Hojo Howard Johnson’s Stewart “International” airport SWF Newburgh NY – are low cost hotels worth the risk?

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go happy go away from hojo

I stay at a fair share of hotels each year. As an SPG Platinum mostly SPG brands. I like even the discount brands like Four Points by Sheraton when the price is right. How bad could a Wyndham hotel chain hotel be? Oh my!

hojo part of wyndham group of hotels

It has been YEARS since I was at a “Hojo” and it will be years before I ever stay at one again (like never, ever). I booked this as the reviews looked ok for the price and it was very near the airport and that worked as we were in town for a wedding.

very dirty room howard johnsons swf

This was one of the nastiest rooms I have ever been in. I should have left and wish I had. It is clear that cleaning was FAR down the list of priorities for this property. And if the hotel decides to respond to this review that it a “one off” situation or such it was not as the dirt level on everything from lamps to the AC were months in the making.

highlights of the hojo king room swf

Furniture, old. TV & VHS (who has those) old. I could go on and on but just nasty.

rock hard bed

The above is NOT from the hotel but to give you an idea of how hard the bed was; the one above would have been softer would be my guess. I sorta slept till 3am-ish then got up and got started on this review. Oh btw there is highway noise so be prepared for that too.

moldy tub howard johnsons swf 1

The bathroom was, uh, bad. Mold? Yep! Rust where the tub leaks? Uh-huh! Nasty tub mat? You bet! Threadbare and gray towel? Sure, enjoy! Grout that was once grey now black? Yuck! (deep sigh)

moldy tub howard johnsons swf 2

Is there something good I can say about this hotel? It was reasonably priced and the wifi was free and of acceptable speed. Nice since my normal standby of my Sprint via my phone was only 3G here not 4G.

speed test wifi hojo

Also for letting them know, and showing them on my phone the photos, they did take $40 off the bill. A nice gesture, but I would rather have paid full price and had a clean room. Old in a budget hotel is fine, but dirty and busted are just not OK.

So that brings me to a question for you: is it worth the risk to stay at a low cost hotel. I always prefer SPG hotels but depending on where you are going it really is a trade off between convenience of location vs. driving a bit to stay at a chain you know will be quality. Is it worth it? What is your experience on the road? – René
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Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

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15 comments

  1. Usually no. If I don’t sleep well or have an icky feeling the whole time I am in the room, it takes away one of the reasons I like to travel–nice comfortable accommodations. Not that I have to have luxurious rooms, but a clean room and a comfortable bed are key. I could probably get a hotel that’s 25% to 50% cheaper every night I travel by looking at budget hotels! but I choose quality accommodations over cheap ones.

  2. I can sleep almost anywhere that doesn’t have bedbugs but HoJo’s are up there with the worst. It’s a shame and an insult to a once proud brand but most are really bad. Even if they are a modern up to date building they just let it go. Ramada’s are also very bad typically. Travelodge, Roadway Inn and Econolodge can also be bad. Super 8 and Motel 6 are step up from there. Red Roof can be average but usually not real bad.

  3. I’m in hotels around 3 months out of the year and have stayed in several different hotel chains. What I have found is it isn’t so much the chain of hotel but the management for the hotel itself. I’ve been in some horrible Hilton’s and amazing Country Inn & Suites. As long as the staff takes pride in their property the name brand doesn’t matter.

  4. Knowing the issues with HOJO, I was nervous but pleasantly surprised with the good quality of newer HOJOs in China.

  5. I am in the Army therefore a bit of a professional camper. I have to live in some pretty austere environments, but when travelling for leisure I will stay at a minimum a Hampton Inn, but will drive an extra 10-15 minutes for an SPG property.

  6. I’m an SPG guy but find that sometimes inexpensive hotels fit the bill. Like on MRs with a late night arrival and early morning departure especially in cities with high hotel prices. I find the Rodeway Inn SFO to be perfect for this. It is one of the cheapest hotels in the area but has clean rooms and great internet. Paying $150+ for an eight-hour stay for me is excessive. But like anything else, you pay your money and you take your chances.

  7. With only a couple of exceptions, I find HOJOs to be absolutely terrible. I find properties belonging to the various Marriott brands to be most consistent (but there still are wide variations).

    Yes, I’ve definitely stayed at some great low-priced hotels but I probably wouldn’t go back to 80% of the low-priced places I’ve been to. I can say the same about only maybe 2 or 3% of the Marriotts, Hiltons, SPGs etc.

    Fact is, it costs money to keep up to date and to clean. Places can’t make money AND keep it acceptable for $23.95 a night!

  8. Hamptons are universally good. They cost a bit more than the really “down and dirty” (pun intended) hotels; however they are well worth the few extra $.

  9. Life is much too short(even on MR’s) to stay in gross hotels and jeopardize my health.
    I’ll hunt high and low for an IHG Point Break if possible.
    HoJo’s are universally disgusting but as an earlier poster mentioned, at those price points it’s nigh impossible to do anything besides keep the (dirty) lights on.
    I am now a full-on hotel snob. Like I said, life is short.
    As an aside, Delta had to put me up near ATL a few years for one very short night.
    The hotels in the airport vicinity they offered were predictably awful, even for 6 or 7 hours.
    I slept in my clothes.

  10. Wow. Not good at all. I can pretty much stay anywhere but you just proved me wrong. Travel hacking and HoJo just don’t jive. Hopefully you had some “airline bottles” to make it a little more tolerable or you could have used the booze to sanitize stuff.

  11. Oh, boy — when you’re visiting a beautiful area, you should never skimp to the point of staying at a HoJo! I’d recommend the Mohonk Mountain House, just one exit up the highway from SWF. Life is too short for HoJos! I didn’t even know they were still around…

  12. you should check out some of the Knight’s Inns in the Wyndham group – you check in through a bulletproof glass drive up teller style window in the side of a Shell station/truck stop… it gets worse from there. I never intended to stay in the room (USAirways Grand Slam credit) but there was no way I would have stayed there. Did I mention the colorful long term residents you meet on the way to the room? (I couldn’t help myself, I had to see just how bad the room was). I’m not fussy, I use a lot of budget properties (there are some excellent ones but it’s very hit or miss) but I was amazed a nation chain would want a property this bad associated with the brand.

    As an aside, when I was a kid on the family summer trips, Hojo was solidly middle or upper middle class!

  13. The last time I stayed at a Hojo was 13 years ago while still a road warrior. Hojo Las Vegas Strip was actually north of the Strip surrounded by seedy motels. I drove up in the rain at 11 pm and spotted what looked like a middle-aged hooker (complete with meth face and rotten teeth) outside the front entrance. That night someone attempted (unsuccessfully) to open my door with a key card. I yelled as loud as I could, and the rest of the night was quiet. What was surprising was the place had a wedding chapel.

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