a peek inside the fishbowl

20 Jun, 2011

Ottawa Attractions: a bit about a hotel in Ottawa

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Ottawa|travel talk

Ottawa is a great city for kids and families, and (if you haven’t already noticed) it’s one of my favourite things to write about. This is the kickoff post to what I’m calling “Ottawa Attractions,” a series of “discover your city” kinda posts about some great summertime places and activities for families in the Ottawa area.

The four of us will be exploring different corners of the city and reporting back on what we found there. I will do my best to highlight free stuff you can do with kids in Ottawa too (because everyone likes free, right?) and I hope that this series will help moms and dads discover a few of the things that Ottawa has to offer, whether you live here in Ottawa or not. :)

I think I’m going to need to divide this first post into two parts because I have too much to say. (Ha. What else is new??)

Awhile back I was approached by the kind folks at the Ottawa Marriott. They wondered if I would like to bring my family to stay at the hotel for a night or two and check out the scene. I was happy to do so for a couple of reasons. A lot of people ask me to recommend a hotel in Ottawa… either (a) parents of families who are coming from out of town or (b) people who live in Ottawa and are looking for a good recommendation on behalf of visiting relatives.

I am glad to be able to give a knowledgeable recommendation now! Also: It is nice to get a little vacation from your life, even if it’s in your own city. So Ottawa people, keep that in mind while you’re reading this. We only stayed one night and I felt like I’d had a mini holiday… !

Cue angels:

Ottawa Marriott - street view

Another reason I was excited to stay at the Marriott: its proximity downtown. It is right on Sparks Street, an easy couple minutes walk from Parliament Hill. Perfection.

Transparency alert: before I go any further I would like to state for the record that the Ottawa Marriott covered the costs of our stay, WIFI, on site parking, and breakfast for four, but as always, opinions are my own.

The Ottawa Marriott has undergone a bit of a transformation in recent years. I don’t know if I’ve ever been inside before, but I will say this, whatever they’ve done, works. It is our kind of hotel. It’s bright and modern and sophisticated without being stuffy and intimidating. The Marriott, if it was a person, would be the stylish sister of your best friend; beautiful and smart yet friendly and approachable. Someone with a great hairdo who isn’t afraid of giving you a big giant hug.

We brought our bags up to our room.

Our room at the Ottawa Marriott

We were in for a bit of a shock, a very nice shock, and I’m afraid that we are spoiled forever. We found ourselves in a spacious corner room on the 23rd floor with an utterly fantastic view.

To say that it knocked our socks off is a bit of an understatement.

I tried creating a panorama with my photos this morning but failed miserably, so I have to make do with a few separate images. Our room towered above the Supreme Court building, but here, going from east to west: (1) Looking towards the War Museum (2) Supreme Court (3) Eastward towards Parliament Hill.

Here’s a quick video I grabbed with my iPhone, I apologize if it seems a little shaky and double rainbows for your taste (but you’ll get the idea):

Nice eh?

Having the Ottawa River rolled out in front of us like a sparkly blue welcome mat was rather awesome, and set the tone for our entire weekend.

So Mark and I had a King bed with the best view we’ve ever had in our whole lives and the girls had their own adjoining room with two doubles. There have only been a few occasions we’ve overnighted this way (during our Maritime road trip we were able to pull it off a couple of times). It is my preferred Hotel Living Arrangement. I’m just not able to cope with the tossing and turning and teeth grinding anymore.

So really, it was a lovely treat that was totally ideal for our family.

The girls room wasn’t ready until later, but they didn’t mind too much. This photo was taken later in the day:

Adjoining rooms at the Ottawa Marriott

The view was great, but I ask you, what’s more important than the bed?

To be honest, Mark didn’t like it very much (it was too soft for him) but I sure did. Oh man. I could have stayed in there all day, enveloped in sheets with triple-digit thread counts and piles of fluffy pillows. In fact, I was already brainstorming ways I could just head downtown for the day and work in this bed. I want this bed, so. badly.

