Surprisingly nice budget option in Monterey, California: Super 8 Monterey

As part of my “Battle of the Budget Hotels” tour of America, I booked a stay at the Super 8 Monterey hotel during a getaway along California’s Highway 1. It was better than some of my other budget hotel experiences – but at an upscale price of $221/night in expensive Northern California during a peak season weekend, expectations are higher, too. Find out the bottomline of what to expect in my review below!

Location: The Super 8 Monterey is located on a major commercial road about 10-15 minutes drive from Monterey downtown or the Aquarium on Cannery Row. There are a few gas stations, convenience stores, other budget hotels on the street and a Denny’s across the road. That’s a less convenient location than the similarly priced budget hotels in walking distance from downtown.

Service/Rewards: The older couple that checked me in seemed to be the owner/operator. They completed the check-in and check-out quickly and were polite and professional, although there was about as little interaction as you can have. Our room was spotlessly clean and so were the grounds and the small breakfast area in the lobby.
Super 8 participates in the Wyndham Rewards program and I used the GoFast Cash & Points rate of 3,000 points & $62, making for a great redemption value of more than 5 cents/point – something you won’t find often with the bigger hotel rewards programs. There were no benefits for being a member in the program during the stay.

Room: Our standard room was the biggest surprise of this stay. Despite this being an older motel, the room was nicely renovated in the most current Super 8 decor. It has a comfortable queen-size bed with an iconic Monterey coast image as the headboard. The wall is painted in an accent green, matching the yellow/green bedspread. The bed has three pillows and a sheet/wool blanket as cover, very basic but clean. The night stands, drawer set with flat screen TV and work desk were matching, red’ish wood furniture and a rolling work chair fit the ensemble. A small fridge and a coffee/tea maker are provided and in working order.
cal-super8-monterey-bed2The doors to the built-in closet and bathroom were also new – but the bathroom itself was not remodeled. The shower-over-tub combination has a curtain with a curved road like you’ll find it in many mid-or upscale US hotels these days. The sink has a stone/marble countertop with plenty of space for your toiletries. The towels provided were complete and of good quality, but the toiletries provided were as basic as they come.
cal-super8-monterey-bath-cThe free WiFi internet was reliable and very fast at an average speed of 19.1 Mbps – that’s much better than I’ve had at more expensive hotels in tech-savy California!

Restaurant/Amenities: The Super 8 Monterey is an old-style, roadside motel with parking in front of the room and the door and window facing the parking lot. There are no amenities, like a laundry room, pool or gym. You do get a free breakfast, but don’t get your hopes up – the breakfast area is in the small reception/lobby, with only one table for 4 people. It includes juice, coffee, toast and packaged pastries and packaged cereal – that’s about as basic a “free breakfast” as you can offer and we skipped it.

cal-super8-monterey-breakfastBottomline: The Super 8 Monterey is recently renovated and offers rooms as nice as a Super 8 can be, following the design guidelines closely and looking just like in the marketing pictures. You’ll also get free parking, cable TV and WiFi internet, as well as a very basic breakfast. With sky high prices in California, and even more on a peak-season weekend, it’s hard to find any good value in hotels. The cash price of $221 is pretty outrageous for a Super 8 – until you realize that a simple Holiday Inn Express runs over $350 on peak days. That makes our cash & points rate worth $92 total a steal. If all you need is a clean room on your drive down the beautiful California coast, the Super 8 Monterey will fit the bill and I was pleasantly surprised how nice a Super 8 can be – it’s much nicer than some of my other budget hotel stays I tried on this trip. If you want to explore Monterey on foot, I’d recommend a hotel closer to downtown. If you are traveling during less busy times and/or your budget allows for more, there are plenty of options that offer more for more money – I would recommend to do that!

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