Best Western Lees Motor Inn ~ Chamberlain, South Dakota

While on our way home from the Black Hills region, we spent a night in Chamberlain, South Dakota, right along the beautiful Missouri River. We stayed at the Best Western Lees Motor Inn, that while showing its age, was a wonderful location to stay. This Best Western is two levels, with doors on the outside. It is right down by the river, so you can easily access a river walk path to the north, and there are a few restaurants close by.

Our room was right next to the lobby on the lower level. We were able to park our car right in front of our room to unload our few bags. The room opened to a spacious bedroom area, that held a bed, table/desk, armchair, desk chair, and TV stand with TV, fridge and microwave.

The small doorway led to the sink and closet area. The sink was to the left and closet to the right.

The doorway beyond the closet led to the rest of the bathroom facilities.


On of the really unique features of this hotel was that they had a separate building for the pool area. We had the whole pool area to ourselves the night we were there. It was a huge space and also contained the ice machine. Note: They do lock it after pool hours, so get your ice early!

I didn’t get any pictures of breakfast, but they had a wide selection in a room off of the lobby area. (It actually would have been on the opposite side of the wall from the TV in our room.) They had several tables to dine at and the selection had several hot options including biscuits and gravy, eggs, and a waffle maker.

We really enjoyed our stay at the Best Western in Chamberlain, and enjoyed all the time we spent in that peaceful town!

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Days Inn Spearfish ~ Spearfish, South Dakota

After exploring Spearfish Canyon, we found our hotel for the night. The Days Inn is located just off the interstate on the west edge of town. There are several shops and restaurants nearby.

I was a bit put off right away when we checked in as we were told we were “lucky” they had a place for us since they were overbooked. Seeing as how I had reserved our room months before, I didn’t appreciate being told that! Especially since the parking lot never even filled that night and I maybe saw two other guests in the hotel during our time there.

We were given a room on the second level, which was fine as we had minimal luggage to lug up the stairs to our room. I also always appreciate an upper floor level room as it means no one is walking above you.

Upon entering the room a small closet space was to the left with a luggage rack, along with the sink. Clearly they’ve had issues with people using their nice white wash cloths for makeup removal or on their motorcycles in the past, so they had a specially marked colored cloth that could be used for that purpose.


The rest of the bathroom was in a room off to the right. Standard run of the mill toilet and shower/tub.


Our room was quite spacious with two queen beds, 2 arm chairs, a tv stand with tv, microwave and mini fridge, and also a random table.


The table really threw me off as there’s no chair that actually functioned with it, so it seemed kind of pointless. I also thought it was really odd to have a hotel room that wasn’t completely carpeted (I’ve only had hard floor in beach resort rooms prior to this.) It was really weird to have laminate wood on part of it, but carpet by the beds. The whole thing made me wonder how clean the floor really got with housekeeping having to clean it in two different ways.


We did not breakfast at the hotel, but they did have a small breakfast area right down by the lobby. Overall, I was not impressed with the facility for the price we paid. I would have expected a little better given this ran me twice as much as many Days Inns typically do, but it also seemed to be the best price in town.

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Best Western Ramkota ~ Rapid City, South Dakota

This past fall, the annual fall pastors conference for our state was held in the conference center attached to the Best Western Ramkota, so it was suggested that all participants book a room there. While it was not the quality of last year’s Holiday Inn stay, the hotel was still decent, but I do think next year I’d stay somewhere on the other side of the interstate or closer to downtown where I tend to spend most of my time during the conference.

Our room was located on the first floor of this sprawling building. We had to drive around the side and park in a lot closer to our room for ease of access. Our room had two queen beds and a sliding patio door that led you to a “lovely” view of the parking lot.


The coffee maker and a large mirror were located just to the left upon entering, right outside the bathroom. I actually like having a counter a mirror space outside the bathroom as it can be a great place to do hair/make up without hogging the bathroom, or trying to cram both of us in the bathroom space at one time! As you can see the bathroom was a bit cramped!

Our two beds were on one wall, and a large TV sat on an entertainment center that also housed a microwave and mini fridge. There also was a small table/desk and chair.

