I have just completed a most enjoyable 31-night stay at the Super 8, Dartmouth. I was absolutely delighted with my choice of this hotel. Let’s begin this review with a look at its size and location.
Technically the hotel is located in Metro Halifax, but in fact everyone knows it is in Dartmouth, across the harbour from Halifax. The amalgamation of several area communities into Metro Halifax has done little to blur the old distinctions. The Super 8 is seven stories high, offers 80 rooms, plus a few penthouse suites perched on top. Penthouse tenants have to use the stairs from the 7th floor as the elevator does not go higher. The Super 8 can be seen from just about anywhere on the Halifax waterfront. Its sign, facing the harbour, beams the distinctive Super 8 logo (black script “Super” & large red “8” against a bright yellow background) and identifies it from a distance, as does the fact that three sides of this building are terraced. The hotel fronts on King Street, near Queen. Its flat facade is the only non-terraced side.
A mere five minute walk from the front door of the Super 8 will bring you to either the Alderney Ferry Terminal, or to a bus stop that offers transportation directly over the MacDonald Bridge to Halifax. Also from this stop, you can catch other busses that go to the nearby Bridge Terminal for transfer to a variety of Halifax and Dartmouth destinations. This makes it an ideal hotel for anyone visiting Halifax without a car. If you do have a car, and are able to resist the considerable charm of the 10-minute harbour ferry ride, you can drive to peninsular Halifax in just a few minutes by taking the MacDonald Bridge ($1 toll). You can even walk or bike over the MacDonald, free of charge. If you are bridge phobic, it will take you about 30 minutes (in good traffic) to drive around the Bedford Basin and reach the same destination. So, in many ways, car or no car, the location is absolutely ideal. The Super 8’s downtown Dartmouth environment is generally quiet, a boast many expensive Halifax hotels cannot make, but you can be in the midst of core Halifax bustle in just a few minutes. The ferries run every 30 or 15 minutes, depending on time of day. Last ferry from Halifax to Dartmouth leaves Halifax at 11:45 p.m.
Some online comments have suggested that the area in which the hotel is located is “not the best,” but I found no problem whatsoever. I felt entirely safe walking around the area, and actually Dartmouth is, I think, an underrated community. It is called the City of Lakes, and indeed there is a beautiful lake (Lake Banook) and a large pond (Sullivan’s Pond) within walking distance of the hotel. Local theatre (The Dartmouth Players) may also be found within walking distance, as well as fine dining, casual dining, and an excellent coffee shop (Two If By Sea). Just around the corner from the hotel is Ma Belle’s Café, a great spot for breakfast, lunch, and even dinner on the three nights (Thursday, Friday, & Saturday) that it stays open to 8 p.m. And you certainly won’t want to miss the International Museum of the Happy Face, truly a marvel that merits a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. True, you won’t find the raucous hustle of Halifax’s Spring Garden Road in Dartmouth, but you will have a quiet nest after a day’s excitement.
The Super 8 is something of a cement fortress on the outside, especially the facade on King. I wouldn’t call it architecturally welcoming. Once inside, however, that changes completely. The staff is very welcoming indeed. On arrival I was taken aside by Manager Brian Hicks and given an excellent overview of the local Dartmouth amenities. During my stay I had one minor plumbing problem which was corrected in timely fashion by a maintenance technician who could not have been more friendly and accommodating. No other issues arose. There are two elevators. I rarely had to wait more than a few seconds for one to arrive. An alternative to the elevators, at least for those on lower floors, are two clean and windowed stairways. One leads directly to the lobby, the other directly outside. I was on the 4th floor and often used the stairs for convenience and also exercise.
If you bring your vehicle, as I did, then you will be concerned about parking. There have been a number of online criticisms about parking, so let me address that issue in some detail. Smaller vehicles, anything up to a mid-sized car, may use the 2 levels of underground parking. As I have a truck, I was not given that option. An outside lot is provided for larger vehicles, so I parked there. I did go down on the elevator to look at the underground parking, and yes, it is tight and the ceilings are low, but it didn’t look impossible to me. There could be a problem with high vehicles, especially as pipes reduce clearance in places. But provided you do not attempt to take a large vehicle down there, and also provided that you do have some skill at manoeuvring in tight spots, you should be OK. The parking slots are on the narrow side. If you are anxious about the close quarters, ask to use the outside lot.
The outside lot is located behind and immediately north of the hotel, with access out to Ochterloney Street. There is a short wooden staircase leading to it from the Hotel’s driveway, or you can walk around the corner and enter from Ochterloney. The lot has a crushed stone surface. Spaces are not marked or reserved. This parking area is partially fenced, and partially lit at night by a bright lamp affixed to a street pole. A sign warns of 24 hour camera surveillance. A camera is visible. The lot probably holds about 20 vehicles. Ma Belle’s Café borders one side. At checkin you will get a dashboard identification slip. I was not charged extra for parking. I parked in this lot for 31 days without any problems, so I just don’t understand the quibbles about parking.
