I gave California a chance.

A road trip from LA County up north: California redeems itself.

Great for USC, LACC, Exposition Park, Staples.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by marseilles on June 7, 2012

Vagabond Inn is on Figueroa Street, right beside USC, about half a mile north of Exposition Park, and a mile south of the LA Convention Center. It's a single five-minute bus ride to either Exposition Park or LACC, and this, plus the price, were the main reasons why we chose Vagabond Inn for our LA stay. My husband had to go to LACC and I wanted to bring our son to the museums at Exposition Park. Staying at Vagabond Inn was very convenient for both, and we saved a lot on parking by just taking the bus.

Because Vagabond is right beside USC, there are a lot eateries just a few steps away. Vagabond does include a simple free breakfast with the room, though: bagels and croissants that you can grab from the lobby in the morning.

The room itself had all the basics we needed. Cleanliness was typical of well-reviewed two-star motels: clean sheets, well-vacuumed, but the carpet did not seem to have been shampooed as frequently as carpets in three-star hotels. Personal refrigerator, desk/dresser, arm chair, CRT TV, microwave, coffee maker, and a window-type airconditioner that was placed in a recess that doubled as the closet, so it wasn't too noisy.

The service was mostly fantastic; both women we spoke to at the front desk (they didn't wear nametags so I wasn't able to get their names) were very helpful. At around 11 PM, though, when I called the front desk, I got no reply.

I had read that two miles south of this hotel is a part of LA known to be a "bad" part of town, but I felt safe walking to Exposition Park in the daytime. Vagabond Inn itself is along a busy and brightly lit part of Figueroa area (it helps that there's a car dealership with bright lights, right across the street).

Overall we were satisfied with our stay and would stay here again if we needed to be near downtown or near the LACC area.
Vagabond Inn Los Angeles USC
Los Angeles, California, 90007

Two-star accommodations with extras.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by marseilles on May 25, 2012

It's a two-star motel. Let's clear that up first. So don't expect extraordinarily fancy lodging. The furniture, bed covers and carpets are tired. The exteriors are typical of a motel. And the compound is on busy North Fremont Street.

But there are a few extras that make you feel like you're getting a little bit more than what you pay for. Our two-bedroom cottage would be great for a group of friends or a family: it comes with a fully-equipped kitchen (including a waffle-maker in the cupboard!). There is, believe it or not, a spa room, with a dry sauna. This is also a scuba diver-friendly motel, with wash areas, places to hang wet suits, and drums to put equipment in. WiFi is free. No breakfast, but there is a Denny's just down the street. Our room was halfway into the lot, and was quiet, even if North Fremont is busy. Apparently, some of the other rooms have jacuzzis and fireplaces.

So all other things being equal, if you're looking for a Monterey motel in this price range, Lone Oak Lodge does have a few extras that make it deserve a second look.

Lone Oak Lodge
2221 N. Fremont Street
Monterey, California, 93940
(831) 372-4924

Motel price, but a B&B feel.

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by marseilles on May 24, 2012

Beach Bungalow Inn and Suites was was well-reviewed on hotels.com and Tripadvisor. A "boutique motel," someone called it: a motel set up with a hotel-feel inside it: nice, new and clean interiors, and very good personalized service. Still, I was a little nervous on the drive to Morro Bay. I had stayed at name-brand motels before, only to be disappointed, and sometimes disgusted by dirty carpets or lumpy beds.

The price was difficult to beat, though: the two-bedroom suite was less than $200 a night; a fantastic price for our party of three adults and a child.

So I tried to manage my family's expectations by saying, "Hey, it's a motel that's run like a family-owned B&B," and held my breath as we drove into the compound, hoping it was going to be true.

I was not disappointed at all. Brittany greeted us with a warm smile as we walked into the office. After handling the usual paperwork and swiping our card, she showed us to our lodging for the night, the Blue Butterfly room. The front door opened to a king room, separated from the queen room by a bedroom door. The two rooms shared a bathroom (shower only; no bathtub).

But what was striking from the moment we opened the door was how clean and new everything looked. My husband immediately said, "Wow, this place is so nice, I want to spend another night!" The interiors looked extremely well-maintinaed, with charming shutter grills covering the windows for privacy.

There were the small touches of luxury: flat-screen TVs in each room. A gas-powered and thermostat-controlled fireplace in the king bedroom. Neutrogena bath products (but only one small soap bar for everyone to share). A small refrigerator (no freezer) and a coffee maker (no microwave). Bathrobes and bedroom slippers. Five pillows per bed and an extra pillow in the cupboard. A massage shower-head. Certainly not your average motel room.

More than that, there were the personal touches that made this "boutique motel" feel like home. On the dresser of the king bedroom was a little journal where guests were encouraged to write about their experiences in Morro Bay. It was moving and heartwarming to read other guests' comments, and we were happy to add our own too.

Beach Bungalow Inn and Suites is walking distance from the beach, and walking distance from several eateries around the neighborhood. The room rate includes a breakfast coupon that you can use at any of three restaurants: Frankie and Lola's, Hungry Fisherman, or Mi Casa. The hotel is pet-friendly, but very clean.

When planning this Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip road trip, I was choosing between Morro Bay and Cambria as our second stopover. If only for Beach Bungalow Inn and Suites, I'm glad I chose Morro Bay!

Beach Bungalow Inn & Suites
1050 Morro Avenue
Morro Bay, California, 93442
(805) 772-9700


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