The Best Western Ramkota in Rapid City does have a few fun perks in that they have a restaurant onsite (Minerva’s, although this means no free breakfast included.) and they have both a standard swimming pool and a waterpark pool in separate rooms across the hall from each other. Due to having the waterpark, they require all guests to wear wristbands if using either of the pool area, but this helps keep out non-paying people from using it! We didn’t use the waterpark space as it’s just us two adults, but did enjoy some time in the pool and hot tub. The main pool area also contains a small kiddie pool off to the left of the entrance, the hot tub is to the right.

Because of the hotel’s crazy expansion of buildings, there also is a nice courtyard area in the middle. You can access if from several hallways and also the main pool area. They have several tables out in that area where you could enjoy a meal. Some lower rooms even open up to the courtyard, and they also have little doggie clean up bag posts so you could take your furry friends out to that space.

While this is not my favorite place to stay in Rapid City, it worked out just fine for the time we were there. We probably won’t stay here again, but I wouldn’t discourage people from staying here either! For me the location just wasn’t as great as others.

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The Westin Tampa Waterside ~ Tampa, FL

Rev Sites and Bites here. This past July I traveled to Tampa, FL as a delegate to our church body convention. For the 7 nights that I was in Tampa, I stayed at the Westin Tampa Waterside. Since their were 1400+ participants taking part in this convention, we were all pre-assigned to hotels within walking distance of the Tampa Convention Center. Fortunately for myself, the Westin was very close and I could see the convention center from my room. The large four story building directly across from my room on the water was the convention center.

The room was very clean and well kept. The construction of the building was such that I could not hear any noise from the hallway. Their were no signs of any wear and tear on the carpet, nor any paint or wallpaper peeling. Overall a great room.

The breakfast that we had was catered by the hotel for our group. This breakfast of eggs and other standard breakfast meal items was delicious. We had the buffet option a few mornings and one morning the staff brought us the food at our tables. Either way, it was a delicious meal to get me going in the morning.

Though I lacked the time and attire to use it, I was impressed with the fitness area and amount of equipment offered.


The pool area was impressive and looked out on one of the waterways that connected to Tampa Bay. The pool was close enough to the water to see boats docked along the waterway. It was a bit of a maze to find the pool, but the signs were well marked for the hunt. One had to go to the main elevator, go to the third floor, then exit the elevator and go down a hall to the private elevator to the pool. The hall was thankfully clearly marked with a sign and a mural of a person swimming to guide the way.

There were many great shops within walking distance of the hotel as well as access to the Tampa Trolley just across the bridge that gave easy access to downtown Tampa.

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Baymont Inn~ Grand Forks, North Dakota

In early July, Andrew’s grandfather passed away, and we needed somewhere close to stay during that time. His grandparents farmhouse is in a small town west of Grand Forks, so we opted to stay in Grand Forks overnight.

This Baymont seems to be in a newly developed part of town and our hotel seemed very new. We were greeted warmly by the clerk at the front desk and quickly given keys to our room. The elevator is right by the desk and if you are traveling with a pet, they even had a nice water bowl right by the desk.

There was a small closet to the right upon entering our room and the wall also was home to the sink area. The bathroom contained a toilet and tub/shower just off to our left.

The room was quite spacious and the decor had a nice modern vibe to it.


We reserved a king size bed, which was flanked by a nightstand on each side, and also a small ottoman on one side which worked well to store our luggage atop.

Centered in front of the bed was the TV stand, that also contained a small fridge and microwave. A desk was located just beyond that.


The hotel has a pool, which I did manage to snag a picture of, but due to being there for a funeral, we didn’t end up using it. I did think it was nice that they had a small shower area right into it. So many places say you should shower before entering, but generally speaking, never give you that area.


The breakfast area was huge. I took a few pictures upon our arrival as the area was empty and nice and clean. They had tons of seating and a really nice buffet area. We did not end up indulging in breakfast as we decided to try out the Tim Horton’s that was just across the street.

Finally the lobby area itself was huge and very modern. There was plenty of seating space and even a gas fireplace for those cooler North Dakota months.


