Niagara: Sheraton on the Falls

We recently completed our first International road trip in our Model X Pensive, taking the one-year-old twins and their three-year-old sister to Niagara Falls, Ontario. We stayed in the Sheraton on the Falls, which was conveniently located not far from the Rainbow Bridge and the American Falls.

While our trip wrapped-up a month ago, I wanted to give the hotel some time to respond to our experience. It's been a month since we checked-out, and several weeks since I sent the GM an eMail in response to a form post-stay eMail; and I have not gotten any response. As you might infer from this opening, the stay was not entirely smooth, but it also was not horrible. The location has plenty going for it, while front-line service was friendly and for the most-part helpful. Nevertheless, there are other options that are going to be better for many people.

Sheraton on the Falls

We decided to go with the Sheraton following some research online. As a Marriott Platinum Elite, we would get access to the club lounge and breakfast for two adults in the restaurant. The hotel was located further downstream from the falls than the Embassy Suites and pair of Marriott branded hotels. While several sites gave the nod to the Embassy Suites for the best view of the falls, the Sheraton on the Falls was often highly ranked, and even received the best overall option from one site when considering both its view and service, including availability of the club lounge.

Available Rooms

We originally booked the well reviewed Canadian Corner Suite which was supposed to have the best views of the falls, with views of both the American and Horseshoe falls through floor-to-ceiling windows. Marriott distinguished these from the American Corner Suites on their site (and in their mobile applications), calling them suites rather than junior suites. The American had a picture of a larger studio (the quintessential "junior suite"), while the Canadian showed a balcony, and nothing of relevance to the room.

The Canadian suite was priced a bit more than the American suites, but the same as the larger bi-level suites. In order to book the Canadian suite originally, we had to use the Web site (it did not appear in the app), but once booked, we had no difficulty seeing the room. It did appear to be the more scarcely available, as one night of our stay only seemed to have one Canadian corner available, while the bi-level suites were more widely available.

Looking out window

Even through the smaller windows, everyone was drawn to the view.

Looking out window Looking out Window

We then waited several months, until I decided to come back to planning the trip, closer to our departure date. Oddly, the Sheraton site did not list "American" and "Canadian" suites, but only Corner suites which all appeared to be of the junior/studio style. A little bit of anxiety began to creep in, since we've found that good separation for our twins has been extremely beneficial during our daughter's bedtime routine. By this point, room rates were higher, and Marriott was soliciting an upgrade fee to switch to the Bi-Levels (which still appeared to be broadly available). A new room, the Presidential Suite, also began to appear closer to our arrival date. The room, on paper sounded identical to the bi-level, but it had a price premium of about 30% (~$200) and sounded like it might have been a refurbished bi-level.

Given our elite status and the pricing changes, I resolved to try for a lateral room change. When I called-up the hotel, I had to be redirected a couple times: the phone system appears to be shared by other properties managed by Canadian Niagara Hotels, such as the attached Crowne Plaza and Skyline Hotel; as well as the two Marriott hotels near the Horseshoe falls). Eventually I reached someone at the front desk who helped me. I explained our concern, and that we were looking to switch to the bi-level so that our youngest children could have an area separate from our bedroom. The lady on the other end tried to talk me out of switching, initially explaining that all their suites were actually suites of rooms; when pressed she admitted that no, the corner rooms were just a studio; then she found us a bi-level, and lamented that the view would not be as nice as in the Canadian corner. I was a little sad at losing the view as well, but my wife and I agreed that everyone's sleep an sanity was going to be more valuable.

Sheraton Niagara Bi-Level bedroom

We really wanted the separation of a separate bedroom provided by the Bi-Level suite.

Arrival

We followed the navigation instructions in the car, which brought us right along the front of the hotel. Unfortunately, it was unclear how to get in, as the signed ramp was blocked with vehicles heading outwards. (We'd later see that this happened quite frequently, through a combination of Valet parking and traffic from guests having nowhere else to go.) We followed just a bit further down, until we could make a left which led to the garage. We drove-up several levels, and given the amount of luggage and children we had, decided to head back down to get back to the hotel, as there is no quick connection from the garage to the Sheraton, and the available parking spaces were themselves a hike to any of the elevators in the garage. It took a little over 9 minutes for us to get back to the exit ramp; we thought we might have seen the EV charging spots in-use shortly after entering, but I didn't notice them on our way back out of the building.

