We left Vegas after only 2 nights and I can’t say I have any inclination to go back, especially with children. It isn’t really a kid friendly city.
We had booked to stay at the Embassy Suites (South) near the airport in LA for the night and my expectations were quite low. It is nowhere near as grand as MGM and is classified as a mid-range hotel. It is part of the Hilton company and my last experience with Hilton at Universal City was abysmal.
Much to my surprise my expectations of the Embassy Suites were blown out of the water. It was so lovely, clean, spacious, free Foxtel, free drinks and nibbles EVERY night from 5:30 – 7:30 (no need to gamble to obtain these freebies), free full buffet breakfast where they cook to order hot food just the way you like it and we got a free upgrade. The staff could not have been nicer and it is without a doubt the nicest hotel I have stayed in this trip.
I’ve noticed a pattern in America. The more expensive the hotel is the ruder the staff are and you receive way less value for money. I guess it’s because you are paying for a name. For example, the 3 star hotels have been extremely accomodating, have an onsite laundry, usually a hot breakfast included, unlocked bar fridge and free cable TV. The 4 or 5 star hotels we have stayed in (not sure if any were 5 star but they certainly charged like they were) treated guests like an inconvenience, did not provide complimentary breakfasts or complimentary anything and had no onsite laundry and instead informed me that they “are not that type of hotel” before presenting me with a laundering service price list where I could opt to pay $4 USD for ONE pair of socks to be washed.
My family isn’t the fancy kind of hotel type. I am however, the ‘clean’ hotel type and cleanliness evaded two of the fanciest hotels we stayed in. Ben and I once bewildered a poor Wyndam sales boy when we insisted that we only spend $22 a night on accomodation when we go on holidays. He stared at us, blinking frantically, having no scripted answer on hand to reply to people who professed that the only holidays they ever took were camping in national parks.
I just need cleanliness and good service. Fancy hotels can take all their pompous laundering, locked bar fridges and shove it up their arse.
Jenny, kids and I made good use of the free drinks and nibbles from 5:30 – 7:30, during which time Jenny and I befriended an American named Doug. We talked about all kinds of things and he offered us ideas on how best to spend our final day in LA. Kids all wanted to go to Walmart and Target because the variety of toys, clothes and games over here is insane compared to the limited amount of products in Australia. That was merely 2 hours worth of things though and our flight did not depart till 11pm, giving us at least 10 hours to kill after checkout.
We decided to follow Doug’s advice and hire a car. I looked online and couldn’t find anything reasonable that would seat 6 people. I decided to try ringing Enterprise Rentals as they had been very accomodating and cheap when I went on my expedition to Laguna Beach. Enterprise were able to offer a very cheap price for a 7 seater car. Much cheaper than it would have been if we had of caught Uber’s everywhere or even public transport. They threw in a GPS for free (mine was packed) and you could pre-pay your fuel for $4 a gallon. They only charge you what you have actually used too, I highly recommend going straight to rental companies and enquiring about the best price they can give you as they can always beat the price of third party websites on the internet.
Our shopping expedition took us to an American Westfield (almost exactly the same as an Australian Website), Target and Walmart. There is such a variety of products in America that you just can’t get in Australia so the kids went mad buying stuff. The only issue I have had with shopping (besides Ben telling me not to) is that in America, my debit cards only work sporadically at best and not at all in California. The girl at the counter in Walmart had no idea what I meant when I said I wanted to select ‘savings’ account. I swear. No idea whatsoever. Credit cards seem to be all the rage here and debits are useless. No one wants my debit card at hotels, car hire places or 50% of the shops I visited. Ben and I don’t use credit cards much, preferring debit cards (i.e. your own money) instead. We had no issue using debit cards all over Europe but parts of the US don’t like them. I even had trouble using a lot of ATM’s with my debit cards.
Our friend Doug had suggested a visit to Redondo Beach so after we finished shopping we headed there. Redondo Beach is south of LA and really quite pretty. It be a very 70’s vibe to it and I think in it’s hay day it would have been a really fancy place. It is currently quite run down but I felt that contributed to it’s charm. Long piers were adorned with quirky little gift shops, ice-cream shops and pubs. The pier was lined with locals fishing and despite it being quite cool and windy, the beach was full of people who obviously have a high tolerance to cold. It was nice to gaze upon the Pacific Ocean and know that we would be heading back across it a few hours later.
After dropping the car back we picked up our luggage from Embassy suites and even though we had already checked out, we were still allowed to enjoy the complimentary happy hour and free shuttle to the airport.
I am now sitting at the airport gate waiting to board our flight. My kids are wrecked and are desperate to board so that they can go to sleep. We arrive in Brisbane tomorrow morning at stupid o’clock. Ben is working tomorrow and has informed me he is leaving my car at home because our house is void of groceries. I’m sure that’s exactly what I will want to do after arriving home from a long flight – grocery shopping.
After all the American deep fried food we have all been eating a fast might be just what the doctor ordered.
I still have lots of blogs to write about our trip so even though this is the final part of the trip, it is certainly not the final blog. The posts will keep coming for a few weeks yet!!
Thanks for reading!!