If we ever need a hotel in the Grand Forks area again, this place is at the top of my list. The price was right and the hotel had a lot to offer.

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Days Inn ~ Austin, Minnesota

On our way down to the Quad Cities area, we made a pit stop in Austin, Minnesota for the night. While there, we stayed at the Days Inn. It was a small hotel, but the price was right, it earned us more points with Wyndham rewards, and the location was convenient.

Check in was very easy for us upon arrival at the Days Inn. There were two levels at this hotel (no elevator), but our room was just up the stairs one the far end of the hotel. We were able to park our car close to the back door and easily use that to access our room.

The bathroom was off to the right upon entry, and we were pleasantly surprised with the newer looking vanity top and a whirlpool tub! Yes, I did take advantage of that!

Our king size bed was centered nicely in the middle of the room. Excuse the chaos of the picture. I snagged these in the morning before we left!


Similar to our Days Inn stay in Des Moines a few months prior, they had a “closet” space located on shared wall of the bathroom/bedroom space. I think it’s odd that once again it wasn’t in the entry way or closed off, but this seems to maybe be a new trend in Days Inns.


In front of the bed was a large TV stand/dresser and a smaller stand that contained a microwave and fridge, with a desk off to the side.


The Days Inn also had a small breakfast area, with a separate room that contained tables and the coffee maker area. As is typical of Days Inns, the breakfast options were limited, but we still found something good to eat.


Overall the hotel isn’t much to write home about, but it worked for a place to lay your head. It was located just off I-90 and near both a Walmart and Hy-vee, as well as several restaurants.

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Days Inn & Suites by Wyndham Des Moines Airport ~ Des Moines, Iowa

Over Memorial Day Weekend, we made a trip down to visit friends in Southern Illinois. We left after Andrew was done with work, and knew we would only make it part way so we booked a hotel in Des Moines, Iowa for the night. We opted for the Days Inn near the airport as it was budget friendly, closer to the south end of town for an easy getaway the next morning, and part of our Wyndham rewards program.

The parking lot for the hotel is a little interesting to get into, as it’s behind another hotel and off of a busy street that is rather difficult to make a left turn on when heading south. It also is a very unique building as it appears to be two separate hotel buildings that were joined in the middle to create a hotel twice the size of a normal Days Inn.

We got lucky, and after checking in, our room was in the same building as the lobby, so it was just a short elevator ride up to our room. Upon entering, the bathroom was to the left, and a small closet containing a luggage holder was on the right.

We had a king size bed that faced the TV set. It was later when we arrived to town, but if I remember correctly we did watch a little bit of TV before turning in for the night.


I did find it awkward that despite the closet in the entry area, there was a separate rod on the one side of the bed, along with the ironing board. Why not just stick it in the closet? Just past the TV there was also a desk. As you can see, the lighting in the room really was not helpful in getting decent pictures.


The one other thing the room had to offer was a cozy chair on the other side of the bed. As you can see, for us it turned into a luggage holder for the night!


The Days Inn near the airport worked for the night, and would be a great place to stay if you need to get there the night before a flight or the night a flight returns as they offer transport to the airport, (which is right across the street), and also have deals for leaving your car parked there. It worked for a cheap night stay for us, but I wouldn’t want to stay here long term.

Our breakfast selection was good, and we did end up staying a little longer in the morning while we waited for a storm to roll through. The weird thing was they were broadcasting previous news and weather when we were trying to get updated weather info from the local news channel! The hotel also has a pool, but since it was in the other building, we never ventured over to check it out.

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Microtel Inn and Suites by Wyndham ~ Moorhead, Minnesota

The night before Andrew’s half marathon in Fargo, we stayed across the Red River in Moorhead, Minnesota, as prices were slightly less. I was a little nervous to stay in a Microtel, as the one other memory I have of staying at one was in Tennessee when I was 11 on our way down to Florida and I just recall lots and lots of big bugs making their way into our room! Ha! But that could just be because we were in the South! This Microtel, however, greatly impressed me as it looked to be quite new and close to a plethora of restaurants just across the interstate, (including a Noodles and Co., which is a staple before any race Andrew runs!)

