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Saturday, April 30, 2016

Niagara Falls, Canada - Hilton Niagara Falls / Fallsview Hotel & Suites

April 2016, Weekend, 2-nights, King tower 2-room suite #5054

Sunrise from guestroom 5054
Falls visible if you click on the photo to enlarge it

We considered several hotels before choosing the Hilton Niagara Falls. Other hotels we considered were Embassy Suites, DoubleTree, and both Marriott hotels. The Hilton was offering a couples package, which is what we booked for one night. I redeemed points for the other night's stay. The Embassy Suites is located closer to the falls; however, I had read several negative reviews about the property. Many guests reported waiting in line forever for breakfast and for the elevator. The DoubleTree has a fabulous inside pool area, although the hotel is located a bit farther from the falls. The cost at the DoubleTree was less, if you are not interested in a falls view guestroom. Both of the Marriott properties looked great; however, the guestroom cost and value was not as good as the Hilton, and I did not have enough Marriott points for a free night.

You can find more photos and information for this property and the area in the Hilton Niagara Falls album on my Facebook page.

Arrival and status perks

We had booked one of the best room types available online, so I am not sure if there was opportunity for a guestroom upgrade. Maybe, if this hotel has a presidential suite or invisible room that is not listed among the guestroom types! I wish I had seen the corner suite photos online before our stay, because the corner suite photos I saw after our stay looked fabulous! It seems like guestroom 5050 on the corner would have a much better view than guestroom 5054. I am not complaining about the room we had. It was comfortable, and we had a good view, although it was also expensive. You can see more detail of our room location in the Facebook album photos. Cost and package details are at the end of this post.

I thought about checking in and choosing our room before we arrived; however, it was difficult to tell which room would best meet our needs. Since hotel staff is usually more knowledgeable about this, and a representative I had been chatting with online, told me she had set a room aside for us, I decided to wait until we arrived. Check-in time is 4:00 p.m., and we arrived shortly after 3:00 p.m. The line at the front desk was very long. There was no one in the Hilton Honors line located at the right end of the counter, and there were about 20 guests in the regular line. Three or four agents were working at the front desk, and I was assisted as soon as the next agent became available. Even so, we waited in line several minutes. I cannot imagine how long it took other guests to check-in!

The agent assigned us guestroom 5054, and he provided all of our coupons for the package night we had booked. For my Gold on-property perk, I chose bonus points for one night, and breakfast for the other night.
View from guestroom 5054

Guestroom 5054

This guestroom is located on the top guestroom floor near the center, just to the left when exiting the north elevators. A photo in the Facebook album shows the room location from the outside. There was actually one more floor at this hotel, floor 51, which could not be accessed from the elevator. I did not see a key slot in the elevator to allow access to floor 51, and I do not know what is on that floor.

Room by entrance
The floor plan for guestroom 5054 was exactly as pictured on the hotel website. This guestroom had sleeping accommodations for six, and there were only two of us. We had chosen a 2-room suite for the view, the fireplace, and the whirlpool tub.

Front closet

The guestroom area by the entrance contained a sleeper sofa, end tables, coffee table, lamps, table with four chairs, fireplace, armoire, small flatscreen TV, and a closet.

A folding luggage rack, safe, bedding, iron, and ironing board were in the closet. 

Shower - across from toilet
The bathroom was located between this room and the bedroom. The bathroom contained a whirlpool tub and a separate tile shower. A glass pane and a shade separated the tub from the bedroom. The shade was operated by a switch on the wall. It took me a few minutes to figure out where all the light switches were. I had expected the switch for the inside [bath] room where the toilet and shower were located, to be inside the bathroom; however, it was in the hall. The switch for the shade and the vanity light were located in the bathroom.

The towels in the bathroom were plush. A hairdryer and bath amenities were provided.

There were no bathrobes in the guestroom, so I called to request one. Someone from housekeeping brought a plush robe and slippers, along with a few extra amenities--bath gel and bottled water.

A sink and small fridge were located in the wet bar area in the hallway across from the bathroom. A single-serve coffee maker and supplies were provided on the counter. Glass glasses were provided, and we were able to get wine and champagne glasses to use in the guestroom during our stay. A full-length mirror was hanging on the wall outside the bathroom.

The bedroom contained a king size bed, sofa sleeper, desk and chair, flatscreen TV, fireplace, armoire, coffee table, nightstands, lamps, telephone, and alarm clock. An ice bucket and two bottles of water were provided on the coffee table. We received two new bottles of water during stayover.

The bed was super comfy, and the room was well soundproofed. Before our arrival, I thought I might not like being on such a high floor, as I have a mild fear of heights. The height did not bother me at all. In fact, I stood up on the small ledge next to the window to take pictures. I guess the thick glass and fact that the window did not open stifled my fear of falling.

Food & Beverage

We had the buffet breakfast at Grand Caffe both mornings. One morning, we used the breakfast coupons I had received for my on-property perk, and the other morning, we used the breakfast coupon included with our package. The package coupon had a $20 value, which only covered the cost of one meal. My husband used the coupon that morning, and I did not have breakfast. I was still quite full from our dinner the night before, and I certainly would not have eaten $20 worth of food. The on-property perk voucher covered breakfast for both of us.