Big cushy bed at the Ottawa Marriott

The Marriott has a couple special spaces on the fourth floor set aside for families and younger folks. There was a kids room which had lots of toys, a treehouse and slide, comfy chairs and video games, and a teen room for older kids (but our girls were too young to hang out in there unsupervised).

The girls (and their dad) were drawn to the teen room with its ball hockey corner and air hockey table:

The "teen" room at the Ottawa Marriott

It was fun. They also checked out the hotel pool (but I was busy snuggled in bed with my book at that point).

What else can I tell you?

We had a great dinner in the restaurant on Saturday night at SPIN Kitchen & Bar which is the Marriott’s own restaurant. We started with drinks. Mark ordered a beer, I had an excellent Raspberry Mojito (in fact, it was so delicious it is reason enough to return to Spin) and the girls each had a Shirley Temple.

Mark ordered a Kobe burger, I had an amazing turkey BLT with piping hot sweet potato fries, Emma had pizza and carrot sticks (thumbs up), and Sarah had something that looked suspiciously like Kraft Dinner and a side salad. In my opinion, the KD was the only down side of our dinner. I wish when restaurants put mac and cheese on the menu that it’s real mac and cheese. Am I alone in this? If I am, well, ’nuff said. :)

In the morning we fueled up with a buffet breakfast, which was the standard kind of buffet you see in many hotels; bacon, scrambled eggs, bread toasting station etc. It was included in our package, but it’s not normally something we order… mostly because we are light eaters in the morning and never feel like we get our money’s worth. (Next time I would order the Spin Benedict. Mmm.)

Sidebar: the SPIN Kitchen menu is undergoing a menu transformation. Foodieprints has had a sneak preview (lucky duck!) and has posted about it. Check it out.

Anyway, it was a great stay at a hotel I would definitely recommend… whether you are travelling with children or not. The surroundings were lovely, the service was impeccable, and I would love to return some day.

Thank you Ottawa Marriott for being such a fabulous host!

Coming up next: what we did while we were downtown. It includes a bride, a celebrity sighting, and some views of Ottawa-related things we’ve never seen before. :)


5 Responses to "Ottawa Attractions: a bit about a hotel in Ottawa"

1 | Lara

June 20th, 2011 at 1:00 pm

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Sounds awesome!! I’m hoping to check out the Marriott this summer – not sure if I’ll bring the kids or not ;)

2 | Jessica Howard

June 20th, 2011 at 2:12 pm

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We stayed at the Marriott on Kent St. last year and also found it a great hotel and location for families.

The playroom and games room were MAJOR hits with the kids, and we found ourselves wondering why more hotels can’t set aside a room or two like this for kids. Makes things SO MUCH easier for parents.

We didn’t stay on the 23rd floor, but still had a nice, modern room with a good view. Will have to try that raspberry mojito next time :-)

3 | Ottawa attractions: a peek inside Parliament Hill >> a peek inside the fishbowl

June 21st, 2011 at 1:52 pm

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[…] you want to know what I was thinking as we strolled away from the Ottawa Marriott (see yesterday’s post), towards Parliament Hill? Holy cats, do we ever live in a pretty […]

4 | vicky

June 21st, 2011 at 8:12 pm

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I grew up in a condo only two blocks from the Marriott..and have been a fan of their pool and terrace for DECADES.
(two to be exact). No one has a outdoor terrace. They use to have bbq’s on it but it was short lived. (sniff).

On my last visit to Ottawa, I stopped by to have a drink at SPIN and was hugely impressed with the transformation of the space. Certainly will be going back again.

One more thing…they have done a great job on twitter. They “get it”…LOL

Glad to hear you had a great stay.

5 | Welcoming a new patron: the Ottawa Marriott >> a peek inside the fishbowl

June 5th, 2012 at 12:05 pm

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[…] readers may remember the epic stay we had at the Marriott last summer. (Part one is here, part two is here.) It was such a fantastic staycation that I seriously considered booking a room […]

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our two daughters Emma (18) and Sarah (16). I am the managing editor of our community newspaper, the Kitchissippi Times. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger, and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999... which makes me either a total dinosaur or a veteran, I'm not sure which! The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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