Review: Toronto Marriott City Centre Hotel, Ontario, Canada
In one of my most unusual hotel stays, I stayed at the Toronto Marriott City Centre Hotel in Toronto, Ontario Canada. This hotel is situated inside the Rogers Arena Baseball Stadium in the surrounding area around the upper part of the stadium. Aside from the novelty of staying a home run away from a baseball diamond, what would staying in a stadium be like for a three night stay? Read on to find out.
Review: Toronto Marriott City Centre Hotel, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
“Don’t let the Marriott City Centre name fool you: this Marriott is found inside a baseball stadium. It contains everything you’d expect about staying within a concrete stadium”
Booking the Toronto Marriott City Centre:
On a recent business trip to Toronto, I needed a place to stay around the Union Station area near the financial district of Toronto. I ended up with the cheapest Marriott Property available in the neighbourhood I needed to be in; this represented the Toronto Marriott City Centre Hotel.
The Toronto Marriott City Centre is among the most unique Marriott’s that I’ve ever had the opportunity to stay in. While most Marriott’s are particularly forgettable, this one has a feature that is unlike any other Marriott in the world. The Toronto Marriott City Centre happens to be located inside a regular functioning baseball stadium.
The Toronto Marriott City Centre started life in 1986 as the Canadian Pacific Hotels and Resorts Skydome Hotel. It exclusively offered the features of select rooms being able to watch Toronto Blue Jays Baseball games inside the stadium itself. The hotel changes flags several times passing through the Renaissance and eventually now operates under the Marriott franchise flag. When it passed through the various name changes, it dropped its reference to being attached to a stadium.
The room rate was soft but not at rock bottom when I was travelling during mid week in May. I was able to locate a rate of $199 CAD for my three day stay. I had more typically seen rates between the $350 – $550 CAD mark which seems to be pretty constant for this hotel. During game nights, the prices tended to creep higher.
One of the more unique features of this property is tht the Toronto Marriott City Centre hotel offers certain rooms with a direct view into the stadium grounds. These are priced at a premium and particularly so when an event is underway at the stadium.
These must be so popular that there is even a disclaimer on the reservation landing of the web page that indicates that the views are only guaranteed during game nights.
I booked this stay via the Marriott website direct. As I booked with Marriott Bonvoy Titanium Elite level status, I was promised an upgrade to the best available room (including suites), lounge access, and a guaranteed late check out to 4 PM.
Marriott Bonvoy Suite Night Awards:
The hotel offers a few rooms in the Marriott Bonvoy Suite Night Award pool. Marriott Suite Night Awards are awards give to Marriott Bonvoy Platinum, Titanium and Ambassador level members for passing certain stay thresholds. The Suite Night Awards confirm the guest into an elevated room category; typically 5 days in advance of any stay.
The Toronto Marriott City Centre offered two versions of suites in it’s Suite Night Award pool; a One Bedroom Suite with either a King Size Bed or a Two Double Bed, along with a Larger Studio with One King.
It is worth noting that the property does not typically upgrade into the Baseball View rooms as a matter of course. As a result, these rooms aren’t typically in the Suite Night Award pool or available for upgrade under the Marriott Bonvoy program.
The hotel participates in the Marriott Bonvoy rewards program. The rates under their new variable pricing ranged around 35,000 points to 39,000 points for a standard room redemption. If you value Marriott Bonvoy points at 0.005 cents per point, you’d have to have a paid room rate of more than $195 USD to come out ahead redeeming Marriott Bonvoy points versus paying cash.
Getting to the Toronto Marriott City Centre:
I arrived off an Air Canada Vancouver – Toronto High Density configuration flight. I took the Union Pearson Express airport express train from Toronto Pearson International Airport to Union Station downtown. While very convenient, the trip on a Sunday evening took about one hour which was broken up into 35 minutes of ticket purchase and waiting, and about 25 minutes train ride.
On arrival the Union Station, I took the elevated walkway off the train platform. The elevated walkway led me on a twelve minute walk to the hotel.
