Mar 14 2012
I’m going to start off by saying that some writers would mock a review of a Comfort Inn as much as they’d make fun of a restaurant reviewer’s writeup of the Olive Garden. But I’ve been reading Marilyn Hagerty‘s columns for almost 40 years now and I think she’s top-notch. And just as she’s said that she’s just doing things they way she’s always done them, I’m sticking with what my readers like best: real reviews of places we’ve actually visited.
Those who have been reading Travels with Children for a while may remember my Disneyland hotel-choice dilemma. I made and canceled numerous reservations as I found better prices or better promotions or better locations. On occasion, I even asked my husband where he thought we should stay.
In the end we went with the Comfort Inn Maingate.
It wasn’t a slam-dunk decision, mind you. After reading reviews on TripAdvisor and looking at Google street view and poring over the hotel’s website, we were pretty sure it would work for our six-night stay, but we agreed that if it wasn’t up to snuff we’d leave after the first night and find something better.
That was not necessary.
I booked the hotel at an association rate that’s usually a bit lower than the AAA/senior rates at Choice Hotels, netting us six nights in a two-queen, two-bunk, two-room with two bathrooms family suite for $102/night. As our trip dates neared, I checked the rates online and saw that the price had dropped, and was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to rebook for the lower $95 rate. That $95 included free parking, free breakfast, and free wi-fi. Not bad.
I knew from my research that the location would be decent. Though it was a beyond walking distance to Disneyland for most people, it was a mere three-minute drive from Disneyland’s Toy Story parking lot, and about 15 from the Mickey & Friends parking structure. We never had trouble with traffic, and at the end of the day, it was nice to have a short ride back to our lodging. With restaurants and stores nearby, the location was good.
But would we actually like the room? The rate seemed almost too good to be true. Would we be happy there?
When we drove up, the kids gasped in delight. “It’s a MOtel!” they said. Apparently parking right in front of the rooms is rare enough for us that they thought it exciting. The birds of paradise blooming in the parking lot also drew oohs and aahs as our first real taste of California.
I checked in and asked for a room on the second floor, which I’d read might be the quietest. We were given room 220 at the back of the courtyard and parked next to the stairs. I took in my flashlight and did the first check I always do at hotels, for bedbugs, before letting anyone or anything else inside. Being satisfied that we were ok, we moved in.
The family suites at the Comfort Inn Maingate have been constructed by dividing a room in two and giving half of it to each of the adjacent rooms. One of the half-size bunk rooms gets the extra window, and the other gets the second bath. Paying a few dollars extra per night for the second bath was well worth it, especially since it meant we also had a second closet. With all of our luggage, we had plenty of room to stash our stuff.
The bunk room with a real door that closed was also a benefit when our children awakened at 4:45 a.m., having not yet adjusted to the new time zone. They could play quietly, read, or watch TV without disturbing us.
The two queen beds were comfortable, and even the small square pillows that hotels seem to stock these days were good enough. We had an upholstered chair and small table plus the dresser/TV stand with dorm fridge and microwave in the main room, and the bunk room had its own dresser with TV plus a kid-sized table and chairs. The safe in the corner was locked unless we wanted to pay a fee to access it.
This is an older building but it’s in good repair. Everything in our room worked as it should, except a sink with switched faucets and a delay in getting hot water to the shower in the morning, which were minor inconveniences. The room was extremely quiet and set back well away from the street.
We didn’t use the pool because we were too busy seeing the sights, so I can’t comment on it. There was a guest laundry area adjacent to the outdoor pool.
Breakfast was complimentary each morning, just a bit on the better side of basic. Besides the usual cereal, toast, and pastries, there were make-your-own waffles, scrambled eggs, and sausage. A refrigerator stocked yogurt and boiled eggs, and fresh fruit was available. The fare was identical each day of our stay, and while not exciting, there was certainly enough that everyone got a good start to the day.
The breakfast room itself was not large, with seating for perhaps 25 people, but picnic tables just outside the doors provided an acceptable overflow seating area. Most mornings, we were at breakfast just after it opened, and everything was well stocked. The only day there were empty shelves was the day we ate later in the breakfast time.
Though the Comfort Inn Maingate is not fancy, it was for us the perfect combination of price, location, and space. Having a room where each of the six of us can sleep on a bed for under $100/night is a bargain.
I recommended the Comfort Inn Maingate to a friend who was visiting just a week later with her family of six and they had a similar pleasant experience. When I started to apologize for the basic breakfast fare, she told me it was much, much better than what they’d been offered at their Days Inn in San Diego.
Families, especially with three or four children, visiting Disneyland on a budget should consider the Comfort Inn Maingate. We’re glad we did.