I live in Northeast Iowa but recently started in a post-masters degree program at Drake University. I travel to Des Moines for weekend classes. Over the next 2.5 to 3 years, I will need to be in Des Moines for approximately 35 to 45 non-consecutive nights. I wish Drake had some sort of "short-term dorm" options but they don't.
Classes are not every weekend, but when they do occur they are on Friday nights until 9 p.m and then all day Saturday. I don't need breakfast, a pool, or anything fancy. I'm just looking for something clean, safe, reasonably priced, and somewhere that I can get a quiet night's sleep.
I've been using Priceline.com and was able to stay at a nice extended stay place in Urbandale for a $38 bid last week and a $28 bid this coming week. This is great but I don't know if Priceline will work every time, and I'd rather have one consistent place. I'd like to find a place that might offer me a "frequent stayer" discount since I'll be staying so often. Does anyone have any ideas?
Last weekend, I drove around town after class and stopped in at several places to inquire. There are several "sleazy" older hotels that were once nice and are now basically long-term or transitional housing for homeless people or drug users. I did not feel safe in these lower-end places. I had heard that the Clive Hotel across from Living History Farms was now an independent extended stay type place and I know that years ago the place was nice, so I stopped to inquire. The parking lot looked full, but when I stopped the place was locked up. What is the deal with this place? I also drove out West on I-80 to DeSoto and there was one decent place and one not-so-nice, but the rates weren't discounted enough from what I was paying in Des Moines to get me interested. I would be willing to drive a little ways out of the city for a safe, clean, decently-priced place. I guess I'm just out of ideas and wondered if anyone could suggest a place that might deal with me. Close to Drake would be nice but it isn't a priority.
My classes will be year-round so when it warms up a bit, I might consider tent camping or camping on a mattress in the back of my van to save $. Are there any nice campgrounds within driving distance of Des Moines? I would definitely need electricity for a heater or fan, and a place to take a warm shower in the morning.
I would appreciate any suggestions that a local person might offer. Thanks in advance!