Review: The Sheraton Ottawa Hotel, Ottawa, Canada
After two pandemic years, I returned to Ottawa for a recent business trip and stayed at The Sheraton Ottawa Hotel. The Sheraton Ottawa Hotel has been a fixture of downtown Ottawa for many years, and I have stayed many times as a result of it being a comfortable place to be while on the road. However, one of the hotel’s best features was suspended during my visit. Read on to see which one it was…
Review: The Sheraton Ottawa Hotel, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
“An old school business stay favourite, The Sheraton Ottawa becomes a little less appealing when one of it’s best features is closed”
As a regular traveller to the nation’s capital of Ottawa, Canada there are a number of business hotels located in the central downtown areas. While I’ve stayed at many of these hotels, including The Westin Ottawa, I generally return to the Sheraton Ottawa when travelling for work. As an old school business hotel, The Sheraton Ottawa offers a reasonable combination of comfort, space and business amenities.
Booking The Sheraton Ottawa:
As a government town, and a hotel catering to business travellers, the rates at the Sheraton Ottawa are highest in the early mid week and tend to drop off on the weekend. The hotel generally offers rates between $250 – $300 CAD ($180 – $215 USD) during the early week, with rates as low as $180 CAD ($130 USD) on some Saturday and Sunday nights.
I booked my usual standard 1 King Bed, Guest Room for approximately 209 CAD ($150 USD) on my last 4 night stay. I booked through the Marriott Bonvoy website, which as a Marriott Titanium Member, entitled me to a complimentary upgrade to the best available room, including select suites, complimentary access to the Sheraton Club Lounge, and a complimentary late check out up to 4 PM.
Marriott Bonvoy Redemption Opportunities:
The Sheraton Ottawa Hotel was a Marriott Bonvoy Category 4 prior to the move to variable pricing. As a result, rooms are approximately 30,000 – 40,000 points per night , with 30,000 points a night as an average standard. I did happen to see some 27,000 point redemptions that were available on a Sunday night (in the middle of November) as the lowest possible redemption.
If you value Marriott Bonvoy points at $0.005 a point, you’d have to spend more than $150 USD to come out ahead for a 30,000 point redemption. While this represents reasonable value, I can’t actually imagine anyone redeeming points at this particular property, since most travellers here are likely on the business travel circuit.
Getting to The Sheraton Ottawa:
I arrived into Ottawa International Airport on an Air Canada flight. I picked up a Hertz rental and received a nice Hertz President’s Circle upgrade to a Lexus RX300 SUV.
It was a short twenty five minute drive from Ottawa International Airport up to downtown Ottawa under comfortable cooled and heated leather seats. The Sheraton Ottawa is located in the central business district of downtown Ottawa. The drive is mostly through wide four lane city boulevards since there are no freeways from the airport to the city.
For the most part, the Sheraton Ottawa Hotel is well located. The hotel is located in the downtown area of Ottawa, which is not located near any easy freeway access. This means there is a short drive through frost heaved city blocks in order to arrive to your destination.
Once you’ve arrived at the hotel itself, The Sheraton Ottawa hotel is located 2 blocks from the federal Ottawa parliament buildings. It has access to a Tim Horton’s, Starbucks and a Second Cup coffee shop one block away from the hotel. It is a short walk to the Byward Market entertainment district, which is relatively easy in the spring, summer and fall seasons, and manageable with a layer of gloves, toque and coat in the winter months.
I arrived to the hotel and parked in the loading zone out front. The hotel offers only valet parking at $29 CAD ($20 USD) per night with unlimited in and out privileges. I arranged for the valet of the car through the street side kiosk which was located outside on the curb. The valet service here has been really prompt, and I’ve never had to wait more than 5 – 7 minutes for the car to be delivered.
Checking into the Sheraton Ottawa:
I walked inside and arrived to the front desk. The front desk area offers a high ceiling, but it doesn’t offer the grand lobby features of modern hotels.
Almost on the entertaining side, the lobby features a nineteen sevenenties-esque “Studio 54” caged circular stairway that might find a go – go dancer hiding behind the cage. It’s an odd look, but it fits with the era and appearance of the hotel.
The lobby also featured a number of Sheraton Link computers. I used these during my stay but unfortunately, couldn’t get the printers to work due to them being “offline”.
Getting back to the front desk and my check in, there was no wait to be served. I had completed the mobile check in through the Marriott Bonvoy App about 24 hours in advance of my arrival. As a result, I had a friendly check in with my keys already programmed and ready to be picked up.
I was politely informed that, as a result of the pandemic, the Sheraton Lounge remained closed. As an alternative as a Marriott Bonvoy Elite, I was offered complimentary breakfast in the lobby restaurant, in addition to the welcome bonus of 1,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. I was given four coupons for breakfast.
