Calgary Marriott Downtown Hotel – Calgary, Alberta

This hotel is located in the downtown core at 110 9th Avenue SE. I stayed at this hotel many times as a child when it was operated under a different chain and I had fond memories of it, so we decided to stay here with our kids in September of 2015. The hotel recently completed a multi-million dollar renovation in the spring of 2015 so I thought now would be a good time to check it out.

THE GOOD

The location of this hotel was great – right across the street from the Calgary Tower and accessible to the Calgary Convention Centre and the Glenbow Museum. There were shops and restaurants nearby and you could easily walk to the LRT from this hotel.

The staff at the hotel, for the most part, was very pleasant and friendly.

The nightly rate at this hotel was very reasonable. We paid $130 for one night while many of the surrounding hotels go for about $200 a night.

There were blackout blinds in the room that were operated by pushing a button on the wall. Needless to say, the kids had fun pushing those buttons and watching the blinds go up and down.

View of the Room and the Blinds

View of the Room and the Blinds

When you swiped your card to get into the room, the door opened on its own. This is really nice for wheelchair users as you don’t have to try to manoeuver on the carpet to open the door. There was also a button on the inside that you could push to open the door when you leave the room – very convenient.

Button on Inside of Door

Button on Inside of Door

Visually, the decor of the hotel and the look of the rooms was appealing. The layout of the bathroom inside the room was good and there was a true wheel-under sink, a wheel-in shower with built-in bench and a toilet with one grab bar.

Wheel-Under Sink With Good Clearance

Wheel-Under Sink With Good Clearance

Toilet With Grab Bar

Toilet With Grab Bar

Wheel-In Shower With Built-In Shower Bench

Wheel-In Shower With Built-In Shower Bench

Room Had a TV, Mini-Fridge, Iron, Ironing Board and In-Room Safe

Room Had a TV, Mini-Fridge, Iron, Ironing Board and In-Room Safe

View From Our Room - 3rd Floor

View From Our Room – 3rd Floor

The hotel had a fitness room on the third floor that could be accessed by someone in a wheelchair (this was at the bottom of the steps that led up to the pool). There was an accessible bathroom outside of the fitness area.

Fitness Room - 3rd Floor

Fitness Room – 3rd Floor

Free Weights - No other Accessible Equipment

Free Weights – No other Accessible Equipment

Bathroom Located Outside of Fitness Area

Bathroom Located Outside of Fitness Area

THE BAD

Ok… get ready…

The accessible hotel room we stayed in on the third floor smelled like sewage. As soon as we walked in, the smell hit us like a ton of bricks. It seemed to emanate from the drain in the bathroom but, regardless of where it came from, it smelled disgusting and it was really difficult to ignore.

We requested two cribs when we booked this room and they told us it would be no problem. When we checked in, they told us they had no record of the request on the reservation and that they likely didn’t have any cribs available, let alone two of them. I told them that they would need to let me know because if they didn’t have cribs, we would have to stay elsewhere. The person checking us in assured me that they would find some cribs for us and bring them up to the room. By the time we got back to our room after dinner, there were still no cribs. We called down to the front desk and they again told us that they had no cribs. We told them they would need to find some or re-locate us to a different hotel and they again assured us that they would find some. At about 10:30 pm, waaaaaay past the kids’ bedtime, they brought two playpens from a hotel across the street (Hotel Le Germaine) and it took me and the staff member who brought them about 30 minutes to assemble them (the rails weren’t locking properly).

We checked out on a Sunday morning and the standard hotel check-out time was at noon. Starting at about 9 o’clock, housekeeping began knocking on our door asking what time we would be leaving. They knocked a total of 3 times between 9 and 10:30 asking when we would be gone before I finally told them that we would be there until we left and asked them to stop knocking on our door. Luckily we were already awake but I would have been really angry if that had been my one chance to sleep in. 

There is no self-parking at this hotel. You can drive around and find a public parking lot or pay for the valet parking that is available at the hotel.

THE UGLY

And… it gets worse…

When I went to shower in our room, I noticed something all over the walls of the shower. I got in to take a closer look and – yep – it was hair! Long pieces of black hair left behind by the last hotel guest. If the housekeeping staff didn’t even see this it definitely makes you wonder what else in the room was not cleaned…

Not My Hair! Yuck!

Not My Hair! Yuck!