The breakfast buffet included the usual hot food items: omelet station, scrambled eggs, sausage links, and potatoes. The bread choices included pastries, whole-grain breads, and bagels. Good quality condiments were available. Fresh fruits and cereal were also provided. A couple of menu items I missed were corned beef hash, cottage cheese, and smoked salmon with fixins.

Our package came with a $10 lunch voucher for Pranzo Italian Grill in the hotel. We did not see any restrictions on the voucher, so we shared the Canadese pizza. The credit covered more than half the cost. The service was excellent, and the pizza was delicious!

A $20 dinner credit for The Watermark or Brasa Brazilian was also included in the package. We chose to dine in The Watermark. The service and food were both good; however, even with the $20 credit, this meal was expensive. The only dining option in either restaurant was a 3-course meal (or more), and we had to purchase two meals to use the $20 voucher. We overheard guests at a table behind us who wanted to share a 3-course meal. They were told they could not do this, so they left.
Beet salad - delicious!

Our first courses were so impressive that we expected the entire meal to wow us. Our entrees, however, were not spectacular. The food was good, although not impressive, by any means. In addition to the items pictured here, we had the Tiger Shrimp Trio (superb), Seafood Linguine, and the NY Strip.

I would compare this dining experience to Iridescence, a rooftop restaurant in the MotorCity Casino hotel in Detroit, Michigan. The view and foods are similar, yet the cost for the same food in Iridescence is about $40 less. I guess the cost to view the falls rather than the Detroit River and Ambassador Bridge is $40.

The view of the falls from any seat in the restaurant was excellent, and we had a table right by the window. The distance one could see was farther on the 50th floor, although it seemed like we were closer to the falls when in the restaurant on the 33rd floor.

Horseshoe Falls from The Watermark at the Hilton

Pool area

The information on the hotel website before our stay and at the end of April when I am writing this post, said that the pool and fitness center would be closed for construction starting May 1, 2016. I was glad we had booked a room with a whirlpool tub, because the hot tub in the pool area was closed at the time of our stay in the middle of April. From the looks of the construction around it, it looked like it had not just recently closed. The pool was open, although we did not use it.

Parking, pricing, misc.

I am not sure how the parking is charged at this hotel. The information in the Hilton link at the top of this post says that the cost is $25 Canadian per night for self-parking. Another hotel page says that the cost is $30 Canadian per night for self-parking. We were not asked if we had parked a vehicle, so I assume the charge is through a service rather than the hotel. Either that, or we paid to park at the casino when we could have parked for free! I had read that you can park at the casino next door and pay just one fee the day you leave, so that is what we did. We got an excellent parking spot on level 5, which is the level with the walkway over to the Hilton. The cost the day we departed was $25 Canadian. It had been only $10 when we arrived. You do not take a ticket when you enter the casino parking lot. There is a kiosk on level 5 inside the entry where you can purchase a token the day you leave. Our walk over from the casino was very easy, and it actually looked closer than the rooftop self-parking at the Hilton. If anyone reading this post did self-parking at the Hilton, please share your experience!

I do not usually book packages at hotels because they are often not a better deal. In this case, the package we booked for one night was only a couple dollars more than the AAA rate for just the guestroom. If we had used only our breakfast and lunch vouchers, this package wold have been a much better deal. We did not use our winery visit vouchers, and I would have been happier if we had not used the dinner one either. I am sure we could have found good food nearby for half what we paid at The Watermark. I guess that is how the hotel makes money back with the discounts they are giving away. I redeemed just over 63,000 points for the points night. Initially, the cost was 4,000 more than this. I often recheck rates when I do not have a good deal, and shortly before our stay, I noticed the room was available for less points. I had to call the Hilton Honors line to have them change our reservation and get the 4,000 points back.

I had read about a local tax (for fireworks, or something) that is automatically added onto charges that you can request to have removed. We had this tax removed from our dinner check and our guestroom folio. The lodging savings was almost $21, and I do not recall the exact amount on our dining check. I think it was close to $10. I had forgotten about this when we paid our lunch check.

When I read about the long waits for an elevator at Embassy Suites, one guest had written that the hotel only has two elevators on opposite corners. I have not been inside the Embassy Suites to confirm this; however, that is how Embassy Suites are usually set up. Even if there are a couple of elevators in each bank, like I have seen in some Embassy Suites, this is considerably less than the number of elevators in the Hilton for a similar number of guests. The Hilton has three banks of elevators, and there were eight elevators just in the north wing!

The Watermark is located in the south wing of the hotel. The fact that both falls were visible from the restaurant is another reason I think the location of guestroom 5050 would be a better choice on the 50th floor. Both falls would be visible from that location, and if there are windows on two walls (since it is a corner room) the view would be even more fabulous.

Let me know if you have any questions. Remember to check out the Facebook album for more information, and please share this post for others! I am working on a separate post with entertainment information in Niagara Falls.