The outdoor walkway took me underneath the CN Tower and the concrete grounds surrounding the tower. It was dusk when I arrived, but I also photographed it during the day time for general interests sake.
The surrounding area around the hotel is the stadium concourse. In a world of concrete, it has all the personality of a concrete dystopian land. Walking from the Union Station Express train eventually leads you to the hotel lobby.
While the outdoor walkway was fine in fair summer weather, I can’t say I’d be too thrilled in walking to the hotel in the middle of the harsh winters that Toronto, Ontario has to offer. After a ten minute walk, I eventually arrived to the front door of the hotel and found my way inside.
The hotel is situated as part of the Rogers Center Stadium. Given that it is part of the stadium, there isn’t much in the way immediately surrounding the stadium itself that I would call a neighbourhood.
In addition to being part of a stadium, the hotel has a commuter and long distance rail network running almost immediately underneath the hotel. In fact, the car unloading area for the hotel happens to be on a concrete bridge over top of the train tracks. It’s fair to say that this lessened it’s neighbourhood charm somewhat.
Despite this, the hotel is reasonably close and within ten minutes walk of the southern part of the Toronto financial district. The area is physically walled off from the main part of downtown Toronto as a result of the train tracks that divide and dissect the area in two.
Checking into the Toronto Marriott City Centre Hotel:
There was only one person in line ahead of me when I arrived to the hotel. When it became my turn, a friendly host welcomed me to the hotel.
Consistent with its concrete stadium space, the lobby itself is a pretty institutional space being part of a stadium. It had no giant glass windows, water features or any other aspirational qualities that are found within hotel lobbies. Instead, it was a concrete space that had been dressed up a little bit with flat screen televisions. While every lobby doesn’t have to have elegant spaces, it’s worth mentioning that this one is pretty similar to a bus station and what you might expect of a lobby inside a concrete stadium.
I had checked the Marriott App in advance and saw that I had been upgraded from base level Guest Room 1 King City View, to a similar Concierge Level 1 King Guest Room City View. I also happened to see that quite a few suites were available.
While my credit cards were being processed, I asked politely at the front counter about the possibility of a Marriott Titanium level suite upgrade. Without any hesitation, a check on the computer was completed and I was given an upgrade to a 1 bedroom Suite, 1 King – Sofa Bed City View.
It’s probably worth noting that I had to pro-actively ask for this and it wasn’t automatically volunteered. Despite staying for three nights, it was really appreciated to be able to have the extra space. I offer my hats off to the property for complying with the Marriott Bonvoy program without a fight.
I was assigned room #392. I took the elevator up to the suite. They elevators were key card controlled as might be expected in a hotel located in a stadium that night have patrons visiting at all hours.
The suite was located quite a ways from the elevator. It’s not to much to imagine, when you think that the room is actually following the curve of the stadium.
It was so far, I actually used the Runkeeper distance checker and learned that it was exactly 1.13 miles walk from the elevator.
I eventually made it to my room, which was on the left of a “V” split in the hallway.
The Room: 1 Bedroom Suite, 1 King, Sofa Bed, City View
The 1 bedroom suite was a large and spacious suite with a separate living and sleeping area.
Immediately on entering the suite, there was an open closet clothing storage area. The room offered a coffee maker, which was positioned at this end of the room.
To the left of the entry way was the bathroom. The bathroom featured a stand up shower and a double vanity. It was pretty spacious for an inner city bathroom.
Heading toward the living area, the living area space was quite large. It had two separate sofabeds in the living area. It was accented by a coffee table.
The workspace for the room featured the usual rail desk, accompanied with a mini fridge and two bottles of water. While the desk was large, it was not as large as some of the rooms that involve longer desks. I often found that spreading out my work stuff across the desk filled up the whole space.
The living room space offered a stadium type view over the CN Tower Concourse Area. While it qualified as being a city view, it wasn’t a particularly green pleasant one.
Between the entry way and the living space of the room was the bedroom. The bedroom was in an open walkway between the two spaces. The open space was not ideal for those parents putting young children on the sofa beds as it allowed noise to travel between the two spaces.
