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Once in a while, I like to imagine what it would be like to be back in the world of my earlier days in consulting – the ones where my project work had me often spending one or more weeks in the same city so that I had some sense of being anchored each day as I left for work and returned to my same temporary home. Too often those stays were in sterile limited service hotel properties with basic bed/desk/chair rooms.
In my fantasies of what life in an extended stay hotel might be like, a property like Element provides a cross between the solo comforts of home and the social comfort of a community.
My stay at Element Dallas-Fort Worth Airport North was unfortunately too brief to experience much of those too much of where those comforts might intersect, but yet enough to wet my appetite for another Element experience.
I arrived very late on a Monday night after flying in from a weekend trip. I had an appointment in Dallas early the next morning so driving home and then fighting traffic early the next morning did not appeal to me.
The hotel is easy to miss if you don’t know what you are looking for as it’s at a tricky intersection of a freeway and a major arterial road and is not easy to spot if you don’t know where to be looking. Fortunately I used to office around the corner so I knew how to access the property without making any excessive loop arounds.
The front desk was manned and checked me in quickly while recognizing my Starwood Platinum status. Recognizing that I was tired, the desk clerk quickly walked me though key amenities and information and I was soon en route to my room.
Along the way, I took note of the design of the hotel. Element is known for being a “green” brand inspired by Westin, which became apparent through some of the material choices for their finish out, which had a chic but industrial feel.
My one bedroom suite (room 436) was laid out in quadrants. I took photos of each as they appeared when I walked in (with just the natural room light at midnight).
On my left as I entered, the kitchen. It includes a dishwasher as well as a full-sized refrigerator. I like how the dinnerware is on a shelf – I hate looking for things in an unfamiliar space.
Beyond that, the living room. The small desk faces the sectional and there is a decently sized television on the opposite wall.
Then the cozy bedroom. The bedroom also has a wall-mounted television but is very space efficient. Yes, the bed looked a bit rumpled when I walked in the door. It felt less like a sterile hotel room and more like staying at a friend’s apartment.
And finally the bathroom. I love how bright everything is. It was very easy to put on my makeup and get ready.
I liked how the overall flow gave meaningful use to the living areas. Too often extended stay suites seem disjointed and sterile. This one was somewhere I might actually want to hang out, either alone or with friends. The layout made that welcoming and the furnishings provided the tools with which to do that.
There is also a closet area and around the apartment there are a couple of functional pieces that help with day-to-day living without being obtrusive (example: a folding table). I could see myself being comfortable there for several weeks or even months if necessary.
The property offers a complimentary breakfast bar each morning and has a small pantry with items for sale 24/7. Element boasts an outdoor fire pit and hosts a weekly communal barbecue for its guests, many of whom stay for weeks at a time.
The lobby has a welcoming living room feel to it and would be a nice place to meet up with colleagues or to relax with other guests.
I was pressed for time in the morning so I was unable to check out the pool or fitness area.
It’s important to remember that properties like Element are primarily designed to service more independent and/or longer term guests. As such, you won’t find some of the creature comforts a full service hotel will provide (like a restaurant). But in exchange, Element provides a sense of community and comfort that allows guests to retreat to their own private spaces for day-to-day living.
My check out took less than 60 seconds and I was in my way, refreshed from a good night of sleep and ready to revisit soon.
I’m a bit sad that none of my current work projects will take me near an Element any time soon. I’m looking forward to my next stay at one of the properties – enough so that I may start shopping for a new project soon!