Parking

The parking garage itself is a good five minute's walk from the Sheraton itself, either along the street or though the arcades which connect the Sheraton and other attached hotels with a water park, and most directly, the Casino Niagara. Oddly, the parking rate for each hotel is different. One recurring suggestion to save some money is to visit the casino, register for the player rewards card, and run some money through the slots1. Only Gold level and above is listed as guaranteed free parking, which requires $20,000 worth of coin-in on the slots, but reports seem to indicate that the rate based on play for base members is fairly low.

As we found our selves going higher-and-higher in the 1,500 spot parking garage, and then found ourselves towards the outside rows, away from the doors or elevators, we shifted focus on trying to get out of the garage and back to the hotel. We had three children, who were past their dinner time, and a couple large suite cases we weren't fond of dragging to the hotel. Fortunately, we were able to leave the garage2 and come-back by the Sheraton such that we needed to make a right into the garage, which was a little easier to do than both find a whole in the valet ramp and get across the street.

We found a spot inside the rather small loading/unloading/check-in deck, which despite having several cars waiting near the valet station and on the ramp, had maybe half of its parking spots occupied. We unloaded the stroller, the kids into the stroller3, and then the luggage. To facilitate draining, the parking deck itself had uneven, but smooth, concrete and storm drains which occasionally presented difficulty; but getting the luggage over the curb, onto the sett walkway, and through the doors of the hotel was the difficult section. There was a ramp where the walkway opened to the driving level, but it was awkwardly behind a car, and a large SUV parked right against the wall of the garage made it impractical to use. If you happened to have mobility issues, and didn't have an able-bodied assistant to help you skip the curb, I'm sure you'd be able to wait for the line of cars to be moved (or just head up to the ingress ramp to the entrance to the sidewalk along the street).

Check-in

Once through the deck, around the cars, beyond the walkway and the revolving doors; we entered the hotel. There was a sizeable check-in area in one corner of the first floor, immediately right as you leave the Valet area. Along the street (straight ahead as we entered) was a long seating area which morphed seamlessly into a Starbucks and other quick-service food stands, followed by a souvenir store. There were multiple banks of elevators, one set covered only the original fourteen floors of the hotel, while the second were able to reach all 22 floors4 We went along the first bank of elevators to the check-in area where there was a sizeable, empty rope maze; and next to that, a full-line for elite check-in.

Niagara Falls has a number of large hotels, and long lines at check-in was a recurring mention in reviews across each of the large chains in the area. This is an area that the Marriott Marquis in New York's Times Square handled well: checking-in there, I had been directed to a smaller line even before I'd been able to survey how crowded the registration room was. By contrast, I stood outside the lines for a moment pondering whether it made sense to go into a completely open line rather than wait with the elite queue; after a brief contemplation I got in the elite line, and noticed that only one of the desks was labeled as elite check-in, and that the agent got-up shortly after I got in line, and wasn't replaced. The front of the line had responsibility for scanning the desks for an available agent, but the queue did move fairly quickly. By the time I was at the front, there were about 6-8 people in the non-elite queue (and about as many behind me in the elite queue). An agent indicated he could assist the next person, for which I took advantage as the regular queue didn't move, but honestly I'm not sure to whom he directed the statement.5

Check-in line

Short line, but all in the elite line, and slow moving.

Moving-up to the available agent, we began the check-in. I was thanked for being a Platinum Elite, and the check-in agent went over the benefits. While WiFi was included in the mandatory resort fee, "since I wasa Platinum Elite", I was offered valet parking at the self-park price. (Later, I'd read that all Marriott Bonvoy members were offered the reduced rate on valet parking, regardless of elite level.) He asked if I had an adapter to charge my car (he couldn't explain what adapter they needed, but I indicated I had a standard J1772 adapter, which was usually what was needed if there weren't Tesla-specific chargers).

