This Has To Be The Nicest “Limited Service” Hotel In The World?

There’s both a Hyatt Place and Hyatt House in the same building, the Hyatt Place Allentown / Lehigh Valley and Hyatt House Allentown / Lehigh Valley. They just opened last fall, and Hyatt.com even uses the Hyatt Place exterior for both properties.

They share amenities like gym, pool, and bar (there’s an indoor pool). Unless you need the long-term stay kitchen stuff of a Hyatt House, pick whichever one is cheaper. You’ll note that the property can even be a good use of Hyatt points, here’s a nice ~ 3 cent per point redemption scenario.

What’s remarkable is the hotel restaurant, Westside Grill, a casual steak and seafood house with indoor and outdoor seating. These limited service hotels have a full service restaurant and the reviews on Yelp and Tripadvisor are even pretty good.

According to the family that owns the property, “We wanted a place that served the kind of food we like to eat.” I imagine if you’re living in Eastern Pennsylvania, and you have money and experience in hospitality, at some point you say ‘there’s no decent place to eat, so I’m going to open one.’

It even has a proper premium wine list.

The restaurant serves lunch and dinner seven days a week, including offering Sunday brunch, and has a proper bar. They even have their own soda – the family that owns the hotel also purchased local “A Treat sode” out of near bankruptcy. They use it in cocktails and in desserts.

Too many Hyatt Place properties have abandoned their food and beverage programs, limited as they were, or even failed to start offering evening bar service again even though that’s just an extra duty for desk staff. Offerings are supposed to have returned but that doesn’t mean all have. Here’s a property with a real bar, real sit down dining, an indoor pool and gym – and that’s still classified as limited service. It looks clearly better than many Hyatt and Hyatt Regency properties.

I absolutely love this because I appreciate attention to detail, and owners and managers who care about their product. They’re not just turning out a lowest common denominator experience like so many hotels, doing the bare minimum required by a brand (and seeing what they can get away with even then). Is the experience something of a passion project, so maybe less replicable elsewhere? Maybe. And it’s not obvious whether it’ll maintain the high level quality, especially if family interest wanes. But for now, surely, this has to be the nicest Hyatt House, Hyatt Place, and even limited service hotel around?

And while hotel food is frequently quite bad, either an afterthought or an attempt to serve every possible palate that visits from around the country (and that isn’t choosing the restaurant because of the food, just happens to eat there because it’s where they’re staying) that doesn’t have to be the case. There are certainly good hotel restaurants.

Perhaps there are only a handful that really qualify in the U.S. Kimpton hotels used to focus on restaurants marketed to the local area more than to hotel guests, to the benefit of guests in my opinion.

Internationally having better restaurants inside of hotels is quite common. In India you’ll find outstanding restaurants in hotels (especially Chinese restaurants but also Middle Eastern), serving foreigners who can afford the ingredients and service. You may be more likely to find a great ethnic restaurant attached to a motel in the United States – the family has the land because they own and operate the property, and someone in the family can cook.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. There is another Hyatt Place like this on the North Shore in Chicago. It’s a Hyatt Place but also branded with the name, The Forester. Rooms are exceptional and a lovely (for a limited hotel) full service restaurant and bar that even has live entertainment on weekends. The Sunday Brunch is very popular. And even an outdoor terrace for eating on nice days. The suites are really fantastic, well laid out with a modern small kitchen.

  2. Investors like these properties. We would rather build limited services hotels. Give big rent incentives to restaurant operators. Cut back on other expenses. They actually generate better CAP rates because your revenue per door doesn’t fluctuate as much and your basis is much lower.

  3. Wonderful, extensive menu with so much variety. Looks more like a great local restaurant with a hotel attached.

  4. Are there any new, full-service properties opening anywhere? I’m sure there are a few, but the vast majority of new U.S. hotels are Hyatt Place, Courtyard, etc. They’re the future of U.S. hotels. Labor cost is too expensive to operate a full-service property. The idea that a Hyatt Place in flyover Pennsylvania is nearly $300 per night with taxes is just crazy. There are full-service hotels in empty downtowns or 1970s/1980s suburban office that wish they could get that nightly rate. Kudos to the Hyatt Place/Hyatt House in Allentown, Pennsylvania of all places. I just think these dual-branded properties are weird. There is virtually no difference between Hyatt Place and Hyatt House, except kitchens. I think it makes more sense to do a Hyatt Regency and Hyatt House. Full-service + extended-stay. I also don’t understand how the Hyatt Place can be MORE EXPENSIVE than the Hyatt House for the same night.

  5. Typo … There are full-service hotels in empty downtowns or 1970s/1980s suburban OFFICE PARKS that wish they could get that nightly rate.

  6. Dual branded hotels feel weird, like sleeping with your wife and your mistress together in the same bed. You’re playing both sides but you can’t exactly be proud of the situation. It’s odd. Plain and simple.

  7. “there’s no decent place to eat…”

    i suppose if you don’t want to make a 15 minute drive. bolete is a really special restaurant nearby

    what gets me is these days even smaller towns like allentown charge about the same for fine dining as big cities.

  8. @franz while there are a ton of places in flyover PA and other states, I’d say Allentown isn’t that, it’s quite a decently sized city and only an hour from Philadelphia. Well known for being the name of a Billy Joel song. Used to be a massive city when it was far more industrial. However it’s still actually the third largest city population wise in all of PA. Also has a fantastic Cedar Fair owned amusement park called Dorney Park and the AAA affiliate of the Phillies. So those rates aren’t crazy, especially for a new property in the summer.

  9. @Stuart – came here to mention that place. I’ve never eaten at the restaurant, but the cocktails are phenomenal.

  10. For all you flyover folks, please consult a map. Huge amount of development in that area (I drive by it monthly). Right off of Interstate 78, which brings a massive amount of traffic to the New York City metro area and New England from the West. Thanks Gary–I was curious about those two properties (as well as the shopping areas surrounding them) and will probably stop there at some point soon just to check them out.

  11. I suspect a huge draw is the local colleges and universities, which a lot of Philly and NYC families send their kinds to, plus the alumni network. When we were looking at schools for Kid1, went to both Lehigh, right there, and Lafayette, which isn’t far away. There’s also Muhlenberg, which is a decent liberal arts school. Everyone else on the tour was from close-in East Coast cities. Lehigh football is a huge tradition – so I imagine that the hotel caters to that crowd every football weekend. There are only a few of those weekends, but I imagine they’re highly profitable. Add in graduations, move-ins, touring parents and students, plus business travelers during the week, and you actually have a reason to build a decent hotel in a place that seems on the downside of it’s former greatness.

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