Hilton Garden Inn Hotel and Resturants Review
I’ve been to Arizona several times over the last ten years to visit family. However, this time was a bit different because of an event that only happens once in a teenagers life, high school graduation.
It also meant that at a specific time and day I had to be at a high school football field to cheer as loudly as my lungs would allow. We would have to make our way through the congestion; the high school parking lot traffic, the crowds, and listening to the loud air horns people use when their graduate walked across the stage. More on that later, first we needed to survive to get through TSA at the Los Angeles Airport and a one hour flight to Arizona.
Westin Self Parking
After making it through L.A. traffic, my sister and I made it to the Westin self-parking lot. We found a great deal to self-park for three days for a total cost of twenty-five dollars.
As far as L.A. parking rates go, that’s considered a day rate if you go to certain restaurants or shopping malls. Travel tip: The Westin parking shuttle runs every 15 minutes, so plan ahead and add extra travel time.
Once we received our boarding tickets we made our way over to the Southwest check-in gate. LAX has been under construction for some time now, but for anyone who has an interest, the major restaurants inside the Southwest terminal are California Pizza Kitchen and Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. Favorite travel snacks: Although you’re not allowed to bring fruit through TSA, I like to travel with a bag of trail mix, nutrition bars, and a bag of popcorn.
After consuming my complimentary bag of pretzels, peanuts and non-alcoholic beverage we arrived in Phoenix, Arizona. The signs to the baggage claim/rental cars are clearly marked within the Sky Harbor International Airport. I was able to pack only a small carry on suitcase since it was a short trip.
We were greeted by the Arizona heat immediately stepping out of the airport. During our entire trip, the weather in Arizona was an average of 99° degrees Fahrenheit. We crossed a small path to wait for the free rental car shuttle bus. The most convenient process of renting a car in Arizona is that all of the rental car companies are located in one location.
Alamo (Rental Car Company)
Because of the busy holiday weekend ahead, there were a lot of passengers at the rental car location. We received a free upgrade to a full-service rental car which came in handy later when my older sister and her children came to the hotel for dinner.
Travel tip: If you’re traveling with small kids the rental car company offers a car seat for an additional $20 dollars (booked through Costco). However, be aware they will not assist you with installing the car seat because of Federal regulations. Additionally, if you book your rental car through Costco you can add an additional driver at no cost.
Hilton Garden Inn Hotel
The Hilton Garden Inn Hotel is located near Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona. The property is located close to Sky Harbor International Airport which makes it very convenient for travelers. Tempe Marketplace an outdoor mall is located right next to the Hilton Garden Inn Hotel which allows for quick trips to nearby shops and restaurants.
Upon our afternoon arrival, we briefly waited for the hotel staff at the check-in desk. As we waited we looked around the hotel lobby snack bar, buffet, and a restaurant bar/grill. The pool is located right next to the check-in desk and looked really inviting in the warm summer heat.
The room offered two queen size beds, a microwave, refrigerator, Keurig coffee maker, two comfortable seating chairs, air conditioner, and a comfortable size bathroom that included Neutrogena toiletries. A lesson learned is a lesson earned is a rhyme that became relevant as I didn’t take pictures of the hotel room when we first arrived. I can say that the bedding was super soft and the queen sized bed was big enough for two people. Before we checked out of our hotel I managed to take these pictures.
Thirsty Lion Gastropub & Grill
Later that evening we decided to pick up our dinner at the gastropub and grill located in the Tempe Marketplace. After much debate, we finally decided to order two pizzas (pepperoni and roasted artichoke), grilled steak salad, sauteed brussel sprouts, and french fries.
The favorite dish of the night was the grilled steak salad. The salad had a tangy salad dressing and was topped with a seasoned steak. Travel tip: If you’re trying to feed a large group of six or more people go to Native New Yorker grill and wings restaurant instead. They offer large New York-style pizzas and a wings combo that will ensure a satisfying family dinner.
For more information on Thirsty Lion Gastropub & Grill menu prices and locations check out their website here.
Before the late afternoon festivities began we went to the pool and enjoyed the sunshine and relaxing atmosphere. There always seems to be last minute errands that need to be completed during any major celebration such as a wedding and graduation. This trip was no exception and included visiting Target (located in Tempe Marketplace), a local bank branch and a makeup artist.
Arriving back at the hotel we decided to grab lunch before the graduation. The Great American Grill located inside the hotel offers an indoor and outdoor seating area.
I’d recommend the chicken buffalo wings and french fries. The chicken wings weren’t too spicy but had just enough kick to make my nose runny. If you don’t like spicy food an alternative option is a cheeseburger and french fries which were also highly recommended.
The graduation ceremony was a beautiful and joyful experience. I send well wishes to the 2018 graduating class on their future endeavors and an awe-inspiring appreciation to all the parents who helped them achieve their success so far.
Back To California
The next morning, sadly it was our time to check out of our room. We left our keys inside the room for an easy check out process. Which was really convenient because we had an early morning flight back to LAX. Although every accommodation was fulfilled, there were some areas to improve such as the itchy quality of our additional blanket and the hotel’s rollaway bed policy.
All in all, our hotel stay was a comfortable experience. Travel tip: If you don’t plan on renting a car during your travels I would recommend using the complimentary airport shuttle service to/from the hotel. Make sure that you call the front desk at least twenty minutes before your arrival/departure time.
The Hilton Garden Inn is located at 2102 E. Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe, Arizona, 85281. For more information check out their website at Hilton Garden Inn Phoenix.
If you like this story check out my other blog posts on my time spent in California Downtown Los Angeles: Gentle Monster And Sightseeing and Minority Business Opportunity Day Conference Overview.
Do you have any summer travel plans? I would love to hear your stories in the comments down below.
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