Tru by Hilton Oklahoma City and Austin Airport Review
Usually, I do not write reviews of hotels because it is too hard to compete with TripAdvisor and not enough people end up reading the review. I initially wrote this review back in 2017 and I only reviewed Tru by Hilton because it was a brand-new hotel concept by Hilton Hotels and maybe being one of the first to review the OKC Airport property would change that. Unfortunately, it didn't ;) At the time of this review (Oct 2017), there were only six Tru by Hilton's opened, and all were located in the US. Another thirteen were to open in early 2018. They initially opened locations in mid-markets like; OKC, Cheyenne (WY), Murfreesboro (TN), Buffalo, Boise, Louisville and Portland (ME). But a person at the OKC hotel told me Hilton planed on opening 500 Tru's in the next five years. Well, five years later they haven't opened 500, but have opened over 200 hotels in the US & Canada and are slated to open some properties in the Caribbean and Latin America. I guess my OKC stay did not impress me much because I hadn't stayed at another Tru until last week (April 2022) when I stayed at the Austin Airport location. The first thing I noticed in Austin was how similar the layout was to the OKC Airport location and most everything I wrote in my initial review is still accurate. So, since it has been a while since I posted a review (working on a few) I thought it wouldn't take long to update my initial review and was worth posting
The OKC Airport property had only been opened for a few months (not sure if it was the first Tru). The last time I was in Oklahoma City (May 2017) I stopped by the hotel to have a look and it was just their 2nd or 3rd day opened. To be honest, I wasn't overly enthused with what I saw at that time, but I decided to give it a try on this visit. Partly because I was curious what the hotel had to offer and how it was different from the Hampton and Hilton Garden Inn's and partly because I get tired of staying at the HGI (have stayed at the OKC Airport location many times). Plus the rate was a little under $100 for the night.
When I arrived at the hotel the first thing I noticed, like the Hampton Inn, there are parking spaces designated for Hilton Honors Diamond members. This is a nice benefit, but I often wonder if people adhere to this. When I came back for the day I was unable to park in any of the four designated spots (in fact, I had trouble parking anywhere). The hotel and parking area are compact so all spaces are close to either entrance (entrance in the back as well). The same was true at Austin location. No Diamond member spots but parking was very close to entrance. Check-in was quick and the person who checked me in was pleasant and greeted me with a smile (same in Austin). She went over the usual information regarding Wi-Fi and breakfast, and also went over some of the features of Tru. You do not need to be a Honors members to receive free breakfast or free Wi-Fi. It is complimentary to all guests. Before I was off to my room, the front desk agent gave me a bag with bottled water and a couple small snacks (for Gold & Diamond Honors members).
Tru by Hilton caters to the traveler who may not just want to stay in their room and eat room service, but rather spend time in a social setting. My guess is they are trying to reach the younger professional (Millennial). On Tru's site they even say that it is a new hotel experience from Hilton that is vibrant, affordable and young-at-heart. The lobby area reflects this. It is quite large and open with many couches and places to sit. Some are work stations while others are more for meeting and interacting with people. There is even a pool table that in the lobby area with a few flat-screen TV's around. The breakfast area is adjacent to this area. There are a small amount of drinks (including beer & wine) and snacks that can be purchased at the front desk consisting of not only the usual chips and candy, but also locally themed items. Complimentary LaVazza coffee, tea & hot chocolate are available 24 hours a day. One thing that is not available in the lobby, but is at other Hilton properties, is a business center or computer station. There is one small tablet with pre-loaded information on the local area, that can also access the internet, but is hardly a substitute for a computer (Austin had the same). Now, I am sure most of the people that are staying at Tru have their own device, I just like using a traditional computer. Free wireless printing is available from anywhere in the hotel (I assume you pick up the printed material at the front desk). Also, there are plenty of outlets throughout the lobby area.
I'm not sure if all Tru By Hilton will have the exact same layout and amenities, but the Oklahoma City and Austin locations I stayed at did not have pools. There are two other properties being built adjacent (the three hotels will make a U) to this hotel. The front desk clerk told me that Tru By Hilton are franchised and that the person that franchises this Tru is also building a La Quinta and another budget hotel (I think Fairfield Inn) that will have a swimming pool that guests from Tru can use. The Austn Airport location is also in a cluster of other properties much like OKC, but I did not ask about pool access. While there was no pool both locations had a Fitness Room that consists of a few treadmills. Near the fitness room there is a board with suggestions of local activities, or places to eat, drink, or to visit.
