It’s not always the features that a hotel lists on their website that become a guest’s favorites. It can be the unstated amenities that add up to a great hotel stay.
I started staying at the Hilton Garden Inn Aberdeen City Centre in Aberdeen, Scotland in September, just three weeks after the property opened for business. This Hilton is a brand new building, not just a renamed existing hotel. The newness has been wonderful, especially in a country where many hotels are in much older buildings. Old historic hotels are amazing to stay in, but the hard-to-access power outlets and older plumbing aren’t my favorite.
I’ve since stayed at this HGI in Aberdeen on a few occasions while in town for business, adding up to about 30 nights. That’s a lot of nights to get familiar with the nuances of a hotel and its staff though all of this I felt on my first week stay.
What impresses me most about this Hilton Garden Inn is its staff. Yes, you might be thinking after 30 nights I know most of them, and yes I probably do by now. But from the minute I stepped up to the registration desk on Day 1, the staff has been very friendly, attentive, and they remember my name. I was shocked that my name was remembered on my 2nd visit, as my 1st visit was only 5 days long. I’ve stayed repeatedly at other hotels and it’s frustrating to be asked “Have you stayed with us before?” when you checked in with the same person the week before. Not so at this Hilton. Remembering who I am goes a long way to helping me feel comfortable when I’m away from home.
Since most of us want more than great hotel employees, here are my other ‘top impressions’ for this property and reasons to stay:
- A wonderful rain shower that is consistently temperature-controlled. I set the dial to my desired temperature and that’s what I get. No surges of hot or cold water during busy morning shower time. And the rain shower head is soooo wonderful. I’ve had to add an extra five minutes to my shower routine because I ever want to turn it off. My nephew visited me in Aberdeen and the shower totally impressed him also.
- Shampoos and conditioners that I actually love! It’s Neutrogena, which is available in many hotels, but these hair products are thicker than what I’ve found in the U.S. A different manufacturer, I guess.
- Bath towels that about 5′ long and thick! Granted, the hotel is new and the towels haven’t been washed 10,000 times yet, but the length along is very impressive. These are towels definitely worthy of hanging over the shower to use for a second day. One day I received towels that weren’t as large and it was very disappointing to not have the luxury. I hope this was a fluke and not a sign that smaller towels are coming.
- A hair dryer that makes short order of drying my thick hair. The wattage isn’t shown, but it’s got to be a good 1800 watts or so.
- A Sleep System bed so you can adjust the firmness of the mattress, with a dial on both sides of the bed – a very comfortable bed with nice pillows.
- A desk chair that actually goes up as high as I like it. It’s got a tall back, is very comfortable for my long evenings at the desk and can be set higher than most hotel desk chairs I’ve used.
- Easily accessible power outlets. On my first visit I only saw power outlets beneath the desk, which weren’t easy to get to. But then I spotted a label on the desk pointed to two power outlets on the side of the desk. These are very handy. One of these is used when drying my hair, as the UK custom seems to be no outlets in the bathroom.
- This one may seem little, but it impresses me! The lamps all have very visible off and on switches. No fumbling inside a lamp shade to figure out if the switch it up by the bulb or down on the base. My favorite is the floor lamp with its step-on power button.
The room is overall very cozy, the bed is extremely comfortable and the corner chair is great for reading – for the few times I’ve relaxed with a cup of tea. The room is smaller in size than most U.S. hotel rooms, though is typical for European-size hotel rooms. I’ve gotten used to the size after my initial feeling of small-ness. The suitcase stand just gets put up in the hallway. The hotel offers in-room exercise mats. I only see a place to lay this in the hallway as well, though on my next visit I should request this mat and see where it fits.
From a solo-female traveler perspective, the restaurant is definitely comfortable to enjoy a solo meal in at any time of day. The staff will engage in conversation if you’d like or will leave you quietly alone if you prefer. The bar area is also very comfortable. It’s not a typical guys’ bar but rather a well-lit open area with both bar seating and table seating. Since it’s located between the main desk area and the restaurant, it has an open feel where you can quietly enjoy a glass of wine or watch the activities in the main areas. This Hilton is a great hotel for business travelers. Quiet enough to get work done, with amenities and staff to help you feel comfortable and relaxed in this home away from home.
Parking in their car park is the one area that’s not my favorite, at least not on Tues/Wed/Thurs evenings. It’s great if you get return to the hotel by 5:30 or 6:00pm, but once most business people return in the evening, the parking lot fills up. There is a public parking lot down the street that handles overflow parking, but this is a safety issue for solo female travelers (and those who don’t like walking in the cold, rainy or snowy Scotland weather!). A valet parking option would be nice as I will not be going to the public lot alone in the dark. Since the majority of guests seem to take taxis, this may not be an issue for most. I’ve gotten to like driving on the left-side of the road (or the ‘right’ side as they say in the UK), so I rent a car and use the parking facilities. On the Fri-Mon, there has been no issue with parking since most business travelers are gone for the weekend.
For your travels to Aberdeen, check out this newest hotel of the Hilton brands. And don’t be surprised if you’re adding extra minutes to your shower also!