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Budget chic lodging at Ruby 2 in Spokane

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Spokane has a new hotel. Sort of. The Howard Johnson on South Post, formerly a Ramada Inn, has now become Ruby 2, a sister hotel to Ruby.

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Confused?

Don’t worry about it. Just come stay here next time you need a budget yet chic room in downtown Spokane.

The rooms are simple and almost uniform: White comforter with a decorative strip of red cloth across the foot of the bed, variegated gray carpet and one black and white photo of an American icon on the wall. I got Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Some rooms featured Johnny Cash or Louis Armstrong. Amenities include a flat-screen TV, microwave, coffee maker and fridge. Bathrooms are shower only, with tasteful gray and white marbled walls and tiled showers. One annoying quirk is that the shower door only opens on the side through which you enter. This means you have to reach under the nozzle to turn the water on. There’s no escaping a blast of cold water.

Rooms come with an adequate but lackluster continental breakfast: coffee, orange juice, cold cereals, instant oatmeal, apples, oranges, bagels and make-your-own waffles. More importantly, guests have free use of a fleet of cruiser bikes. Ruby 2 is only a few blocks from the Spokane River, where you can ride on gently rolling paved paths. If you’re feeling energetic, the 37-mile Centennial Trail will take you all the way to the Idaho border. Bikes come with a helmet and lock but no lights, so plan to be back before dark.

Ruby 2 boasts an artsy parking garage. I didn’t have a car in Spokane, but I walked all the way around the garage admiring the sparkly, stylized pictures of dancers.

The friendly reception staff seem enthusiastic about the changes in the hotel. Other planned improvements include a new gym, a rooftop patio and movies shown in the parking lot, projected on the wall.

If you’re on a budget and attending an event at the Davenport, consider Ruby 2. Of course, you’ll be missing out on over-the-top furnishings and glamorous ghosts, but it’s half the cost and less than a block away. Another budget tip: Skip the $30 cab ride from the airport and take the #60 Browne’s Addition bus for $1.50. It stops two blocks away.

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