Residence Inn is an extended stay brand by Marriott, and it has more than 800 properties. Most are in North America, though there are nine in European cities including Hamburg, Berlin, Warsaw, Aberdeen and London.
The opening of Calgary Downtown in March actually marked its 800th property, which is also the biggest yet, with 390 suites.
What’s it like?
With numerous skyscrapers in the area, you somehow don’t quite notice the height of this one – a towering 33 floors – until you’re right outside. The exterior is a smart mix of shaded glass panels, and the area out front for car drop-offs looks pristine and new (in fact, most of this Canadian city is pretty spotless).
The reception is welcoming, with a long fire providing both warmth and a stylish wall feature. I visited in the middle of summer, but the weather here is notoriously changeable and it didn’t seem out of place.
The buffalo skull you can see in the picture below was in honour of the Calgary Stampede, a huge annual rodeo which attracts thousands to the city. Attendance was reportedly more than 1.2 million over the course of the 2019 event. Unsurprisingly, the hotel was running at full occupancy.
Despite this, the hotel never felt overly full; the queue for reception was never more than a couple of people deep and there were plenty of tables at breakfast.
To the right of the reception is a useful work area and lounge, with a couple of comfy sofas and a long shared desk. There are also two computers which are free to use.
A cafe is currently under construction that will be accessible from this space. Breakfast is complimentary so most guests are unlikely to use it in the mornings, but it will be a good addition for fuelling up later in the day or for those who want to meet up with non-guests.
Where is it?
The staff helped me orient myself using a paper tourist map on arrival. As the name would suggest, the hotel is “downtown”, more specifically in the busy Beltline neighbourhood which is about as central as you can get.
Back in the 80s this area was apparently home to notorious nightlife hotspot Electric Avenue, but authorities cracked down on it the following decade. Today it’s a mix of corporate offices (Calgary made its money from oil, and it is still big business here), family-friendly restaurants and boutique shops.
The Residence Inn is on the former site of the Alberta Boot Company, a cowboy boot manufacturer which is still in operation further out of the city.
The surrounding streets are wide and paved, with crossing lights at every junction, so it’s easy to explore on foot. On my first evening I walked east out of the hotel, which felt a bit deserted. Walk west towards the Calgary tower to Stephen Avenue (pictured right), where there’s a fun mix of bars, galleries and shops.
The 390 rooms are a mix of studios and one-bedroom suites, all with living, sleeping and dining areas plus kitchens.
There is definitely enough space to give it a homely feel, with the large table and comfortable dining chairs useful additions.
If I was on a long stay I would probably opt for a one-bed as I prefer more of a separation between the kitchen, living room and bedroom spaces, but the ‘L’ shape of my standard studio helped with this. These are 41 sqm.
The design was bright and modern, with an electric blue sofa nicely contrasting with the yellow dining chains and kitchen walls.
The long sofa ran alongside the floor-to-ceiling window so you could stretch out and read while looking out.
There were also unique touches, such as leather headboards with cowboy boot-style stitching, a nod to the Alberta Boot Company.
The bed was large and comfortable, and had USB charging points on both sides. The lights could be easily controlled from here, always a good sign that the room design has been well thought out.
The hotel also offers 50 sqm “double double” rooms (with two double beds), as well as 41sqm accessible rooms and 47sqm one-bedroom suites.
My kitchen was well-stocked, with an enormous fridge, a microwave, kettle and pretty much all the utensils you would need. I could have used some instructions on how to use the coffee machine (though it’s probably obvious to most Americans) since my attempt was undrinkable.
The bathroom was smartly decorated, with a white marble countertop and large, well-lit mirror. There also seemed to be towels in every possible size.
The shower was large, with decent pressure. The tea tree-scented toiletries were full-sized, something Marriott has just pledged to roll out across its entire portfolio for environmental reasons.
Tucked away to the left of the front door is this useful little wardrobe area, which would be a good place to dump bulky coats and shoes during the cold winter (or in my case unnecessary memorabilia picked up at the Stampede).
Food and drink
Breakfast is served on the first floor; you just walk straight in and start helping yourself to the buffet, although there were lots of staff around clearing plates and refilling trays. Breakfast comes with all rooms and is served from 0630-1000 on weekdays and 0700-1100 on weekends.
As mentioned, the hotel was bursting at the seams, so out of necessity I had tried all the different types of seating in here after three days, from the dining tables to the shorter coffee tables to the bar-style seating along the windows. The latter was a good place to tackle some morning emails and gauge the weather outside.
There was a wide selection at the buffet, with pastries, cooked breakfast options, a waffle maker, porridge, cereals and fruit.
Having gorged on corn dogs and poutine (a popular dish of french fries and cheese curds topped with brown gravy) at the Stampede it was nice to opt for some fat-free Greek yoghurt with fresh melon.
There were also two different stations for Starbucks coffee, one in the buffet room and one by the first floor elevators, which had decaf as well as different roasts. You could take a large takeaway cup to go, which was handy.
There are no lunch or dinner options, although there is a bar coming soon to the outdoor terrace next to the breakfast room. This wasn’t yet open when I visited. Obviously as an ‘aparthotel’ a lot of guests will be eating in their rooms. There is a small shop by reception which sells snacks, packets of noodles and some frozen ready meals.
There are extensive meeting and events facilities, with six main rooms and five breakout rooms across 590 sqm. This is the one of the breakout areas:
There is also a cafe specifically for events:
The larger meeting rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows and Marriott’s latest AV equipment.
There is a 24-hour gym on the ground floor opposite the laundry room which has free weights and cardiovascular equipment.
The hotel also encourages you to download the MapMyFitness app, where there are specially designed running routes from the hotel that show you sights in the local area. This sounded like a nice idea, although I will confess I didn’t actually try it. Let’s blame jet lag and too many corn dogs.
The hotel definitely caters well for both business and leisure travellers. The property feels spacious and has lots of natural light throughout, and it’s well positioned within the city, with lots to see within walking distance.
Best for A central location plus good facilities and the option to cook for yourself
Don’t miss Checking out the view from the higher floors
Price A midweek September stay in a studio starts from CAD$228/£140
Contact +1 587-885-2288; marriott.co.uk/hotels/residence-inn-calgary-downtown