Contrary to other reviewers, for our stay, this "up-scale, 4 star boutique hotel" did not deliver on it's grand promises. A lengthy review on the issues we had follows but here are the short points.
- getting a parking space at the Inn can be an issue. Save yourself some heartache and arrive by cab. However, if you have to rely on parking at the Inn, call ahead and make sure it'll be available for you when you arrive. Or park in the unloading zone in front of the hotel on Memorial Drive and check-in at the front desk first.
- The Riverside Inn is located on a major downtown Calgary traffic route. If you have a room at the front of the building you will hear traffic noise. It starts early (6 am on Saturdays) and stops late. It is very convenient to the Kensington area which does have interesting shops. However, the Eau Claire area, just across the Bow River, is equally nice and has the advantage of being close to the Prince's Island Park. The beautiful Riverside Cafe is an excellent Calgary restaurant with a lovely ambiance that's located right in the park.
- If you have a room on the ground floor you will hear noise from the upstairs rooms (water running, footsteps, etc). You'll also hear hallway noise - the early rising, happy, whistling guest, the tipsy evening guests, etc
- not all the rooms have been upgraded to what is displayed on the website. In the website photos, the decor in the upgraded rooms seems warm and inviting, stylish and modern. However, the lighting in those photos flatter the rooms. In reality, the walls and ceilings are a dark color (brown, grey?) that make a deluxe Queen room seem small and gloomy.
- the bathroom in the Queen room is nicely renovated but there's no place on the vanity for your make-up bag. The soaker tub is lovely but you have to run 100% hot water and even then the water cools off before the tub is full. The shower curtain is too small for the tub and that makes it drafty while you're trying to enjoy the soaker tub.
- the beds are comfortable but the pillows were too hard for us and we came away with stiff necks. The bed linens were very nice.
- the coffee tray is delivered very early in the morning at 6 or 6:30 am. Even though it's in a thermos that the front desk claims will keep it hot, your coffee will be luke-warm if you sleep in. Ask to have it delivered close to when you wake up. However, it would be nice if the Inn asked what time you'd like it delivered.
- book your room on the internet. You'll get a better rate and if you put your special requests in writing they may get passed along.
- For supper, the food at The Chef's Table restaurant is expensive but excellent. The service was very good. I didn't find the ambiance very appealing. The dining room has been decorated in the same dark colors as the rooms. It's very monochrome and it could stand with some splashes of color, fresh flowers and artwork that was more complementary to the decor. The food, prepared by Chef Boje, at the Chef's Table may be the best/only reason to stay at the Riverside Inn. Also, make reservations for dinner in the dining room. It seemed some people were seated in the lobby for dinner on Friday night. In my opinion, people coming and going to their rooms would detract from the fine dining experience and give it a food court feel instead.
- The website photos flatter the decor in the lobby, too. To me it suffers from the same problems as the dining room. It's monochromatic and could stand some color, fresh flowers and better artwork.
While we appreciate the Riverside Inn's gestures to make amends for our disappointing stay, we would rather have had the service they promise. It would have made our wedding anniversary a wonderful day. Unfortunately when you make promises such as the following you will be held to a high standard.
"We are personal. Intuitive service is our passion—to anticipate your needs, spend the time it takes to make your stay even more memorable, and take care of every detail.
We are luxury. The details will delight and enhance your experience. Our art collection, upscale dining, and modern, executive luxury décor offers pleasant surprises."
For our stay, this "up-scale, 4 star boutique hotel" did not deliver on it's grand promises.
Our first problem was with the parking. We arrived at 6:00 pm on a Friday night, drove into the underground parking as our confirmation email directed us to and found the garage was full.
Parking in the Kensington area, and in downtown Calgary generally, is difficult to find so having no parking available at the Inn was extremely irritating. We parked in a public parkade across the street but the parking ticket expired at 6:00 am Saturday morning. Since we hadn't been given any instruction on alternate parking in the event the Inn had none available, we thought this was the best we could do and we thought we'd be getting up at 6:00 am to pay for parking.
Not a good way to start a wedding anniversary get-away. We schlepped our luggage down the parkade ramp and across the street to the Inn. We were very annoyed when we got to the front desk. When we told reception that there had been no parking available in their garage, the front desk said that "kitchen staff" were occupying some spaces. It's inexcusable that there was no parking space available for a guest because Riverside Inn staff were using spaces (I don't care if it was the Chef). To the credit of the Riverside Inn, they had the Chef move his car, sent a staff member to move our car and refunded us the $3.00 parking fee we had paid. However, you only have one chance to make a first impression.
Our second disappointment was with our dinner reservations. I made my room reservations on the phone and was very clear that we were celebrating our wedding anniversary. I made supper reservations at the same time and asked for an especially nice table. We had to wait for 30 minutes for our table which I understand can happen. However, I was expecting that our waiter might have said "Happy Anniversary!" However, there was nothing of the sort. I don't really think that reservation desk passed the information that this was an anniversary celebration along to the restaurant staff. Hardly, "personal, intuitive service..taking the time to make your stay memorable". Also, having a personalized card in our room when we arrived saying "Happy Anniversary! Thank you for choosing the Riverside Inn for your celebration" would have been an inexpensive gesture that would have had a tremendously positive impact. They already deliver a card of that type in the evening offering to arrange the next day's transportation, etc. Why not take the extra step and do the same to recognize an event that's clearly important to your guest? We mentioned to our waiter that it was our anniversary and that we were very disappointed with the hotel. He took the initiative and talked to the Food and Beverage Manager who arranged a $75 credit on our hotel bill. He also offered us a complementary bottle of champagne which we declined. Again, that was to the credit of the Riverside Inn but we prefer proactive service to reactive apologies.
- Some other small disappointments:
The slippers and bathrobes were nice but it would have been even better if there had been one pair of large slippers instead of two pairs of medium slippers. Yes, I know we could have asked for a large pair but how about the "anticipate your needs" promise?
The coffee thermos doesn't keep coffee hot for an extended period of time. Why not ask your guests what time they'd like their morning coffee delivered instead of delivering it at a standard 6 am?
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Kensington Riverside Inn is Calgary's premier luxury boutique Inn located steps from Downtown Calgary along the banks of the picturesque Bow River in Kensington Village. This 19-room boutique inn features upscale accommodations for the discerning traveler, as well as our newest addition, Oxbow, serving unique and seasonal cuisine, letting you appreciate dining as it was meant to be, honestly uncomplicated. Your "Inn" experience will include evening turndown service, morning coffee/tea tray with newspaper, as well as complimentary high-speed wireless internet and bottled water in the guest room. When booking with the Inn directly, guests will receive a $20 per person culinary credit at Oxbow. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Kensington Riverside Hotel Calgary