“ Address: 475 Yonge Street / Toronto / Ontario M4Y 1X7 / Canada „
As I am a bit of a creature of habit, I tend to return to places I know well when I travel. Of late however I have decided to broaden my horizons and it can be tricky to find the right place to stay in a city you have never visited before.
My latest holiday found me in Toronto, Canada's largest metropolis. My knowledge of the city was pretty sketchy and I ended up choosing my hotel the lazy way - adding it on to the flight I had booked on British Airways' website as the price was right and the location seemed right.
The hotel's title is bang on the money - it is located in downtown Toronto, and right on Yonge Street, which is a quieter version of London's Oxford Street. The hotel is one block from College station on the subway with streetcars and buses running close by too. If you love shopping then the Eaton Center is a stroll of about 10 minutes away and if you need everyday essentials there is a drugstore right across the street.
~~Check in and First Impressions~~
Although the hotel is located on Yonge Street, the main entrance is located to the rear of the building but is clearly signposted. There is an airy lobby with plenty of sofas and a check in area which houses 3 desks.
I was travelling with my daughter and we arrived at the hotel around 8.00pm, well after the hotel check-in time of 4.00 pm. Check in was fast and very friendly, with the hotel agent taking a credit card imprint for incidentals and assigning us a room on the hotel's south tower on the 12th floor. We were given two key cards, something I always appreciate.
There are two hotel towers and you have to find the elevators for the tower you are staying in. The South Tower elevators were closest to the lobby area and on the way down we spied a coffee bar and a restaurant, along with a couple of computers and a printer which are available for guests to use if they wish to print off boarding passes for flights home after checking in online. A nice touch I thought.
There were four elevators for the South Tower - one was a service elevator but could be used by guests too.
I was a little concerned when I found our room was located close to the lifts but put this to the back of my mind when I opened the door. The room was incredibly spacious and housed two queen beds, had a large wardrobe which had mirrored doors, had a comfortable armchair with stool and also had a sturdy desk with comfortable office chair. The room also had a large chest of drawers and this was home to a large flat screen TV and there was a bedside table located between the two beds.
The bathroom was spacious and housed a low level bathtub with shower over. The bath had a thick shower curtain around it. The WC was located in here too but the wash hand basin was located outside in a little area opposite the wardrobes. This had a large mirror above and also housed a hairdryer. There was a good selection of toiletries with shampoo, conditioner, body lotion and both bath and hand soap provided.
Located inside the wardrobe was a good selection of hangers along with an iron and ironing board. I was, however, disappointed to note there was no safe in the room.
Like the Holiday Inn chain in the US, Marriott hotels seem to be encouraging guests to recycle their waste if possible and we found a recycling bin underneath the desk, with two waste bins located in the room too - one in the bathroom and one underneath the wash hand basin.
The shower was brilliant - you could adjust the power of the water coming out from it and it woke us up every morning. Hot water was constant too. The hotel always provided an extra set of towels each day which was useful because the bath towels were a bit on the small side.
The view from the hotel was rather uninspiring with just another skyscraper in front of us although we could see a little of Yonge Street too.
The beds were incredibly comfortable with each bed having two full sized pillows and three large cushions. The bed covers comprised a top sheet, duvet and patterned runner and we were never cold despite the weather being cold on a couple of the nights we were there.
My fears about the room being located so close to the lifts were unfounded - in fact we barely heard any noise during the duration of our stay at all. Yonge Street can be very busy and I suspect that had we been on a lower floor we may have found things noisier but certainly on the 12th Floor (there are 17 floors in total) we head the occasional siren but not much else.
The hotel has free wifi in every room, throughout the lobby and all other public areas. We were given the code when we checked in but unfortunately these do expire after a few days but we received the new one quickly after a call to reception. The wifi was fast and stable once connected.
The 32" LCD TV offered a vast array of TV channels with good picture quality.
Maid service was excellent. We spent most of our days out and about but even when we returned to our room one day around 3.00 pm the room had been cleaned to a high standard. The maids were friendly when we saw them on occasion too.
Towards the end of our stay we did request a late check-out. We were told we could definitely have the room until 1.00 pm but to call on the day of our departure to see if that could be extended. When I did this I was told I could stay in the room until 2.00 pm at no further charge.
The hotel has several dining options, including a branch of Wendy's which is located at the northern end of the property on Yonge Street. It's worth noting you do have to exit the hotel however to access Wendy's.
Inside the property are three dining options - the Second Cup Coffee Shop, The Bistro and the Yonge Street Bar and Grill. Due to the location of the hotel there are plenty of dining options within a five minute walk so we actually only ate at the hotel twice, opting for the breakfast buffet at the Yonge Street Bar and Grill, which was fantastic. The food at the buffet was well cooked, hot and well stocked. Freshly squeezed orange juice was available - something I really appreciated - and there is a chef on hand to cook eggs and omelettes just how you like them.
The buffet offers a selection of hot food including bacon, home fries, tomatoes, baked beans etc, cakes and pastries, breads and bagels, cereals and fresh fruit, yoghurt, cheeses and my favourite - a waffle machine. The waffle machine was the best I have ever used and the buffet even includes cream to add to your waffle
The buffet costs $21 for adults and $10.50 for children which is steep but I feel is worth paying for at least once because the food is so good. Certainly both days we went we didn't need to eat again until dinner time.
We did walk past the Bistro several times and it seemed popular - possibly because it sold Starbucks coffee! The Second Cup also seemed a popular place amongst hotel guests too.
The hotel also has a gym and a swimming pool. We used neither - although had we been visiting in summer I would definitely have visited the pool. The pool area comprises an indoor lap pool, a whirlpool and a children's wading pool. Complimentary towels are available from reception.
The hotel also has a business centre and has two meeting rooms which seemed to be well used while we were there.
Parking is available at the hotel but it is pretty expensive so you would be advised to check rates before you consider staying here if you are going to have a car.
Both myself and my daughter loved this hotel and certainly if I were planning another trip to Toronto I would book the Marriott Courtyard Toronto Downtown in a heartbeat due to the size and comfort of the rooms, the high level of service, the location and the food.
The only thing I could criticise the hotel for is the décor does look a little tired in places and the lack of a safe in the room. The hotel is perfect for me however - the level of service is attentive and efficient without being fawning or stuffy.
Price wise it's worth shopping around. The rack rate for a guest room with two queen beds similar to the one we stayed in is C$189 which is around £120 per night. However I paid a total of £427 through the British Airways website for five nights, averaging out at £85.40 per night which is quite significantly less than the rack rate. Packages can be had which include breakfast too on the Marriott website.
For both tourists and business travellers the Courtyard Marriott Toronto Downtown is an excellent choice in my opinion and we thoroughly enjoyed our stay here.
Marriott Courtyard Toronto Downtown
475 Yonge Street
Ontario M4Y 1X7