I’ve stayed over 500 nights in hotels.
I’d like to think that I know a thing or two when it comes to staying in hotels. In my earlier life as a consultant, I’ve stayed my fair share. One year, I stayed nearly three months straight in hotels, and let me tell you, unless you’re staying in utmost luxury, it’s not that glamorous! I’ve made many observations throughout the years about hotels and definitely have my top list of memorable ones.
So the question is, what makes a hotel stand out from the rest?
Last weekend, we wrapped up our 10 day escape across Ontario in Ottawa, and stayed at the Andaz Ottawa Byward Market. I must say, it’s fabulous! When it comes time to write an honest review about a hotel, whether it deserves a 3 star or 5 star rating will depend on a number of factors.
On most trips, unless I’m deliberately looking to stay in a remote area or needing some extra tranquility, when it comes to location, convenience and safety are important. In a city such as downtown Ottawa, a great location means you can wander out without having to rely on a car or public transportation and can also feel comfortable doing so on your own or late at night. As Kyle was tied up most of the time while we visited Ottawa for his friend’s wedding, I was really pleased with the location of this hotel. It was situated in the heart of the Byward Market area where there were plenty of shops, restaurants and attractions, which allowed me to spend the day leisurely on my own.
Comfort and Bedding
Whether you’re travelling for leisure or business, either way, you’re looking to relax on your vacation or wind down after a long day’s work. A hotel room that offers a comfortable surrounding and immaculate sleeping quarters is essential. Gone are the days of questionable upholstered cushions and bed covers (you know what I’m talking about!). If a hotel doesn’t offer clean, crisp, white linens, it’s not making the cut. Natural lighting is equally important. And that’s NOT because I’m always looking for photo opps LOL but rather, it contributes to the overall well-being. And plus, I’m always skeptical of hotels that are dark and dingy because I’m always wondering what they’re trying to hide!
At the Andaz Ottawa ByWard Market, all hotel rooms are armed with floor to ceiling windows, a soft (but not too soft) comfortable bed, and luxurious white linens and pillows.
On this particular trip, after spending 5 days off the grid, I had some much catching up to do in terms of emails. It drives me nuts when I have to pay an arm and a leg for internet and rooms that are not designed to allow for some work time. Once, I stayed in a Chicago hotel that didn’t have a desk or table, which made it extremely difficult to buckle down and get any work done at all. The good news is, many newer (or newly renovated hotels) now offer complimentary internet and even shared, plug-and-go work spaces in the lobby that make it super welcoming to get some work done during your stay.
If you’re planning a stay at the Andaz Ottawa ByWard Market, be mindful that this hotel doesn’t offer a ‘business center’, however if you need items printed, the staff at the hotel would kindly assist with that. Kyle had to print his best man speech (about 800 times) and they were extremely helpful.
A Killer Bathroom
There’s nothing more disappointing then staying at a hotel with a sub-par bathroom. It’s terribly annoying when there is no water pressure in the shower, tiles are lined with grim (ewwwww! my worst nightmare), and poor lighting. Hotels have really stepped up their bathroom game lately. I’ve stayed in several in the past few months that had major swoon-worthy spaces. The Andaz Ottawa ByWard Market tops my list of ‘best hotel bathrooms’ (Hotel William Gray tops the list too with a multi-jet shower). What I love most about this bathroom is not just about the decor and finishings (did you see the gold vanity trim?!), but rather, it offers a large space with plenty of room for both of us to get ready at the same time, a stellar rain shower, plenty of natural light, and fluffy towels and list of vanity items that are available for free, to borrow, or purchase in case you missed packing a few items.
24 Hour Room Service & Dining Options (with good food!)
I love ordering room service, especially for breakfast. The last time Kyle and I enjoyed a breakfast delivered to our room was on our honeymoon, so I was extra excited when I had planned to have breakfast brought up to us at the Andaz Ottawa. A hotel with limited room service is not ideal. When people travel, their schedules tend to fluctuate and being constrained by dining options can really be a damper.
At Andaz Ottawa, breakfast room service is prepared by the hotel’s signature restaurant, feast + revel. I called in-room dining a night ahead to place the order and it arrived right on time at 8 am the next morning. The breakfast options were fabulous and unique. Shown here is the Farmhouse plated breakfast (fried eggs, duck confit, sweet potatoes and more) and The Upper Canada fully charged with eggs, bacon, sausages, sugar shack beans and more!
We were invited to also enjoy a romantic dinner for two at feast + revel on our arrival night. It was such a treat given we had driven four hours through Algonquin Park to Ottawa. The restaurant menu offered a collection of Canadian inspired dishes which I was thoroughly impressed with. We began our evening meal (suggested by our hostess) with the Lamb Poutine which was prepared stacked, different from the traditional version. I then continued with the colourful and pink Kale + Bucatini pasta and Kyle had the Arctic Char.
It’s such a treat when a hotel offers great dining options as some nights you just want to hide out and relax!
I can go on and on about what makes a hotel so great, but that was a round-up of my essentials! If you’re curious about how to score the best hotel deals, well that’s a whole other post. But I generally book my hotel stays via Booking.com (and not this is not sponsored by them) or I really try my best to take advantage of hotel rewards. I’ve utilized my hotel rewards for free stays during my honeymoon, our last trip to Maui and much more. If you’ve not yet signed up for various hotel rewards program, do it!
And the verdict? Andaz Ottawa Byward Market gets five stars from me!