The inside of the hotel has a warm decor, with emphasis on reds and beiges, a toned down reflection of the Super 8 logo colours I suppose. You will find attractive main desk and lobby areas. There are the usual vending machines and furniture, but all in excellent condition. A computer and printer are available here for guest use. I printed an 8-page letter, offered to pay for the paper, and was told to forget about it – a gracious touch. There is a spacious and bright breakfast room, and I can attest to the fact that it is cleaned daily. Bagels, muffins, toast, waffles, apples, oranges, cereals, beverages, etc., are available at no extra charge each morning, 6:30 to 10. A free daily newspaper is provided at the desk, along with a bowl of dog treats should you have a furry friend with you. Yes, the hotel is dog friendly. I saw dogs coming and going with guests, but in over 4 weeks at the hotel I heard very few woofs.
Upstairs, halls are in good repair, clean, and exceptionally spacious. A convenient table stands opposite the elevator doors on each level. Guests here have the use of a large and well furnished 2nd floor common room. The remarkable aspect of this room is its height. It is fully four floors high, so while you are lounging in the comfortable furniture, you may find guests peering down from floors 3 through 5. Adding to the impressive appearance of this space is a strip of windows that extends floor to ceiling. Also, several attractive and gigantic wall murals, on a theme of naval history, decorate one wall of this unique common area.
Smokers are confined to the 7th floor. I visited 7th and found the smell of cigarettes very noticeable. I also visited the 5th and 6th floors where I could not detect any cigarette odour. I did not encounter the odour of cigarettes anywhere else in the hotel. Unfortunately, it means that smokers get the best harbour view, so long as they are on the harbour side of 7th. If you do not face the harbour, and want to see what sort of view you are missing, you can ride up to the 7th and have a look. There is one hallway window on each floor that looks directly out over the harbour. And yes, it’s a great view from 7th, but it’s almost as good from the 6th, 5th, and even the 4th. I found that management would not guarantee me a harbour view room, and I didn’t get one. I don’t know what criteria are used for assigning them.
Now to the rooms, or at least my room. First, and most important, it was clean. And it was spacious. I believe all rooms are carpeted. My room had two double beds, an upholstered chair, a floor lamp, a bureau with 2 large drawers, an ample desk with drawer and lamp, fold-up luggage stand, coat rack affixed to the wall, twin reading lamps by the beds, alarm clock radio, 26-inch flat screen TV, bedside table with drawer, iron, ironing board, hairdryer, full length mirror, and telephone. An unusual lighted nook contained a counter with coffee maker and microwave plus enough space for food preparation. Beneath the counter was a refrigerator. WiFi internet service was flawless and fast throughout my stay. There were sufficient electrical outlets. The lights in the bathroom were bright, and the counter space there was adequate. The shower didn’t exactly blow me away with pressure, but it was fine, with no unpleasant temperature fluctuations. The shower curtain rail sensibly curved out into the room so the curtain wasn’t always trying to cling. The curtain itself had a translucent viewing strip at eye level. Tile was in good shape, hot water plentiful. And yes – there was a hook on the back of the bathroom door. There was no bathroom exhaust fan as such, but there was a silent vent which was very effective in de-steaming the bathroom after a shower. No hand rail in the shower.
And my room had a balcony! This is mostly a major bonus. In fine weather there is a tendency for people to sit out at night on the balconies and chat. This could be a disturbance if you like to retire early, but in 31 nights I heard chatter only once. I loved the fact that you can have the sliding glass door open for maximum Atlantic sea air ventilation. I dislike hotels with sealed windows. The sliding screen door locks, so, depending on your level of intruder paranoia, you can also have ventilation at night. A heavy and completely opaque curtain may be pulled across the entire door. A heating / cooling unit provides instant electric heat on demand. During my stay it was never hot enough for me to try the AC. Chairs are provided on the balcony, and there is even a balcony light controlled from inside the room. I found noise from other rooms to be virtually non-existent, one benefit of living in a cement fortress! Occasionally one can hear muted chatter in the hall.
No pool, but there is a fitness centre. You’ll also get your exercise on the hilly terrain of Halifax and Dartmouth. It’s a moderate climb from the ferry terminal to the hotel, but nothing like some of the inclines over in Halifax. If you want a workout while you are out and about, there are actually amazing fitness machines in several of the nearby Dartmouth parks. Guest laundry facilities, located on the upper parking level, are clean but the garage location is unfortunate as air quality down there is sometimes poor.
The really good news is that the rates at the Dartmouth Super 8 are really most reasonable. I was given an excellent rate for my 31 nights, made better still by the fact that the Nova Scotia government regards a month-long stay as residency, and waives the 17% hotel tax. Not many will want to stay that long, but check the hotel’s web site for good deals on shorter stays. I would say this hotel is a gem. My only fear is that it will be “discovered” and rates will jump. My thanks to Brian Hicks and staff for a wonderful stay.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Minutes walk to the Halifax Harbour ferry. A 12 minute ride to everything in downtown Halifax without the parking or traffic congestion. Clean, comfortable rooms and suites, close to great restaurants, 20 minute drive to the airport. Also near Mic Mac Mall and Dartmouth Crossing. Downtown value & convenience without downtown prices. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Super 8 Dartmouth Hotel Dartmouth
- Super Eight Dartmouth
- Dartmouth Super 8
- Dartmouth Super Eight
- Dartmouth Oceanview Hotel Nova Scotia