Catering to a younger market you would think the breakfast would focus on more healthy options and while whole fruit and oatmeal are available, Tru promotes their "Top It" breakfast. There are 30 toppings (most of which are indulgent) for cereal or yogurt (or to eat on their own). Now don't get me wrong, I am all for unhealthy food choices. In fact, I enjoyed the donuts and bagels very much. Most hotels in this class serve cereal and a stale Danish or if you're lucky, some kind of fake Waffles. But since this was my first stay, I liked the concept of breakfast. However, I think if I stayed at Tru's regularly I may get tired of the breakfast choices like I have at the Hilton Garden Inn. The Austin hotel had a larger selection of Breakfast items. Not sure if all locations expanded their offerings since my OKC stay or this location has a larger choice, but Austin did have Waffle and Pancake makers as well as Scrambled Eggs and Sausage. I can't say any of these were overly enjoyable, but they were edible. I don't remember seeing the toppings in Austin and they did not have Donuts like the OKC Airport had.
The rooms reminded me of staying at a hotel in Scandinavia. Minimalistic, yet functional. My double was slightly smaller than a typical US hotel, but certainly didn't feel cramped. My one complaint with the space (or lack of) is there isn't a desk to sit at to work or use your laptop. I had to pick up the one chair and bring it to a long narrow desk along the wall. I was able to use my laptop, but just barely. On the subject of Wi-Fi. It wasn't as bad as many Hilton properties I have stayed, but it certainly was frustrating and can't be called high-speed. My room in Austin was about the same size, but I noticed that there was a small extension at the end of the building for the last 3 rooms. So maybe a tiny bit larger. The Austin room had a very small desk but was large enough for me to sit and do work. The Wi-Fi was also better (could be I have new laptop). There is a small refrigerator hidden under a table in what can be best described as an open closet that consists of a few hangers and a small ironing board as well. The bright spot for me was the 55" flat screen TV with over 150 channels of DIRECTV. I actually watched TV. The bed-spread was a little drab, but the pillows were decent quality and the bed was comfortable (much more comfortable than HGI or Hampton beds). There is not a lot of room to store your luggage as there are no drawers. Besides the few hangers there is also three hooks on the wall you could hang your clothes or jackets. As I was traveling alone and just for one night I had more than enough space just leaving my suitcase on the second bed. But if traveling with a family or for an extended stay the lack of space for your clothes could be an issue. Now, there is a clever space under the bed for storing your suitcase and there may also be a spot on the heater/air-conditioner (strange place, but there are straps over the unit). The Austin location did not have this contraption over the heater (maybe deemed a fire hazard) but did have a luggage stand against the wall (actually against adjoining room door). The temperature was controlled by thermostat on the wall. The only difference between the rooms was the desk against the wall and lighting.
Unlike the room, the bathroom was decent size for this style of hotel. The soap, lotion, shampoo and conditioner are not in the usual travel size bottles, but in a permanent squeezable container next to the sink and in the shower. The lotion had a pleasant scent, and I had no problem taking a shower and getting a nice lather. The shower was easy enough to operate with decent pressure (took a few minutes for water to get hot in Austin). A hairdryer is available on a hook on the wall. Maybe because they are new, but the towels were much nicer than I expected (same in Austin). The quality was what you would expect from a mid tier hotel.
With each property in their portfolio, Hilton seems to be going after a different consumer. I have stayed in all the different Hilton brands except for Homewood Suites and Tru is definitely a unique experience compared to any of the other Hilton properties I've stayed. Tru will not be my first choice to stay in a city if there are more Hilton hotels to choose from, but I would also have no problem staying at another Tru again. Especially if, like in Austin, it is the only affordable option. I doubt it will be another five years before I stay in a TRU again. My biggest complaint with my stay came a week or two after I checked-out (which was quick and easy). I just happened to look at my HHonor's account and saw that I earned fewer points from this stay. I researched further and Tru by Hilton (like Home2 Suites) only award 5 points per dollar spent as opposed to the 10 points per dollar that the rest of the Hilton properties do.