“All-nonsmoking hotel” the ad said. “Comfort,” the name implied. We pulled in at about 10:30 p.m. after a long day on the road expecting a better-than-average night’s rest. In fact, as if in an episode of The Twilight Zone, we were about to embark on a journey through bizarre rooms with unusual odors, poor maintenance, and defensive, disinterested management.
The first clerk assigned us to Room 305. When we opened the door we were assaulted by a nasty, pungent smell. Ms. Maven went downstairs to speak to the clerk while Mr. Maven guarded the luggage. The shift had changed and the new clerk wondered aloud why we had been put on the “problem floor,” which is where the smokers used to be. That explained the odor. And there was another odd thing about the room, which was hardly “comfort”-able. You need to understand that the room was subdivided into two sections by a short wall. The bigger section was near the window, which is where the king bed would normally go, and the smaller section was toward the hallway, and would normally hold the sofa and coffee table. But in this room the bed was located in the smaller part. It was crammed in there, with a wall touching the bed on each side and obviously no room for a night stand and no light above the bed. Meanwhile, in the larger section of the room, a small sofa sat with night stands located a good two feet away on either side. We couldn’t quite figure out why the furniture had been arranged this way, although covering up a big stain or hole in the carpet is a pretty good bet.
We were moved downstairs, and we mean really downstairs, to Room 135. We took the elevator down to ‘1," luggage in tow, and searched for awhile but 135 was nowhere in sight. Then we went to the desk and the clerk explained – it would have been nice had she told us in the beginning – that 135 was not on the first floor (insert Twilight Zone theme here). It was on the basement floor. The hotel is on a sloped lot, and there are some rooms on the north side of the ground level. When we finally found 135 and opened the door we noticed an earthy odor but we were exhausted. Nothing sounded better than eating our take-out Chinese food and going to sleep. We settled back on the sofa and reached for the TV remote. It didn’t work. So Mr. Maven picked up the phone on the desk and tried to call the clerk. The phone was dead. (Paging Mr. Serling.) This meant Ms. Maven had to schlep upstairs to speak to the clerk in person, who confided that she had been “pestering” the housekeepers to check the batteries in the remotes. It took more than an hour for the clerk to find a replacement.
Meanwhile, we were getting to know the room. On the plus side, the TV got a large number of channels and the mattress was comfortable. But there were even more examples, besides the dead phone and nonworking remote, of poor maintenance. We’ve included a photo of the severely cracked lampshade, which was located next to the air conditioner and which whirled around when the air was on. Another photo shows the handle on the dresser, which was falling off. The dimly-lit bathroom had an old, loud exhaust fan and a plastic sign (see photo) warning that we would be charged if any of the amenities were stolen. An exercise in sarcasm, the sign is not designed to make guests feel “comfort”-able. But, as we were to learn the next day, it perfectly sums up the management’s attitude, which is that people are always trying to rip them off.
I suppose at this point we should mention Comfort’s evidently useless 100% satisfaction guarantee (see photo of card from our room), which clearly states that if you are not satisfied your money ($72.99 in our case, thanks to a coupon) will be refunded.
We had a horrible night’s sleep. The “earthy” odor was located somewhere along the edge of the room next to the outer wall, right by the bed. It did not emanate from the air conditioner. More likely, there had been some sort of water damage in the past, either at the wall or underneath or both, and a form of mold had taken root. Unfortunately, the windows did not open to allow some fresh air inside. We awoke in the morning with raging headaches, which began to lessen almost immediately when we were out of the room.
We checked out early and asked to speak to the manager. The sales manager fielded our complaint as the clerk who had checked us in the previous night scurried away like a rat deserting a sinking ship. We explained the entire story of our stay just as we have explained it here. The sales manager was argumentative and not especially sympathetic and said that the hotel has a problem with people trying to “take advantage of” Comfort’s satisfaction guarantee. But she did remove $25 from the bill, and at our request also removed a $1 safe charge, which we had not anticipated and which we did not feel it was fair to ask us to pay. We told her that, quite frankly, since were had been put in two rooms, each with an odor problem, and awoke with headaches and had not had anything approaching a “comfort”-able night’s rest, we felt that the honorable thing for the hotel to do was to refund our entire payment. She said she could not refund any more money without inspecting the room, which she would do later.
After a few hours she called us on our cell phone to state that “there is no odor problem in the room.” She claimed she had taken the AC apart looking for it, even though we had said the AC did not appear to be the problem. We were not surprised by her decision, given the overall impression we had gotten of how the place is run. Their bottom line is to take your money while providing substandard accommodations. (Oh yes, they’ll tell you “we’re renovating,” as if this is supposed to make you feel better after having spent The Night From Hell.)
In closing, we urge you to note the Tripadvisor review of Nov. 2, 2006, which states “the room smelled of mold, especially the carpets near the bed where it was very strong.” We are not the first persons to encounter that problem here, despite the sales manager’s attempt to make it sound like it was all in our heads. For those sensitive to mold and to old, ingrained cigarette smoke, and for those who expect management to run a hotel with competence and caring, our suggestion is to stay far, far away from this place. Fortunately, we were able to depart safely. Had this been an episode of The Twilight Zone, we would have been stuck there for eternity, being moved every night from crappy room to crappy room, probably at the behest of some sadistic alien for whom operating a hotel is merely a game in which the patience and endurance of the guests is constantly tested.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Welcome to the Comfort Suites Hagerstown.For history buffs you’ll find we are centrally located between three major Civil war battlefields and a Colonial Fort. Antietam National Battlefield is the closest and only a 15 minute drive. Harpers Ferry and Fort Frederick State Park are about a 25 minute drive with Gettysburg 39 miles from the hotel. This area also offers many historical attraction...s and museums.While in Hagerstown, sports fans can enjoy a baseball game at Municipal Stadium. Relax and take in a Suns game, the single-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals.Enjoy cultural attractions? Then you will want to visit the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts or spend an evening at The Maryland Theatre, home of the Maryland Symphony Orchestra.During your stay you will enjoy a 100% smoke free environment. Each large one room suite offers a microwave, refrigerator, coffee maker, iron and ironing board and hair dryers.Also included:Complementary hot breakfastIndoor pool and hot tubExercise roomFree wired and wireless high-speed internet access. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Comfort Hotel Hagerstown
- Comfort Suites Hagerstown
- Hagerstown Comfort Suites