I recently had the (dis)pleasure of staying at 1 King West Hotel in downtown Toronto. It looked nice in the brochure, but I certainly did not expect so many things to go wrong. Maybe I received a lemon of a room. If anything I saw was indicative of the service of the hotel as a whole, this place needs a complete overhaul of staff and facilities. Pictures follow below for most incidents.
To give a fair and balanced review, the hotel does have some good things going for it: location and food. It is located in the heart of downtown Toronto and the financial district, so business travellers should take note for its walking convenience and position on the underground PATH system linking many corporate offices and shops for winter stays. The food is surprisingly good given the deficiencies elsewhere, and the attached street level bakery has fine coffee and sweets to start your day lightly if you're not in the mood to sample the breakfast buffet in the lobby.
As a converted bank heritage building some things are in odd places, (eg. elevators are behind the concierge desk, accessible by room card swipe only). Access to your vehicle is an issue making check in/out somewhat more complicated than it should be if you are driving or plan to rent a vehicle while staying at 1 King West. More on needless guest annoyance and poor planning later. Specific failings are as follows:
Being a converted building, they could have sprung for new windows in the suites. The old ones do nothing for climate control. Upon check-in the room was freezing. Not uncommon, so I pumped the heat to 76 Celsius to make it comfortable. The cleaning staff, however, moved the thermostat DOWN so the following night I had to pump the heat back up to sleep! Why are the staff touching the climate settings?! Major annoyance! Change the towels and make the bed, then get out!
Having to pump the heat to run all night does very little, since during the retrofit these geniuses put the heat registers ON THE CEILING! That means they need a powerful and LOUD fan to force the warm air down, making for lots of noise overnight while the room struggles to reach a nice temperature. All the heat collects right under the registers, so the bed itself is only slightly warmer than the rest of the room which remains cool. 3 temperature zones in a space that is about 300 square feet is ludicrous. Add to this old windows that do not block a lot of noise, and you have to sleep through a droning fan, traffic noise, and crane construction noise! I was on the 11th floor, and STILL heard traffic outside, I feel sorry for those closer to street level. This is just poor planning for creature comforts on the part of the the hotel and should not be tolerated when paying luxury suite prices.
The furniture in the room was "distressed". Noticeable stains on the desk chair, an office chair with a broken armrest, and knobs on dressers that were loose and askew are the little details that make a difference and people notice when they pay premium prices. This should not be tolerated. Any good service establishment knows that if the customer can SEE it, it should look RIGHT. This makes one take a much more careful view of the hotel and places people in a sour mood as the first thing they see upon entering the room is something that looks chintzy, cheap, and gives the impression the hotel doesn't care that much about doing things the right way.
It is 2010, and this place is geared towards the business traveller. Why then do patrons have to go down to the lobby to use the wireless Internet connection? If you want to use the Internet cable in the room you have TO PAY AN ADDITIONAL $10 PER DAY FOR THE PRIVILEGE OF ACCESSING THE INTERNET IN YOUR ROOM! IN 2010! WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS PLACE?! Talk about cheap and chintzy, this makes it look like the hotel is nickle and dimeing their guests for a service any respectable MOTEL gives away for free. Paying over $200 per night and a businessperson has to go down to the lobby to check their email after being in all day conferences and meetings? Weak.
$200+ per night and they find it necessary to subject guests to single-ply 40-grit toilet paper. Not cool, man, not cool at all. This is the kind of stuff you notice when there are stains on the furniture and extra charges for Internet access in your room. (See what I mean about looking for more deficiencies when you get alerted?) This is something minor, but the creature comfort is not there. How can someone be expected to go to high power business meetings and sit comfortably with captains of industry when their asshole is red and raw from sub par toilet paper? Major fail on a simple fix. Buy better toilet paper you cheapos! It can't hurt your profit margins per room that much when some poor schmo is going to pay you $10 to access the Internet at midnight because they don't want to get dressed to go sit in an uncomfortable lobby to answer emails.
Another gripe for the cleaning staff. (I'm sure their are good staff working at this place somewhere, but maybe not on the 11th floor and not the days I stayed there; to them I apologize.) Below is a picture of the hallway outside my door, and it remained this way for 12 hours! 12 hours of garbage in the hallway! How does this reflect well on the customers' opinion of the conscientiousness and professionalism of the staff?
Lock up your wallets when the cleaners come to turn down the bed and the thermostat!
Here's an idea. Open up the parking garage to everyone in the downtown core and make some rent money from the concrete box you built underground. Then use the profits to buy better toilet paper. See how doing the right thing leads to other right things?
Any one of the above items could be the straw that breaks the camels' back and causes business patrons to not recommend this hotel. I certainly don't and will not stay here again. I give a hearty recommendation to the SOHO Metropolitan Hotel. A little further out on King Street, but as a hotel/condominium complex everything about the SOHO is leaps and bounds beyond 1 King West.
In summary, don't stay at 1 King West Hotel if you want value for your dollar. They have a long way to go to to earn a luxury reputation to match their luxury prices.