New York Hotels

AFTER I read Anne McDonough's piece ["Checking In With NYC's Chain Gang," July 17], I wanted to mention biddingfortravel.com and Priceline.com.

In the past year, I or my husband have stayed at four-star hotels in New York (the Sheraton Manhattan, Marriott Marquis, Hilton Times Square and Grand Hyatt) for $110, $125 and $130 per night, using Priceline with tips from biddingfortravel.com.

I have always had wonderful rooms -- but no breakfasts, although all the hotels had coffee makers.

I realize the idea of not being able to choose your exact hotel is an issue for some people, but I would take any of these hotels over the ones in the article (although not if I had to pay the $255 or $309 the rooms are advertised for -- even on discount sites).

We are going to Stowe, Vt., next month, staying at the Trapp Family Lodge for $55 a night. Orbitz is showing it from $245 a night, and the hotel itself is showing higher rates.

Andrea Kline

Silver Spring

ALTHOUGH THE low-frills lodging article had some good ideas for budget-minded travelers, the four additional taxes and fees that accompany all Manhattan hotel rooms should have also been detailed in this article, since they become significant add-ons to those bargain rates. Your failure to disclose these costs was a disservice to your readers. Specifically, they are:

* 8.375 percent state room tax (thanks for staying overnight in New York State).

* 5 percent room occupancy tax (thanks for staying overnight in New York City).

* $2 city tax (Mayor Bloomberg's personal appreciation for your overnight stay in New York City).

* $1.50 Javits Center fee (thanks for paying for New York City's public works projects).

Kate Schwarz

Fairfax

Outer Banks Routes

REGARDING YOUR item on driving to the Outer Banks [Coming and Going, July 17]: You recommended Route 301 as an alternate to I-95, but are you aware that Route 301 has 42 traffic lights in the 42 miles between Route 50 and the Potomac River Bridge?

Unless you are starting from Maryland, a better route is to take I-95 to Exit 130 at Falmouth, Va., and from there take Warrenton Road/Route 17 to Virginia Route 3, to Route 301. In fact, by turning right on Washington Street in Falmouth, just short of where Warrenton Road crosses Route 1, you can take River Road via an underpass to Route 3 and avoid any backup at the Route 1 traffic light.

There is a way to avoid both I-95 and Route 1 between Aquia (Exit 143) and Route 301, but out of consideration for the rural folks along that route I will not reveal it.

Gordon White

Hardyville, Va.

Disneyland

MY FAVORITE TIP for Disneyland and Disney World ["What a Ride!", July 17] will make no sense until you actually get down there: Stay left. There are always two lines/lanes going into each exhibit. People always line up on the right side of the ropes. If you go down the left side of the ropes, you will save an amazing amount of time not standing in line.

Donna Ingersoll

Fort Washington

Old Alarm

I WAS AMUSED to read of your fascination with the Shake Awake alarm clock [It Came in the Mail, July 3]. It was originally designed as a traveling alarm clock for the deaf. I've had one since my senior year of high school, when my parents bought it as a gift when I went on a trip. It can be purchased through many supply outlets for the deaf, such as SoundBytes.com.

I've also found that mobile phones set to vibrate can serve as alarms in the event I forget my clock. They usually have to be clipped to one's PJs, though, and thus greatly increase potential odd bruising from rolling over on one's phone.

Thanks for the story. It is always funny to me when hearing people discover the secrets of the deaf!

Elizabeth Bagioni

Arlington

Zion Eats

THE ARTICLE on Zion National Park ["Park It . . . Then Park It," July 3] mentioned the Bit and Spur as a good place to eat. A better restaurant is the Switchback, right across the street. A first-class restaurant in a small town.

James Shumate

Harpers Ferry, W. Va.

Donating Miles

I HAVE now donated frequent-flier miles to the Fisher Foundation, thanks to your column [Coming and Going, July 10]. I have tried numerous times to get Delta to tell me how to do this. They did not answer notes, letters or calls and, in fact, were careful not to put a return address on some of their mail. So thank you very much.

Louise Diver

Montgomery Village

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