Back in 2014, I still regularly participated at HAIF, a Houston forum. During that time, I noticed something that I originally posted here but I'll recreate below.
When going with someone to pick someone else up from the airport, I passed by two hotels, which is of course nothing spectacular but something else piqued my interest: they were connected by an enclosed bridge, with one being Park Inn by Radisson and the other Baymont Inn & Suites. This connection has been intact since the 1980s (the Park Inn was built in the 1970s). It's more than likely that these things have changed names over the years, but is there any story behind as to why these two hotels are connected? Is the bridge still open and they just left it like that? Were they originally one name?
There has to be a good story behind this. Does anyone know?
There was indeed, with a very knowledgeable person on the forum at the time, who helped explain that indeed it was built as a single hotel, with an addition created later. Naturally, the way it ended up like it did later was a complicated series of brand swaps. It opened as "Hilton Inn Intercontinental Airport" (whether Hilton Inn was used informally or if that was a more budget-oriented version of Hilton that existed at one time is still unknown to me) in 1979 and included a restaurant ("Wicker Works"), a nightclub ("Chaps", featuring country & western music), and a full-service bar ("Cycles"). The hotel was extremely successful for a modest two-story hotel, and in 1980 the hotel was expanded by creating a second two-story hotel building next to it and connecting them with a skywalk.
In late 1992, the hotel changed hands to Radisson Airport Hotel before changing to Clarion Inn in early 1993. This is the stated timeframe in which the exterior was redone and the "annex" building closed off shortly thereafter. In 1995, Hampton Inn opened in the "annex" at 502 N. Sam Houston Pkwy. E., and shared some guest privileges with the Clarion.
Around 2007, the original hotel became a Days Hotel, the more "upscale" brand of Days Inn at the time. Apparently, there was also a time in 2009 when the hotel would operate between names. Meanwhile, a Baymont replaced the Hampton around 2008. Park Inn Houston North Hotel & Conference Center opened May 2010, with the hotel briefly flagged as Settle Inn likely between late 2009 and early 2010). The brief period around the end of the Days Hotel era was the worst era for the hotel.
This link (written in the Days Hotel days) has Cycle Lounge and Wicker Works still in business. After the conversion, Wicker Works became Sam Houston's Grill and today (by the late 2010s) appears to be now known as Bistro 500. Sadly, in 2017, the bridge between the two hotels was torn down. This was because the hotels were sold and no longer had common ownership. Up until this time, the hotels had common ownership and shared guest privileges (you got the choice of three pools between the two hotels!) In 2018, the Baymont (502) became a Red Roof PLUS+ & Suites, while the 500 hotel converted from Park Inn to Red Lion Inn in early 2019.
The picture above is from fall 2018 by author. Other pictures from that same trip include what the skywalk looks like today if you try to access it...and one more picture of the "original" (500) hotel here. The stucco was added in the 1990s; it isn't the original exterior.