I never do hotel reviews; namely because I don’t think a hotel is what makes your trip. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule where your accommodation is really the crux of your trip – I’m thinking glass igloos in Finland and luxury safari lodges in the Serengeti!

Because of that, I don’t splash out on hotels and the two things that I really look for during the booking process are a) good location and b) cleanliness. I’m an easy to please sorta girl!

So, you might be wondering why I’ve decided to write about a chain restaurant? Well, the Marriott group have excelled themselves with the Renaissance Toronto Downtown Hotel. Primarily because the location is so unusual, but also the AH-MAZING food.

Location

suite_bi_level_bed_6291Photo Credit: Photo of room with stadium view is taken from the Renaissance Toronto Downtown website

This hotel is located partly INSIDE the Roger’s Centre (home to the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team) which is pretty unique in itself.

The window in my parent’s room looked into the stadium – so if you’re an avid baseball fan, you’d be able to catch all of the action from the comfort of your bedroom!

Myself and my sister had a somewhat less appealing view of a railway line from our window – so if you’re not into baseball and want fantastic window views, this may not be the hotel for you. Although, maybe don’t disregard it so quickly, it has a lot more to offer!

If you’ve ever been to Toronto, you’ll know that The Roger’s Centre is directly next to the CN Tower, so this hotel is a great for a lot of the tourist attractions including the CN Tower, Aquarium, Steamhouse Brewery etc.

Given that the the hotel is close to the waterfront and Toronto is a large city, depending on the time you have and your walking capabilities, you may need to get a taxi to some of the more Northern tourist attractions such as Casa Lomas.

Rooms

IMG_3870 v2.JPGIMG_3866 v2.JPGThe combination of modern decor, high levels of cleanliness, ample space and all the amenities you could need make for a very comfortable stay.

My absolute favourite thing about the rooms were the beds. Those things were so damn comfy – if I could have packed the pillows, duvet and mattress in my case, I definitely would have!

Restaurant

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Now, this is where the review gets really good (and not because of the small Starbucks inside the hotel – however, that was convenient). The hotel has a Mediterranean restaurant called Arriba inside and the food is out of this world (mainly at breakfast).

Most people have heard me say that hotel breakfasts are, in many cases, overrated (and I still stand by that statement). however, Arriba really pulls all of the stops out in the morning. It’s not the cheapest breakfast in the world, but the money is well worth it when the food is so good that you go to bed excited to wake up and eat!

My favourite breakfast was the banana bread french toast stuffed with bacon cream cheese with sliced banana, bacon crumbles, fresh berries, toasted almonds and maple syrup (it would be rude not to have maple syrup whilst in Canada after all!)

We did also eat in Arriba one evening and the dinner menu was much smaller than the breakfast selection but the food was great regardless!

Overall

Location
Food
Cleanliness
Staff

 

Yes, it’s a chain hotel. Yes, hotel’s don’t make your entire experience while travelling. Still, would I recommend this hotel to a friend? Most definitely. If you’re interested in booking this hotel, be sure to check out prices here!

Have you ever been to Toronto, what is your favourite hotel?

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post (although it does contain affiliate links) and all thoughts are my own.
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We were up bright and early on our second morning in Toronto (although not entirely by our own doing, our body clocks were still stuck on silly UK time – I’m sure time changes never used to affect me this badly – am I getting old?!) but getting up early was for good reason – WE WERE GOING TO NIAGARA FALLS!

I’ve said before that the areas of North America that interest me the most are the National Parks and places of natural beauty, so it’s safe to say that Niagara falls has been on my North America bucket list since the beginning of time!

My family wanted to book a guided tour for Niagara as we weren’t in Toronto for long, so ease was more important than cost (for once in my life!) – we wanted our tour guide to pick us up from the hotel, tell us everything we need to know and bring us back when we want with no hanging around waiting for public transport. My dad found Gerardo on “Tours By Locals” and his tour fit the bill!

