|The Long Way to New York|
This article is released in sync with the resumption of global travel after a 18 month hiatus. The team at Atas Accountant encourages travel to be conducted responsibly, while we allow hospitality standards to re-emerge as we explore our beautiful world again!
After a splendid week in New York, I made my way back to San Francisco via JFK. JFK is regarded as the true New York airport, but in reality, I found it further to get to from central Manhattan. I flew back via Alaska Airlines as well, which was offering a 2x miles promotion for transcontinental flights, which doubled the miles I was getting back.
After landing in San Francisco where I had a lunch appointment at Union Square, I decided to take the BART this time to my accommodation where I would spend 2 nights in Walnut Creek. Walnut Creek is actually a city located in the East Bay region of San Francisco Bay Area, but many don’t regard it part of San Francisco as a whole. Thankfully, the BART goes all the way there, which made it a convenient ride when I needed to eventually get to the airport at the end of the week.
Here’s how the BART map looks like, I recommend you to have a saved copy of it; it’ll come in handy.
The entire journey would cost US$8.55 and lasted about an hour; it passes through San Francisco and Oakland via the San Francisco-Oakland Bridge before reaching the stop Pleasant Hill. What made it convenient is that you did not have to change a single train.
Walnut Creek itself isn’t the most touristy of areas, which did fit what I was looking for after a long week of bustling New York City. I wanted to settle somewhere comfy, as well as an area near Livermore Premium Outlets, one of the prime locations to do some shopping. I also ticked off a box of checking out a different hotel brand under the Hilton Portfolio; and I’m glad I found the Embassy Suites by Hilton at Walnut Creek.
The Embassy Suites by Hilton is unlike traditional rooms under the Hilton portfolio. The main difference is as the name suggests, ALL the rooms are suites, making it certain for a comfortable and relaxing stay. This eliminated any unnecessary tension with the reception to get eagerly upgraded at check-in. Moreover, all guests are invited to complimentary evening cocktails, which I will share more later.
After meeting a friend for lunch in San Francisco, I then continued my journey to Pleasant Hill. After alighting from the BART, you would cross a traffic light before it lands you on the footsteps at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Walnut Creek.
The staff offered to take my luggage and informed me that my room has yet to be ready, since check-in is normally at 4pm. They suggested taking a dip in the pool or just simply relaxing in the hall with some refreshments. Dipping in the pool sounded great but I was rather exhausted after the flight, so I decided to take this opportunity to explore the property while many guests aren’t around.
The hall was filled with many plush sofas and armchairs, with television spots and an indoor waterfall for company. The layout of the property was different from those that I’ve visited; at the centre of the hall, you could see all the different rooms. The rooftop was clear glass, which allowed natural sunlight to filter in to provide natural light to guests and staff.
I then got the chance to check out the swimming pool. It was an indoor, family pool as compared to an Olympic lap pool. This meant that the temperature could be regulated, which would have been useful for winter. You could also see the gym next door.
There was also a pantry, should guests be hungry in the middle of the night. Standard snacks and drinks were available.
Soon enough, it was time to check-in and I was given a 2-bedroom suite on the 8th floor, the highest floor.
You were greeted with a large amount of space in the living room upon entering. You have a standard high definition television, a large family sofa, a small refrigerator, coffee machine and microwave. There is also a working table laid by the window side. The ceiling was rather low for a 6ft1 like myself, so just be rather careful.
Over in the next room, you have 2 queen beds along with another television, should you decide to pass time in the bedroom. There is a working desk for you to do some work as well.
The bathroom was ordinary: a small bathtub was provided, along with bathroom amenities from Neutrogena.
I settled in comfortably and took a shower, while waiting for the evening cocktails to begin at 6pm. At around 5pm, staff went around the suites and handed out complimentary ice-cream drumsticks, always a nice gesture!
After a short nap, I went down for the evening cocktails. The layout is different of that from an executive lounge, which is more of an enclosed space for only certain guests. In this case, evening cocktails served in Embassy Suites are available to all guests, and they typically are in the common halls of the hotel. I only had dinner on the first night at this property.
There was a nice ambience to the place, with some jazz music playing over the system. Today’s menu was simple; The main was Mexican tortilla chips paired with either salsa or a yogurt dressing. Sides included cheese, olives and some fresh vegetables (which were a little bland to my liking!) You had some mixed nuts and tidbits and a whole canister of lemonade. I would have preferred glasses to be provided instead of plastic cups.
I eventually went for several plates of the tortilla chips, which were excellent when you paired them with salsa and some cheese. I also got myself a gin and tonic; guests were entitled to one drink at the bar.
After a good night’s sleep aided by that gin and tonic (considering I hardly slept on the overnight flight the day before), I woke up early to do some exercise in my room before heading for breakfast.
Breakfast was served in the same area where the evening cocktails were in the halls. Rather hungry, I was first greeted to the strong aroma of Starbucks coffee, a great perk-me-up in the morning!
I wondered if breakfast would be similar to what I experienced at the Hilton San Francisco Financial District; where I experienced a segregation on what different elite members were entitled to at breakfast. Fortunately, that was not the case here; just like the evening cocktails, breakfast was offered to all guests it seems, even to non-elite guests.
The options on offer were also satisfactory, I’ll let the photos do the talking.
I wolfed down some mains before remembering that I had to take some photos; so here’s a bagel I assembled! (with a nibble) Pretty good!
I have to say that my stay at Embassy Suites Walnut Creek was the most surprising and pleasant one, and in a positive way too! For just 100 USD/night for 2 people, the guarantee of staying in a suite coupled with the assurance of meals for guests makes it a standout winner, especially for someone like me who values getting the most out of one’s buck. 🙂
I wish Embassy Suites by Hilton are a permanent feature around the world but sadly, they are only found in North America at the moment. Hopefully we will see Embassy Suites rolled out more globally in the future!