As is plainly obvious from my subject line, I have much to say about this place. I will begin with the positives:
(1) A great staff! From spending time to find extra pillows, to printing out maps for your journeys and allowing us access to the eating areas after hours to make formula for our baby, the staff at this hotel is their saving grace.
(2) Location is great, as it is very close to Chinook Mall and easy access to the major thoroughways.
Now this is the tough part. I try to stay positive on these reviews, almost to a fault. I respect the business owner and the risks they take, and I know the kind of damage a negative review here can do. Unfortunately, this is one experience I must share. Here I go:
(1) When we arrived, we were taken to a room on the ground floor, and it had a putrid smell of stale cigarette smoke. The staff said perhaps the last guests had smoked in there, but the smoke was so embedded and stale it was obvious this had been happening there for a while. We said no, and was given another room close by.
(2) The room had very old carpeting, and it was long past its due date. I am not one for new materials, but at a certain point, a carpet needs to be changed for hygienic reasons. The wallpaper was also old and peeling, and who knows what lurked behind the paper (mold?). We kept our son from crawling on it, placed all luggage on the table and just avoided walking on it with bare feet.
(3) The washroom was "functional", but what was really odd was the thick limescale that encrusted the shower head. It was quite prominent, and looked absolutely disgusting.
(4) We pulled up the sheets to look for bed bugs, and found none, but did find a couple of tiny black beetles. We inspected the room, and found more of them in the washroom (dead and alive). It was hard to sleep on that bed, which was already worn and tilting whenever you laid on it. We felt like bugs were crawling on us all night.
(5) When looking for the bugs, I found the source. There was a hole in the wall (evidently to fix a heating issue) that was never patched (picture of hole attached to this review). The insects were pouring into the room from there. I woke up to a moth on the washroom door. They could not even bother to apply a small piece of drywall on that hole. I took the mat in front of the washroom at was below that hole, shook it over the bath tub and was aghast at the amount of dead bugs, cigarette as and other gunk that came off it. It obviously had not been vacuumed or cleaned for a while.
(6) The entrance to the room needed work. First, you opened an exterior to a very small common hallway that connected two rooms. Then you opened the door to your room. Issue was the two doors did not open and close smoothly, and required a lot of pushing and shoving. This naturally made for a lot of noise (especially when closing) and it reverberated through the hallway and into the rooms. It was actually very annoying, and did not make for a homely stay since you were wondering if someone was about to break in.
In sum, it was definitely the worst hotel/motel experience I've had. I have stayed in many discount ones, so I know what to expect when you pay a low rate, but this one is absolutely horrible. I wrote the manager a long e-mail expressing my concerns, but received no reply. No professionalism or class. It seems like management has skimped on maintenance staff and repairs to extract as much money as possible.
My wife had accidentally booked this hotel at www.bookings.com. We phoned the website immediately, and were told there is no cancellations. Bookings still sent them a professionally worded e-mail explaining our situation and offered to refund any fees they owed to www.bookings.com. The next morning, management refused, and said we would have to pay 50% for a cancellation. This was during Stampede Week, when finding tenants is ridiculously easy. I have no doubt if we cancelled, they would have just rented it out to someone else. When I was checking out, a guest from Oklahoma was asking for the manager for an explanation of this fee. She said she had provided 4 days notice of their need to leave early, but was refused a waiver of the fee. It was hard to hear her say how $500 is a heavy price for someone who is living cheque to cheque. Here is the kicker: she had come to Calgary to held with the flood relief effort. This, if I already wasn't, completely soured me on this motel.
As I said earlier, I try not to give negative reviews. The way this motel conducts business is shameful, and casts a bad light on the city of Calgary, the Howard Johnson brand and on the industry overall. It's rather sad considering I have stayed at many, many great hotels and yet this one experience can taint them.
If I may offer some words: whatever you do, avoid this place like the plague. If we could re-do it, we would've stayed in Banff since all other hotels were booked. It would have been a longer drive, but well worth it to avoid this sty of a place. Our 1 year old became very, very ill when we left the motel, and it has left me wondering what he picked up there. Never again.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Free breakfast, Wifi, parking, Local calls & room coffee. Guest Laundry. Few minutes to downtown, Stampede ground, Saddledome, Chinook centre, Heritage park, Rockyview Hospital & Mitchell Eye Care. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Howard Johnson Express Calgary Hotel Calgary