From one of my very first posts as a travel blogger, Le Méridien has held a special place in our heart. That being said, we rarely get the chance to try the brand so when I was away for business in Charlotte, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Unfortunately, the Le Méridien Bangkok and are similar in name alone.
In the heart of uptown and just a few blocks from the stadium, the hotel is well located. There is easy access from the interstate behind the property which faces the cityscape. Parking is available at the property for a cost both in an adjacent lot as well as in an attached garage. The hotel is next to a Sheraton and the two share meeting rooms and are adjoined.
555 South McDowell Street,
Charlotte, NC 28204
+1 (704) 372-9610
The room was just standard. There were some nice touches here and there that added a little bit of a premium feel to the room, but it was in no way on par with the luxurious impression I had with the brand elsewhere.
The bed was comfortable and wide, the pillows were plush and I slept great. But the bed is also positioned fairly low to the ground which was not to my preference. The lighting in the room was kind of a problem as well. Lamps were attractive but not particularly bright, the most annoying aspect was having to turn on and off each individual light before bed and back on again in the morning. There were switches on the wall but they seemed to have little to no effect controlling a single entryway light.
The desk was large, had room for two laptops and featured the coffee station which seemed out of place. There was an area by the door where the ice bucket and a tray with two glasses could be found that would have been a much better spot for the coffee maker. Placing it on the desk seemed weird to me but at least it wasn’t placed in the bathroom.
The TV seemed reasonably sized but I never turned it on. An empty mini-fridge is underneath the TV in a cabinet.
Among the aspects that missed the mark at this hotel was the cleanliness and attention to detail. They put out a little sleeve with room service options, and various other items they wanted to promote, but the menu was stained and disgusting. Do I want to thumb through a gross paper menu left on my bed? It’s not ideal…
The bathroom was one of the highlights of the room. A simple rain shower head without a tub is always welcome in my book. The sink and mirror (with bright border light off in below photo) were a premium addition. I used my own toiletries once I saw that they differed from the Le Labo version I remembered/cherished from my Le Méridien Bangkok experience. Perhaps the king of hotel toiletries has something to add on on the matter…
As a Platinum elite, I had a choice of 500 SPG points or breakfast for my colleague and I. While I covet SPG points which are so very hard to get if you don’t hold the SPG AMEX (I don’t), the value of those points are at maximum $10-15. There’s no way the two of us could have had coffee in the restaurant for that price so it was a no brainer, though I do love their points.
I asked if I would be able to get room service instead of dining only in the restaurant due to an early departure in the morning. I was told that this would be not be a problem, just set the menu door hanger outside before midnight. The only problem is that the door hanger didn’t have all of the menu items on it including the Nutella Brioche French Toast, a signature breakfast item from the chain.
I opted to call in and secure my 6:15AM delivery time as they opened at 6, my colleague and I could leave no later than 6:45 for our meeting. I was told that while the kitchen was open at 6, the best they could do without calling down in the morning was 6:30-6:45 delivery meaning that they may arrive with food as I leave the room.
I rang downstairs at 6AM on the dot and my call was quickly answered. I ordered the items for breakfast (the aforementioned French Toast and some bacon) and was told it would be up in 20 minutes (blazing speed for any hotel). I finished getting ready and at about the 20 minute mark my phone rang – it must be room service calling me because I couldn’t hear them knocking. I head to the phone first before back to the door to let them in.
“Mr. Stewart, I’m sorry but we no longer offer your breakfast choice.”
Wait, you’re calling me when the food was supposed be here to tell me that you don’t have something in my order and haven’t even started it yet?
“We don’t offer it any more.”
(While I knew it was going nowhere from here I was furious and decided to let them know) Then why is it on your room service menu? Why didn’t the server taking my order know that, why did you wait 20 minutes to call me and let me know?
“We just don’t have it any more, can I get you something else?”
Well that depends, is there anything you can get here in ten minutes?
I just hung up. From the confusion at checkin about what time I would be able to get breakfast to the menu mix up, the server not knowing what items are offered on a limited eight-item menu, to the lack of effort to call me at any point prior to when the food was to be delivered – I was frustrated and hungry.
I had already packed, showered and dressed so I went downstairs hoping to just grab something off a buffet or take-away counter in the lobby.