As a Platinum Elite, at a Sheraton, I was entitled to a "welcome amenity", which was either an offer of points or breakfast for two. Paying out of pocket, especially for multi-night stays, breakfast for two is generally the better value as it is supposed to be daily breakfast for two; so my reaction when he asked for which day I wanted to take breakfast was visible. When I asked for clarification, he confirmed it was for just one day during the stay. After a few moments though, he went back into an office; when he came back he apologized saying he was only a trainee and that the benefit was indeed daily. He made-up certificates for each day, explained that our 13-month infants were free, but that our 3-year-old would be $5/day if we paid in advance, at check-in–he did not know how much it would cost otherwise. As was the case with a lot of things, the cost of the buffets and their prices was not available in any of the documentation in the room or available at check-in, which I found both surprising and a bit frustrating. After a bit more than fifteen minutes, I had my keys, the check-in process was completed, and I returned to my wife and kids who were wondering why check-in had taken so long.

Parking Redux

As we walked over to the elevators, the concierge offered to get someone to help; at this point it seemed somewhat moot, and it was late, so we declined and brought the kids and bags up to the room. While my wife started to unpack the kids' stuff, I went back to deal with the car. It took a few minutes of waiting mixed with wandering around before I found an agent who was free to take my car. I inquired about electric vehicle charging mentioned during booking and during check-in, and he explained that the only EV charging was if you paid extra to leave the car on the parking deck ($70 vs $34). He tried to sell me on the idea, saying that it was a lot safer if I paid extra; basically saying that my car was likely to get scratched or damaged in the garage, without having said those precise words. Again, as at check-in, I clearly had a surprised look on my face as he was talking about how dangerous it was to valet my car. At this point I just wanted to valet the car and get going–paying extra to plug into a low-powered outlet would not be worth the cost, but the valet insisted on checking with the concierge what the policy was. We were saved by the head valet intercepting us and taking-over. He re-iterated the policy, and how there wasn't any other EV charging available at the hotel. He did offer to leave the car on-deck overnight, allowing me to plug-in, which was a nice offer and I tried to express my appreciation. He directed me to pull the vehicle around to a standard wall outlet near the loading area for the Hard Rock Cafe next door, upon plugging-in the car recognized 12A, leading to about 1.3kW/hour charge rate. He noticed the graphics on the dashboard indicated 24+ to reach full-charge, and asked how long it would take. It was about this time that he realized why I hadn't cared much about charging.

Sheraton EV Charging

The hotel's idea of EV Charging available is a pair of 15amp NEMA outlets.

EV Charging Options

$35/night to get at most 31kW of charge is a ridiculous price. Tesla charges different prices depending on the local market or regulations, but a similar charge would cost less than $9 at a SuperCharger.

Better options if you happen to be staying at the Sheraton would be to find an L2 charger. There is a public lot closer to the library, as well as a local gastropub which has free charging while you eat. Finally, several people have reported simply paying the TravelLodge, located next-door, to park there. The advertise day-rates and Tesla drivers have reported a charge-ony (charge-and-move) rate which you may be able to negotiate depending on the level of occupancy and usage.

Taps-on-Queen

Municipal lots, the nextdoor TravelLodge, or this local micro-brew pub are available with L2 charging

Room Service

An hour since we first got to the hotel, I returned to the room; three hours after the kids' dinner, we called to order room service. It was now six minutes past eight, and unfortunately the kids menu was only available until 8pm and the lady who was taking the order confirmed we would be able to order neither of the macaroni and cheese nor the chicken nuggets. Instead, we ordered from the full menu the completely different ravioli (plain), chicken tenders, and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. She said she would try and rush the order, but cautioned that it would probably take at least thirty minutes given how busy the kitchen was. The kids had some of the chicken, but given how late it was (the food arrived at 8:48), they'd already filled-up on pouches and snacks. The ravioli was a little over cooked, and was seasoned with garlic and herbs in oil despite the request for plain pasta for a child's pallet. My daughter had one ravioli and decided to just east the peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

room service

Basic, but delayed. Since the children's menu becomes unavailable at 7pm, we ordered the most basic items available and asked for them to be completely unseasoned. Unfortunately, they added oil and seasoning to the ravioli which was neither in its original description nor requested; likely a failure in communication of the intent of the dish in the kitchen.