The bedroom offered a comfortable Marriott bed. The bedroom was a dark space with it’s own television.
Surprisingly, for a hotel located immediately adjacent to an active railway of 8 tracks, it was surprisingly quiet in the hotel room. The sleep was quiet and without noise when there was no event on at Rogers Arena.
However, with a Toronto Blue Jay’s Baseball game on during one night of my three night stay, it did get pretty loud on the surrounding concourse. The street entertainment (a live busking band in my case) continued on well past 11:30 PM when I went to bed. If a deep undisturbed sleep is important to you, I’d recommend checking with the front desk for a quieter room assignment on a high floor.
Around the Property:
Marriott Concierge Lounge:
The hotel offers a Marriott Concierge Lounge located on the 6th floor. The lounge, like the rest of the hotel, curves around the side of the stadium. As a result, it’s sort of a long and thin lounge that a strange feng shui feel to it.
After you get off the elevator, you pass into the lounge and keep going until the lounge ends. On my visit, the place was pretty empty with lots of different spots to sit in.
Despite having lots of places to actually sit in, the space sort of had a strange feel to it, following the curve of the stadium building.
Evening appetizer food was being offered between 5:30 PM – 10 PM during my visit. This was the only food offering with no breakfast available in the lounge at the time of my visit.
There were some light appetizers in the form of evening snacks, but there wasn’t really anything all to exciting here.
The lounge offered an honour bar of some limited alcohol. There were also some light bites available in the lounge.
While the Marriott Concierge Lounge was a nice amenity to have, I didn’t really end up spending much time there as a result of it’s slightly inconvenient location and it’s strange layout.
The Health Club, Gym and Indoor Pool:
The hotel offered a surprisingly large gym. Again, being in a stadium, the gym had a sort of an odd shape to it with a lot of extra space in certain corners.
The hotel also offered a swimming pool that was one level below the gym. It was accessible through elevators from within the gym itself.
The workout room had a whole series of treadmills and workout space that any business traveller would be happy with.
Around the Neighbourhood:
The hotel was not near any major restaurants. This was actually one of the major dis-advantages of the hotel in that it was about a ten minute walk from the nearest food and beverage. Similar to being in a stadium district, there isn’t much immediately surrounding the hotel in terms of independent restaurants .
There is also no liquor stores conveniently located near the hotel; the nearest LCBO outlet was about a 600 m walk away.
Food and Beverage:
The sole restaurant in the Toronto Marriott City Centre hotel is the Sportsnet Center restaurant. It’s a sports bar type restaurant that offers a view of the inside of the Rogers Centre.
It was pretty unique to sit in the restaurant having a view of a baseball diamond.
Tables are able to be booked for the duration of a base ball game with an advance reservation. At the time of my visit, a minimum spend of $50 CAD was required for each person. This was actually pretty reasonable.
Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Breakfast:
As the Marriott Concierge Lounge was not serving breakfast during my visit, the hotel was offering a full buffet breakfast in the Sportsnet Centre. The breakfast hours were 7 AM to 10 AM.
The breakfast buffet was a light one, but it offered hashbrowns, scrambled eggs and an assortment of meats in the form of bacons and sausages.
There were also an assortment of fruits and yoghurts available for those looking for a continental option.
Departing the Toronto Marriott City Centre:
When it came time to depart the Toronto Marriott City Centre, my bill was prepared without any issue. It was completely accurate and my Marriott Bonvoy points posted within 48 hours.
The service was professional. I couldn’t have asked for competent stay and it was everything a business traveller would have needed.
The Toronto Marriott City Centre Bottom Line:
My stay at the Toronto Marriott City Centre was pretty straightforward and about what I expect from a Marriott stay. I really appreciated the hotel honouring a Marriott Bonvoy Suite Upgrade at check in; something that is becoming rarer and rarer these days. While the stay was occasionally loud on game night, the property was close to where I needed to be for meetings. If I were looking for another entertaining stay, or had an event at the stadium I wanted to attend to, this place would be first on my list.