First I have to say that I bugged Kelly (front desk representative) about 20 times before and during my stay there and she ALWAYS had a smile for me and a friendly 'Hello' when I would arrive into the lobby, thanks Kelly!!!! In fact all of the hotel staff were very nice and friendly, but not always the best informed (i'll explain later).
I would have given higher ratings if it weren't for a few details, which is really a shame.
First the good:
1. The staff, (see above) were all very friendly and accommodating.
2. My son LOVED the pool. It had a slide which is always a big plus and it went indoor/outdoor which is very fun. It was clean in there, which is a plus from my perspective.
3. Underground parking - this was excellent, kept my car out of the heat of the days and since we walked or took the shuttle everywhere, we never even moved the car after we arrived.
4. This was a great location - not too close to the main drag (Clifton Hill av) but an easy walk there and to the falls. They also offer shuttle passes with packages which goes all over the touristy area.
Now the not so good:
1. the AC was loud, my son even made a comment about it which is unusual since he sleeps like a rock! And it didn't always cool well, but it was sufficient.
2. No fridge, nuff said.
3. No free breakfast despite advertising on the little key card holder that they had such an amenity. I was really disappointed about this since most of the other hotels in the area seemed to have this. They did offer two $25 vouchers for breakfast at the Denny's that's across the parking lot with my 2 day waterpark package which was good, but BEWARE the Denny's is VERY expensive and it doesn't include the tax, which you have to pay for. We went way over the $25 for myself and my 8 yr old!! :( And you can't charge anything to your room, this would be a really nice feature if they could work out a deal. I guess I assumed they would have that amenity since they did provide the vouchers...
4. The jacuzzi had TONS of yucky foam. I did some research online which said it could be caused by a # of factors (I did the research because I was thinking it was from something bad!!). Basically they could be using cheap chemicals and/or too much chemical, those are the main causes... So they may need to do some of their own research to see how to properly maintain their hot tub. Kept me from going in... :(
5. $9 per day for parking that was not optional if you came in a car. I know there are more expensive hotel parking lots, I'm just diametrically opposed to paying for parking somewhere that I am staying.
6. Probably the biggest disappointment was that the front desk (and Kelly, I'm sad to say) weren't aware of the fact that the Fallsview Waterpark (which was fabulous by the way) was not always open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and that the week we were there they had limited hours (i'm sure because it wasn't 'season' yet). No one mentioned this when I purchased my Waterpark package or when I asked several questions about it upon check-in and even after that. My son and I kind of arranged our whole stay around the one day we would visit the waterpark, which we decided to do on Tuesday only to find out upon arriving at 9am (which is the normal opening time) that they were only open from 3pm-8pm on that day and 11am-7pm then next day (normal hours during high season is 9am-8pm). So we came back to the hotel after our disappointment and when we asked the front desk why they didn't let us know this they were totally taken by surprise and actually said that whoever told us that it's closed on many Tuesday's and Wednesday's was lying. Well I went online and you can clearly see the Waterpark schedule (which the HOJO staff could benefit from printing out and posting maybe) that shows that they are closed more than 1/2 the Tues/Wed between January and May, must open for school breaks and such and then limited hours as the high season approaches. Anyway, my son and I decided to go from 3-8 on Tuesday and it worked out fine because the place was basically empty and so no lines to go on any of the slides, we had a blast. All this to say that the Staff at the hotel should have known this, this is their business...
7. The TV was kind of sad (like a 32 inch, if that big) older style (not flat screen) kind. And reception was pretty bad as others have said, lines running across most channels. My son didn't seem to mind much but he's a bit of a TV zombie at times...
8. We didn't really take advantage of housekeeping except the first day and they failed to leave us a replacement lining bag for the ice bucket and the beds were remade fairly lumpily... Just a bit less than professional.
9. With the package you get a $10 voucher to their on-site 'food court' but it's pretty pricey so don't expect a free meal or even dessert, and you still have to pay the taxes. the woman who served us at the Pizza hut clearly wasn't enjoying her job, not very pleasant, not mean or anything but not pleasant either.
10. The washer and dryer were pricey and the dryer took 2 cycles to dry my clothes, but I was grateful they had it. I was a bit freaked out by the broken glass I found in the washing machine before washing my clothes... :(
Overall this is a good value for the money. In retrospect, I may have spent a little more to get more amenities. NF is a tourist trap so everything is pretty expensive, I hadn't been there in over 25 years so I didn't expect this. It didn't ruin our vacation at all but we did leave a day earlier than planned because I couldn't spend one more dollar on another wax museum or arcade!!! LOL!
Niagara Falls General Comments:
1. Buy the Adventure Pass, it's the best deal there, you get to do 4 activities: Maid of the Mist boat ride, Journey Behind the falls tour, Niagara Fury 4D movie experience, and White Water Walk (don't be misled by the title, your feet go nowhere near the water, you walk along a wooden pathway along the Niagara River Great Gorge which was really spectacular watching these class 6 rapids rushing by, but you remain completely dry and out of the water). This was the highlight of our trip.
2. The Fallsview waterpark is a blast! Huge slides and a great Tidal Pool. We were there before the official season started so it was pretty empty which was awesome! But check the hours before you go to make sure it's open when you want to visit. This is often part of Hotel packages.
3. There are so many tourist trappy places like all the wax museums and Ripleys and Guinness book of world records, etc... We went to the Ripleys museum and the 4D 'moving theater' and enjoyed both, not sure if they are totally worth the money but they offer a '2, 3, or 4 attraction package' which made it more palatable.
4. Went to AlMac's buffet for breakfast one morning thinking we would save a few $$'s since they advertised breakfast buffet for $6.99 but don't be deceived. The food choices were decent but pretty limited and a glass of juice was $3.39 or something and they wouldn't even serve you a glass of water, you had to purchase bottled water... When I mentioned my disappointment to the owner (I think that's who that was running the register), he said, "we're in business to make money'. WOW!! :(
5. Surprisingly enough the souvenir stores are the best deal in NF! You can get souvenir hats and tees for under $5!!!! Stock up! :)
6. one item to note, when they say there are 'fireworks' at the falls, if you're from the states don't expect '4th of July' kind of fireworks. They are the same quality, but they literally lasted 5 minutes!!!! How weird... We were even there on Memorial day which was a special event display so even my hotel staff thought they would be better, but they were their typical 5 minutes of fireworks. It's pretty much just the grand finale and out...
7. One of the highlights for us were the people, all the Canadians were very hospitable and kind, gotta love that!
It's worth the trip at least once, this was my 3rd trip but they were so many years apart that I didn't remember from one to the next. Probably won't go again, but have great memories!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Located just one short block to the Top 10 best Clifton Hill Attractions and the mighty water Falls itself and just steps away from the Great Canadian Midway. The Howard Johnson Hotel by the Falls is superbly located in the center of the Niagara Falls/Clifton Hill tourist district offering you an incredible selection of restaurants and shopping adventures. The Niagara Falls Howard Johnson Hotel By The Falls is a 3 Key-Green Certified family-oriented full-service hotel that offers you wonderful Niagara Falls Hotel Accommodations consisting of 198 newly renovated spacious guest rooms including Family Suites, Whirlpool Guest Rooms and Traditional 2-Queen Bedded Guest Rooms, as well as our Balcony Rooms overlooking all the action below along the Clifton Hill District. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Howard Johnson Niagara Falls
- Niagara Falls Howard Johnson