We had ordered two sandwiches, which had been confirmed at the end of the order, but only one found its way into the order. The gentleman who brought the order apologized, and rushed a second up to us, for which we weren't charged.

The Room

Our room was on the top floor, at the end of the hallway. It was a great location, quiet, and as close to the falls as you could get in the hotel with views from the (small) balcony towards both the nearby American Falls and the slightly farther Horseshoe falls. The initial impression walking through the door was an olfactory overload. The air was heavy, and carried a strong smell, which we later deduced was from the intra-guest deep clean.6 As we were warned, the view isn't as great–in fact it was effectively non-existent unless you were right next to the windows. This did make the room fairly dark.

Staircase

The stairs were in the back of the room, next to the balcony, and connected to the upper floor. The staircase was very sturdy, and with some rearranging of tables, we were able to barricade it so that the toddlers would stop trying to race to the second floor. Much of the room has seen better days. A well-worn carpet greeted us at the door along with the heavy air. In the morning light, we noticed the holes in the curtains, and the bodies of moths which helped create them.

The room had two full bathrooms, one just inside the door, and the master bath off of the bedroom upstairs. The upstairs bathroom was spacious, with a broad counter, stand-alone shower, and a separate jetted tub. Unfortunately, even here the lack of upkeep in the room was apparent, as the panelling on the tub appeared to be coming-off (or simply hadn't been aligned following maintenance).

Jetted tub

The service panel on the tub was not securely attached

Jetted tub

The front wasn't aligned well either, for that matter. Even the Cranwell Spa undergoing huge reservations didn't leave their guest rooms in this shape.

Shower and toiletries

The shower had a tray which was clearly built for soap, with a negative slant to reduce build-up from the wet bars. Unfortunately, this meant that toiletries would inevitably slide off, including when left by housekeeping.

A TripAdvisor review mentioned a renovation expected to be complete by the end of 2018, these rooms appear to have been left behind. Aside from the state of disrepair, the room did have a bit going for it. It was big, and once the stairs were blocked and small and fragile items pushed back or moved out of reach, the toddlers had a blast running around the room and chasing each other under the side tables and behind the curtains. Everyone spent some time looking out the window. The balcony is barely big enough to step onto, and certainly not safe for the kids, but we let our daughter go out for a minute as we held her, to look at the view which included the Rainbow bridge to our left and the Horseshoe falls to our right, and the American falls straight ahead.

Boys looking around

The boys looking at the room as we move in.

The Restaurant

The hotel has two restaurants which take-up the thirteenth floor, and both are open for dinner. At check-in, I was told "they" would "take-over the entire thirteenth floor" for a breakfast buffet, which sounded much more majestic before realizing that the floor was essentially designed as one large dining room with a central buffet, which is the configuration for breakfast and lunch. Even when both restaurants were open and serving food, they share a kitchen and food prep area.

Room service came from Massimo's Italian Fallsview Restaurant, which is only open for sit-down reservations at 6pm (Sunday through Thursday, and 5pm Friday and Saturday). Otherwise, your option is the Fallsview Buffet. The buffet is extensive, and regardless of the meal or time, the food takes-up the same section right behind the hosts' desk. We did come-by for breakfast each day, and had dinner at the restaurant once, and our servers were always friendly. The restaurant has a great view, but was not without a issues. The first morning, I went down for breakfast with my one year-old twins before my wife and daughter came down. We were sat right on the window, way in the back, which seemed reasonable to keep us out of the way. Unfortunately, we had been placed right next to the bar, which was the passage to the kitchen. While I was trying to juggle feeding hungry one year-olds, one of the other staff members asked us if we could move; a bit surprised, I agreed, but only after my kids finished eating their current meal (it would have taken about 15 minutes just to clean-up and pack-up), and nobody pressed the issue. Annoyingly, he had also brought the check about five minutes after we sat down, well before the rest of our party had arrived.

