The Erie Canal made New York the Empire State. Completed in 1825, it provided a waterway from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes, making the transportation of commercial goods much more efficient. As a result, New York City became the busiest port in America, and westward pioneering began in earnest.
And lots of mid-sized cities sprang up along the Canal. Today, these 19th-century cities seem quaint, but with a modern edge, as brick walkways and tower clocks remain alongside smokestacks and steel structures. They’re intriguing to visit, filled with historic sites and cultural museums. But finding suitable accommodations can be a challenge. Luxury hotels west of the Hudson River are sparse, and they fill up quickly, so they’re frequently not available for those of us who like to stay flexible on the road. And mid-scale, “full-service” hotels can be dark, dated, and dirty. So, what to do? If you like bed-and-breakfasts, you’re in luck; there are lots of them.
If you prefer more privacy, you have a couple of solid options:
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I have had good luck with the Holiday Inn Express & Suites brand in New York. In Cooperstown, the hotel was back to full service. In Oswego, there was no daily maid service, but the full breakfast was back. The drawbacks to these “limited-service” hotels are that they tend to lack restaurants and can be located in isolated areas. But they were clean and comfortable, with laundry rooms, gyms, and plenty of parking, and bookings eligible for cash-back via Rakuten.
New York has several casino hotels. The Stash-affiliated Saratoga Casino Hotel is one of the better ones I’ve found. Seneca Allegany Resort & Casino was far cleaner than the non-gaming, “full-service” hotels where I stayed this summer, and it had lovely views of the Allegheny Mountains and surprisingly loose video poker. Casinos can be isolated, but they typically have several bars and restaurants, as well as entertainment options. And their security makes them a great choice for women travelling alone.
Upstate New York is a fabulous place for a road trip, filled with intriguing history and natural wonders. I hope this post helps you find a pleasant place to sleep between adventures.
a note on tipping
in the wake of lockdown
Prior to lockdown, I would normally tip hotel maids $2-4/day, depending on how satisfied I was. But these days, with the government paying people not to work, daily maid service is spotty. I want to reward the people who are working anyway, but it sticks in my craw to pay for service I’m not getting. Fortunately, in a way, rooms in hotels that have done away with daily room cleaning tend to be so filthy that I wouldn’t tip the maids there anyway. In the rare case where I’ve found an acceptably clean room in hotel without daily maid service, I’ve compromised by leaving one day’s tip.