My daughter and I had a whale watch trip out of Dana Point scheduled for the morning of Aug. 5. To avoid battling morning traffic, I wanted to stay in Dana Point the night before.
After looking at reviews and photos, I chose the Best Western Plus Dana Point Inn-by-the-Sea. I booked the double queen room directly from the hotel’s website four months before our visit. I paid extra for an ocean view room. At $225 before tax for a double queen room, it was a splurge, but I thought it would be well worth the price to watch the sun set over the ocean from our hotel room balcony, and to walk to the beach. Of all the hotels I’d booked for our Southern California trip, I had looked forward to staying at this one the most.
When we arrived, I noticed the outside grounds seemed a bit dusty, not as nice as in the website photos, but I wasn’t deterred. A friendly woman (I didn’t catch her name but she had an accent) checked us in and told us our room was being worked on, but we could go on in. Room 103 was just across the courtyard from the check-in office.
The maintenance man had been working in the bathroom and left quickly after we entered. Looking around the room, I was underwhelmed. The balcony was the first big letdown. Since we were on a lower-level floor, our view was mostly of the highway and the cars parked at the beach, with a sliver view of the ocean. The balcony also was dirty. It needed at least a good sweeping, and perhaps to be hosed down. There also was quite a bit of street noise. But I pushed my disappointment aside.
We changed clothes to go to the beach. We found that the bathroom was the second big letdown. The bathroom was very small. There was barely space for the toilet, and the shower is tiny. Hardly space to change clothes.
I noticed an odor in the bathroom. I looked at the base of the toilet and saw grime around the toilet’s base. There was ongoing water damage on the back wall near the shower. I noticed another strange stain on the floor next to the toilet. I put a wash cloth over it so I didn’t have to look at it. I walked across the courtyard to tell the check-in attendant. She seemed concerned and told the housekeeper. When the housekeeper arrived at our room, she asked brusquely what we needed. I pointed out the grime and mentioned the odor. She didn’t seem pleased, but started scrubbing.
Another annoyance was that the toilet paper holder was not completely secured to the wall. It was sideways, rocked back and forth, and was right next to the toilet. It was very annoying.
So far, the hotel was way below my expectations, but I didn’t want our evening ruined so I again pushed my disappointment aside. My daughter and I set out for the beach. Though across the street, you have to walk about a block to the cross walk, cross the highway, then go up and down a tall bridge over the rail road tracks, then walk to the beach. It’s about a 15-minute walk each way. The beach itself is nice. There are rocks near the parking lot, but it turns to soft sand closer to the water. There were only a few other people there, which was great.
After returning to the hotel room, we each took showers. After the housekeeper’s visit, there was still a little grime around the bottom of the toilet, but not as bad as it had been.
Stepping into the tiny shower, I noticed the shower floor looked like plastic. Very cheap-looking and feeling. I looked around for a place to put the soap. There was no soap holder. How can a hotel not have a soap holder in the shower? I dropped the soap on the shower floor. As I stepped out of the shower into the tiny bathroom area in front of the toilet to get dressed, I didn’t feel like I was in a $225 a night hotel, I felt like I was at a rustic camp.
At this point I was extremely annoyed, and wasn’t sure I wanted to stay the night. I looked up info on nearby hotel rooms on my phone. The site for our hotel came up. It showed that a two-bed room like the one we were in was available for about $100 less than I was paying. After seeing the room, I felt even that was overpriced, but still better than what I was paying. I booked four months ahead of time, but was penalized with a much higher rate. I went back to the check-in to talk with the attendant about my disappointment with the room, and the pricing info I’d found. She explained that the room I saw on the website actually had just been booked and wasn’t available. She said that the rooms upstairs were the same as the one we had, (and I think she said they were also taken already), so we couldn’t be moved. She said she didn’t understand what I meant about the stains and odor in the bathroom, so she went to the room with me, where we argued a bit about whether the room was clean or not. She offered me the option of either staying the night at the rate we were at, or our leaving right then and she’d cancel the stay. I opted to cancel. My daughter and I quickly packed our bags and left.
To the hotel’s credit, and the reason for my giving it two stars not one, the attendant did cancel the charge so that I didn’t have to fight to get the money back for the room. But I do not recommend this hotel. Our room looked absolutely nothing like the photos of gorgeous rooms with beautiful ocean views, on the website.
We eventually found a much nicer hotel (for less money) near the marina. But I would rather have avoided the anxiety of finding an alternate hotel, and the wasted vacation time, and stayed at the beautiful place depicted on the hotel’s website.
The Best Western Plus Dana Point by the Sea proved a huge, sad disappointment. less