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*Updated July 2020*
When I visit a new city, I like to stay right in the heart of it. I love being in the middle of the action, close to all the wonderful things a city has to offer. So when Alt Hotel opened its newest location in central downtown St. John’s, I knew I had to check it out. No matter where I travel in the world, St. John’s always remains one of my favourite cities.
Perched on the corner of Water Street and Prescott Street, Alt Hotel is a perfect spot for experiencing the best that St. John’s has to offer.
Everything about Alt Hotel is bright, modern, and inviting. The lobby is full of large windows, a variety of comfortable seating, and an eclectic mix of colours and styles. The area is open, but that doesn’t make it any less cosy. It’s a great place to enjoy a snack, meet with friends, or just hang out with a book. They even have a basket of blankets for your enjoyment! I was almost afraid to curl up in the rocking chair in case I fell asleep!
Much like the lobby, the rooms are cosy, bright, and contemporary. The furniture is comfortable and modern, and the decor is mostly neutral with stark pops of colours. They also give the rooms a local touch with a wall-length frosted glass photo of a puffin. My room reminded me of boutique hotels in Europe. It is compact, but it never felt small or uncomfortable. On the contrary, I was so relaxed in my room I struggled to leave it at all.
Each room has walls with hardwood panelling, goose down duvets and feather pillows, a 50-inch flatscreen TV, a work area with a Canadian-made ergonomic chair, and a Nespresso machine. The washroom has Canadian-made Bella Pella products, comfortable terry cloth towels, a rainfall shower with controllable mood lights, and a wooden bench.
One of the coolest things about Alt Hotel is their eco-friendly features. The main light switch in each room is controlled by your room key. So when you’re out of the room, the lights won’t continue running. Bonus: you won’t lose your room key when you know it’s in that slot! They use geothermal heat regulation for the rooms and the water. (If you’re unfamiliar with geothermal energy, as I was, put it this way: they’re heating the hotel using the Earth’s core!)
My room had two control panels; one next to the door (where your key goes!) and one next to the bed. You can adjust light settings, control the temperature, raise or lower the blackout curtains, and even turn on a “do not disturb” light/sign outside your door. All without leaving your bed.
Alt Hotel is perfectly located for anyone who is looking to experience local St. John’s shopping, restaurants, and culture. The hub of St. John’s is its downtown core, Water Street and Duckworth Street. There are a number of delicious restaurants literally steps from the hotel doors. During my stay, I enjoyed food at Boca Tapas Bar, Bernard Stanley Gastropub, and Smokes Poutinerie.
The area is also full of locally owned and operated stores, with many selling locally made product. Stores like Posie Row & Co., Model Citizens, Tval Skincare, along with numerous other shops downtown make their own product or sell products made in Newfoundland, on top of offering a wide variety of other products.
George Street is just a few minutes’ walk down the road if you’re looking to have a drink, dance, or hear some live local music. If you’re not feeling up to the walk, there are also several bars in between!
Also, its location allows this view:
Alt Hotel works aspects of the province into their decor. As I mentioned earlier, the rooms have frosted glass with a super adorable puffin on them.
They also have a beautiful wall in the lobby called the Alt Expo. It is an art installation of over 3,500 pictures by local photographer Michael Winsor. The mural focuses on the beauty of the Newfoundland and Labrador landscape. It makes a perfect selfie spot, and Alt Hotel knows it. They even point where to stand for an optimal selfie background!
I honestly love when bigger named places embrace the culture of their cities. Maybe it’s the proud Newfoundlander in me, but it was very nice to see all the beautiful Newfoundland imagery. They also use the #AltExpo hashtag to display pictures from Instagram on TV screens in their hotels across the country, so make sure you share your experience with them!
Since my first stay, the hotel has added Terre Restaurant and Terre Café. Terre Restaurant focuses on local inspiration and local ingredients. With large, bright windows and modern decor, the restaurant offers guests a high-end yet welcoming experience. The menu updates regularly, depending on what ingredients are in season locally. The menu is always available on Terre’s Instagram feed.
Terre Café is open for breakfast and lunch. The small café offers baked goods, sandwiches, handcrafted coffee beverages and more. It’s open to everyone, guests and non-guests alike. The lobby and terrace are available for those who want a relaxing place to enjoy their goods. I had a delicious cinnamon roll and cappuccino for breakfast, but there are also breakfast and lunch sandwiches, cheesecakes and other desserts, and even full loaves of bread available for purchase.
They also have a great snack bar near the main desk which I took advantage of. When I was undecided on what to get, the lovely lady at the desk (I sadly never got her name!) told me about how out-of-this-world Ms Vickie’s salt and vinegar chips are with Newfoundland Chocolate Company caramel bars. I figured it made sense – salt and caramel are a delicious combination. But man, was she ever right. Those two specific products together were unreal.
Extras & Info
Which brings me to my next point: the staff. These are some of the sweetest people I’ve come across! I met about 6 employees during my 2-night stay, and each one of them was kind, friendly, and incredibly helpful. They answered all my questions, took care of me during breakfast, and were warm people to just have a chat with. They want to make sure that you’re enjoying your stay to your fullest, and they’ll do what they can to make sure you’re completely happy.
There are several spaces for business meetings and events, and free wifi across the hotel. There is a beautiful terrace that will be very enjoyable in the summer, (summer update: it is) especially during sunsets with one of those blankets from the lobby. And they have a comfortably sized gym in case you feel the need to balance all the delicious local food you try.
There are lots of other great reasons to choose Alt Hotel for your stay. They are a pet-friendly hotel, so you won’t have to worry about leaving your pet behind for a weekend. Also, my favourite: they have no check out time! I didn’t have to worry about setting my alarm for a certain time so I could be ready and packed to rush out of my room at 10:59. They’re flexible and totally let you choose. I was tempted to test this policy by checking out at noon… the next day. But in the end, I didn’t go for it. (This time.)
Alt Hotel has taken steps to ensure guests’ safety while still offering a comfortable stay. Some changes you’ll find include:
- Contactless check-in/check-out: The reception desk is equipped with a protective screen, with a table in front holding hand sanitizer for extra space and protection.
- Social distancing: Signage has been placed around the hotel to help guests practise safe distancing.
- Cleaning: All cleaning products and practices have been approved for combating viruses, bacteria and other pathogens. Public areas are cleaned more frequently, with a focus on high-contact areas.
- Rooms: Room guests are the only people who enter the room during their stay. After check-out, rooms stay vacant for the specified amount of time before being thoroughly cleaned.
- Cancellation: Since things can change so rapidly, Alt Hotel is offering free cancellation up to 4 p.m. on your check-in day.
Alt Hotel: The Final Word
I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Alt Hotel, and would book another staycation there in a heartbeat. (Summer 2020 update: I’m on my third stay!) It’s a warm, welcoming, eco-friendly option for your downtown stay. And rooms currently start at $109 a night, so it’s certainly a budget-friendly choice. It’s within an arm’s reach of pretty much everything you want in a downtown St. John’s stay, and if you can’t walk there, they’ll help you find a way.
Thanks for reading my Alt Hotel review! Please note that I partnered with Alt Hotel to document my stay, but all opinions are my own!