was too deep for the door.  Each trip in and out was like a tiny weight resistance session.

We didn’t pay much attention to anything else, because we were ready to head to the Riverwalk.  More about that later, but coming back to the hotel AFTER the Riverwalk, now that was an adventure.  The hotel is in a sort or industrial area, which is part of the reason it’s so hard to reach.  The GPS on my phone discovered another way to get there on the return trip.  We exited and the GPS told us to take a street that on any other occasion we would have avoided, but the GPS showed that it was the most direct route.  We feared a repeat of our earlier around the world experience, so we ignored those little voices in our head and crossed into no man’s land – or maybe I should say no-woman’s land.

The narrow two lane street had thick vegetation on each side and at a certain point the vegetation gave way to junk yards and re-cycling centers wrapped in chain link fences – or at least that’s what it looked like.  The road got very rough and suddenly it felt like the car had fallen into the Grand Canyon.  Deb kept right on driving and said, “If we get a flat, I’m gonna keep on driving.  We’ll just worry about it in the morning.”

We didn’t have a flat and, with the exception of that too-thick carpet, had no other troubles getting to our beds.  We were soon happily asleep.  Now I know the Microtel can’t be responsible for the condition of the streets around it, especially small back-roads the GPS decides you should take and they certainly can’t help who walks in the front door, but the odds were starting to stack up against them nonetheless.

Morning Ministrations

Microtel San Antonio Northeast, San Antonio TX
The Yuck Factor

Mornings for me mean a bubble bath and that’s when the real trouble started – nasty tub corners.  When it comes to the hotels and motels of this world, I consider cleanliness my primary concern.  I laugh my way through bad decor, small rooms, rude desk clerks – in fact most of the foibles that you can run into, but you better be clean.  This is where the Microtel missed the mark.

Microtel San Antonio Northeast, San Antonio TX

Then there was the hair dryer. I guess they must have a problem with losing hair dryers, so now they hard-wire them in place.  I can understand that, but did they have to cover up the other plug.  I had to wander around the room looking for another plug with a line of sight to a mirror, because I needed some curling iron therapy to cope with my wild hair. (I don’t blame the Microtel for my wild hair either.  I explained all that a few posts ago.)

The nasty tub corners sort of ruined my stay, but I got cleaned up and we headed to the breakfast bar for a bite, anyway.    Like most of the things we’d experienced at the Microtel, the breakfast bar was more than decent.  They had boiled eggs, which I like, and an assortment of other things, so it more than satisfied the need at hand.  The morning clerk was a grandmotherly sort and that really made me want to like this hotel better, but the specter of the nasty tub corners couldn’t be erased.

Microtel San Antonio Northeast, San Antonio, TX
More yuck!

Deb and I have a certain cure for everything.  It’s called laughter.  We started to enjoy all the little quirks we found.  We even went outside and shot these pictures so you too could enjoy our stay.

Come back next week and I’ll tell you all about our dinner at the Tower of the Americas – but don’t stay at  Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham San Antonio Northeast, unless grime is your friend.



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