View at breakfast

There are some spectacular views to be had from the restaurant level, but unless your room is without a view, I'd skip it.

We had breakfast each morning, but not because the food was good. The food was atrocious, and having had lounge access, we found the most palatable food—the fresh fruit—was also available in the lounge. The coffee, from the self-service machine, was also better in the lounge; coffee in the restaurant was over-extracted, watery, and had grounds that found their way past the filters. My boys, who could live on sausage patties only had a few bites the first day, and then wouldn't touch it again. Unfortunately, the lounge didn't have cereal, and my daughter has become a big fan of Fruit Loops which she started eating when we stayed at the Residence Inn in Cedar Rapids over the summer. The waffles were not bad either, with a selection of toppings, including actual maple syrup. Basically everything else that involved heat was tough, overcooked, and flavourless. Dinner repeated this pattern, and it was expensive, making me feel a lot better about our room service bill the previous day. For dinner, we tried the meatballs which, like the sausage, were too tough to eat.

Restaurant quality

The restaurant was not cleaned-well and several of the chairs were clearly out-of-shape, but still being relied upon. This one was just one of several around our table that had seen better days.

The second morning, two things surprised me at breakfast: food from dinner was still on the floor in the dining room, which clearly hadn't been thoroughly cleaned after service the previous day; and the chocolate mouse cake was collapsing in on itself on the dessert table, which in addition to a couple of cakes and suites, consisted of the usual suspect of starchy low-end continental breakfast items.

The Club Lounge

We were unable to access the lounge the first night. It appeared to be close, but it turned out the agent simply hadn't coded our cards correctly. On the second day, we tried to stop-in after breakfast. The lounge attendant let us in and then re-coded our cards after verifying our room. What we found was the best parts of breakfast and some of the more put-together deserts. We grabbed some more fruit for the kids; and water and coffee for ourselves. The lounge is not particularly large or great, but definitely a better value than the buffet.

Sheraton lounge

Small but sufficient, it got busy during lunch.

Lounge drinks and pastries

The most palatable bits of breakfast, including pastries and desserts, were also in the lounge.

Lounge snack

With fresh fruit and sweets, the lounge was the best option for quick bites.

View from the Lounge

The lounge is on a low floor, making it convenient to stop-in on the way in or out of the building, but the views are not spectacular.

Service

Front-line staff tended to be affable and pleasant. We had a young lady clean our room the first night, who didn't seem to be particularly thorough. We also didn't get our water replaced which was disappointing; this might have been because the separate turn-down service was after our kids' bed time. Subsequent nights we had an older lady clean the room. She was much more thorough, and even brought us an extra sheet for the kids to play-on since they were mostly crawling. We could not find a do-not-disturb hang-tag for the door, so we had to make-do with an improvised note, which she generously replaced with a proper tag without disturbing us. She also replaced our water bottles in the room.

I had mixed feelings about the stay; the room condition, food quality, and inconsistent communication at check-in were all off-putting, so the first night I opened Marriott's phone application, and answered the "how are we doing?" question to that effect. The app apologized, and asked for some time to process my concerns and get back to me. At no point during our stay did I ever get any acknowledgement of the feedback I provided or the specific concerns. Upon check-out, I did receive an eMail from the manager asking for feedback. I responded both to the default eMail address soliciting feedback, and to his address he provided in the body; the former bounced, I held-off publishing this to give him some time to respond, but after six weeks I've not heard anything in response.

Room condition:

The room is worn. The rug immediately upon entering was torn and worn-through. The curtains were chewed-through by moths, a couple of which could still be found squished between folds of the curtain (on the subject of the curtains: the "blackout curtains" do not close all of the way, leaving a line of light in between the two halves). The panels of the tub on the otherwise impressive upstairs bath were not attached and aligned properly.

Worn rug

After the pungent smell, the second thing we noticed was the wear on the rug.

Curtains with holes

The slits from the moths were obvious in the curtains

Curtains with moths

Opening the curtains revealed the culprits.

There was a strong smell when we first entered the room, although this eventually dissipated over the first two days (or we acclimated to it). We believe it was the smell of the cleaning chemicals used, but it does not provide a good first impression.

