I originally posted my 1st review back in September of 2007. But I felt it was time to update my review:
My first trip (2006) definitely earned them a 5 star, my 2nd trip (2007) a 4 star, and my last trip (2008) a 2.5 star. The Sidney James is an older hotel that could use some updating. The location is key and the indoor pool a plus. But over the years the housekeeping has started to slip and the rooms just are NOT as clean as they used to be. Here are my experiences with Sidney James over the past few years:
I stayed at the Sidney James in October 2006 and had a wonderful experience. I stayed in the old hotel they bought out, which they call "courtside". I stayed in 2 different rooms during that trip. Both were clean and quiet. I really enjoyed the balcony from the 2nd floor in addition to the indoor pool. (No elevator Courtside)We enjoyed our stay here--so much so that there was no question that we would stay here again when we returned the following year (2007).
My husband and I made a return trip to the Sidney James September 2007. We called ahead & asked for a late arrival & the staff was very friendly--assuring us no problem. We arrived very late and the check-in was fast & friendly just as it was in 2006. The clerk even gave us one night free, since we were booking more than 3 nights. We had booked the courtside room again, but when we arrived we discovered it was a smoking room. It smelled musty & I informed the desk clerks after trying to air out the room for about 1/2hr. The desk clerk was very friendly and she offered us a slightly larger room with a balcony courtside. We moved our bags and found the room wasnt made up yet by the maids. The room definately smelled better & was larger, but it wasnt ready for occupants. The desk clerk then offered to move us to a creekside room with a balcony overlooking the water & was non-smoking at NO additional charge. She offered us 2 choices (2nd or 3rd floor) overlooking the creek (note: there is an elevator creekside). The staff was accomodating and friendly regarding the switch. She handeled it above and beyond my satisfaction. The new room ended up being really spacious and inviting. The creek below was wonderful to wake up to in the morning & at night when drifting off to sleep. The room was equipt with a decent sized mini-fridge and a vanity in addition to the SMALL creekside balcony. The room had a tub/shower that was decent sized, bright and had good water pressure (this is important to me). Our room was clean and well kept during most of our stay.
The only issue I had was that the maids did not make our beds on the last day we were staying. We came back to our room that night to find new towels/soap/shampoo, but the beds unmade. I contacted the front desk. The front desk clerk told me to go speak with the head maid about the issue & she could possibly come over & make the beds up then. However, he was not sure if she had already left for the day. I never did speak to the head maid--I felt this was something the hotel management should have addressed-->not ask customer to do so. This was the 1st time I experienced a front desk clerk that wasnt helpful. The other clerks were all fast, friendly, and helpful regarding all matters and questions.
My husband and I decided to overlook this one situation with the maids and desk clerk & decided to book with them again when we returned in 2008. This time we told them exactly which Courtside room number we wanted. We chose one of the 2nd floor balcony rooms since they are much more spacious and we liked having the balcony to sit out on in the morning & evening. Again, we arranged a late check-in & were assured no problems. Again we got the deal--pay for 3 nights--get one FREE. We arrived late and check in was smooth. The room was ready for us as promised. When we went to the room, it was nice---but just NOT as clean as they had been in the past. It appeared that the floors may not have been freshly vacuumed. But, the beds and bathroom were clean. We stayed for 5 days. Each day our beds were made and fresh towels/toiletries were left in the room. However, the floors did not appear to be vacuumed the entire time we were there. We could see lent that never moved. AND JUST like our trip in 2007, when we returned to our room on the final night of our stay---the BEDS were NOT MADE UP! Plus, we could tell our sheets had not been changed once in the 5 days we had been there. AGAIN, I walked across the street to the front desk and spoke with a nice lady. I explained to her what had happended & that this had occurred on our previous trip in 2007 too. She apologized & said the maids had gone for the day. She also apologized and said they normally change the linens after 3 days IF they have the same guest staying in the rooms. She then asked if we were going back out for the evening. We said yes. She said just to let her know what time & she would PERSONALLY go make up our room with FRESH linens. When we returned back to the room that evening, we did find the bed made with fresh linens.
