For our Christmas/New Year vacation, we found a tremendous deal in business class on American Airlines from Toronto to Beijing with one stop in either direction. Usually we would book a positioning flight to begin and end our trip in a situation like this, however, flights from Pittsburgh required a connection or an exorbitant price for three people (nearly $400 each for the one hour journey) and we decided to drive four hours from Pittsburgh to Toronto and park at the airport. Due to the travel time and an early morning departure we decided to drive there the evening before and stay the night in the city. Using our Club Carlson points we thought we would try the Radisson Admiral Hotel Toronto.
While we regretted our decision on the way home (lake effect snow caused us to drive just 18 miles an hour on the interstate for an extended period of time), the way into the city couldn’t have been better. Driving after work and getting into Toronto at night made for a beautiful arrival into the city. The highway was saddled with tall glass buildings on both sides and felt more akin to a scene from Fifth Element than Canada in 2016.
Given the choice again, I think I would rather drive to the city (sheik!) for that view again over a flight on Porter or Air Canada.
The hotel utilizes a parking garage attached to the building and while under construction had limited parking, though we were able to find a spot. The property is right downtown next to Billy Bishop international (small regional airport close to the city like London City airport) and we would have expected a valet option and would have paid for it to avoid the cold.
The daily charge from the property was $25CAD ($17USD), but there was parking available for cash available from as little as $7CAD. The only reason we paid the higher price was because we had already checked in with our car out in front and put it on the room before I found the sign which indicated lower prices if paying directly with cash.
I was slightly annoyed with the price for a few reasons. First, let me say that I think that $25CAD is a totally reasonable price to pay for downtown overnight. The parking was close to the door and very convenient but it still required me to go back outside, loop around the block, pull in, dodge construction barricades and park in a spot that barely allowed me to open my door. If the valet is parking the car I don’t need to go down in the morning and warm it up or deal with the hassle. I will gladly pay for that, but to not offer valet, charge valet prices (especially when lower prices are available) and still have to do it myself is an annoyance more than anything else.
In a routine survey request I received following the stay, I responded with my recommendation that they offer valet service even if the price is slightly higher than their current rate. The manager reached back out to me following the survey and suggested that area garages were charging as much as $40 (despite the sign out in front for their very own garage being even less than their $25/day rate). I was surprised that instead of the usual response (we appreciate your comments and will raise them with management), I received an argumentative defense that was factually incorrect. It was kind of ballsy to suggest that I should be grateful it isn’t more expensive when anyone with two eyes can see that they are already ripping their customers off.
If you are driving to Toronto, as we will be again in the future, just pay to park with the garage itself.
While the property is not a Radisson Blu or Red (their top of the line modern properties) it was finished to a high Radisson standard. Walking in, the room was clean and as a courtesy to elite guests, left some chocolates for us to enjoy. Our daughter did most of the enjoying while we unpacked for our brief stay. The furniture was fairly basic, but clean. There was a nice chair near the window which provided excellent views of Billy Bishop International and the lakeside. There was a desk attached to the wall and the entertainment center which was acceptable but not fantastic.
As a standard North American hotel, the bathroom was immediately to the left after walking in the front door. The bathroom was bright, clean and modern like the rest of the property. We were most delighted that the property had recently renovated and featured a large shower with glass doors (not a shower over tub). One note on the toiletries. The mint shampoo was refreshing and had a cooling effect – it wasn’t for me. I thought that it was a pretty bold choice for the chain, and for once I actually took out my own shampoo.
The bed was comfortable and had a number of helpful amenities like reading lights and power adapters. There was a string of LED lights built into the headboard that made for a softer effect and allowed us to turn down the lights from the main switch while keeping a little light nearby before we were absolutely ready to go to bed.
I never review the gym but I actually used the one at this property. There was one other person working out early in the morning when I was in there. He was the type to do a couple of bibles curls and snap a selfie, change positions and repeat. He was the reason I usually neither go to the hotel gym nor take pictures inside. At least that’s the excuse I keep using.
The equipment was modern and well maintained. There was ample room and machines for up to 10 people to work out at the same time. I came at about 7AM and it was just the two of us for the duration, though housekeeping staff did pop in, restock bottles of water and wipe down some equipment. Had I been alone, this gym would have been a 10/10.
We had access to Breakfast as a result of the room rate we had booked (we were in a Club room) but after looking it over we gave it a pass. There was not a single soul in the room at 8AM and everything looked fairly basic. Sure, it wasn’t a Choice hotels, bag of microwaved eggs kind of affair, but it wasn’t very high above it. When breakfast is free and it still doesn’t meet your standards, it’s disappointing.
There was however, a full service Starbucks on the main floor. Many hotels have lobby coffee bars where they advertise “Serving Starbucks” but this is little more than an espresso machine and an ill-trained barista. The Radisson Admiral Toronto had a full-blown Starbucks in the lobby and despite a challenging order, it was perfect. Between the location of the property and the presence of an in-lobby Starbucks, there is certainly reasons to book this hotel.
Online the room was showing a price of a little over $200CAD at the time we booked. Using a seemingly bottomless supply of Club Carlson points and free night certificates due to a mattress run five years ago and a credit card sign up, we opted to use a certificate. Had we chosen to use points, the cost would have been about 44,000 points for the stay – a fair rate given the cash price for the property. Club Carlson does not charge taxes on award stays so our only charge was the parking, and that seemed like an excellent value.
Would I stay there again?
I would, but not without shopping around more first. Given the size of the city and the amount of competition in the area, I would look to stay elsewhere if I could. That being said, the location was excellent, the room was clean, and (if you avoid my mistake) parking can be relatively affordable. I would stay at the property again if I wanted to burn some more Club Carlson points, but would think twice if a competing property was similarly priced and close by.
It’s time to leave Toronto, until next time…