Dayton's Crowne Plaza just emerged from a $5 million renovation in 2012, and this downtown hotel across the street from the convention center sparkles with updates. The lobby beckons with a welcoming new lounge. Guest rooms feature crisp, fluffy white linens and poufy pillows against modern padded headboards, as well as sleek flat-screen TVs and funky striped bathrooms. The Wi-Fi is free, and so is a compact but well-equipped gym off the lobby. There's even an outdoor pool near the hotel entrance (an odd location right next to arriving cars and the commotion of city streets, but a high brick wall around the perimeter ensures a good degree of privacy). Breakfast, unfortunately, is not one of the perks. It's a bit of a shocker to pay 75 cents for a banana at the makeshift buffet in the lobby on weekend mornings, so ditch the hotel and head out to the nearby Second Street Market for a full array of a.m. offerings. However, the Crowne Plaza's proximity to downtown attractions, along with favorable online reviews, means this hotel books up quickly. For visitors who want the downtown experience and (almost) all the best features of hotel living, it's worth making advance reservations.