A bargain in Bar Harbor
From the most recent TripAdvisor reviews, I’d been a little trepidatious. I’d used Booking.com, my usual site when I’m looking for hotels, and found a little place right near the centre of Bar Harbor for an affordable price – when the average price was way out of my budget. It was called the Aurora Inn and Motel and it looked OK, nothing fancy but OK. The reviews were variable, but there were plenty of decent reviews to balance out the duds, so I booked. A few weeks later I had an email from the Quality Inn up the road saying that the hotel was being sold and did I want to transfer my booking? I chose not to, as the Aurora was closer to town, but as my travel dates got nearer, so the reviews got worse. Significantly worse. Pretty much every single one implored the traveller to stay away. I figured I’d see for myself, thinking that having rented a car, I could always stay further out of town to find something within my budget if the reviews were right.
I reached the address to find that the motel that matched the pictures now had a new name, Mount Desert Street Motel. There was a little confusion when I pitched up in the office bearing a booking for the old place, but the new owner, Stephen Coston, was quick to reassure me that if there was an billing issue, he’d sort it. It seemed that, because the previous owners had already decided to sell, my booking, though recognised by Booking.com, had never been transferred onto the system, and therefore the new owners didn’t know to expect me. Fortunately, being early in the season, there were plenty of rooms.
The Aurora Inn and Motel used to consist of three buildings. The rooms at the motel part of the Aurora Inn and Motel now form the Mount Desert Street Motel. Stephen and his mom Nancy run the place with the enthusiastic help of Gadget the dog. What was the Aurora Inn is being remodelled and will form an extension to another place, the Primrose Inn. And the rooms by the cafe, the part of the hotel that generated all the bad reviews, will now come under the Quality Inn, but hopefully with some improvements.
My room, I have to say, was an absolute steal at $87 per night, for a room that would sleep four. (Even better, my original booking was for a rate of $109, yet unprompted Stephen still let me have the discount rate.) For that I got the best night’s sleep of the trip so far, a genuine welcome and everything you’d expect from a US motel, including WiFi, loads of TV channels and a coffee machine and microwave in the room. The rooms have been remodelled with new soft furnishings and fresh paintwork. Most welcome was a decent hairdryer that actually dried hair. It was just a five minute walk into the heart of Bar Harbor. After a long but rewarding day exploring Acadia National Park, I was able to savour a much-wanted Allagash stout – something I couldn’t have done if I’d have stayed on the edge of town and driven in.
The new owners have got some work to do to build their business, but I wish them well.
You can find them at 68 Mount Desert Street, Bar Harbor, Maine, just a few minutes’ drive from Acadia National Park. Reserve via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone on 207-288-8300.