Our room was on either the second or third floor and was very spacious! The bathroom was off to the left and while small/standard hotel size, it had lots of shelving space to store items.20190517_151454

The room was divided into two sections, the main living area and the bedroom area with a small divider between.


As you can see the TV could be viewed from either area and the desk area was somewhat shared between the two.


To the left in the living space area there also was a small kitchenette area that contained the bare basics of coffee maker, microwave, mini fridge and a small sink.


Our room contained a king bed, and we also greatly enjoyed the small window seat in our room. It gave it a nice homey touch.


This hotel was definitely worth our money and also so courteous to those running the race. Breakfast hours started after we left, but they had a small bowl of fruit out with a sign wishing runners good luck, so we were well taken care of in that realm.

I would certainly stay here again for future races or trips to Fargo in general as it certainly beat the prices of hotels in Fargo. Do plan ahead if you stay here for marathon weekend though as streets were already being closed off as we followed Google Maps directions to reach the FargoDome. We would have been much better off sticking to the interstate to avoid those closures!

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Ramkota Hotel ~ Pierre, South Dakota

For Spring Pastor’s Conference, all the pastor’s in our district met in Pierre, SD. They had set aside a block of rooms at the Ramkota, so we decided to take advantage of the group price and stay there. As we neared the date of conference, I began second guessing this as reviews on TripAdvisor were less than flattering. While our stay wasn’t horrible, it was filled with odd and interesting moments that would make me think twice before staying here again.

The whole hotel is basically sprawled out on one or two levels, depending on where you are in the hotel. It took us awhile to check in as they kept taking other phone calls during our check in process. Then they were “nice” and gave us a room in the back that opened to the outside, even though we already had our hands loaded down with all the luggage we had brought in. So we carried our luggage back to the car, moved our car to the back, and attempted to enter the outside door… luck. Turns out the room has both an inner and outer door and could only initially be opened from the inside door as the outer door was dead bolted. We just wound up leaving it that way.


The room was quite spacious upon entering, but oddly set up. As you can see the outer door was straight in front of us with a chair nearly blocking the walkway from one door to the other. There was a closet directly to our right upon entering (shown below) with a fridge/counter area next to it and the sink just a little further ahead that also had a small hall leading to another room that contained the toilet and tub/shower and another mystery door….more on that later.


The bathroom was small and cramped and you basically had to be standing in the shower to get the door to close. When the shower was on, we also would have a mysterious dripping come from the ceiling, which didn’t make much sense.


I mentioned another mystery door. At first thought I figured maybe it led to the next room as some hotels offer that kind of set up, but as I tested the knob and it opened to…..a giant closet! Not sure why on earth you would need this much space unless you were staying for longer than a week, but in my opinion Pierre is not a place you’d spend that much time!


The actual bedroom area contained what they claimed to be a queen bed, but which I deemed a full and quite possibly the most uncomfortable bed I’ve ever slept in! There also were two nightstands, a desk, a recliner and TV stand. We did have to awkwardly angle the TV if we wanted to watch it from either the bed or chair though.

The one plus side to the room setup, was that similar to our Hampton stay in Bloomington, the bed was against the sink/closet wall so that you didn’t have as much sound from the next room as you tried to sleep. The downside of this room was that the outer door really messed with temperature control in the room.

Our first night there, a group of people were having a kid’s birthday party in the pool area (and the adults seemed to be heavily taking in the alcohol) so we avoided the area. I decided to check it out during the afternoon the following day when Andrew was in meetings. The pool area was quite large and the hot tub allowed you to set it for up to half an hour on the timer, something you don’t find at a lot of hotels. However, about ten minutes into my hot tub relaxation time, 9 kids showed up, so my relaxation time was short lived.

On top of all the issues we had with weird room issues, after hanging out at the pool, I had a long fight with my room key to get back in. It took me about ten tries, but I finally made it in. Following that debacle, I also went to check out the vending machines and couldn’t get back in that time at all, having to go down to the front desk to have it fixed, only to have them blame me for putting it next to my phone, even though I never put my hotel keys near my phone as I’ve had that issue before.