We could not find a "do not disturb" sign, which was important such as to not disturb our young children at their early bed time. We used a hand-made one with the notepad, and the cleaning staff thoughtfully provided a sign following that.

Information and communication:

In general, there was very little information available in the room about the amenities or benefits. With check-in having been prolonged, with various mis-statements and corrections, I would have liked to simply had a book in the room of what was available, and what the costs of various things were. I was surprised by the dearth of information about the hotel's amenities available in the room.

Finally, the buffets were downright disappointing. We did not return for the dinner buffet as it was entirely unappetizing. The fruit at breakfast and waffles were good, and I appreciate that there was proper maple syrup. If it were not that we had pre-paid for our three year-old daughter who enjoyed a bowl of Fruit Loops each morning, we would have stuck to the fruit in the club lounge. The coffee in the lounge was also better than what was at breakfast, which was over-extracted and bitter.

Some of our problems were through our own fault. We should have ordered food sooner the first night. We generally missed turn-down, but we must have forgotten to hang the do-not-disturb indicator the last night, as turndown rang at 20:20, and when the door was bolted shouted through the door that she would "just leave the water and chocolates at the door, ok?" Fortunately, no one woke-up. Comically, I did trip over a table in my dash for the door in the dark. We expected a bit more from the hotel.

View towards the Horseshoe falls

There were some great views from the hotel. Next time, however, we'll try the view from one of the hotels close to the Horseshoe falls.

I was disappointed in our stay. I admittedly have not stayed at a Sheraton hotel in several years, as my recollection of them has been fairly worn and old properties. I had looked forward to shaking that image by staying at a Category 6 property for which, admittedly, I had seen some good reviews and which a friend of my wife's had said had been wonderful back in the '90s. While I was impressed by most of the staff with which we interacted, unfortunately, this stay has only re-enforced the perception of the buildings offered by the brand.

Tesla key

I'm admittedly OCD about my keyfob, but it bothered me that they'd used a rubber band in such a way to keep the buttons depressed and also left surface blemishes on the fob.

Choosing a Niagara Hotel

What were the other hotels we considered? To be honest, the Canadian Sheraton had not been the hotel on which we had originally planned, but after some research it looked like it would be the best choice. We had looked at a few other hotels, principally from the major international brands, and in hindsight, some of them may have been better choices.

US vs Canada

The Niagara river forms part of the natural boundary between Canada and the United States. If you choose to stay on the eastern side, you will be in Niagara Falls, New York; while to the west, you will be in Niagara Falls, Ontario. The good news, is that it's fairly easy for citizens of either Canada or the United States to cross the Rainbow Bridge, which connects between the principal tourist areas on each side.

US Hotels

Originally, we had planned to stay on the US side. Part of this was simplicity; the kids did not have passports, and I had recurring recollections of sitting in traffic on the bridge, waiting to enter Canada, when my family visited when I was younger. After some research, it appeared that the lack of passports for minors travelling with their parents was not an issue7; and given that we were travelling off the peak tourist period, we only had to wait for one car ahead of us when we got to customs in Canada.

Hyatt Place

The Hyatt Place was actually the impetus for our trip. We were looking for places to use our Hyatt free-night certificates, and the Category 3 Hyatt Place Niagara Falls was eligible for our Category 1-4 certificates. The hotel had just opened in May of 2018, so it was a fairly new property, and this was our original booking as we planned our first must-charge road trip for the Tesla.

Hyatt Papp

The Hyatt Place Niagara would allow five people in its double Queen rooms, but the extra bed would be unused by us. The asking price of $225/night also seemed unworldly high given our off-season travel, yet it only came down a modest amount as the date approached.

We kept the reservation for a while, but coming-off our Portland trip, which also involved the kids in a Hyatt Place, we decided to drop the Hyatt reservation in favour of the Sheraton. The nice thing about the Hyatt Place's location was that it was surrounded by the state park, which would have been incredibly convenient for the kids to get some fresh air and work-off some energy, as well as being close for walking along the falls.

Park

Right in front of the Sheraton was a park with a small greenspace where the kids could spend a little time outside; although the Hyatt Place would have opened right into Niagara Falls' State Park.

