Quick Review: Hilton Pensacola Beach Gulf Front

A few nights ago, I decided to make the two hour drive from Panama City Beach and head over to Pensacola to ring in the New Year with some friends. I’m through with celebrating locally and I didn’t make it out to the Fiesta Bowl in Phoenix to see my University of Central Florida Knights take on the Baylor Bears, so this felt like a good idea. Being Hilton HHonors Diamond and SPG Gold, I usually have a few options in most cities for different hotels. Hilton clearly dominates the Pensacola area and Starwood has no properties in Pensacola, so the decision was pretty easy on that front.

The next decision was more difficult though. There were plenty of Hampton Inns near-ish to downtown as well as a full service Hilton located on the beach in Pensacola Beach. Some quick research online had people saying that the Hilton had great Diamond recognition and people reported getting upgrades easily even during the busiest of the summer seasons. Considering that there are approximately 91 suites at this property, I figured I had a pretty good chance, and at the very least I would wind up in a standard room, but at least looking out to the Gulf of Mexico. I made my reservation for $149/night for one night before taxes, even though there were Hampton Inn properties that were $20-40 less per night. I was betting that the internet was right.

I drove over to Pensacola that evening getting to the Hilton around 7PM. The lobby looked a bit busy, but it seemed to be just people waiting for rides or for cars to dropped off by the valet. Let’s start with first impressions as I was being checked in. To start, the agents just seemed indifferent about going through the motions. I was quickly thanked for being a Diamond member when I asked about an upgrade. I am fully aware that upgrades are on a space-available basis and tonight certainly had to be busy, so when I was told there was none and although I was disappointed, I accepted it. I had requested a King Room when making my reservation, so after being shot down for the upgrade I asked if they had any King Rooms available. Apparently there was just one available on the property and it was on the ground floor facing the parking lot. Passing on that option, they made my keys, gave me two bottles of water, and a breakfast voucher for the next day.

I took the slow elevator up to the 4th floor to find my room, 421. A room with two queen beds, it was a bit on the small side and had more of a Hampton Inn/Hilton Garden Inn feel to it. Especially my view: the parking lot. It was at this point that I started to think to myself that I would have been better off staying at the Hampton Inn in Gulf Breeze or by the Pensacola Airport. Heck, the room probably would have been larger at either. I quickly got ready and then had the front desk arrange for a shuttle to take me into Downtown Pensacola to meet with my friends who were staying at the Crowne Plaza.

2 Queen Beds Room

Work Area + TV

Fridge + Microwave + Coffee Maker

View From The Room

That night was pretty fun: bar hopping around downtown Pensacola at several places before winding up at the dueling piano bar at Seville Quarter. I drank my fair share during the night, especially since I knew I wouldn’t have to drive to get back to my hotel.

Panama City Beach Has Drops A Beach Ball, Pensacola Has The Pelican Drop

Dueling Piano Bar – Seville Quarter Pensacola

The next morning I woke up in my bed at the Hilton without even the slightest hangover. As far as I was concerned, 2014 was a great year thus far. Then I decided to take a shower. Quickly my morning turned upside down – there wasn’t any hot water at 10:30am. At best the water was lukewarm and as I took my shower, it only got colder. Who wants to take a cold shower? I mean that really did put me into a it of a sour mood and I wonder how this property can’t seem to meet the demand of guests using hot water; I don’t think I’ve really ever had this problem in a hotel before. Additionally, when I got out of the shower, I noticed several of the towels had holes in them! I mean really, how cheap do you have to be to keep reusing beat up towels; I don’t even expect that from a Super 8 Motel!

I will add that after making a comment on Twitter, someone from Hilton Worldwide did reach out to me via email to address my concerns. However it’s been three days since I responded to their initial email with no response. Wonder if I’ll get a response next week, I really would like some of my concerns to be passed on to the hotel, because I do believe in providing feedback whether good or bad. It’s the same reason that every time Delta sends me a survey about a flight, I almost always fill it out.

Needless to say at this point, my opinion of the hotel seemed contrary to what I had read online. Those who say that this property excels at treating Diamond members must have low expectations as this hotel is barely doing the bare minimum of what is required by Hilton Worldwide. Great properties go out of their way to ensure a great stay for loyal customers; I honestly have averaged better treatment at Starwood hotels with SPG Gold than I got at this Hilton as a Diamond customer. Other Hilton properties, including the Doubletree Mission Valley, will continue to get my business, but next time if I’m in Pensacola, this wont be the place for me.

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