While I appreciate the goodwill offer of offering a breakfast, it’s a little disappointing that the lounges remain closed at many Marriott Bonvoy properties citing “the pandemic”. At the time of my travels, the province had no mask mandates and it’s become much cheaper and more convenient for hotels not to offer lounge access for its members. If not even for the fact that lounges are typically a great place to work, it’s nice to have access to a little extra space outside of your immediate hotel room.
I was assigned room #1515 on the Sheraton Club Executive Floor. For one of the my first time ever at this hotel, I received a city front of hotel facing view. I have never been successful ever getting a Marriott Bonvoy Suite Upgrade to an actual suite at this particular property, even as a returning guest having stayed previously on 5 separate occasions. My usual Marriott Bonvoy Elite upgrade is a high Executive Sheraton Club Floor in the same room category.
Lastly, I was able to get a 1 PM late Check Out as a Marriott Bonvoy Titanium level member without any issues or haggling. This was convenient and accommodated an afternoon flight out of Ottawa, Canada.
The Room: Executive Level, Guest Room, One King, High Floor
I led myself up to Room #1515, which was a soft Marriott Bonvoy Upgrade to an Executive Level Guest Room, One King, High Floor. I was travelling with only a carry on and I didn’t need any luggage assistance, nor was any offered by the front desk.
The hotel hallways are a little dated but the property is very functional. The hotel is set up in a straight forward rectangular orientation, with a single hallway that runs a straight length of the property.
One of the main reasons that I enjoy staying at The Sheraton Ottawa are the size of the rooms. The hotel is a much older property, and as a result, has very large guest rooms as compared to newer hotels that are often more densely configured.
The regular size of the rooms are 392 sq feet, which make for a spacious feeling stay. The room itself feels much more like your room at home, as a result of its rectangular square configuration. This feel is very much in contrast to hotel rooms that offer a more rectangular high density long and thin shoe box styled room. The Sheraton Ottawa’s style is much more comfortable, even if this is not immediately apparent in nature.
Entering into the room, the rooms are similar to a residential bedroom. Since my last stay from before the pandemic, the rooms are starting to look a little more dated in style. At least they were more dated than I remembered them. Despite this, the bedroom colours are still pretty neutral. The colour scheme faded into less memorable memory after a few days in the room.
The Sheraton Ottawa features the usual Sheraton Sweet Sleeper Bed. This room was outfitted with a King Size bed. It was pretty comfortable and I had some solid sleeps in this space, despite time zone changes.
Along with the space, the room featured a single occasional chair that was comfortable. The chair wasn’t exactly ideally placed for television watching, but I used it for putting on my shoes. The room also contained a full sized mirror, which was great for dressing in the morning since the bathroom was a little compact.
One of the better features of the room is the rail desk that is a large space to house many work computers. It is broad enough to spread out and has a comfortable enough area to work. The wifi was strong, and I was able to easily connect a computer on both cellular networks and hotel wifi to support MS Teams video calls without dropping. The room also offered wired internet available, for those travelling here with challenged corporate Information Technology departments; the hotel still offered that old school way to connect.
The hotel does not offer many suites. In fact, there didn’t appear to be any on my assigned Sheraton Club Level floor at all.
The room also offered a Sunbeam Coffee Maker, along with in room Starbucks Coffee. I didn’t end up using any, favouring either the restaurant, Sheraton Club Lounge (when open), or the Starbucks Coffee shop down the street.
Despite the old school coffee maker, the hotel did offer the full service touches of a Sheraton Hotel by offering proper glassware and two bottles of Aquafina Water. The water was replaced daily during the daily housekeepings, which were “on request” due to the pandemic.
Probably the weakest part of the hotel room was the compact bathroom. As a result of the age of the hotel, consistent with the designs of that era, are that the bathrooms are a little on the small side. The bathroom is really set up for one traveller, with a single vanity sink and a compact combination shower and tub.
The bathroom colours are a little dated being a dark marble brown. Despite this, the fixtures were in good condition. The soaps had been upgraded to Gilcrest and Soames from the usual Sheraton Le Bain toiletries since my last stay. Both had large format dispensers on the counter and through dispensers in the shower.
The overall sleep quality in the room was excellent on the Sheraton Sweet Sleeper bed. There was no outdoor noise from the downtown area on the fifteenth floor and hallway noise was minimal to non existent. The sleep was quiet and everything that I’d expect from a peaceful hotel stay.
Around the Hotel Property:
The Sheraton Ottawa Hotel is a full service hotel property. While it may not be the grandest of spaces, it has almost every feature you’d expect in a full service Sheraton hotel.
Indoor Salt Water Heated Pool:
The hotel offers an indoor pool. What makes this feature unique is that the pool happens to be a salt water heated pool. While it’s not a super large space, it’s perfectly suitable for a series of small laps to shake off the airplane jet lag. I have also never seen children in the pool, which is something that’s unique about this particular hotel pool space.
