Hotel Reviews

The Westin in Birmingham, Alabama

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I was excited when the new Westin in Birmingham opened, and I was especially excited to stay there during my Gold Status Challenge with Starwood. The Westin (along with the newly renovated Sheraton) anchors a new development that’s supposed to include new shops, restaurants, and other stuff.

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Right now, it looks like it consists of the Westin and a Texas de Brazil that’s going to open across the street (expect a review of TdB when it opens; suffice it to say I’m thrilled about the prospect). Here’s a summary of a night at the Westin Birmingham.

First, it’s not really clear where we’re supposed to park. Perhaps we should have just gone with the valet service, but we ended up in the BJCC garage behind the hotel. We discovered on Saturday that there are tunnels connecting both the Westin and the Sheraton to the garage). Check-in went as we expected. The staff was very pleasant, and they were enthusiastic about the fact that we had the baby with us. We got to our room (810, facing downtown) without incident, though we noticed that our floor seemed a little humid when we stepped off the elevator.

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Our room was very spacious, very well-appointed (as Westin rooms tend to be), and very comfortable. The workspace (where I wrote the first draft of this post) is spacious, uncluttered, and comfortable, though I kind of wish hotels would make the workstation phones less auspicious. This was cool: by turning my computer around, I was able to move to the other side of the desk and enjoy our excellent view of downtown Birmingham. I thought that a very nice touch: the desk doesn’t face the wall, and since it doesn’t have drawers or anything I had the option of moving so I could face the window.

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Not long after we arrived, my new exercise commitments meant I had to check off a brief strength workout at the gym, which was clean and comfortable–as one would expect from a new hotel, particularly one with the Westin name. I was a bit distressed in the morning when I opened the other closet door and found a complimentary bottle of water; I wish I’d seen that before I paid $4 for one at the front desk, but that’s no big deal.

Heavy curtains and their trademarked Heavenly Bed made it very easy to sleep. Our almost-one-year-old in the crib next to us, on the other hand, did not. We took turns with him in the very early morning, and he finally fell asleep for good at about 5:30 or a little before. The upside is that he didn’t wake up until 8, so we were able to sleep in a little bit (our other kids were staying with their grandparents). We rolled out of bed, dressed, and went to breakfast at the Todd English P.U.B. downstairs.

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The View from the Room

Breakfast was good, but there was a bit of sticker shock when we saw the prices. We bought baby David a $4 banana. Shannon got french toast, and I got an egg white omelet with an arugula-and-tomato salad. The coffee was a bit of a debacle. The first cup they brought me had lipstick on it. One of the waitresses hand washed a second cup for me, but the coffee itself was full of grounds. The third time was the charm, and I was glad to get my morning fix.

Westin offers guests the opportunity to rent workout gear for $5. Having never done this, I took them up on it. I was very comfortable in the shirt, shorts, shoes, and socks that came in the package; I didn’t get to make it to the gym in my rented workout clothes because of family commitments, but I did wear it all on a trip to a favorite family restaurant. The terrace and pool area were very nice; we didn’t really get to explore on this trip. David and I got a few minutes on the terrace, but we hope to get more next time.

All in all, I was happy with our first experience at the new Westin in Birmingham. I must admit, I’m a little distressed that there doesn’t seem to be much happening right around it–yet–but it’s surprisingly cozy for a nine-story building. Westins generally don’t disappoint me, and this one was no exception.

Check rates at this hotel:| | Orbitz | Expedia | Priceline

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