Friendly? 2 out of 5
The Holiday Inn, Downtown (30 Carlton Street).
The Holiday Inn is much nearer the downtown Toronto area than the Planet Traveller Hostel that we’ve also stayed at and reviewed, and if there are 2 of you sharing a room it doesn’t actually work out much more expensive. A very cramped double room at Planet Traveller, and every other hostel and cheap B & B in Toronto (I checked every one recommended in Lonely Planet, Trip Advisor and Rough Guide), is around 85 to 100 dollars, whilst for a large double at the Holiday Inn it cost us just 92 dollars a night, as long as you book it through Canadian Affair – www.canadianaffair.com – and not the Holiday Inn website (it’s about 3 times more expensive on there).
Check in was quick, I’d paid Canadian Affair in advance for our full 9 night stay so didn’t have to deal with that, but there was a nasty surprise – the hotel asked for a 100 dollar deposit for Every Night I was due to stay, paid via credit card. I don’t carry a credit card so had to pay on debit card.
I had no idea what my bank was going to charge me for this international transaction, or what the Holiday Inn conditions were. I mean, where they going to charge me if I spilt a drink on the duvet, or what? I thought this a rather unfriendly way of going about business, and something that I’ve never experienced anywhere in the world before. I’ll be happy if I never experience it again too.
The reception staff told me that they wouldn’t charge my debit card at all, it was just for security. Upon returning home, I found that they had charged me Â£6. I’m not sure what for, maybe a transaction fee, but since it was them insisting on the transaction I think it a pretty poor show, and dishonest, to charge me just so they could carry out their procedures.
During the rest of our stay the staff were ok. No real friendliness on show, nothing bad either, and nobody I will remember with any fondness which generally isn’t the case when I stay at hotels in other countries. It’s a great shame really, most regular people we met in Toronto were extremely decent but the hotel staff we encountered always seemed way too busy to actually do their job in a friendly manner, and consequently really let Canada down.
Our room was spacious, with 2 large double beds and a nice sized bathroom. I’d read on Trip Advisor that the rooms at this hotel were small but that wasn’t the case at all. Unless you’re a super-sized couple, there’s plenty of room.
There was a coffee machine, TV with 60 channels, safe that was large enough to fit the laptops in and a good internet connection. Wi Fi was free.
Pillows were labelled up ‘firm’ or ‘soft’, and the view from the window was interesting, with the CN Tower showing between the tall office blocks.
The hotel has a pool, about 15 metres length, it’s warm enough to mess around in for a while and is a good way of stretching out after walking around all day. There’s also a small gym with 3 running machines, 2 bikes and a small selection of free weights.
To sum up, no accommodation in Toronto is particularly good value when you compare it to cities in Europe (and it’s certainly not as friendly, on the whole, as what you’ve come to be used to in other parts of the world) but you’ll work that out for yourself when you go searching on Trip Advisor, Lonely Planet or Hostelworld, but for want of a better option the Holiday Inn, Downtown isn’t bad.
If you’re on your own though and looking to save a bit of money, then Planet Traveler is not a bad option at all.
Book the Holiday Inn, Downtown, through Canadian Affair for the best deals – www.canadianaffair.com. The staff at Canadian Affair can be rude and incredibly stupid but bear with them if you want the best deals.
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