During our stays in 2006, 2007 & 2008, we utilized the indoor swimming pool. It used to be awesome. It is designed to look like a "mountain" grotto with a waterfall on the side. The indoor pool has at least a 2 story ceiling with tables on the 2nd floor that overlook the pool (perfect for chatting, snacking or playing cards). The pool also has a hidden nook in the 3ft section. To me, the indoor pool WAS one of their best features. In addition to the indoor pool, they also have a baby pool (2ft), a sauna, hot tub, and 2 outdoor pools (one creekside & one courtside) and an exercise room. Having 2 outdoor pools was nice...so they were never crowded! However, the indoor pool can at times be overly crowded. On our last trip in 2008, we did notice that the indoor pool was starting to show signs of neglect. Parts of the grotto section were worn & rust was showing through. The surface of the indoor pool was starting to feel rough to the touch and some of the pool lights were out I decided to stick with the outdoor pool on my last trip in 2008. It is such as shame because the indoor pool USED to be one of their best features.
There is a cafe attached to the pool area, but in my opinion the prices seemed a little high and the food downtown is probably a better bet. My mom got a meal at the cafe in 2006 and she said it was "ok". Some of the places downtown are definitely better than just "ok", so if you have the time---opt for one of the downtown restaurants instead.
The motel did add an exercise room between our 2007 & 2008 visit. It is located in the OLD lobby of the Courtside section. It had a stationary bike, treadmill and some weights. It is small, but a FREE place to workout. It was a nice addition to the motel.
Another feature that I should probably mention is the on-site coin laundry. It is located on the bottom floor of the Creekside building. At the opposite end of the Creekside building, there is a small patio where you can hang out alongside the creek. It is kind of hidden & you wouldn't know it was there unless you went in search of it. But it is a nice feature....especially for those who are staying across the street in the Courtside rooms!
One of the features that I also loved about this hotel was that it is within walking distance to town. It is probably about 5 blocks from the main strip of Gatlinburg. To me, that makes it perfect. It is close enough to walk to all the attractions, but far enough away to give you peace & quiet at night. Plus the trolley stops right in front of the hotel...so if you are tired or have limitations--you can always hop on the trolley for mere pocket change.
One of the downsides is the parking at this hotel. It looks like there is LOTS of parking, but on a Friday night it can get cramped. You might end up with a spot across the street IF you can find one at all. It made it hard to leave on a friday afternoon and return late friday night. We did this once & we ended up parking behind the old Courtside location (near the Owl's Nest)...and having to walk all the way back across the street to the back of the Creekside property with our belongings.
Overall, this motel USED to be a nice place to stay. We enjoyed the location and 3 on-site pools. However, the lack of HOUSEKEEPING on our last 2 trips (2007 & 2008)...resulted in us choosing a different hotel for our return trip in 2009. IF, Sidney James can get their maids to spruce up on their cleaning...then it might be worth a second chance. BUT, we are currently happy with our new motel...so I don't see us returning to the Sidney James anytime soon.
TIP: Sidney James used to offer Ripley's Aquarium ticket sales at their front desk. We bought them at the motel front desk. It was convenient and saved us time in the long run. We didn't have to wait OR stand in line at the aquarium. It would have been even better IF the ticket rate was discounted, but they were regular rate.
NOTE: Sidney James also rents out a small cabin (3 bedrooms, 2 bath) at the end of Historic Nature Trail. It is called the Owl's Nest. We have seen people rent it, but we have never stayed there ourselves. AND the only reason we noticed it---was that we heard loud parties going on in the Owl's Nest a few nights during one of our stays (in the 2nd floor Balcony rooms) in the Courtside section. You can see the Owl's Nest from the balcony. I'm sure this doesn't happen all the time, but it certainly got our attention. JUST know that you can rent a CABIN close to town from this motel IF you are interested!
- Reservation Options:
- TripAdvisor is proud to partner with Travel Republic (UK), Hotels.com and Booking.com so you can book your Sidney James Mountain Lodge reservations with confidence. We help millions of travellers each month to find the perfect hotel for both holiday and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
- Also Known As:
- Sidney James Mountain Hotel Gatlinburg
- Sidney James Mountain Gatlinburg
- Sidney James Lodge