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DonRocks

Hampton by Hilton, Kinston, NC - 1382 Highway 258 South, 2 Miles from Chef & the Farmer

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Location and Rates - Website

Prologue - Part One

Well, I beat the traffic (barely), and I beat the storm (by a full day); now, I just needed to get well out of range, and find a decent place to stay. As I was driving South, I knew I'd be gone for at least several days, and decided to take advantage of the DC Snowstorm by making a themed vacation out of it. A couple months ago, I needed to go to New York, and decided to make that trip "the 2015 James Beard Semifinalists in New Jersey," hitting three of the four (Elements, The Flaky Tart, and Zeppoli); now, I'd do the same thing with "the 2015 James Beard Semifinalists in North Carolina," at least as well as I could under the circumstances: Given the track of the storm, I headed east, already knowing that on Friday evening, I'd be having dinner in Kinston.

Washington, DC to Kinston, NC is 293 miles - not brutal by any means, but considering I'd left mid-afternoon, I got in late, and was glad I had some provisions in the car. I got a two-night reservation at the Hampton by Hilton in Kinston which really didn't look like very much:

HamptonInnKinstonNC.jpg

but it had strong reviews online, and turned out to be the nicest hotel I'd stay in for the duration of my trip - which also turned out to be longer than I thought it would.

I guess I checked in around 8:30 (after a quick stop at Smoke & Brew ;)), fairly tired, and glad to have a warm, dry bed to sleep in. I'd gotten a special rate (*) of $89 a night, and these days, any decent hotel you can find under $100 seems downright cheap. Forget the outside of the hotel which is generic and bordering on ugly; this place was pretty nice inside, with an ingratiating front desk staff, clean rooms, a good mattress, a decent bathroom, small exercise room, and linens you have no problem sleeping in. 

Not only did I stay at the Hampton Inn, Kinston for two nights, I extended my reservation for a third. On a five-star scale, this is a three-star hotel, but it's a *solid* three-star hotel, with no outstanding weaknesses. As with all Hilton properties that I've stayed in of late, there's round-the-clock coffee, and it's not at all bad - I've mastered the trick of carrying three cups *and* pushing the elevator button; it's when you get to your room, and have to set them down on the ground where it gets a little tricky. Most Hampton Inns are individually owned franchises, it needs to be added, so even though there's some "Hilton consistency," there will still be variation from hotel-to-hotel - this place is one of the good ones.

Boy oh boy did it rain the next day, but I knew that what I was seeing as rain, was something a lot flakier than that 293 miles to the north - I was *so happy* to be here, and I was even happier when I went to dinner the following evening - this hotel is just a few minutes away from Chef & the Farmer. Also nearby is the CSS Neuse Memorial.

(*) Hey look, I'm not implying anything, but those of you over 50 are eligible for AARP at only $16 a year. I would *never*, of course, admit that I'm getting older by joining such an organization (cough, cough), but I'm just saying that you can get a consistent 10% off the lowest-available rates if you do join, and if you spend just two nights a year in hotels, the membership fee more than pays for itself. And this hotel felt like a steal at $89.

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