My boyfriend and I stayed here for 5 nights last week - a combination of work and pleasure - to experience the famous Stampede for the first time. The location is excellent - 30 seconds from Stephen Avenue Walk which was closed to traffic and became a wonderful hub of pedestrian activity with lots of restaurants, bars, shops and entertainment. There's a Winners, The Bay and Holt Renfrew all within a few blocks, and a Starbucks across the street. The hotel was also a 10 minute walk to the Stampede grounds which was super handy since cabs were scarce during the city's busiest week.
We had stayed at Le Germain in Toronto (Maple Leaf Square location) and loved it. The same holds true here with the modern design aesthetic, the drop dead gorgeous bathrooms with both a rainshower and a hand-held shower, and the amazingly comfortable bed, pillows and sheets...you'll never sleep so well!
The breakfast is excellent: steel cut oatmeal, toast and mini scones and croissants and banana bread, organic yogurt with four choices of granola, fruit (both chopped up and whole), sliced ham, hard boiled eggs, several cheeses, and spiced nuts. No complaints here! The breakfast staff are also very friendly and professional and do a great job of remembering your beverage choice (coffee, tea, etc) and will automatically bring it to you the next morning. I really liked that touch.
However, I can't give this hotel 5 stars because of a couple of things. First, we were paying close to $500 per night for our room...and I still have to pay $2.50 to have an in-room cup of coffee...really?! It was one of those new individual 'pod' coffee machines but I have to admit that I still felt nickel and dimed =( Second, the gym is actually really nice and well equipped and full of natural light, but the long hallway leading to the gym is truly hideous - it's like walking to your doom! It's so narrow and dark and houses all the noisy mechanical equipment...surely a bright coat of hallway paint wouldn't hurt? I realize this is a minor issue but it would help going to the gym feel more welcoming.
My final and most serious complaint is about the front desk and concierge staff. Yes, they're young and friendly, but not very knowledgeable. And Stampede is such a crucial time with the city full of tourists, it's a shame that they are not better trained. My boyfriend was working one day so I went to the concierge desk and said, "I've never been here before - what are some Calgary sights you can suggest?" The young man said, "Well, the Stampede is in town." Okaaaay, done that - what else? And he couldn't suggest anything else...not one thing! Wow. So I finally said, "Tell me about this 17th Ave that I've been hearing about. What's there?" He stammered and finally told me to talk to his female colleague who gave me a better run-down on the different neighbourhoods and the shopping options. But you know what? Neither of them asked me the obvious question: "What sorts of things are you interested in?" Turns out the Art Gallery of Calgary was a mere block away, as was the Glenbow Museum, but I found that out on my own. And Prince's Island is a gem and great for walking or biking. Please suggest that to other tourists in the future!
On another day, my boyfriend and I stopped to ask about a new area called East Village. (We are both in the real estate development industry, thus very interested in this huge waterfront revitalization project.) The young lady at the concierge desk was totally dismissive: "Oh, there's nothing there. It's a big construction site." I persisted (I was told by my friend to check it out) and she reluctantly gave us cursory directions to the area. We walked along the river (beautiful - a must do in this city!) to the Discovery Centre and it was fascinating and well worth it. The concierge at the Toronto Le Germain were stellar - this is something that Calgary staff should aspire to.
Don't get me wrong - this is a very good hotel and I would recommend staying here. And the fact that the deliciously fabulous Charcut restaurant adjoins the hotel lobby is definitely an added plus! Ate here twice and was thoroughly impressed.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Genuine haven of peace, Groupe Germain, pioneer of the boutique-hotel concept in Canada, has expanded its unique brand of hospitality into Western Canada with Hotel Le Germain Calgary. The Groupe Germain philosophy is all about authentic elegance.A welcome like no otherAt Le Germain Boutique-hotels, the goal is to create a warm, comfortable ambiance, combined with attentive, personalized service that is always accommodating, yet never intrusive.Respect for the environmentThe entire complex was engineered and constructed to incorporate several state-of-the-art features designed to conserve energy and preserve our environment. ... more less
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