Sheraton Fitness Center:
The Sheraton Ottawa offered a Sheraton Fitness Center. There was a spacious gym that offered a number of treadmills, along with elliptical cycles and a small free weight area consisting of a a few benches and light weights.
While I have found this place to be busy during the after work hours, it was pretty deserted on my most recent visit.
While the area appeared really bright in these photos, I have found the area is sometimes a little dark in the winter, thanks to darkness of large daylight floor to ceiling windows that can be pitch black in the wintertime. The televisions have also been integrated into the equipment; something which can be considered a good thing or a bad thing dependent on your gym tastes.
Food and Beverage:
The Sheraton Ottawa Hotel offers a restaurant, a lounge, and an executive Sheraton Club Lounge. While each of these spaces are functional, they are more on the utilitarian side than aspirational.
For starters, the public food and beverage restaurants were located on the main ground floor, just a short walk away from the lobby. Passing by the Sheraton Link computers led you to the food and beverage options.
Carleton Grill – Breakfast Only
Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Breakfast
The old school named Carleton Grill is the hotel’s primary restaurant. It started serving breakfast at 6:30 AM, and typically features a buffet and a – la carte dishes during breakfast hour. The Carleton Grill is a windowless space but typically the service is friendly and efficient. For those selecting the elite complimentary breakfast option as Marriott Bonvoy Platinum / Titanium or Ambassador, your full breakfast will be served here.
It’s worth mentioning that the Carleton Grill is open for breakfast only and closes at 10:30 AM on weekdays and 11:00 AM on Saturday & Sunday. There is no dinner restaurant at this property aside from snacks in the bar. If you find yourself downtown needing dinner, you’ll need to refer to the Room Service Menu or perhaps a short walk to another restaurant in the downtown area.
Immediately next door to the Carleton Grill is the hotel’s licenced lounge feature. The Sasha’s Lounge has a plain and simple bar located in the lobby, along with a dark room that offers a lounge. Much like the Carleton Grill, this space has a functional theme to it, over a place I’d actually come for a drink based on it’s appearances.
The Sasha’s Lounge room had sort of a Sheraton Club type feel with the ivory and blue decor. The only way I’d really see myself having a drink here is if I were meeting colleagues or couldn’t be bothered to go out to tackle extremely cold weather in the winter.
Sasha’s Bar did offer light snacks during the evening, making this a possible option for those looking for on property food after dark. I wouldn’t expect any healthy tuna poke bowls here, but more rather the traditional comfort food of a pub.
Sheraton Club Lounge:
The Sheraton Ottawa offers a Sheraton Club Lounge like many other Sheratons and Marriott properties. Lounge access is provided for those that book a Club Level room, or whom have Executive Lounge privileges courtesy of Marriott Bonvoy Platinum / Titanium or Ambassador level services.
The Sheraton Club Lounge is located on the 18th floor. It is accessible from the 17th floor, and requires a short flight up some angled stairs.
The Sheraton Club Lounge at the Sheraton Ottawa Hotel is situated in a bright space lit through atriums on the top floor. In addition to couches, there was ample light in stark contrast to the lobby restaurants. Since I couldn’t get in there on this visit as a result of it being officially closed, I’ve borrowed a photograph courtesy of Marriott.
The Sheraton Club offered a full hot and cod breakfast within the lounge, in addition to evening snacks. In the past, there were typically two hot items at breakfast (egg dish and waffle dish) along with evening snacks.
Unfortunately, the Sheraton Club was closed during my visit for the pandemic. This was really unfortunately a the Sheraton Club was probably my favourite feature of this hotel while on a business trip. The space allowed for you to quickly grab something and go, and not be confined to the time structure of a restaurant where you need to be seated, order food and wait for a bill.
Checking Out of The Sheraton Ottawa:
I had no surprises checking out of the Sheraton Ottawa. My bill was delivered electronically to my email address and the check out was instant. The hotel stamped my valet ticket and my car was brought up without any challenges.
The Bottom Line: The Sheraton Ottawa
The Sheraton Ottawa Hotel is among my favorite business hotels in downtown Ottawa. Despite being an older property, it’s really comfortable in feel; mostly as a result of the individial hotel rooms being extra large and very residential in nature.
Unfortunately, my favourite feature of this hotel was the Executive Lounge. I really appreciated this space as a location where you could go to get a snack or spend some time working. As a result of the closure, and the lobby not really offering much hybrid relax / work space found at other hotels, you’re pretty much stuck in your room by default.
The closure of the lounge really makes me re-consider whether I’m going to return to this property or perhaps try somewhere else on my next visit through town. Having said that, if the lack of lounge space doesn’t really matter to you, you’ll find this a very comfortable place to stay, if you don’t mind a hotel that looks a little older but has been nicely renovated and appointed.