One of my goals for this year as a self proclaimed ‘Mommy Blogger’ was to start branching out and doing more locally. I love ALL of my readers but I also thought it would be neat to do some special stuff for those nearby. I’ve always enjoyed playing tourist in my own town. I seem to always discover new things that way!
My first order of business this year was signing on as part of the Columbia SC Mom’s Blog team. I’ve only posted a couple of times for them so far (once a month) but it’s motivating me to split my focus between product reviews, personal experiences, and now local happenings!
My very first local collaboration was such a fun and exciting experience! I first connected with Tru by Hilton Columbia a couple of months ago. We met through Instagram, but I quickly realized I’d noticed the hotel’s construction one day when I was at the mall. I already knew it looked like a really cool hotel, and the best part is that it’s pretty close to my house!
Staycations are not a new thing for me. I’ve always loved staying in hotels…even if they are only 5 minutes away. My mom took my on my first staycation when I was about 10 years old. We drove 10 minutes or so to a nearby Wyndham hotel and had a blast together swimming in the pool, trying the hot tub, and grabbing dinner at a nearby restaurant. It’s experiences like these that I strive to give Leopold, because they were so special to me!
My partnership with Tru was a couple months in the making, while construction wrapped up. By the time the weekend arrived, I was SO excited! This hotel did not disappoint! The Tru by Hilton line of hotels aim to be an entirely different experience than many hotel goers are used to. It’s trendy, but not in a tacky way. The room I stayed in had two queen beds and was a good size. Not HUGE but not tiny by any means. It looked to be a standard hotel room, but with a cleaner finish and minimalist look to it.
The bathroom was large and had all the amenities I could think of needing. They use “Not Soap, Radio” soap dispensers that are very different and fun (and the soaps all smell amazing). When my husband arrived after work, he took a very long shower! I didn’t use the shower but judging on how long his shower was, I’d say it was a pretty good experience. Not to mention he told me it was great 😉
There was a lot of attention to detail, especially in the decor. I loved how each floor had a large number on the wall so you would know you’re in the right place. Leopold loved taking photos by those!!
On the ground floor while you’re waiting on an elevator, check out the white boards that are decked out with ideas for local places to eat, sights to see, and places to shop!
There is no pool here (I suggest a small lap lane right out the back window) but I don’t think a pool is always necessary!
This Tru hotel does have a pretty neat looking workout room. There are cardio machines and some awesome weight lifting pieces available. I obviously didn’t use any of it, but if you don’t want to miss leg day, you don’t have to!
I especially loved the vibe in the main lobby. It reminded me of my time staying in trendy hostels across Europe. The main floor usually encourages community, and that’s exactly what I got out of this lobby! There are charging ports EVERYWHERE. Every table, all over the walls, even in the seating! No matter where you sit, eat or play, having a dead battery will never be an issue. Speaking of seats, all of the seating around the lobby is fun and inviting! Half of our time here was just trying out different seats! Leopold loved running and rolling around on the couches, and he really loved the swinging chairs!
The lobby is also equipped with games, reading materials, a pool table, and a ton of snacks for purchase. I loved the selection available, like cold drinks, ice cream, alcohol, snacks, and my favorite section, local goodies!
Have I mentioned the coffee?? It’s one of the best brands I know, LaVazza, and it’s available for free ALL THE TIME. That’s what I’m talking about!!
Leopold and I checked in at 2:30 pm, and after settling into our room for a little bit (and watching some Paw Patrol) we went exploring. I got to meet some of the staff and some awesome ladies that helped my collaboration come together. Leopold got a big cookie and found an orange chair and was happy as a clam!
Leopold’s favorite part, I believe, was playing the games that were available in the lobby. We found chutes and ladders and while he had no concept of the actual game play, he loved it so much. Any time we went up to our room he kept asking to go back down to play games. My husband arrived after work (and letting the dogs out. Another staycation perk!) and we decided to head to dinner at one of our favorite local places.
