Staying at the Old Stone Inn Niagara with a Dog
If staying somewhere more than three nights, we prefer to stay at a vacation rental rather than a hotel. But when we discovered the very well located Old Stone Inn, we decided to give this pet friendly hotel a try. After all, it would give us something to blog about!
The hotel’s website is really well done. It certainly sheds the most flattering light on what the hotel has to offer. The website is easy to navigate and the page on their pet policy is easily found by doing a quick search with “bring your dog.”
At the time of our visit this is what the page said:
The Old Stone Inn welcomes dogs. To ensure a tail-wagging experience, we ask that you kindly observe the following:
- Please notify us in advance (preferably at time of booking) when travelling with your pet.
- There is a $35- surcharge per night, per pet for deep cleaning post stay to ensure the room is allergen-free for the next guest.
- Pets must be kept on a leash or in a carrier in public areas.
- Pets must be supervised at all times.
- Food & water bowls are provided for your pet; please do not use the hotel dishes or utensils.
- Try not to leave your pet unattended in your room for long periods, and pets should never be left overnight.
- The hotel reserves the right to decline servicing a room with an unsupervised pet; such service can be requested while you are present.
- Should your pet inadvertently cause any damage, you will be charged a minimum of $250- for cleaning or repairs.
So far, so good. Although the $35/night surcharge seems a little steep, it is standard these days. A quick look at the map showed us that the hotel was also well located: right at the foot of the Skylon Tower and only a 10 minute walk from the Falls, but not on the strip of casinos and big hotels. We could expect our stay to be a little quieter then.
Upon arrival, Mom and Dad were a little concerned. The hotel advertised itself as the only historical boutique hotel, but the exterior looked a lot more like a cheap motel in a sea of asphalt. The hotel was surrounded by parking lots, including its own, and there was no landscaping worth mentioning. It looked as though no real effort had been applied to the exterior. It certainly did not shout “luxury hotel” as the website would lead you to believe.
But once inside the hotel, the décor in the lobby is absolutely as the photos on the website had shown. The interior is elegant, exposing old walls, and beautifully decorated with an interesting mix of old Europe and Canadiana tossed together. With a sigh of relief, the bipeds approached the front desk.
Sadly, neither the receptionist nor her colleague was fast on the uptake. We were left waiting for a while even though two staff were right there in front of us. When we asked questions, the receptionist seemed shockingly unable to help in any way. Every question we asked was met with a non-answer. On the plus side, a map of the area was available to take away.
With key in hand, we made our way through the insane maze of corridors to find our room. I believe the hotel really could invest in a little signage. The place seems like it grew in a hodge podgy kind of way, and, sadly, the beautiful décor in the reception area does not extend to the hallways.
When we did find our room and walk in, we were greeted by a beautiful carved wood framed bed. The carpet seemed a little old and worn, but was decent. The bathroom was nice and clean, and the towels were folded in a fancy way. What troubled Mom was that our room window did not open out to the outside but rather onto the indoor swimming pool. As a result, the room was dark for lack of natural light and there was always a smell of chlorine in the air.
Not to be put off by this, we went for our recognisance walk. It was wonderful. We found a wonderful little path that leads you straight to the Niagara Parkway and the Falls. After about an hour of sightseeing, we were all a bit tired so we returned to our room to settle in a bit.
The bipeds had a shower and they enjoyed it. The water pressure was good, I was told. Apparently this is important. I fail to see how that can make getting wet any better than it isn’t. Sigh. Bipeds.
Mom and Dad looked about for the dog bowls that were mentioned on the website but they couldn’t find any. So Dad went to the reception desk to inquire but was told they no longer have them because a guest stole them. Dad then asked if maybe we could have two saucers from the kitchen instead. The receptionist looked at Dad as if he was crazy. She said she would ask but then put her head down and continued to do whatever it was she was doing.
Annoyed, Dad came back. WE had not brought our travel bowls because we had been under the impression that bowls would be provided. Dad grabbed a paper cup, ripped the rim off and made me a little bowl so I could be given dinner. I settled on the bed and the bipeds told me to have a nap.
As I snoozed, the bipeds went to try the fancy-pants restaurant (no pets allowed). They informed me that the décor was superb and the food was delicious, and that they might even go back the next night. Their only complaint was that service was painfully slow.
We would have slept better that night if the air conditioner actually worked. It barely cooled the room to a lukewarm temperature. This wouldn’t have been as big an issue if we had been able to open a window onto the outside world but alas … .
With no minibar fridge or coffee machine in the room, we had to improvise. We had brought a soft-sided cooler from home, so Dad refreshed the ice supply twice a day to keep my food, the almond milk, and a few other necessities cold. As for coffee, there was water with lemon and mint, and fresh coffee or tea, in the lobby for guests to enjoy.
So what do we think of the hotel? Honestly, we have mixed feelings. There is a strange disconnect between the fantastic décor of the lobby, restaurant, bar, and breakfast area versus the hallways, rooms, and exterior. The pool looked nice, although small, and Dad enjoyed a swim or two. (Mom is allergic to chlorine so couldn’t. She prefers salt pools.)
There is an inner courtyard in the hotel, but I couldn’t go there because they sometimes BBQ in the courtyard, so no dogs, even if they weren’t barbequing the nights we were there. The location of the hotel is amazing and hard to beat, but the lack of customer service from the reception staff is infuriating. For the price, I would have to conclude that the hotel was a disappointment.
In review: So much potential! Staying at the Old Stone Inn Niagara with a Dog could easily be one to rave about. Should we go again, we would insist on a room with a king size bed (versus double), and we would ensure we had a room with either a view of the inner courtyard or at the very least, the outside world, even if it means a view of a parking lot. Staff need training on promptness and they need to increase their knowledge of the area. They didn’t know if there were any pet friendly patios (despite being a pet friendly hotel), and they had to call the manager to find out where the closest pharmacy is. And the hotel needs to either get new dog bowls or take that misleading information off of the website. Is the hotel a diamond in the rough or a fading flower? I am not sure.