Friday, January 6, 2012

Embassy Suites Montreal

The second night of our stay in Montreal was at the Embassy Suites Montreal located in the heart of downtown Montreal, a short distance away from Old Montreal, the financial district and Chinatown.  It's ideal location was what persuaded me to part with 35k HHonors points at this pleasant Category 5 (now Category 7) hotel.  There were plenty of other hotels in the area including a Hilton, Westin and W but based on the photos and room rates for Christmas, the Embassy Suites seemed to offer the best value with a suite and complimentary hot breakfast buffet.

The first thing I noted about the hotel was that the atrium/lobby seemed rather crowded.  The reception and concierge are located near the entrance of the hotel near the street but you immediately get the sense that space is at a premium with the hotel restaurant bulging out all the way into the lobby, leaving a less than spacious feeling when checking in and out.  The sofa/lounge area is nicely decorated although it too seems to be competing for space inside that seemingly tight main floor.  Personally, I would have done away with the lounge area altogether to allow more room for the restaurant and the check in/check out booths.

The elevators taking us up to our room was a bit slow and you can feel the elevators really seem to be getting along in their years although the hotel has made clear attempts to modernize by placing a TV inside to keep visitors distracted.

The suite itself was very nice and welcoming, with a nicely furnished kitchen, sofa and work table.

As an HHonors Gold member, I asked, on the off chance, if there might be any upgrades, and we were put in the deluxe suite with a fireplace.  That was a nice addition, providing a warm crackling glow by the sofa, even fanning out some hot air to simulate a real fireplace.

The king-size bedroom was connected via a large frame to the living room (it contains sliding doors to close it off if desired) and also connected to the bathroom via another side door.

The most welcoming feature of the suite was obviously the hot tub which very comfortably fits two.

Bathroom amenities are supplied with Crabtree & Evelyn products.

The next morning, I finally realized why the restaurant took up so much space on the ground level.  I went down for breakfast around 8:15 am in the morning and their were only a few empty tables left for seating.  I then proceeded to order my omelette and grab some food before sitting down.  Generally, the food selection was decent although I had expected a bit more variety at a Hilton category 5 (now 7) hotel.  Perhaps I've been a little bit spoiled by the spectacular buffet offered by the Marriott category 3 (now 5) Courtyard Marriott Seoul Times Square hotel.  Having finished my first omelette and still being a little hungry, I proceeded to get seconds.

At this point, it was around 9 am and there were no empty tables left with a line building up at the entrance to the restaurant (which incidentally was right in front of the elevators, which really begs the question 'who designed this place?').  By 9:15 am, the problem was so serious that the restaurant staff had to end up providing take-out trays to alleviate the line congestion.

In any case, my stay at the Embassy Suites Montreal was quite pleasant aside from the rather spaced-deprived lobby/atrium and the slightly crowded breakfast experience.  The room certainly was no less than I had expected and the location was perfect.  From a redemption value standpoint, while this probably wasn't the greatest redemption (35k HHonors points) ever in terms of the quality of the entire stay, I'd argue that the location certainly made up somewhat for the shortfalls.  However, given the mixed bag which included a rather expensive parking charge ($25/night after tax), I'd certainly be open to exploring the alternative Marriott and Starwood properties in the vicinity on my next trip to Montreal.

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