Travelers to Bellingham, WA often search for affordable lodging located within the Guide Meridian Shopping District. The area is on the northern edge of the city, where the I-5 freeway and State Route 539 (Guide Meridian Street) intersect. It is the hub of discount shopping in Bellingham, which is especially popular with our friends from Canada. The Guide Meridian is also close to Bellingham International Airport and Northwest Soccer Fields, and only 15 minutes from the city’s historic downtown and Fairhaven districts.
Five name-brand, family-friendly hotels are located near each other on this one-mile stretch. Including (from north to south): Comfort Inn, Quality Inn Grand Suites, Baymont Inn & Suites, Holiday Inn Express, Best Western Heritage Inn. Which one is right for you? I recently visited each property to compile this round-up of amenities and locations. Interestingly, all of the hotels are on the east side of the street, while much of the major shopping is on the west side.
Comfort Inn (360-738-1100) is just north of the Kellogg Road intersection on Guide Meridian across the street from Costco. It has the distinction of having won the Choice Hotels Gold Award in 2013 and for the past 7 years in a row. “This puts us in the top 10 percent of all Comfort Inns in the nation,” said Brant Baron, hotel manager. The hotel has also received a 2013 Excellence Award from Trip Advisor. “We pride ourselves on offering clean, comfortable rooms at the best value in town, with personalized service,” Baron explained. Comfort Inn has 85 rooms with indoor hallways, and one 8-person suite with a full kitchen, separate bedroom and dining area.
Amenities include: free hot breakfast daily, indoor heated pool, free Wi-Fi, and free weekday newspaper. All rooms include refrigerators and microwaves. A fun feature is a freezer in the lobby with ice cream bars and U-bake pizza for sale.
The hotel shares a back parking lot access with the Quality Inn Grand Suites next door, which opens onto the quieter Kellogg Road and allows easier access onto Meridian at the intersection. The Olive Garden restaurant is walking distance, half a block south.
Comfort Inn is also a convenient location for parking at Bellingham airport. A Park and Fly package with the purchase of a room night booked through the hotel offers 7 days free parking and $6 for each additional day up to a maximum of 14 days. Comfort Inn features a 24-hour complimentary shuttle service to and from Bellingham airport for guests.
Quality Inn Grand Suites (360-647-8000) faces Kellogg Road, which threw off the GPS on my phone. I have marked its correct location on the map above. It is part of the Choice Hotels group. This hotel is 100 percent non-smoking. It has 86 rooms and outdoor hallways around a central outdoor pool. Eight rooms have kitchenettes, including one with two king beds. “We see lots of shoppers and lots of families,” said general manager Brian Beard. “Soccer teams often re-book here up to a year in advance.”
Amenities include: free hot breakfast daily, free wifi, free daily newspaper, a seasonal outdoor pool, a year-round hot-tub. All rooms include refrigerators and microwaves. The hotel also features a business center and two meeting rooms. This hotel is also pet-friendly for a fee.
Bellingham airport parking: Quality Inn’s Park and Fly package is good Sept. 1 through May 31. If the package is booked directly through the front desk, or through Choice Hotels, it includes a room night and 7 days free parking, then $6 per additional day of parking up to 14 days maximum.
The nearest restaurant is the Olive Garden, which is just across the parking lot.
Baymont Inn & Suites (360-671-6200) is located directly across Kellogg Road from the Quality Inn and Comfort Inn. Baymont is a Wyndham hotel with 70 rooms. The staff gets a lot of compliments for being helpful and friendly. “Many of us on staff grew up here, so we know the area really well and the great hidden spots to go,” said Megan Greenwalt at the front desk.
Amenities include: pet-friendly rooms, free breakfast, free Wi-Fi, seasonal outdoor pool, year-round hot tub, and free airport shuttle for guests. Kids under 17 stay free with an adult.
Bellingham Airport parking: Baymont’s Park and Fly package is $42 for one to seven days of parking if booked directly through the hotel with a room stay, and $6 for each additional day of parking up to 14 days maximum. The hotel provides free shuttle service to and from the airport, which guests schedule in advance.
Here’s an unusual perk: the Baymont Inn has a large parking lot with easy access and allows guests free parking for large vehicles, such as trucks and trailers. “For example, we often have guests who are moving to Alaska and looking for a place to stay and park before they board the Alaska Ferry out of Bellingham,” said Megan.
The nearest restaurant for Baymont Inn is also Olive Garden.
Holiday Inn Express (360-671-4800) Part of an extremely popular and familiar chain, this hotel is almost hidden from Meridian Street. It is tucked in the Pacific Meridian Plaza, with access at the stoplight on Westerly Street. Turn east and head up the hill to find it. The hotel features 101 rooms on three floors with indoor hallways.
Amenities here include: free hot continental breakfast daily (with a pancake machine), heated indoor-pool, a barbeque and outdoor patio area for guest use, free transportation to Bellingham International Airport for guests, all rooms include refrigerator and microwave, free Wi-Fi.
Bellingham Airport Parking: The hotel’s Park and Fly package varies by date. Call the front desk to inquire. It includes two weeks maximum parking for $30-$50, with the purchase of a room-night and cab transportation to and from BLI.
Best Western Plus Heritage Inn (360-647-1912) Although part of the Best Western chain, the Heritage Inn is the most unique hotel on Bellingham’s Guide Meridian. As I wrote about after my recent stay, its patriot-era theme offers old world charm in a surprisingly quiet setting. It is tucked between the I-5 freeway and Guide Meridian. The address is McLeod road, but to get there, turn east onto Telegraph Road from Guide Meridian, and then into the shopping area on the right. The Heritage Inn is a campus-style property with 3 separate buildings. The majority of the rooms in the hotel feature two queen beds, which are brand new in 2013.
Amenities here include: free hot breakfast daily (with waffle makers), free coffee and cookies in the lobby, microwave and refrigerator in every room, free Wi-Fi, free movies, seasonal outdoor pool, year-round hot tub, 24-hour fitness center, a business center and two meeting rooms.
Extended parking: The Heritage Inn’s Sleep and Fly package includes 7 days free parking with the purchase of a room night, and $5 for each additional day. The hotel’s shuttle will soon be 24 hours/day, providing transportation to Bellingham’s airport, train station and ferry terminal, as well as to St. Joseph’s Hospital.
This hotel is technically across the street from the Bellis Fair Mall. It shares a parking lot with four restaurants: Mi Mexico, Thai House, Burger King and Denny’s. Across the street are McDonald’s, Red Robin, Boston’s Gourmet Pizza and Shari’s.
The Guide Meridian is Bellingham’s busiest shopping area and home to many more restaurants within a short drive. For great suggestions check out the new Bellingham Experience app! While in the lobbies of these hotels I overheard guests excitedly asking for directions to Bellingham’s waterfront areas, museums and wineries, which are all within easy access and provide a wonderful diversity of activities to enjoy.