Giacomo

The Giacomo is part of Choice Hotel's boutique Ascend collection. The art deco building became a hotel in 2010, but began life as the United Office Building in 1929. This may be the hotel I regret not booking the most, looking back at having had the option at the beautiful two-bedroom Empire Suite, with a full kitchen, for less than we paid at the Sheraton but saying next time, when the kids would need an actual bedroom. Its location seemed just slightly less convenient than the Hyatt Place, and we had set our mind to the Canadian side before really giving this hotel a chance.

Canadian Hotels

Horseshoe Hotels

The Embassy Suite and adjoining Marriott share a prime vantage of the Canadian falls, and both have legitimate EV chargers.

Marriott Fallsview

The Marriott Fallsview "guarantees" the best view of the falls, and even booking on points gets you a room with a view of the river, though not the falls (the Sheraton books awards to an interior room, with no guaranteed view). The hotel has rooms which accommodate five guests, but I couldn't find a proper suite listed, just studios.

Marriott on the Falls

The Marriott on the Falls claims to be the closest hotel to the falls, and is older than both the Marriott Fallsview or Embassy Suites next to it, having originally opened in 1993 as the Sheraton Fallsview8. It underwent renovation, adding new floors in 2000 and leaving Sheraton ahead of the Marriott acquisition of the brand to become the Marriott Gateway in 2011.

The Marriott on the Falls has a two bedroom suite which sleeps six. It also offers a cheaper valet rate ($40) and complimentary EV charging (a single 6kW charger for valet), which make this the should-have-booked option on the Canadian side, in hind-sight.

Sterling Inn & Spa

The Sterling Inn & Spa looked like a small, cute, inn with an acclaimed restaurant. It was off of the falls, so it did not have the views provided by the other locations; more importantly it did not appear to have kid-friendly options which would work for our family. This would have been a top pick were it just a couple's trip; at the very least we would have tried the restaurant for dinner.

Embassy Suites

We ruled-out the Embassy Suites based on reviews in a variety of places highlighting the crowds and chaos during the busy (free) breakfast buffet. We've also reduced our Hilton stays following some less-than-stellar experiences. The hotel is often regarded as a good candidate for its comparatively reasonable rates for a proper suite along with its exceptional views of the horseshoe falls.

What Worked

While the Shertaon may not have been the right hotel, the Bi-Level worked-out alright. A Canadian suite with a connecting room may have been the better route to go if you are in a similar situation and if you really want to stay at this hotel and can find availability, which avoids the concern of young children wanting to climb the stairs (a problem we solved with judicious use of tables and luggage to provide a barricade). As was usual, we brought the Amazon Fire, but initially ran into issues since the principal streaming services have licensing agreements based on national region, and they correctly detected the Sheraton's IP address as being Canadian. We effectively couldn't stream or purchase anything through Amazon Prime if we hadn't previously purchased a license to a show, which left us with a few Peppa Pig shorts. Netflix, fortunately, has a separate catalog for the Canadian market; we couldn't stream the cartoons we normally watched on Netflix, but we did find that Netflix in Canada carried Paw Patrol which became our nightly show for the trip. Hulu and channel-specific apps (like Nickelodeon) did not work at all.

Kids reading

There was plenty of space for the kids to play.

Kids crawling Hide-and-seek

The one-year-olds loved playing hide-and-seek with each other.


  1. nb: you appear to need to spend $20 increments within a single machine to receive a "point"

  2. the ticket showed it'd taken over nine minutes from when we clocked-in to drive around the garage and back down, we then needed to wait a couple minutes for approval to get the parking charges waived

  3. we needed to carry one of the infants, since our daughter insisted on riding in the stroller

  4. The top eight floors were added during a 2000 renovation.

  5. The whole process was better than peak check-in time at the Gramercy Park Hotel, where there was only one desk agent.

  6. Which we did appreciate, although it would have been nice had it been aired-out. The smell did dissipate over the first couple days.

  7. we did carry copies of their birth certificates, and we had our passports

  8. It's still 31 years younger than its other neighbour, the Tower Hotel