Back in January I booked my first error fare. It was an Alitalia business class ticket that departed BCN and arrived in Los Angeles. At ~38,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards, it was a steal for a round-trip. But I had to figure out how to get to Europe to begin the little adventure.
The ticket I booked to get to Europe ended up to be an AA/Finnair business class itinerary with an overnight layover in Los Angeles. This meant I needed an airport hotel, and after a bit of searching, I settled on the Candlewood Suites LAX Hawthorne.
Booking the Candlewood Suites LAX Hawthorne
I honestly hate booking airport hotels, especially when they are expensive. All the nicer properties were going for $200+ per night, and when all you really want is a bed to sleep in, this hurts. Along the same lines, I hate shelling out points for the same reason. I’d rather use them for a stay we’ll enjoy.
So after giving up on booking direct, I remembered a trick I’d read about booking Hotwire hotels. This got me ~25% off the Candlewood Suites LAX Hawthorne, and I was able to deduce that this was in fact the hotel I was booking. The total came to ~$122 after taxes, which is fair enough for the night. It was either this or a Motel 6, which was another option on the table. I have no qualms with truly budget travel, although I may avoid hostels moving forward.
Shuttle and Arrival Experience
Things got off to a rough start at the Candlewood Suites LAX Hawthorne when the hotel shuttle took a ridiculous 45 minutes to arrive. I know LAX can have bad traffic, but when you’ve watched the Sheraton and Hilton shuttles drive by multiple times, it gets a bit frustrating. I called the hotel three times, and each time the front desk assured me that the driver was on his way.
Eventually, the shuttle arrived and took me to the hotel. I arrived to the small lobby of the Candlewood Suites where check in was problematic. Apparently, since I’d opted to by by PayPal using my Chase Freedom card (I’m currently without a premium travel card), the payment didn’t yet show that it had been accepted. I had to swipe my card for the full amount of the stay.
This left me wondering if I’d be left fighting against a double billing. Luckily, the hotel had things worked out by the morning, and I was only charged by Hotwire.
My room key was for a ground floor room. I’m not keen on staying on the ground floor, and the assignment was likely because I’d booked through an OTA.
Standard Queen Room
The suites at the Candlewood Suites LAX Hawthorne followed the same layout I’ve seen at each property within the brand. It’s a fairly large room, with the kitchen near the entrance, the bathroom door at the corner in the middle, and the desk and bed beyond that. The carpet was a little worn, but aside from that, the room was clean and in good condition.
The in-room kitchen is one of the best features of the Candlewood Suites brand. I also love the kitchens provided by Staybridge Suites, another IHG brand (I’ve stayed at the same excellent SFO Staybridge Suites multiple times), as well as Hyatt House and Residence Inn by Marriott brands.
The kitchen at the Candlewood Suites LAX Hawthorne was clean and had everything a couple or small family would need. The issue with the brand over the Staybridge is the room occupancy. With a single queen bed, Candlewood Suites hotels are typically blocked for 2-3 people, which doesn’t really work well for families. But if you have a baby or are traveling solo with a kid, they can work.
The kitchen comes stocked with essential cookware, plates, bowls, and cutlery. It appears stocked for two, but you could probably make it work for 1-2 more, if needed. For cooking, you have a stovetop and a microwave. The full sink and dishwasher make clean up easy. I’ve cleaned in bathroom sinks after cooking in hotel rooms, and it is a bit of a pain.
The room had an ADA bathroom. Booking through Hotwire obviously gave me the dregs of the available inventory. Direct bookings with the hotel often have more perks than what is advertised, as hotels have been known to give their worst rooms to people who book through OTAs. These guests are likely to not be loyal members, and even if they are, their status isn’t honored. In many cases, the hotel has sold the room for far less to the OTA.
The air conditioning was the one issue in the room. Initially, I thought it wasn’t functioning, and went to inquire at the desk. This had been an issue during my first Candlewood Suites stay in Houston, which I didn’t want to repeat. In this case, the units just take a while to really get going. The room cooled off just fine.
On the whole, it was a very standard Candlewood Suites room. Aside from being given an ADA room, I didn’t have any complaints.
Other Hotel Amenities
Unlike the Staybridge Suites brand, which offers free breakfast, the Candlewood Suites doesn’t provide anything. You can buy some things, primarily snacks and drinks, at the Candlewood Cupboard. The breakfast offerings are primarily cereal, with some microwave dinners, if you need. Definitely not fancy living.
The Candlewood Suites LAX Hawthorne also has a business center. Another standard amenity of the brand is the on-site laundry. There isn’t a pool at the hotel, but there is a fitness center.
Apparently the guests across from me had a bit of a party, at least based on the evidence outside the door. Not sure why you’d just leave this in the hall.
Also note that housekeeping is weekly for longer stays. As a limited-service brand with in-room kitchens, the Candlewood Suites targets guests looking to stay for longer periods. Their limited housekeeping reflects this.
Overall, the Candlewood Suites LAX Hawthorne provided what I expected for the brand. I was simply looking for a bed, and they were the cheapest reasonable brand that I could find. The rooms was clean and stocked, and the hotel provided a fine stay. It isn’t in fantastic proximity to LAX, but it is worth saving $100 over other options.
The downsides are the shuttle service, which runs far less frequently than larger hotels. Another downside is not having breakfast in the morning, but I knew that going into the stay. There is a Starbucks across the street if you need.