Great 1 night stay! A review of Ascend Collection Castillo Real
Let me begin by saying that I had researched places to stay near I-95 on our way down to Disney World and found St. Augustine to be a "perfect" place to stop in. The city itself was very beautiful I must say and I really hate that we couldn't stay but one night. Anyways, on to the review.....
I had wrote down three different hotels that I read reviews on from this site but could not find but one of those, the Le Fiesta or something like that. It really didn't *look* like my type of place so we didn't even bother stopping. Of course you can't always judge a book by its cover either as we learned when we stopped in at the Hampton Inn in St. Augs Beach. It looked nice on the outside at least. I asked if I could see a room first, which I always do, and found it to be kinda nasty looking really. It was alright I guess but while in the room I used the phone book and my cell to call a few other places. I called the Castillo Real and found their rate to be about $10 higher but after reading the yellow page ad and seeing they were a new hotel I zipped over there.
Once we arrived it was very obvious this was one of the nicer hotels in the area. The lobby is nice and the service was great with the check-in process happening quick.
The rooms were nicely decorated including a large (27"?) flat-screen (not LCD, just flat) Sony and a DVD player. Our room also included a mini-fridge, microwave, robes, iron, etc. even though it was the most basic room they had. The bathroom was large with plenty of room for two to get ready and the shower was GREAT. The amount of room in there allowed you to actually MOVE! What a novel idea! Having just come back from Disney's Boardwalk Inn I can say that this room blew that one away, easily. Oh, back to the shower. It's a large walk in variety with a curtain, no wall to step over, only a small step to keep the water in. We did not have a jacuzzi tub or any kind of tub for that matter but that was fine for our purpose.
The bed was great, very large and comfortable. We both slept great that night although after driving 7 hours or so I guess most people would! One note though, the AC was loud and woke us up a few times when it would come on. The room was also very clean as we do check in certain areas to see what kind of attention they pay to detail and the Castillo Real passed.
The only real downside or negative thing I could think of as far as the room goes was the lighting. There just simply isn't enough in there if you want to read. I'm sure that is a mood thing but I like to have plenty of light when necessary.
The room overall gets an A+.
Now to my favorite part, the food! When we first came up to the hotel I asked the front desk attendant where that good smelling food was coming from as we were starving. She pointed to the other side of the lobby where they had just opened (a couple weeks prior) a restaurant for dinner. After checking in we made our way straight back down to the restaurant to eat. It's a very dimly lit area (sorta like the rooms!) which is great for a couples dinner. Probably not where you want to bring your kids in other words. The menu is limited although you do have a wide variety of things to choose from (meat wise). It's also pretty pricey. We both had Filet Migon's with no appetizer or dessert and the bill was $60. They do bring out small appetizers as you wait though including a great selection of breads as well as olives. The salad that came with the food was good too. The filet's however were excellent. Both were great size and very tasty. A few days later I had dinner at the Brown Derby at MGM Studios and got the filet there as well and it was dreadful, especially in comparison to the filet I had at the Castillo Real. Needless to say we both walked away very pleased with dinner and would definitely try it again. They do however need to put in a fountain for soda's though as when I asked for a Coke they just opened up a canned soda and poured it in a glass and charged me $2 for it! lol It's not that the end result is that much different but for an upscale type of restaurant it's probably necessary. Of course they are new as I mentioned earlier so there will probably be some growing pains so I wasn't too concerned about something that trivial. Dinner gets an A.
Now to the BAD part of the food.....breakfast. After having such a wonderful dinner the previous night we were anxious to see what they could do for breakfast to get us started right. We were already use to the high prices so that didn't phase us this time as we both ordered the pancakes (bill including tip was $20). This was obviously a completely different "crew" for the breakfast shift which consisted of one cook and one waitress. She did fine but the cook was SLOW. It took a good 30 minutes just to get 2 TERRIBLE pancakes each. These were honestly the worst pancakes I have ever tried to eat. They had NO taste at all, barely any with the little packet of syrup they bring you. The breakfast gets a big 'ole F-!
We didn't get to use any of the facilities although the pool did look inviting. It had one of those mushroom things in it that drops water down for the kids, I'm sure they would love it if you have any. They also have a decent gym with a sauna AND steam room to use. I think they are still working in that area although all of those things seemed to be working just fine when we stopped in to check things out. Overall it seemed like this hotel is the perfect place to stay if you want to stay in St. Augustine away from the bustle of the town and down towards the beach instead. Although we didn't get to experience much of anything outside the room and dinner we had a great time and have already started thinking about returning to Castillo Real in the future!
Great hotel, great location, definitely a place you should consider!