Helicopter Ride over the Falls

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After a long chit-chat with Gerardo in the car about anything and everything, from the history of the area to Brexit and Trump, we arrived at the falls! Before heading down to explore immediately, Gerardo spotted that there wasn’t anyone in the car park for the heliport, so we headed straight over for a spontaneous flight!

Getting to the falls early in the morning means that you are ahead of all the coaches and tour bus’ that arrive later in the day – apparently the queues for the helicopter rides can become horrendous.

Flights are around 144 CAD per person, so it’s a pricey experience but definitely worth it. As you are lifted into the air, you are reassured that the model of the helicopter is one of the newest, safest and quietest on the planet – so if you’re scared of flying, this could be the best place to have your first helicopter trip!

I’ll let the photos speak for themselves now!

Walking the Length of the Falls

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Next up, we drove closer to the falls and were given some free time to explore, wander around and take pictures. We started near the American falls and walked down to the Canadian “horseshoe” falls, stopping at practically every photo opportunity along the way (yes… I know it’s just falling water and can’t look THAT different).

Visiting in Winter meant that there was a lot of mist coming off of the falls, but we were still able to see everything and the surrounding area had a light layer of snow – perfect!

Journey Behind the Falls

IMG_4267 v2You’ve probably all seen photos of people standing on a ridge right next to the falls, unfortunately, this access point was closed during Winter, but we were still able to complete the rest of the “journey behind the falls” – and because of the closure, the tickets were discounted to about 8 CAD!

This experience takes you through tunnels behind the falls. Along the way, there are openings in the tunnel which mean you are quite literally standing behind a sheet of water – don’t worry you can’t get wet (unless you are a bit silly and jump over the protective barriers).

Clifton Hill

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The Journey Behind the Falls marked the end of our time at the actual waterfalls, so we headed further in-land to explore the local area before meeting up with Gerardo for the rest of our tour/the ride home.

Clifton Hill is located on the Canadian side of the falls and was described to us as “Canada’s answer to Orlando or Las Vegas” – to me it gave off more of a “Southend-On-Sea” or “Great Yarmouth” vibe.

Essentially, this road is a tourist trap filled with amusement rides, tourist memorabilia shops, waxwork museums, candy shops etc. It’s safe to say that Clifton HIll is not my cup of tea, but whatever floats your boat!

On a serious note, how many waxwork museums can you fit in one small area?! We saw SO many!

Niagara On The Lake

IMG_4312 v2IMG_4320 v2On our way back to Toronto, we stopped at the SUPER cute town of Niagara on the Lake. Every shop was perfectly designed and adorable! We spent about 30 minutes walking around, visiting all of the shops (and trying the foods they had to offer hehe).

Ice Wine Tasting 

IMG_4331 v2During our trip, Gerardo mentioned “ice wine” which we had seen advertised in different shops but didn’t know what it meant! Apparently ice wine is a Canadian speciality where the wine is made from grapes that have been frozen on the vine.

On our way back to the city, Gerardo took us to a ice wine tasting session (unfortunately I didn’t catch the name of the place). We sampled 3 different types of ice wine and ended up buying a bottle with apricot undertones – yum!

More Things to Do! 

As always, I didn’t get to do absolutely EVERYTHING that Niagara has to offer, but to make sure you are as filled-to-the-brim with knowledge as physically possible, here’s all the other bits and bobs you can do during your visit!

Boat Rides

As we were visiting in Winter, we were unable to do a boat ride up to the falls, however I’ve heard great things about the trip in Summer!

IMAX Niagara Falls

If you’re not feeling too adventurous, there’s an IMAX theatre to show you sweeping views of the falls with a 4D twist!

Skylon Tower Niagara

Do you fancy food with a great view of the falls? Head to Skylon Tower! We decided to skip out on this experience given that we ate dinner in the CN Tower the night beforehand and the two look pretty similar, albeit the views are completely different!

Fireworks and Illuminations

During the Winter, the falls are lit up in varying different colours at night – we didn’t get to experience this as we took a day-time trip but it looks great!

Have you ever been to Niagara Falls? What was your favourite part? Or if you’re planning a trip, what are you looking forward to the most?!

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own.
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Danielle1