So while I wrap up my RTW report (one more post on it left, and I promise the next one won’t be nearly as protracted and long), I’m leveraging my Royal Ambassador status at IHG Hotels. I find the title itself profoundly amusing – they have the typical Gold and Platinum membership, but then they wanted to come up with something even beyond that, so they created an Ambassador membership that you pay for and get some limited benefits (upgrades, etc. on); and then, they figured hey – why don’t we create an even HIGHER tier, that will be by invitation only, just because we can. So they did, and they called it Royal Ambassador. The benefits are actually pretty good – guaranteed suite upgrade (or club level, which gives breakfast); 8am checkin (who uses that?) and no-charge minibar, which is rather comical, since it implicitly suggests that anyone who travels enough to be invited into a VIP membership level beyond Platinum must clearly be a lonely alcoholic. But we’ll let that one slide.
So since I’ve been making an earnest effort to hit all the required nights on the Big Win v2.0 that IHG is running from Jan 4, I’ve been hotel hopping again; I did the downtown InterContinental on Monday, two Holiday Inns on Tue/Wed, and by the time I made it to the second HI, the one west of Avenue on Bloor, I have completely given up on ever seeing any sort of decent rooms, since the downtown InterContinental put me in a sort of a corner suite, which wasn’t anything special, and Holiday Inn…………….. well, it’s a Holiday Inn. The second one, apologetically, informed me that there are no suites, and they gave me the best that they could – a “corner” room (albeit, as shown in the picture below, with a nice high ceiling). At the time, I remember thinking to myself, “if I can fit my entire hotel room into a single picture with my iPhone, I’m not doing very well on status.” The restaurant was dark, served bad Indian food, and had a homeless man or two hanging about looking for escape from the Great Chill that has taken over Toronto.
So when I showed up to the InterContinental Yorkville, I told them straight up – although I am entitled to an 8am checkin, I don’t want it if it means I can get a better upgrade by waiting until the evening, since, well, I also have to perform less exciting things like, you know, work and all. She told me that there is nothing more they can do – they’ve upgraded me to the Royal Suite. That was good news indeed.
Fast forward to the evening, when I showed up to the hotel. I got the key, and went up to the room. The door had a very promising sign on it:
I went in. This was a little bit different from the Holiday Inn (not that I want to keep harping on it, but it took some time to sink in). First, I had a vestibule. With three doors. Of course, the moment I locked the front door, I forgot through which door I came. A rapid process of elimination seemed to suggest that one door led to another connected suite (and thus was locked), one was the coat closet, and one was, well, the entrance through which I had just come in. I continued in, where I came across a dining table for six, a living room with pseudo-Japanese (or pseudo-Asian, anyway) art, a fireplace, a wet bar and a large flat-screen TV, as well as some pop literature designed to make one feel as if there was a library.
A few more views from the other end of the living room:
At this point, I felt like I had explored the whole suite. Something was nagging me, though; it felt as if something were missing, and I couldn’t quite place what – having been blown away by the pseudo-Asian art and the dining table.
Suddenly it hit me. Unless guests paying $2,000 per night are supposed to sleep in the fireplace, where might there have been a bedroom? I set out once again to explore all the doors. I found the maid’s closet. I found another closet I didn’t see before. I found a washroom that lacked a shower and seemed to be designed for drunk guests to freshen up. I even found another, unmarked, door that led outside (perhaps an escape route, in case of a wild drunken party). But I couldn’t find the bedroom. This was baffling me, but I was experiencing something entirely new in my life – I was stuck in a hotel room where I couldn’t find my bedroom. I decided to resolve this by phoning the operator. The conversation went something like this.
<Operator> Hello and welcome to InterContinental Instant Service®. How can I assist you?
<Me> Uh hi, I just checked into my room, and I am having trouble finding something, and I was hoping you may be able to assist me.
<Operator> Of course, sir. What is it you are looking for?
<Me> I uh, seem to be missing my bedroom.
<Operator> ………………… <silence>
<Me> At least, I can’t quite find it.
<Operator> Let me connect you to the front desk.
<Front desk> Hi, this is the front desk. How can I help?
<Me> Hi. I’m in the Royal Suite and I seem to have lost my bedroom. At least I can’t find it.
<Front desk> What? Oh! Oh my god! They are supposed to unlock the connecting suite! I’m sorry, I will send someone immediately.
I felt less idiotic now, but the operator’s reaction was completely priceless. Shortly after, a man showed up, did some magic with keys, and unlocked another 1,000 square foot of vanity.
This one had another entrance (I suppose they could rent this room out without the living room, the fireplace and the pseudo-Asian art):
The bathroom had that terrible Western invention (the bidet, which I can’t fathom the purpose of, considering the Japanese have invented the washlet which functions approximately 1,000 times better):
… and something very peculiar: a shower WITHIN a shower!
For such a vain suite, the minibar was absolutely despicable. Even the InterContinental Downtown has a better minibar. There isn’t even champagne in it! What gives!
The view, on the other hand, was quite nice – not as modern as from IC Downtown (which has the view of the CN Tower and all the construction at Union station), but pretty nice nevertheless:
All in all, a very nice suite. I am definitely enjoying the Royal Ambassador benefits.