The pool and fitness centre were located on the third floor. The pool was up a flight of stairs but there was a lift for wheelchair users for access to the pool area. We called the front desk from our room and they sent someone up to operate the lift.

Lift to Access Pool Area

Lift to Access Pool Area

When we got up to the pool area, I have to say, I was shocked by the condition of the pool. The entire swimming pool was covered with a slimy pool liner and there was about a 2-inch strip of grime along the waterline all the way around the pool.

View of the Pool

View of the Pool

Here's a Closer Look - Note the Grime Along the Waterline

Here’s a Closer Look – Note the Grime Along the Waterline

The steps into the pool had obvious signs of mould on them.

These Are the Steps Leading into the Pool. Gross.

These Are the Steps Leading into the Pool. Gross.

The kids wanted to go in, so I took them for a quick dip and I kept getting big chunks of hair stuck on my hands – disgusting!! I honestly felt like I was jeopardizing my health by being in that pool. The hot tub was better than the pool but it was difficult to enjoy the entire area given its state of repair.

Hot Tub

Hot Tub

The front desk staff told us to call the emergency phone when we were ready to go back to our room and they would send someone up to operate the lift for us but – SURPRISE – the emergency phone at the pool area did not work. I had to walk down to the fitness centre to find a working telephone. If I hadn’t been there, my husband would have been pretty much screwed.

Trip Down the Stairs

Trip Down the Stairs

As soon as we got to the hotel I started coughing, my nose was running and I was sneezing like crazy. I figured all of the travelling had finally caught up to me and that I was getting sick. Interestingly though, as soon as we left the hotel, I was completely fine – no sneezing, no runny nose, no coughing… Something at this hotel had a major effect on my allergies, which rarely flare up anymore. You could smell a lot of things in the air here between the sewer smell and some type of chemical smell which seemed to be coming out of the carpets. I have never stayed anywhere before where this was an issue but it is clearly an issue here. Anyone with allergies should beware!

OVERALL

I can sum up this hotel in one word – RUN!!! Multi-million dollar renovation or not, this still needs a ton of work and, in my opinion, it is not worth risking your health to stay here. 

Days Inn & Suites – Strathmore, Alberta

We have stayed at this hotel multiple times over the years and have found it to be a clean, comfortable and convenient choice. It is located at 400 Ranch Market on the southern side of Strathmore, just off of the Trans-Canada Highway (Highway 1). The hotel is right next to Walmart and a host of other shops and restaurants. Our latest stay at this hotel was in August of 2015.

THE GOOD

The wheelchair accessible rooms we have stayed in have always been located on the ground floor. They come with a king-sized bed, wheel-in shower with a portable shower bench, wheel-under sink (kind of) and a toilet with grab bars. The rooms also have a mini-fridge, microwave, iron and ironing board, tv, desk and a chair for lounging in.

King-Sized Bed

King-Sized Bed

Toilet With Grab Bars

Toilet With Grab Bars

Wheel-In Shower with Portable Shower Bench

Wheel-In Shower with Portable Shower Bench

Wheel-Under Sink

Wheel-Under Sink

Desk

Desk and Corner of Hotel-Supplied Crib

The room rate comes with an extensive free breakfast which includes hot breakfast options (eggs, bacon, etc.) as well as cereal, toast, muffins, fruit, yogurt, etc.

The hotel has a great pool and hot tub. There is also a waterslide in the pool area that is perfect for kids (young and old). The slide isn’t too fast, so even the little kids enjoy it. There is a large, shallow platform in one end of the pool for the really little ones to sit and splash around in.

There is ample parking at this hotel, with accessible parking spots located right beside the door.

THE BAD

The wheel-under sink in the accessible room is almost wheel-under. They had the right idea, but the bottom part of the sink is just a touch too low for my husband’s legs to get under. It might be okay for you if your chair is lower than his.

Clearance Under the Wheel-Under Sink

Low Clearance Under the Wheel-Under Sink

We have never had an issue requesting two cribs and getting them at this hotel, but the cribs they have are very small and they are hard metal. This is good for sanitary reasons (assuming they are wiped clean after each use) but they are not very comfortable for sleeping.

THE UGLY

I haven’t noticed anything ugly about this hotel.

OVERALL

Every time we have stayed here, we have found the staff to be pleasant and accommodating. The rooms are clean and relatively comfortable and the location is easy to access off of the highway. The price for one night is reasonable in the $130-$140 range. Considering that the room rate includes a great free breakfast and the hotel has a nice pool with hot tub and waterslide, this remains one of the best places to stay in Strathmore.

