Howard Johnson by the Falls
Niagara Falls, Ontario
It was a bit of an onerous process to find the entrance to this hotel from the road with a flurry of signs jumping in your face for attention at the same time. But the Howard Johnson Hotel by the Falls is part of a lively neighbourhood close to the popular attractions on Clifton Hill, a small walk from the falls.
This property is full of fun amenities built for family escapes, but its best feature is the polite and positive front desk. The bubbly nature of the clerk helped make checking in a smooth process, and she even gave the room keys early since a room was ready for us. It's a mental thing; one is more likely to enjoy their stay if the hotel's staff enjoy being there in the first place.
The room shows a noticeable age especially with the furniture, but it was nothing intolerable. A scratch or two on the shelving and a shade of toffee painted on the walls. The television is of a recent model but the heating and air conditioning unit dates back to an era before my birth. Earthy brown and alien-like green carpet add an informal touch and a temptation to find some mint chocolate ice cream (a couple of places serve ice cream on this block).
The bathroom is mercifully updated with delicate soaps, a shower with some powerful settings and the same light shades of brown similar to the other walls in the rooms. Even the bed sheets are brown, which may be overkill. A fair number of channels are featured on the television, though it's probably not as important as checking out the falls or nearby entertainment options. It would have been nice if the TV signals weren't as pixelated as on some channels.
This property does a lot to upsell you with services from other businesses attached to their property. This includes a food court with familiar options beside reception on the ground floor at a price that is between reasonable and rip-off. A breakfast place is across the parking lot, coincidentally convenient since there is no complimentary food provided by the hotel.
On to the fun part: three great ways to pass the time include a nicely sized swimming pool (with a fun slide), an arcade that is a step back into time although it's still relaxing, and an exercise room that is wedged in the same hallway. Yes, the fitness equipment isn't as enjoyable as a good, challenging video game or a messy ride down the slide in the swimming pool, but it's certainly important to your health. These facilities combined is like a miniature version of what the falls have to offer - fun for many kids, the wider family and a fair challenge to the fitness buff among the guests.
Regardless of what the hotel provides in the room and those standards, it's great to see individual requests are met by its staff - this really makes the experience pleasurable. To take that extra step when my companion and I were accidentally an hour and a half early shows a real stake in the perennial bid for repeat visits. It was the perfect face at the perfect time, and I wound up enjoying the falls more. A hotel can give you a comfortable bed and a tolerable internet connection, but a great hotel gives you service you positively remember.
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