Andrea and I had occasion to visit Ottawa, Ontario, Canada late in October. We took advantage of the Marriott “Week of Wonders” sale to book 2 nights in downtown Ottawa with Bonvoy points at off-peak rates. The Ottawa area has 11 Marriott properties, including 5 right downtown. Our choices were:

  • The Westin Ottawa (Category 5)
  • Sheraton Ottawa Hotel (Category 4)
  • Ottawa Marriott Hotel (Category 4)
  • Delta Hotels Ottawa City Centre (Category 4)
  • Courtyard Ottawa Downtown (Category 3)

While all of the properties were at off-peak pricing, the Ottawa Marriott Hotel was further discounted through a PointSaver rate, so instead of the off-peak, Category 4, 20,000 points per night, it was only 17,500 points per night, or 35,000 points total for two nights.

The Ottawa Marriott was built in 1971 and has just under 500 rooms. Upon construction it was the tallest building in Ottawa, though it has now fallen to 6th place.

The Ottawa Marriott has an address of 100 Kent Street, but this is very misleading. The property fills the east half of the block bordered by Kent Street (one way northbound) on the east, Queen Street on the south, Lyon Street (one way southbound) on the west, and Sparks Street (pedestrians only) on the north. The vehicle entrance is a tiny laneway off of Kent Street that you carefully thread and then turn left to get to the hotel’s front entrance, which is situated in a sort of tunnel underneath part of the building. There’s a spacious area to pull over while you go in to register. After you register you drive forward onto Queen Street and do an immediate U-Turn to enter the ramp to the underground parking.

In order to charge your parking to your room (which will earn you Bonvoy points) you have to request a parking pass when you register, that is, BEFORE you park underground. The cost is $23 per day for unlimited in and out access. The per day rate is actually per night, so even if you are there for more than 48 hours, you will only pay for 2 days if you are only staying two nights. The front desk will give you a parking pass that you need to slide into the machine on both entry and exit. Due to Covid-19, there was no valet parking, and we were invited to park in one of the valet reserved spots at the bottom of the ramp that are very close to the elevator on level P1, which we were happy to do.

In the image above, the hotel is the building with the round structure on the roof (despite the Google maps pin indicating otherwise). The round structure used to be a revolving restaurant called Spin, but is now just a meeting room. It still spins, and you can book it for weddings and other events, which I think would be very cool. Probably not so good for business meetings, as the view is pretty incredible and I thing would be quite distracting. There is still a restaurant (currently closed) called Spin at the hotel which is on the ground floor. This seems misleading to me. There is no spin at Spin.

When you enter the hotel lobby through the motion activated automatic revolving doors, you will find the check-in desk on your left. The Starbucks (still open) is down a short hall, where you will also find the elevators to the parking garage. There is also a small area with snacks for purchase. The lounge is currently closed, and we received a $10 food voucher instead. Which we promptly forgot about and ended up not using. Andrea and I are still newbies at taking advantage of my Platinum status.

To your right upon entry is the main lobby. The main elevator bank is raised above the rest of the lobby. You need to ascend up a set of 5 stairs or walk most of the way through the lobby to the start of a ramp to then walk all the way back up the ramp. I can imagine this would be annoying when using the luggage cart or rolling heavy bags. At the far end of the lobby was an open seating area that would normally be the Spin restaurant, but for now is just widely spaced tables and chairs.

We had booked a King Guest Room with our Bonvoy points, and since this was our first stay of 2020 at a Hotel where we could use a Suite Night Award for an upgrade, I decided to try that out. After booking, I clicked the button on our reservation to use 2 of our SNAs. They were still showing as pending the day before our arrival, so I messaged the hotel through the app to request an upgrade. Within an hour I was informed that we had been upgraded to an “Executive, Larger Guest room, 1 King, Corner room, Balcony”. I was pleased with my “suite-talking” abilities until I then received an email saying that my 2 SNAs and been accepted. So I guess the hotel gave us the upgrade on our SNAs rather than on my Platinum Elite status. At the time I didn’t mind, as the SNAs were due to expire at the end of the year, but Marriott extended the SNA expiry date the next week. Oh, well.

Our room was on the 22nd floor, and had some incredible views of the Ottawa river, the Gatineau hills across the river, as well as many of the buildings on Parliament Hill.

Ottawa River looking east towards Parliamament Hill

Ottawa River looking west with the Gatineau Hills in the background

Supreme Court building in foreground with the City of Gatineau on the other side of the Ottawa River

Aside from the view, there was nothing really special about the room. The balcony would have been cool, but the doors had already been locked for the winter. The room had all the standard amenities, including a mini-fridge in the cabinet under the TV.

The bathroom felt cramped and dated but was otherwise functional. Multiple sanitizing wipes had been added to the standard amenities.

The room included a workstation with a Keurig coffee machine. Two complimentary bottles of water were also included.

The pool and fitness room are located on the 4th floor. Pool times must be scheduled in 1 hour increments. The pool had a deep end (nine feet), which is not something I’m used to seeing in hotel pools. The fitness room was closed due to Covid.

In non-Covid times, the location of this hotel would be ideal. The Sparks Street Pedestrian mall is always interesting, with frequent events and festivals. There are lots of dining options around, and the proximity to the Ottawa River, Parliament Hill, the Rideau Canal, and the Byward Market can make for a very interesting stay. During our visit Ottawa was a Red Zone with no indoor dining, and patio dining in single digit temperatures just did not seem very appealing. With the majority of the government employees working from home, most of the stores were closed, some permanently. Downtown Ottawa does not have a large residential population like Toronto, so the absence of the office workers is very hard on the downtown businesses.

If you are not relying on a car, the hotel is situated between the  Lyon stop and the Parliament stop on the O Train Confederation line, which runs under Queen Street on the south side of the hotel.

Even though this stay was booked on 35,000 Bonvoy points, I somehow managed to earn 3018 on this stay.

It appears that the Ottawa Marriott had a promotion that included an extra 750 points per night that I qualified for, even though I was not paying for my room. I don’t recall registering for a promotion like that, but I tend to register for all promotions even if I have no intention of taking advantage of them, just in case. Looks like this time it might have paid off.

For the Hotel Stay points, 1000 is for my Platinum Welcome Bonus. The only charge to my room was $46 for two days of parking plus tax for a total of $51.98 Canadian Dollars. This would be 7.5% in points for the Base portion + 3.75% on the Elite portion, for a total of 11.25% of my spend in points.

I achieved my Platinum status for 2020 the hard way, by staying 50 nights in various properties (90% paid stays) in 2019. I’ve stayed mostly in budget properties, so I was looking forward to getting a higher end experience with this stay. But I have to say that I was underwhelmed. I think this is mostly due to the age of this property (50 years old in 2021!), as well as the various Covid measures. I’ll be heading back to Ottawa soon and I’ll be sure to try some of the other properties to see if I need to adjust my expectations.