When travelling I find I have a tendency to opt for hotel chains I recognize: Holiday Inn, Best Western, Four Seasons on a good day, etc. I also have a feeling I’m not alone on this trend, especially when many of these hotels give out rewards points and other perks. However, if you take a closer look between the glow of these recognizable logos and somewhat cookie-cutter hotels, you’ll find smaller establishments owned by locals. Would you take a chance with the unknown and give one of these local hotels a shot?
Anyone who has been to Niagara has seen that there’s tons of both. I feel like more people stay in hotels than actually live there, even in the winter. While usually opting for a deal at the local Travelodge or Days Inn (thanks Hotels.com), I was looking for a place for Robin & I to rest our heads after enjoying a beer or three at the Real Canadian Beer Festival a few weekends ago. After some hunting around and no chain hotels below $100, we decided to take the plunge and stayed at the Diplomat Inn on Stanley Avenue, located a 20-minute walk away from the Scotiabank Centre and less than that to other big attractions such as the Fallsview Casino and Clifton Hill.
As you can see, it’s a bit of an older building with reddish brick and darker accents. However, the inside is quite nice with lighter colours that help to brighten the corridors as you walk through. The Diplomat Inn doesn’t have an elevator, but for three floors it’s not really necessary. A little extra exercise never hurt anyone! We checked into our room to the pleasant surprise of not one but TWO queen beds! There was also a crib, where I planned to put Robin if he needed a time out (just kidding… sort of).
The room was also designed to have the full bathroom complete with bathtub like most, but it also had an extra vanity and mirror separate from it with a blow dryer. I love when hotels include this so that I’m not hogging the bathroom while I’m getting ready in the morning! Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the blow dryer to work as I couldn’t figure out where the cord led to (it sort of disappeared into the wall), but that didn’t mean I left with wet hair! Sometimes we just have to get a little bit creative. In case you were wondering, the heat and A/C in the rooms worked great!
The caffeine addicts out there may have noticed that there wasn’t a coffee maker in the room. Never fear! On the first floor there was a communal complimentary coffee dispenser. I really like this idea as many hotels have a zero-tolerance policy, meaning the coffee and tea not used is wasted. This way there’s a lot less waste and more enjoyment! Another perk was that the hotel had a few communal microwaves in the same room as the ice machines – perfect for making some popcorn to munch on while enjoying the late night cable before bedtime.
Now not all hotels (chain or otherwise) are in good shape or have great amenities. The best thing to do is your research and look at the most recent reviews. This is one of the reasons why I love sites like Hotels.com and Airbnb when booking accommodations, that way I’m not unpleasantly surprised when I arrive! If you’re looking to woo your significant other while on a romantic getaway, maybe a hotel like this isn’t your best choice. Although if you’re looking for a cheap stay after an event or a night out then try giving a local hotel a shot! At $60 a night, I couldn’t complain!