Banff Aspen Lodge – Banff, Alberta

We stayed at this hotel in the summer of 2015 for one night. After researching a number of Banff hotels and asking questions about accessibility, this one seemed to be the most cost-effective option with the basic accessibility features that we needed for a one-night stay.

THE GOOD

The location of this hotel is excellent. It is right on Banff Avenue, which is the main street that most of the shops and restaurants are located on. It is about one block away from the beginning of the main shopping district. It is also one block away from a Safeway store, which is really convenient if you need to grab some food or, in our case, some children’s Tylenol.

Our room was located on the main floor, just off of the hot tub area.

Main Floor Wheelchair Accessible Room, Room 111

Main Floor Wheelchair Accessible Room, Room 111

Our room was simple but clean. One of the nice things about the room was that there were two queen beds on different sides of the room, with the bathroom in the middle. It made the room seem very large and almost created two separate bedrooms. On the side with the patio door to the outside, there was ample room for two pack-and-play-style cribs, which the hotel supplied. Without the cribs in the room, there would be lots of space on this side for a wheelchair to move around.

Queen-Sized Bed on One Half of Room, Ample Room for Two Cribs

Queen-Sized Bed on One Half of Room, Ample Room for Two Cribs

TV, Mini-Fridge, Dresser, Coffee Maker on One Half of Room

TV, Mini-Fridge, Dresser, Coffee Maker on One Half of Room

Queen Bed on Other Side of Room, Faces Another TV and Another Dresser

Queen Bed on Other Side of Room, Faces Another TV and Another Dresser

There was a grab bar by the toilet in the bathroom and the sink was wheel-under. Our room did not have a wheel-in shower. We were okay with the bathtub for the one night so I did not inquire as to whether they had a shower bench or whether other rooms had wheel-in showers.

Bathroom in Between Two Bedroom Areas

Bathroom in Between Two Bedroom Areas

Bathtub with Grab Bar

Bathtub with Grab Bar

Toilet With Grab Bar

Toilet With Grab Bar

Wheel-Under Sink Located Outside of the Bathroom, Mirror and Hair Dryer

Wheel-Under Sink Located Outside of the Bathroom, Mirror and Hair Dryer

The hotel did not have a pool but it did have two hot tubs, which were located in the central courtyard area of the hotel. The hot tub area was open to the sky, so there was quite a nice atmosphere in there. The hot tubs were very warm, but not so uncomfortable that the kids wouldn’t go in. One of the hot tubs faced a nice, outdoor fireplace. There was also a steam room and sauna located right beside the doors leading in to the hot tub area.

First Hot Tub Located in Outdoor Courtyard

First Hot Tub Located in Outdoor Courtyard

Second Hot Tub Facing Outdoor Fireplace

Second Hot Tub Facing Outdoor Fireplace

One of the big advantages of this hotel was that the room rate came with a free breakfast. It wasn’t just a continental breakfast either! They had eggs, toast, bacon, cereal, muffins, yogurt, home-made granola, etc. The breakfast was served downstairs but there was an elevator on the main floor for access to the breakfast room.

Hallway Facing Lobby, Elevator on the Right to Go Downstairs to the Breakfast Room

Hallway Facing Lobby, Elevator on the Right to Go Downstairs to the Breakfast Room

Parking was included with our room rate as well and there was a small underground parking area and ample parking in the back (covered). We had no trouble finding an accessible stall and we had a very short walk to get inside from the outdoor parking area.

This hotel is not at all the same calibre as the Banff Springs or the Rimrock, but it was also much cheaper than those alternatives. On the weekend we stayed, the Rimrock quoted us $358 a night (with AMA) plus $18 for parking and no free breakfast. The Banff Aspen Lodge cost us $269 a night with free parking and a free breakfast.

THE BAD

The bathroom in our room was a little bit small. My husband did okay transferring on and off the toilet but he could definitely have used more room. We didn’t need a shower for the one night but I am always surprised when an “accessible” room has no wheel-in shower.

The steam room and sauna would not be accessible by wheelchair as the doors to those rooms were too narrow.

Doors to Sauna and Steam Room are too Narrow for a Wheelchair

Doors to Sauna and Steam Room are too Narrow for a Wheelchair

The outdoor patio would not have been accessible by wheelchair as there was a large lip that a wheelchair would not have been able to manoeuver over.