The restaurant, lit and empty at 6:40 in the morning – is not yet open. It doesn’t open until 7AM. What kind of a business hotel doesn’t open their restaurant before 7AM? They definitely were not ready to serve anyone. I snapped some pictures of the restaurant sans food.
While taking photos, some of which were in the lobby, I set my backpack down next to me on a table. I was alone in the lobby save for a front desk attendant that came from out of my field of vision (no one was behind the desk the previous five minutes I had been there) and asked me to remove my backpack from the table. This was my only encounter with him or anyone downstairs that morning. I promptly did so as I headed for the door, I had enough of the “service” at the Le Méridien Charlotte.
I booked into a single bed King room for the night but as always, screen captured the upgrade policy. I know why hotel status upgrades are tough, but the reason I completed a Marriott status challenge was to match to SPG and try out their excellent treatment of Platinum elites for status upgrades.
I hate that I have to first check to see whether or not there is an upgradable room available for the night prior to approaching the counter, but there is no purpose in showing up to a gun fight, only to have to load your ammo at the battlefront. They had corner rooms available but I couldn’t find a suite for sale. I was denied my request at the checkin desk but the agent, Daphne, was apologetic and tried to make up for it by putting me on a high floor.
It’s not her fault, but a high floor upgrade is only an upgrade if:
- There is a view from said high floor that would be unseen or less visible from a lower floor; and
- Does not result in staying in a room so close to the elevator that people can hear you get up to go to the bathroom and say, “What was that?”
It appears that all of the rooms ending in “50” (850, 1150, 1550) are located on a wall that is adjascent to the elevators and the walls are thin. Don’t get this room.
This hotel was reasonable for the area and downright cheap for the brand. My one night (weekday rate) was just $161 or $185 with tax. If using points, the cost would be 10,000 points per night – that is a bad use of SPG points. Even points and cash would be a poor use of points when cash rates are that low and redemptions that expensive.
There are some hidden costs that I hadn’t considered when booking the hotel. It’s city center so it doesn’t surprise me that there is a cost for parking – but it does add to the rate of the stay when compared to other properties on the periphery (a few blocks away) from city center that do not charge for parking. As a result of status, I did not pay for my parking but others might. Rates appeared to fluxuate between $8-24 depending on the length of stay.
Lost & Found
For all of the service failures, I did have one mixed service experience (some good and some bad). Blind with anger and frustration I left my dopp kit in the bathroom. I didn’t realize it until I had returned a day later, was packing for my next trip and found it missing.
I said the service on this was mixed for a couple of reasons. I left the dopp kit. I am responsible for my own things and I failed to re-pack it.
I called late on a Saturday night to see if they had it. I was directed to the security office which services Lost & Found items. They answered (that goes into the plus column), they located it once I gave them my date of stay, name and room number (another plus) and would ship it out to me if I paid the cost.
The service issue for which I take a little umbrage is that they had all of this info, they had my items and they didn’t reach out to me. When they found it I could have potentially returned that day to pick it up. Even if that wasn’t a possibility though, they had all of my contact details, they knew my name, my phone number, my email address – everything that was on my SPG account and given at checkin. So why not reach out?
It was my fault that it was left – fair enough. But if they knew I had left it, took the time to categorize it and identify it, why not just contact me to let me know? That would be more along the lines of what I would expect from a hotel like the Le Méridien for all guests but especially for a Platinum member.
Will I Be Back?
Nah. I passed the Ritz-Carlton three blocks away that looked amazing. Even if it is out of my company’s price range I would consider booking it using my own points just to check it out. The Hyatt Place, yes, the Hyatt Place, has a restaurant/rooftop bar, “Fahrenheit” that is so coveted that a good friend that lives in Charlotte recommended we meet there but couldn’t get in because it was rented for the evening, on a Thursday. I have had better luck in the Charlotte area staying elsewhere and while some of the design elements of the hotel give it a premium charm, sticky floors, incorrect and gross room service menus with lackluster service retract from any premium feel.
I’ll have to find another Le Méridien to validate that either my first or my most recent experience is indicative of the brand.
Have you stayed at this hotel? Is my room service/breakfast experience a case of sour grapes or is it a genuine frustration? Do you think they should have reached out to me about my left item?