We were due to stay in Toronto again, this time for the Easter long weekend, and after briefly exploring other hotels just to change things up, we decided to go yet again with this Holiday Inn, the third time in about a year. We were glad that we did.
I was once again greeted by Steven, who recognized me instantly and welcomed me back. He bumped us up to an Executive King room, and arranged to have a crib sent up (which actually beat us there, as I had to go back down to the car first). He also gave us a free breakfast voucher, and most surprisingly, when we came back to the hotel after dinner, he had sent up a half-dozen delicious chocolate-covered strawberries to our room!
I'm not going to say that everyone will get like treatment; we certainly did not the first couple times we stayed (save for the room bump - they've given us a king each time. More on this later). This was our third stay in a relatively short period of time (in hotel years), we had booked through the rewards website and (to the degree they actually track this) had written positive Tripadvisor reviews on our first two stays. Perhaps that might have factored into the perks we received this time around.
Outside of the great treatment provided by Steven and front desk staff, we again enjoyed:
1. Great location. This time, we took an easy walk north went shopping on Bloor street - my wife wanted to hit the Holt Renfrew. This HI is also close to the Eaton centre, and has an awesome Loblaws right next door and a metro on the corner. We also had easy drives to Yorkdale mall and the Ontario Science Centre from this location. A great base camp for Toronto adventures.
2. Underground self-parking with in-and-out privileges. At only $25 a day, it's a pretty good deal, especially as you don't have to tip a valet every time you exit/enter. The parking system will also save you a space if you decide to head out. Note that the parking entrance is behind the HI on Wood Street - there's a HI sign there that you should be able to see pretty clearly.
3. Free wireless internet. It's quite dependable, and fast enough to stream netflix (though it did boot me off from time to time). The passwords seem to change on Mondays, so don't be surprised if you have to call down for a new one (which was no problem).
4. Our baby, who is pretty happy-go-lucky to begin with, always enjoys himself here. It may be because the toilet rolls are well within his reach and he likes to play with them :-). Front desk staff also gave him a couple toy cars to play with.
Just to balance out this review, here are a few things which could use improvement:
1. Pillows aren't great. They're the short ones (length-wise), so you might have to place your head pretty perfectly in the centre of it, and you might roll of it during the night. You may be better off bringing your own if you're road-tripping here and can afford the space in your car.
2. Staff mood varies. Steven is phenomenal and I wish he were at every hotel at which I checked in. The same can't be said for the housekeeping staff - some are friendly; one in particular however (who I think we've run into before) won't even make eye contact and treats our presence like an inconvenience. Some light interpersonal training for staff might go a long way here.
3. Breakfast buffet was solid but not amazing. I very much liked the variety, which included the standard hot items (bacon, eggs, sausage, etc) as well as fruits, yogurt, milk, and cereal - something for everyone. The service was also excellent, as all the wait staff were extremely friendly and quick to help. The quality of the hot items however was pretty average; with the cost being about $18 per person, you may be better off looking for alternatives locally. You can get a pretty decent hot breakfast for much cheaper at the Loblaws next door. Still, if you're in a rush, or just being lazy, this is not a bad option.
One final note. I've never been able to book a king-bed room at this HI online, whether it be Expedia or the rewards website. If you run into this issue and want to get a king-sized bed, Steven recommends calling right after the reservation is made and asking for the switch over the phone.
In conclusion: I don't know if HI has a flagship property, but I would say this should be it. Great service, and an amazing central location makes this a tremendous value for the price paid. I would very much recommend it.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.