The Patio Doors Open to the Street, There are Some Plants and Landscaping Separating the Patio Area and the Public Sidewalk

The Patio Doors Open to the Street, There are Some Plants and Landscaping Separating the Patio Area and the Public Sidewalk

The breakfast room downstairs was accessible by using the elevator but the food was located down a couple of stairs. They had four tables on the main level where someone in a wheelchair could sit to eat. We sat on this level but I had to run up and down the stairs to get food for our table.

By far the worst thing for us was that we stayed at this hotel during a heat wave (30 plus degrees outside) and upon entering our room, we came to realize that the hotel did not have air conditioning! We wanted to sleep with the patio door open so badly but because we were on the ground floor facing the street, we thought this might not be a great idea.

Extra Fans Were Provided in the Closet, Along with In-Room Safe, Iron, Ironing Board and Hangars

Extra Fans Were Provided in the Closet, Along with In-Room Safe, Iron, Ironing Board and Hangars

THE UGLY

The only ugly thing about this hotel experience was that our room was so unbelievably hot. They supplied us with three fans, 1 of which worked and 2 of which were broken. We went to the front desk to ask if they could find us something else and they did locate a big fan for us (although it was dirty and looked to be about 20 years old).

OVERALL

Overall we were happy with this choice. The location couldn’t be beat and with the free parking and free breakfast, we felt it provided a good bang for our buck. If I had known in advance about the lack of air-conditioning, I might have requested an upper-level room with a patio door that I could leave open all night.

Hilton Toronto – Toronto, Ontario

We stayed at the Hilton Toronto in May of 2012. We booked this hotel based on a phone conversation with the front desk and were pleasantly surprised with what we saw when we arrived. This hotel is right in the heart of the downtown core.

THE GOOD

The location of this hotel is really convenient. It is easy to drive to when you come in to downtown from the Gardiner Expressway. There is valet parking at the hotel, which makes it easy to check in and not have to worry about parking. This hotel is within walking distance of the Eaton’s Centre (to the North) and The Beach (to the South). The CN Tower was visible from the window of our hotel room and we could have walked over there if we had wanted to explore it.

View Out Window in Room

View Out Window in Room

View From Window At Night

View From Window At Night

The wheelchair accessible room we stayed in was huge and there was lots of room to move around. There was a low, king-sized bed, a flat-screen TV, a fridge, a desk area and a large bathroom. The door into the bathroom was wide and there was lots of room to move around in the bathroom. They had a raised toilet seat with two grab bars and a huge wheel-in shower. There was no built-in shower bench in the shower but they had a portable shower bench available upon request.

Very Large Room

Very Large Room

Toilet With Two Grab Bars

Toilet With Two Grab Bars

Great Wheel-In Shower

Large Wheel-In Shower

We had no issues with getting in to the hotel or getting around in it. We had a lot of fun exploring downtown Toronto and got to see some pretty cool sights. Before we went there, I didn’t even realize that there was a beach in Toronto but we went there and felt the sand in person!

The Beach

The Beach

There are some really cool sights along the shoreline in downtown Toronto. This is definitely an area to explore if you have time.

This Was Fun in the Wheelchair!

This Was Fun in the Wheelchair!

THE BAD

Unfortunately I didn’t snap a picture of the sink in the bathroom, but in our room it was not wheel under. It is always surprising to me when a hotel puts in the effort to install a wheel-in shower and an accessible toilet and then they neglect the sink, but this is one of those hotels. Hopefully they will be renovating these sinks soon and ensuring that they are adequate for a wheelchair user.

The pool was an indoor-outdoor pool and the area looked very run down. The inside area was dark and dungeon-like and the outside area was cold and uninviting. It was in the process of being renovated when we were there, so hopefully they have since made some significant improvements.

Indoor/Outdoor Pool

Indoor/Outdoor Pool

THE UGLY

The pool area at this hotel was ugly, I must say. We went down there and, because of the way it looked, my husband refused to go in the pool. I went in but only swam for about 5 minutes. There was no hot tub and the area wasn’t what anyone would consider relaxing.

OVERALL

Overall, this is a convenient, economical option in a great location in the heart of downtown Toronto. The accessible rooms aren’t perfect but they will probably meet your needs for a short stay.