Five days, three hotels

I came back today from a short, but truly amazing trip to eastern Canada. I spent the first two days in Toronto, the next two in Niagara Falls, and then the last day again in Toronto, before flying back to Vienna yesterday evening.

During those five days, I stayed at three different hotels. Each one of them belongs to a different brand of Marriott International Group. I am an airline miles & hotel points junkie, so I stick with Marriott and Star Alliance wherever my travels lead me!

Here is a review of the hotels I stayed at.

There are a few features that all three venues had in common, so I do not consider those when reviewing what I liked and what I did not like in an individual hotel.

Common good features were: Availability of coffee & tea making set (Okay, was filter coffee, but at least I could drink something just after waking up); nice bathroom amenities; express check-out.

Common bad features: empty fridge (Why no minibar?); no 24-hour room service (Very bad, since I was jet lagged and couldn’t sleep past 2 a.m.. I would have loved to be able to grab a latte or anything healthier than what was available from vending machines.)

Renaissance Toronto Downtown
Embedded in the Rogers Centre sports & entertainment complex, this is the only hotel in the world located in a major league sports venue. It is just steps away from the CN Tower and very close to the lake.
Some of its rooms have windows overlooking the field, while others have city view.
Although I had booked a “guest room”, I got upgraded to a suite with city view, and was also offered complimentary Internet access (in room & public spaces). That was very nice, I really appreciated it!
What I liked a lot:
  • Spacious suite with pretty interiors and a nice view of the city.
  • Big fitness center. (Very big pool, too, but I can’t swim!).
  • Complimentary copy of The Globe And Mail delivered to your door every morning.
  • Field view from the restaurant where breakfast is served.
  • Friendly hotel staff, from the reception to the restaurant.
What I liked less:
  • There could have been more variety in the breakfast buffet, especially for vegetarians.
  • The espresso I ordered for breakfast turned out to be a miniature filter coffee and was very expensive for its quality (4 CAD).
Address: One Blue Jays Way, Toronto, Ontario M5V 1J4 Canada
Marriott Gateway on the Falls
Niagara Falls is where I spent the most time in the hotel, because of a conference I attended there (and that was the primary reason of my trip to Canada). Marriott Gateway on the Falls is – as its name suggests – very close to the falls and offers amazing views from most of its guest rooms and its restaurant, Milestones.
What I liked a lot:
  • Spectacular view of the both the American and the Canadian falls from the room.
  • Very large and pretty hotel lobby playing the best background music I’ve ever heard in a hotel.
  • Large and nice-looking fitness center with same background music as in the hotel lobby.
  • Falls view from the restaurant where breakfast is served.
What I liked less:
  • No complimentary Internet access in the hotel, only in the lobby.
  • Room was quite dusty.
  • Room furniture (e.g. armchair) was worn out.
  • Too few and very busy elevators meant waiting an excessively long time to catch one.
Address: 6755 Fallsview Boulevard, Niagara Falls, Ontario L2G 3W7 Canada
Courtyard Toronto Downtown
This is the largest full-service Courtyard in the world. It is located on Yonge Street, a very lively area full of shops and restaurants.
What I liked a lot:
  • Separate élite member check-in and -out.
  • Complimentary Internet access in the entire hotel.
  • 24-hour market for late-night small cravings (though mostly salty snacks and chocolate bars).
  • Very copious breakfast buffet, which is served until 1 p.m. on weekends.
  • Extremely fast elevators with pretty decor.
What I liked less:
  • The area is quite entertaining during the day, but I felt unsafe in the evening.
  • Given the area: uninteresting view from the room.
  • Very unfriendly service at breakfast.
  • Sad-looking fitness center and pool. The equipment looked quite old and was really noisy.
Address: 475 Yonge Street, Toronto, Ontario M4Y 1X7 Canada
I am planning to go back to Toronto next year in June for the TBEX 2013 travel blogging conference. Of the two hotels in Toronto I stayed at this time, Renaissance is definitely the one where I had a better experience and I could imagine returning next year.
Because of the unfriendly breakfast service I received at Courtyard, I would personally not recommend staying at this hotel when in Toronto.

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