Roanoke, VA - Hotel Roanoke, A Doubletree Hotel
Address: 110 Shenandoah Avenue Phone: 540-985-5900
Location/ Directions: I-81, Exit 143 (I-581 South) to Exit 5. Cross Wells Avenue and continue to the main entrance of the hotel.
Average Price (Checked Jul 2010): $159 + AAA Rated: YES Stars: ***3***
About Hotel: 7-Story, Interior Corridors, A Historic Hotel once owned by the Norfolk & Western Railway. Air Conditioning, Ergonomic Desk Chair, Coffee Maker, Hairdryer, High Speed Internet Access, Iron/Ironing Board, Neutrogena(R) Bath Amenities, Newspaper (M-F), An abundance of jumbo down pillows, Two dual-line telephones in most rooms and voicemail, Flat screen HD TV's in every room, In-room complimentary coffee and tea, Express Check-Out. Dinning includes the award-winning Regency Dining Room to a casual atmosphere and lighter fare in The Pine Room Pub.
Railroad View: Very Good. Upper floors on the southeast side will provide the best railroad view, all south side rooms are on the railroad side. Trees may block view of lower level rooms. About 40+ trains during a 24-hour period pass the hotel; trains generally pass the hotel at less then 20-mph.
Railroads past Hotel: Norfolk Southern
Notes: A first class hotel! Rooms are on the small side (unless its a suite). Very nice, clean, and quiet. It’s difficult to hear the trains passing. A great place to stay if in the area. Price is higher than most other hotels in the region. There is a charge for parking. The hotel has a live "RailCam" on their website that provides a view of passing trains similar to hotel room views on the southeast side of the hotel.
Comments: Staying in this hotel can provides you with a day of railfanning without your automobile. There is a pedestrian bridge in front of the hotel that will let you cross the tracks. View from the bridge is nice, but it is glassed in (enclosed), pictures from the bridge are poor due to the glare from the windows (windows could also use a cleaning). Norfolk Southern’s Roanoke Locomotive Shops can be seen just east of the pedestrian bridge. Just outside the hotel is the Roanoke passenger train station, now converted into the O. Winston Link Museum. Mr. Link was popular railroad photographer that captured the end of steam on the N&W Railroad. You learn a lot about the end of steam era, several movies are entertaining. Once you walk across to the south side of the tracks, you can walk down the Roanoke RailWalk, a walking path that starts at the hotel, and continues west along the Norfolk Southern tracks to the Virginia Museum of Transportation. Along the path, there are historic signs & railroad memorabilia displayed. The transportation museum is a must see, a large number of locomotives & rolling stock are displayed at the museum (along with N&W steam locomotives # 611 + # 1218). The museum is located at east end of NS's Roanoke Yard. Road trains & switching moves pass the museum often.
Photo Comments: During my last stay here in 2008, I didn't have a choice room, I was on a high floor located over the front lobby. The views of the trains were done by peaking between the trees. An elevator ride downstairs put me right in the action. The hotel & rooms are very nicely decorated.
Roanoke, VA - Cambria Suites
Address: 301 Reserve Avenue Phone: (540) 400-6226
Location/ Directions: I-81 to 581 7 miles to Wonju Exit - straight to 1st traffic light - turn left - go to second traffice light and turn right on Reserve Avenue. Hotel is on the left
Average Price (Checked Jun 2014): $139.00 AAA Rated: n/a Stars: n/a
About Hotel: 5-Story, 127-Rooms, Interior Corridors, Elevator, Bus & Truck Parking, Business Center, Lounge/Bar, Coffee Shop, Convenience Store, Courtesy Transportation, Fitness Center, Free Airport Transportation, Free High Speed Internet, Guest Laundry, Indoor Heated Pool, Indoor Whirlpool/Hot Tub, No Pets Allowed, Restaurant, 100% Smoke Free Hotel, Speaker Phone, Sun Deck, Charge for Full Breakfast, Wide screen HD Cable/Satellite TV, Free Local Calls, Free Newspaper Mon-Fri, Free Wireless High Speed Internet Access, Hair Dryer, In-Room Coffee Maker, In-Room Desk, Individual A/C & Heat, Iron & Ironing Board, Microwave, Multiple Phone Lines, Refrigerator, Room Service, Voice Mail, Wake-Up Service, CD/DVD Included in TV.
Railroad View: Excellent View! The hotel is located next to South Roanoke Yard (Former Virginian Railway). Most rooms in the hotel will offer a railroad view. I recommend high floor rooms on the east side of the building (Such as rooms that end with 01,02,03,04,05,06,07,08,09, 10, 11, see floor plan). Rooms with windows facing east will not only have a great view of South Yard, but will also have a view of the former Norfolk & Western main train that runs south out of the city. Also within view are the "Fuel Tracks" where locomotives in South Yard get serviced and are tied up between shifts. The hotel is well insulated, and difficult to hear trains with the windows closed. The windows in the hotel do open which makes hearing passing trains a bit easier. At night, you can see trains, but it will be too dark to video or read locomotive numbers.
Railroads past Hotel: Norfolk Southern Railway. (South Roanoke Yard outside hotel is former Virginian Railway), the former Norfolk & Western mainline that runs south out of Roanoke can also be seen from rooms facing east.
Notes: The hotel was built in 2010, and during my 2014 visit it looked brand new! This is an isolated location, you would be best with an automobile to access food outside the hotel, although a restaurant is on site.
Comments: Very nice hotel, large rooms. Photography from the hotel is great in the morning / early afternoon. The 100+ year old Virginian Railway station is located at JK Junction, just out of view to the east of the hotel. As of my visit in 2014, the station is closed, fenced off and waiting to be restored.
Photo Comments: Views from room # 405 on a cloudy morning show the activity on a Friday morning. Most trains seen from the hotel will be coal will be coal trains. Left photo shows a eastward facing train pulling into the South Yard. The street along the tracks is a public road and a great place to photograph trains within walking distance from the hotel. This photo was taken with a zoom lens. Below Right: Same photo without the zoom shows the view looking northeast from the room. The view is great!
Photo of South Roanoke Yard:
Captured with a 105mm zoom lens from room # 405, the Fuel Tracks in South Yard are where the group of locomotives is parked. South Yard is a coal train yard. Most of the trains through the yard during my visit consisted of coal trains. The yard is fairly busy. The fuel tracks are a short walk from the hotel.
Bottom photo: Another photo shot with 105mm zoom lens shows a Norfolk Southern coal train passing over the Roanoke River. The view is also seen from Room # 405. This train is on the former Norfolk & Western mainline. This view is only available from rooms on the east side (rooms that end with: 01, 02, 03, 04, 05, 06, 07, 08, 09, maybe 10). This is a coal train facing northward.
Floor Plan: The image of the floor plan should help you select the perfect room. I recommend rooms on the east side of the building (Rooms ending with: 01, 02, 03, 04, 05, 06, 07, 08, 09). Although they do not face the tracks directly, you can view the entire east end of South Yard. Plus you also will achieve a view of the N&W mainline in the distance. Rooms that face South Yard directly are rooms that end with 10, 11, 20, 21, 22, 23, and maybe 24. These rooms will not have a view of the N&W line. Rooms that face west end with 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19. These westward facing rooms do not face the tracks directly, but will have a limited view of South Yard. The limited view is due to the Franklyn Road overpass which is located on the west-side of the hotel.