As we turned the corner with our stroller and luggage, the black-panelled glass with the big words PUR caught my eye! “There it is!” I exclaimed, and we hefted towards our hotel for the weekend. The streets were bright with people, and our walk from train station to hotel a surprisingly short and enjoyable saunter. Quebec City, it seems, is a walking city. We were excited! Our long planned whirlwind trip was upon us! Even our son was happily babbling away at all the strangers, waving his snack trap, sending Cheerios out onto the cobblestones. We walked in the glass front doors, expecting loungy music, and a trendy vibe, all for $145 per night. (and yes, this was a good rate for Quebec City on Labour Day weekend, don’t get me started on the rates for the other side of town at the Marriot or Delta…)
The Hotel we stayed at was supposed to be a trendy boutique hotel, one where the amenities were modern, the stay comfortable, and the atmosphere very minimalist and urban. I envisioned a similar experience to the Brookstreet Hotel out in the suburbs of Ottawa, or perhaps Indigo downtown. Classy, trendy, simple, yet… refined modern styling with a hip take on luxury.
But, alas, this was where the enthusiasm for our fancy urban hotel experience ended. What we got was an IKEA decorated hotel that seemed to run out of money before the finishing touches could be put in. It was urban without the polished chrome, trendy without the class. The attention to minimalist detail was, in fact, not.
We had a King room, which, after a long train ride, was giving me ideas of a massive king sized bed in which to sink, out son playing happily around it, us recovering from the journey before seeking dinner. The bathrooms were described as opulent modern design with a big tub OR a shower, both which would provide ample comfort after a day walking the streets of the city. A mini-bar and bottled water would greet us in our room. An LCD TV was standard, and up off the level that a toddler could reach. Cribs were complimentary. Cribs! Not playpens, not cots, but cribs!
As we exited the elevator onto our floor, we couldn’t see. Literally. The entire hallway was painted black, with the room numbers stencilled in burnt orange on the bottom of each door. I suddenly felt as if I was in one of those U-Stor-It places where you have indoor storage rooms with the hallway all the way around the outside, each with a big number on them and a roll-top door. It was so dark, if not for the recessed pot lights in the ceiling, we would not have found our way very well. I suppose this could be fun, but we weren’t expecting this level of weirdness upon checking in. I had never, in all my life, associated black as a proper hallway colour, especially in a hotel. From the iPod white of the lobby to depths of Mordor in the hallways, we had gone from Retina-burning-glossiness to secret bat-cave darkness in a blink.
Our room was small, and overlooked the street below us. Thankfully, it looked out over a decadently wonderful coffee shop we later began calling “our coffee shop”, and my husband would look out the window in the morning and know when it was time to go get croissant, since the delivery truck arrived. They make an expresso drink called L’orgasme, which is doppio expresso, dulche de leche, and whipped cream. Another, called Le petit printemps, was doppio, maple syrup, and whipped cream. I ordered my coffee in French, and felt as if the summer of French courses had indeed paid off.
In our room, we discovered the following exceptional things:
- Indeed the king sized bed was a double, maybe a queen
- The “crib” was an ancient Evenflo playpen that creaked constantly when our son was in it (he slept on the bed with us the whole weekend) The surround for the air conditioning unit was not attached to the wall (I brought painter’s tape to baby-proof the room, and we taped it to the wall)
- There was no mini-bar OR bottled water OR coffee machine in the room
- There were no extra blankets or pillows available
- No ice machines or kitchenettes were available (we couldn’t heat up formula, nor get ice for the tepid tap water)
- The restaurant was closed (upon further investigation, it has always been closed), and there was no room service
- The soaker tub and shower were lovely, but very difficult to get in and out of (no safety grip bar things at all!)
- The shower head was adjustable height-wise, but not centred in the tub
- There was mold in all the grout lines of the shower (YUCK! I told the front-desk person upon check out about it so that the next person would not have to deal with that)
- The shower curtain was not waterproof… Seriously! Water went right through the fabric onto the floor
- The desk, sidetable, and stools were made with glossy melamine, and the corners were very, very sharp (Not kid safe at all, we had to move some of it to where our son could not get at it and worry constantly about the rest)
- The phone only worked sometimes
- The iPod-docking clock radio in fact had no radio on it. If you didn’t have an iPod, you couldn’t listen to music at all
- The LCD TV was in fact a Dell monitor with speakers and an external remote attached. The quality of picture was at best, fuzzy, and the volume was terrible
- Black curtains on the window facing West made the room heat to oven-temperature during the day, which the A/C unit could not keep up to
- There were no dressers to put clothing in, but there was a fancy recessed lighting box thing that jutted at hip level along one wall
- No iron or ironing board
- A tiny broken chest of drawers stuffed into the closet that couldn’t be fixed to put something into
- A safe that didn’t work
So, there we were.
Not what the brochure had promised at all, but in fact, was so far from it we just looked at each other and burst out into laughter as our son ground cheese crackers into the black carpet. My husband called down to the front desk to ask if our room had been assigned wrong, since we had asked for a King room. They assured us that indeed it was a King sized bed. We gave up on trying to rectify other problems with the room, since the front desk staff seemed, at best, unaware of how to actually address someone who was complaining. One poor girl had a constant “deer-in-headlights” look to her when we went and asked about a family-friendly restaurant to go to. She had no idea what restaurants were around the hotel, and couldn’t help us. Oh dear…
We contemplated switching hotels, but the fact of the weekend was upon us. Every hotel was full, and if we changed now, it might cost us a lot more out of our meagre vacation fund to do so. We looked around, shrugged out shoulders, and decided to make the best of it. Changing rooms wasn’t an option either, since the hotel was fully booked. We are adaptable people, we could manage. Besides, we weren’t going to be spending a lot of time here. We had a city to see!
And that was the brunt of it. When we left on Monday morning, I bid adieu to our Emo-goth-IKEA hotel and we headed towards the station. As we boarded the train, I realized we left the green painter’s masking tape holding the the A/C unit to the wall, the mini-bar fridge closed, and the lamps to the side table.
Maybe that will be a hint for them.