Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Cosmopolitan Hotel Toronto

Exterior of the St Lawrence Market

This is the area around the market and the hotel that we stayed in (The Cosmopolitan)

Photo's by David Owen

The above picture is from our mini-balcony and is what passes for a "city view" at the Cosmo.
To me a view of a building isn't a "city view" it's a building view. A city view would have a vista of well in this case, the city? Maybe I'm being to literal, but somehow I don't think you can have a vista of a building, and I'm not so sure why they don't just call it a deluxe room with separate bedroom.
Not a big deal for me but I'd be pissed if I was counting on a view and this is what I got.

I've staid at the Cosmo 4 times now I believe (3 or 4). I like it. The rooms are suites that resemble mini apartments. It makes entertainer at your hotel much more comfortable than just a hotel room with a bed in it. The aesthetic is very much Ikea meets West Elm.

It was great to have a deluxe room with a separate bedroom (and no view) with an
awesome bed.

The fridge is very small and they fill it with mini bar shit, so you have a kitchen, but with limited fridge access. There is no stove, but a fully functioning electric stop top with 4 burners, a microwave and a small dishwasher. There is a nice bar that you can sit at with two stools, a coffee maker (but no filters you have to ask for them - even though coffee and tea are provided) a toaster and a water boiler thingy.

The view and the fridge are minor when compared to all you get here for a very reasonable price - the room was about 170 a night USD.

Two things bugged me this trip. The very perky woman who checked us in was friendly enough and quick, but when we got to the room it was a superior open concept room, a room that costs 20 or 30 dollars less then the one that I had booked. I called her and she immediately sent someone up and took us to the correct room. I'm not sure if this was a mistake or if it was intentional, I mean she must know that there are basically 5 rooms on a floor (with the exception of the two very fancy and expensive penthouses) and that the only deluxe room on each floor ends in "4". It left a lingering bad taste in my mouth, it seems to me that her intention was to rip us off by offering us a room that was cheaper. Or she is really not paying attention to what she is doing, either way it was a major minus for me.

The biggest minus to me is that as a customer who has stayed at a hotel 3 or 4 times I find it mind boggling that upon returning to the Cosmopolitan, never once did anyone say:
"welcome back Mr. Owen"

I've yet to hear that in a Toronto hotel, although I suspect that if I staid at the Four Seasons it might be different.

The Cosmopolitan isn't the only hotel that I fault for this. I've staid many times at the much more expensive and posher (Le Germain) over the years as well, and every time I arrive at the front desk a stranger.

Danny Meyer the owner of Gramercy Tavern, Tabla, 11 Madison Park and many other first rate restaurants in NYC have spoilt me. Every time I go to one of his restaurants I am welcomed back and in many instance someone after we have been seated will say to us: "I see Mr. Owen that the last time you were here you ordered this wine..." in many cases I only will eat at these special occasion restaurants once or twice a year.

This is hospitality in the computer age. It's called a data base. It's a no-brainer, you want your customers to feel welcome - right? You have a computer, right? So get your act together.
Make your guests feel welcome, by um, welcoming them back! Duh!

The Cosmopolitan has a nice vibe to it, I mostly like the design of the rooms (well except the light switches in the bathroom - is there a reason they aren't by the door, but rather in a corner by the sink?) and it is reasonably priced. Which is why I will stay there again and recommend it, something I can't do for the posher Le Germain, when you spend that much money on a hotel room and they can't even remember their repeat guests, then to me that says they aren't interested in having repeat guest.

Lastly, as this is a food blog, I have to give the F&B at the Cosmo a zero. "Eight" is the name of their wine bar restaurant that also, I believe, is the kitchen that provides room service. Eight is a poured concrete windowless bunker with the ugliest light fixtures I've ever seen, sort of modern arty colored glass - which is also used on the walls as "art'' (throat clearing, long uncomfortable pause). In the morning they are on super high bright so as to lind you with their ugly glare before you have even had a chance to get a coffee. There are windows but they are all blocked by a very elaborate structural type blind. There are many design elements going on in the room and even though some of them are interesting the collective affect is not, to my eye, very inviting.

The thing to really look at, the thing that might be able to allow one to over come the grim surroundings is the food, I only had breakfast, which was included in our room but if you decided for kicks you wanted to come and have say a business breakfast it would cost you 13 bucks. What do you get for that? During the week: two kinds of cereal, coffee/tea, bagels (plain and cinnamon raisin) a typical fruit salad (you know the one with lots of out of season imported cantaloupe and honey dew) a selection of mini pastries. On the weekends, for an additional 6 bucks!!!!! you can get eggs or omelets. No organic or local or anything like that. I mean come on, you hire some poor guy to stand behind a stove-top to make eggs and no one takes them because it's so friggin' expensive.

Hint to F&B manager - if you make good food people will come. If you make really good food people will come back and if you offer value and quality - you will be a hit. Right now I feel like you need to close it down and start from scratch.

On an up note I will say that the room service menu was filled with intriguing items that potentially sounded great, although very upscale and mostly in the upper twenty dollar range. Again it seems incongruous in this setting to have such fancy expensive food for room service in a moderately priced hotel where every room has a kitchen. Good french fries, a pizza, a healthy stir fry with brown rice, pannini. a few tasty salads...some good simple deserts, maybe a killer brownie or a selection of tasty cookies? Just a thought.

If you need a good restaurant consultant let me know.

I would gladly stay here again and would heartily recommend it to friends who are heading to Toronto and need a place to stay. The staff are friendly and helpful, the suites are well designed, quiet and feature lovely beds with wifi and flat screen tvs and all the other luxuries you crave when on the road.

An ideal place to stay for people who like a modern aesthetic and who appreciate staying in a hotel room that offers the comforts of home, including a kitchen.

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