Long story short, I rented a Mercedes GLA from Seattle since it was cheaper to rent a car south of the border and one gets a better car too. After all Mercedes > Toyotas right? The drive up was also an easy one at night with less traffic and nearly no wait at the border crossing. It was also something I have done quite frequently before from my time living in Vancouver. Arriving at the hotel located in Howe and Helmcken, there was some empty parking spaces right outside the hotel, though I parked it temporarily at the porch to check-in first. With the roadside parking available and free at night, I did not need a parking garage. Reason was I had planned on leaving early in the morning to head to Whistler for skiing anyway and the parking meters would not yet operate by then.
The lone receptionist operating the desk checked me in quickly having been either the last or second to last guest to check in since it was near midnight already. With the keycard prepared and as they have all my details, and when the receptionist asked if I needed anything else, I asked for bottled water since it was already quite late. It was nice of them to hand me 2 bottles of water and with that, I proceed to the elevators.
Along the way, I noted there was a small minimart beside the lobby that sells some necessities and beverages. Other than that the lobby was more or less deserted.
An old common corridor and a musty smell greeted me, truly indicating the age of this hotel. Furthermore, there was some a couple of steps through some stairs to get to my room from the elevator nearest to the lobby. There is apparently another elevator that could be closer to my room and negating the steps. A tip here would be to ask for rooms ending with the numbers x00-x21 for better access to the elevators.
Room No: 626 Category: Standard King Room
Entering the room, the door was quite creaky and I felt lucky to just be staying here for a night. The room did have an interesting layout with the bathroom vanity and the rest of the toilet being separated. The vanity and the closet lies on the left of the room while the toilet and the bathtub and shower combination was on the right with their own door. While this layout was good when more than one guests are staying inside the room, they made the shower room feel cramped. For what it was worth, I felt more comfortable showering in the Delta Sky Club, and since I have already showered, I just skipped on using the bathtub.
Bathroom amenities was the standard for Holiday Inns and they are not bad since the scent is quite nice. But they are small and not something worth keeping.
Back at the room, it was larger and there is a nice King bed occupying half of the space. While there was another bottle of water in the room, that was charge-able to the room and not free. Good call on asking for the free bottled water from the receptionist.
There was a luggage bench across from the bed beside the connecting door. Then beside it there was a large console table that functions as a work desk with a comfortable leather armchair. There is a coffee machine common in most North American hotels though I still wish for a Nespresso machine.
Beside the bed, there is a 2-seater sofa that doubles down as a sofa bed, so this was a room that could easily accommodate a small family. I guess that makes it better value for money for families or groups of 4.
With my late arrival, the room has also a turndown service where they provide chocolates for the guests as it was left by the bed. Another small gesture that I appreciate for hotel stays.
Being located in downtown Vancouver, the hotel has a very convenient location since the downtown is easy for walking and I was also surprised to find a nice balcony that offers a view of the buildings lining Granville street where the main clubs are located. Even on the 6th floor, the views is quite nice when you consider how dense the downtown is.
Other facilities inside the hotel includes an indoor swimming pool and a fitness centre along with a bar and restaurant on the lobby level. Breakfast was not included here but I did not have it either since I was leaving early and I rather get a cup of coffee with some pastries from the numerous coffee houses in Vancouver.
The fitness centre in the hotel is actually quite well equipped for an older hotel and it even featured a studio space for gym exercises.
The hotel also features a nice outdoor terrace that could be a nice spot to hang out in on summer but it was obviously empty when I visited during winter. The terrace is right on top of the porch and can be accessed by the staircase in the lobby foyer.
Down the same staircase, there is a workstation for guests to access the internet and maybe print out ticket confirmations along with a shelf filled with tourist activities and information. Daily newspapers are provided as well on this rack.
The stay for the night came down to around C$150 with taxes (~$110) and it was not cheap but it did gain me bonus points as IHG was having a bonus points promotion during this period. Without the promotional bonus points, this is not a hotel I will likely return too. In fact, I doubt I would return at all considering the old rooms and really bad layout. This is one of the classic old Holiday Inns that does make the chain a little bit less premium.