Good budget option for a road-trip on California’s Highway 1 – Days Inn Morro Bay

California’s Highway 1 along the dramatic coast line between San Francisco and Los Angeles is one of my favorite road trips in the world and I have done it at least 10 times. I usually stop at least one time to break up the drive, often in Monterey or Santa Barbara, but for this trip we wanted to try out Morro Bay, the first beach town South of Big Sur. As part of my “Battle of the Budget Hotels”, I picked the Days Inn for the one night stop over – and it turned out to be one of the better budget hotels I have tried!

Location: The Days Inn is located on Main Street, just a few blocks after exiting Highway 1 and three blocks from the water front, making it easy to reach on our road trip and convenient to the restaurants, shops and sights along the waterfront. While it is on the major road into town and our room faced the street, we didn’t have any noise issues – the town is pretty quiet at night.

Service/Rewards: The front desk was professional and checked us in quickly, without too many words exchanged – I’d call it slightly better than average for budget hotels. Housekeeping had cleaned and prepared our room well. Breakfast was presented well and all items were replaced quickly and kept stocked well during our visit.
We stayed on a Wyndham Rewards promotion, earning us 5,000 bonus points in addition to the points earned for the stay. I did not have Wyndham status at the time and there were no other benefits to membership.

cal-daysinn-morro-bay-bed2Room: Our king room is reached via an exterior corridor and was recently renovated, reflecting the current Days Inn design scheme and well maintained. There are soft carpets in the bedroom, modern, dark wood furniture with metal accents and a nice decor in warm beige/brown tones. The bed has a high headboard and good quality sheets and pillows and a simple comforter. The lamps on the night stands added much needed power outlets bedside, a thoughtful touch in bringing older motels up to modern standards. The large room also offered a sitting group with two comfortable chairs and a table, as well as a cupboard with a microwave and flat-screen TV, as well as a small fridge and coffee/tea maker. The bedroom had a large, old-style heater/cooler unit on the wall, which was a little noisy but worked fine. There is free WiFi internet available to all guests.
The bathroom was partially renovated with modern, wood-look tiles and older granite/stone sink and shower. The shower cubicle has three walls and a curved rod & curtain. You also get good quality towels, a hairdryer and standard DaysInn toiletries.

cal-daysinn-morro-bay-bath-cRestaurant/Amenities: The Days Inn Morro Bay is a roadside motel, with two rows of rooms on two stories, facing a parking lot in the middle. There is plenty of free parking, open to the road. The hotel has a guest laundry and ice machine, but no pool or gym. There is a small outside sitting area near the parking lot, not necessarily a place I’d want to hang out.
As any Days Inn, the hotel offers a free continental breakfast. It’s served in the small lobby and shared with the reception. There are three tables for 8 people and a buffet offering coffee/tea, juice, cereal and yogurt, as well as toast and jam. Similar to other Wyndham properties, it’s about as basic as a continental breakfast can be and more a “checkbox exercise” than a proper first meal of the day!

Bottomline: The Days Inn Morro Bay falls into what I’d consider the middle group of budget hotels: It’s an older roadside motel with exterior corridors that has been recently renovated and is well managed. If you can live with the motel layout and the older building, you get a large, modern room with all the amenities including a TV with cable service, fridge and microwave, as well as a basic continental breakfast. The room is the greatest asset and comparable to a Holiday Inn Express or Hampton Inn – but the building, breakfast, amenities and service are not. While the summer peak weekend rate of $136 is high for a Days Inn, it was good value compared to similar motels in Morro Bay and I’d stay here again. If all you need is a clean bed for the night and a cup of coffee in the morning, the Days Inn Morro Bay will work just fine. If you have higher expectations for a hotel stay, you’ll have to look at more expensive properties in town.  When comparing this hotel, keep in mind that a weekday in winter, the rates are much lower and were recently around $75 including taxes.

UPDATE: Since my stay, the Days Inn has dropped out of the Wyndham group and is now operated independently as the “Harbor House Inn”. While it is still representative for a Days Inn in California, you will no longer be able to earn or redeem points in the Wyndham Rewards program, the main reason I selected this hotel over others in Morro Bay. I would no longer consider it for a stay.

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