“Surprised by poor quality accommodation, and lack of commitment to reservations made.”
I do a fair bit of travelling, and usually stay in higher end hotels. The Royal York was a designated conference hotel for a conference I was attending. I booked a non smoking Fairmont room with a king bed and had contacted the hotel to advise that if available a non smoking room with 2 doubles would be acceptable, if available. My room was initially booked September 19, 2012 almost 8 weeks ago.
My flight was due to come in late and I contacted the hotel that morning by telephone to advise reservations of my arrival and to confirm the details of my reservation and also sent an email en route advising reservations of my arrival time. I do this routinely, especially at large conferences so they not think I am not coming, and my reservation is kept for me.
We arrived at the hotel just after 11pm. There was no bellman available, or anyone to help with bags. My colleague self-parked her own in valet parking as there was no one available, while I checked in. She had to chase someone down in order to give her keys to someone in valet parking.
Much to my surprise, the attendant at the front desk informed me that while he "was sorry, there were only 2 rooms left in the hotel ( despite a line of other people checking in beside us), and both were smoking rooms. "
Understandably, I found this completely unacceptable. I had made a specific reservation, weeks ago, and took the time to confirm my details prior to arrival, yet the policy of this hotel is apparently to over book room categories and give the rooms up to whomever checks in first or who I suppose is lucky enough to have earlier flights. This business practice is, as far as I am concerned, dishonest. I specifically reviewed this policy with the night manager, who apologized, but did confirm this is what they had done.
Initially, I was offered and somewhat placated with a room discount for the night and the assurance to be moved to another room the following day. The room rate was a conference rate of $209 per night. I was initially offered $150 off.
While this might at first seem reasonable ( and let me tell you once I got to the room we were forced into, it was not); my point to the front desk staff was that if I decided to not show up with less than 24 hours notice, I guarantee they would have charged my credit card for the night, and that I doubted if I called and said, " how about if I just give you $59 for your trouble, we'll just call it even..."-- that the hotel would accept that, as it would be in breach of the cancellation policy.
After I insisted that $150 off was not sufficient, and stated that felt I should not have to pay for a room I did not reserve, it was agreed that: there would be no charge for night. And that we would be moved, although inconvenient, to a non smoking room at some time the next day.
Once we got to the room, room 107, we walked off the elevator to the foulest smelling floor. It was like sleeping in a foul dank, bar. The room was just as bad, foul smelling, including the pillows, the bedding, and the beds. The room was worn, and the bathroom had mildew and rust from fixtures in the tub, with evidence of poorly cared for grouting. There was no way we could hang up, or keep suitcases open, the smell was that powerful. I can't imagine being allergic or have asthma; I did have a minor cold, and certainly I felt much worse the next morning. I had to have my coat professionally cleaned to get the smell out, even after being moved.
I called back to the front desk, and they suggested an air purifier, ( which really did nothing much) and i requested that the bedding and pillows be exchanged for those from a non smoking room. By this point , it was after midnight. I also insisted our parking be covered for duration of our stay, which it was.
We were given 4 new pillows and an air purifier by a handyman, but no housekeeping appeared to remake the beds with fresh bedding that hadn't been contaminated by smoking odours. The heat and air conditioning did not work in the room. By that time, it was after 1am, and I was too tired to deal with it any longer.
The air purifier stayed on, but helped minimally. I have seen posts from management re how they deal with odours; but apart from completely renovating the whole floor, I'm not sure how years of smoke damage can be rectified. Because if it, the elevator reeks, and I'd hate to stay in the floor above. It was by far, the worst night, I have ever spent in a hotel. And I've also stayed in fairly basic lodging....
We were moved the next day, and spent the next two nights in a room on the 4th floor , near the elevator. At least though, it was non smoking.
It would have been a nice gesture for the management to have left an apology note, a bottle of wine, or a flower , a gift certificate for a complimentary cocktail, in addition to me not paying fir a room i did not book.
To me, this sort of thing goes a long way to recognize that the hotel's own policy and practices resulted in such an unacceptable experience. But no. What did end up happening was an erroneous charge on my bill for a bottle of wine from the minibar of the first room , room 107. We DID NOT USE or consume anything from the minibar but yet mysteriously a false charge for $28 appeared on my bill. I had to call again to get that reversed. Glad I checked my bill closely!!
The front desk staff are clearly empowered to accommodate, make concessions and corrections, but this should not have resulted in multiple negotiations and calls by me for the hotelier's errors.
I did use the restaurant for breakfast, which tasted fine. I had the eggs Benedict. However, be aware, you'll be better off to walk a half block to Starbucks- a cup of coffee was a shocking $5.00; as was a glass of orange juice.
The lobby of this hotel is grand, and testament to that of yesteryear; the remainder of the hotel is very worn, especially various room categories , according to other guests and colleagues I spoke with. I have stayed previously in a suite in this hotel a number of years ago (during the SARS epidemic), and even then, while more pleasant than this stay, that Suite was worn around the edges then.
Don't even get me started on wifi access.
There are other comparably priced hotels in the area in the same category. Fairmont needs to step up it's game if it plans to secure business from professionals who travel. The next time the conference I attended is in Toronto (and it will be), I doubt I will choose the Fairmont Royal York if only because they do not guarantee and honour the reservations made with them and they overbook their room categories. Unless this policy/action changes, it will impact my decision to book Fairmont hotels in other cities.
Finally, I hope they pay their housekeeping and service staff well or at least hazard pay for working on that 1st floor where smoking is permitted; the second hand smoke exposure even left lingering, is likely enough to impact health over time.
Thank you to doorman, who was present on my final two days and was always quick to get me a cab, and ensured I had a town car when I finally left for the airport.
Very surprisingly disappointing overall experience.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.