The British Bulldog Pub is actually written on the boards by the elevators that I mentioned earlier! We have been coming here a good bit lately…it’s just so good! We love the hearty, filling British foods and so far we haven’t tried anything we didn’t like! My husband favors the meat pies, and I love the chip menu as well as the goat cheese burger. A great thing about this place is that when the weather is nice, you can sit at one of the picnic tables outside. Right next door is a splash pad and playground, which makes the British Bulldog great for families too!
(They didn’t comp us or pay us or anything, we just really like it!)
My mother in law had just returned from Africa that morning so she and my father in law joined us for dinner and we each got a dessert, which we rarely do. They were all fantastic!
We got back to the hotel pretty late, so we went right up to bed. It didn’t take long for Leopold to pass out. I brought his Dock A Tot and some stuffed toys, and laid in the bed next to him until he drifted off.
The pillows were amazing and the beds were pretty comfy! I did forget my pregnancy pillow, and James turned the air to 62 degrees. Between the cold air blowing and general pregnancy discomfort, I slept pretty terribly. Naturally after going to bed close to 11pm, Leopold woke with a fury at 6am sharp. Luckily, the window covers did an amazing job at keeping out virtually all light from outside.
We hung out in bed watching cartoons until it was time for breakfast, which I was pretty excited for. Breakfast started at 7 and we were probably there by 7:30! I believe breakfast is open until 10. That’s a nice change from some hotels who shut it down closer to 9am!
Their breakfast buffet was fantastic. FANTASTIC. So much so, I wish there was a way I could come and eat there like it was a Waffle House! Hey Tru Hotels, can we locals pay for a punch card situation?? 25$ for 5 punches on the punch card? Just a suggestion 😉
I was a little sad that the waffle boat maker hadn’t arrived yet, because I’ve never tried anything like that! There is a bagel wall and donuts, pastries, cereal and fruit, as well as hot foods like sausage, eggs, and grits. I really enjoyed their grits, especially after adding some cheese, butter, eggs, and salt & pepper! For the waffle bowls (sigh...) they had a selection of syrups, sprinkles, sugars and candy toppings you could add for that early morning sugar rush!
Checking out was a breeze, and the staff was just as friendly and accommodating as the night before.
After going home to rest for a bit (Leopold actually took a nap for once) we went out for treats as another part of our staycation weekend!
I also partnered up with Steam and Ice for this staycation. S&I is a new and hip local milkshake shop that is directly around the corner from the hotel.
The owner is from California, so you know it must be cool 😉 She and I chatted over email and she was so sweet! She told me to meet up with the manager of S&I and I could sample a few of their new drinks that were set to debut that Monday.
Our Samples (L to R): Black Sea Salty Cream Coffee, Chocolate Waterfalls Milkshake, Almond Cookie Butter Protein shake, Unrivaled Milkshake (Biscoff Cookie, caramel ice cream, and caramel cotton candy), Pina Colada smoothie, Minty Chip milkshake.
They SPOILED us. I definitely had way too much sugar! But every drink they brought out to us was phenomenal. Steam & Ice has a little something for everyone. Hot and iced coffee, milkshakes (topped with cotton candy), protein shakes, and even smoothies. I love the reusable glass bottles the drinks are served in, too! If you purchase a milkshake in a bottle and bring the bottle back next time, you get 50 cents off your beverage. If you buy the coffee cup, it’s a whole dollar cheaper next time you bring it in!
Steam and Ice has been around for only a few months so I’m wondering how I’m only just discovering it!! This is another reason staycations are important. You discover places you may have never noticed!
S&I would be a great place to take your child as a special treat, or for a first date even! It’s definitely a special place that you really must try!
Would you take a staycation in your own city?? What would you want to do while you were ‘getting away’? Try a new restaurant, explore and look for new places, or just chill in your hotel room and get some rest?