I know I’m not the only one who had issues with their keys and room as after I checked out the following morning, I was still hanging out in the lobby waiting for the morning sessions to get over and go to lunch, and three people came with three different complaints. One was that their room had no hot water, one was that a toilet broke, and another had issues with her key, the same issue I had the day before! Needless to say, I would not recommend this hotel to anyone! They need to fix a lot of issues before I’d stay again!

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Hampton Inn Minneapolis Bloomington West~ Bloomington, Minnesota

Finding a hotel in the Twin Cities area can be a bit overwhelming. Do you want to stay in the heart of one of the cities and be able to walk around the downtown? Do you want to stay in the suburbs and drive from place to place or find public transportation? If you are visiting multiple sites around the city, which of these would you like your hotel to be closest to? Decisions, decisions, decisions. For our trip we were on a somewhat tighter budget, so we didn’t want all of our money to go to waste on lodging, as many of the attractions we were going to visit cost money. That pretty much vetoed out any hotels located directly downtown as they always cost a bit more, plus have an additional cost of parking your vehicle. If you’ve been following out blog, you’ll know that I recently became a huge fan of the Hilton brand, which while on the slightly pricier side than the Wyndham hotels we previously stayed at, offer a nicer breakfast and usually much quieter hotel stays. That found me looking at Hilton brand hotels near the Mall of America. While there were a few closer to the Mall of America than where we wound up staying, our hotel was actually a newer build and located near a business park, which made for a much quieter stay.

Check in was a breeze and we even got to opt into a program where we could earn more points if we were staying two nights or longer and opted to not have housekeeping come clean our room. I haven’t checked to see if they actually panned out, since a few times we’d be gone for the day and realized they did still come make our bed or provide new towels, but I digress.

Our room was located on the third floor, so we took the elevators up and then realized we were located at the far end of the hall, so the stairs may have been the easier way to go. The bathroom was directly to our right upon entering and unlike many rooms contained just a shower rather than tub/shower combo. I’m not sure if all they rooms are this way, or just some in particular. What we did enjoy was that what look like drawer pull outs, actually gave you extended counter space on which you could place other bathroom necessities as you prepped for the day.

Our King Bed was actually against the bathroom wall and faced the window, with a small desk are to the right of the bed and the TV stand/microwave/fridge unit to the left. We’ve had a few hotel rooms now set up this way, and actually really like it as you bed isn’t sharing a wall with the neighboring rooms bed, hence cutting down on neighbor noise.


This Hampton had a huge breakfast area. The serving area was in a “room” of it’s own that opened into their larger dining/lobby space. Despite all the tables they had, nearly every morning most tables were full. Luckily with just two of us, we usually were able to find a few free seats at which to eat. Every morning they always had a few hot options, waffles, fruit, assorted breads, cereal, and coffee. Sometimes they would list the hot options on a small chalkboard in the lobby.


Since we were there for three nights, we had ample time to check out the amenities the hotel had to offer. We did not actually use the exercise room, but made sure to check it out for this post. As you can see, it was larger for a hotel exercise room and had plenty of different machines and equipment available for use, as well as I nice water dispenser and shelf for towels.

The pool area was also very nice with lots of lounge chairs, a large swimming pool (that was a bit cool in my opinion,) and a standard sized hot tub. We found that the pool area could get a bit rowdy in the evenings, not just with kids, but with adults who would choose to bring some select beverages with them, despite the rule board saying not to. Thus we found we limited our pool time to the afternoon, as that’s when many families were out exploring the Mall or had checked out/not yet checked in for the day.

This Hampton also offers a free shuttle that can take you to the airport or to the Mall of America. The Mall of America has a light rail station located nearby should you want to take that into the cities. A friend advised us not to go that route, because while the light rail seems inexpensive compared to parking your vehicle downtown, it sucks up a lot of time that you could be out exploring the town. There are plenty of restaurants located just a short distance away (especially if you shuttle back to the Mall,) and also a nice lakefront recreation area that we decided to take a stroll along our final night there. I highly recommend checking out this hotel if you will be in the area for more than one night and know you may be spending a decent part of your time wanting to just relax!

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