Saturday, August 11, 2012

Quebec -- Accommodations Revew

During a week of traveling in Quebec, we spent four nights in Quebec City at Le Port Royal, and one night each at the Hotel Belle Plage in Matane and Hotel Cote Surprise in Perce.

All three were adequate and we would probably recommend both of the hotels in the Gaspe; they seemed fairly representative of the typical tourist lodgings, especially in Perce. However, I cannot recommend Le Port Royal.
Hotel Le Port Royal
Quebec City
This hotel, located in the old port area of old Quebec, bills itself as a four-start accommodation but we'd give it two at most.

First they lose a star for having no room service; yet they are directly connected with a restaurant on one side (where one can eat breakfast and charge it to the room) and a bar/lounge on the other.

They lose another star for terrible concierge service. I emailed in advance to arrange for flowers and a split of champagne in the room when we arrived. The email was received since I was queried as to how much I wanted to spend on flowers. I also asked if they could make reservations at a particular restaurant in the city for a special dinner. When we arrived, no flowers, no wine, no reservation. The restaurant I had chosen was listed in their own hotel services book as one of their "partners" and yet when they called to make the reservation (at last) there appeared to be confusion and uncertainty over the booking.

Second, soon after we arrived in the city we learned that Cirque du Soleil was in town and had set up near the hotel. I asked the "concierge" if they could get us tickets. She suggested I do it myself online. Whoa! That wasn't friendly.

Third, on our first morning in the hotel, I woke up, got dressed (important in Canada) and went downstairs to find coffee and pastries. I stopped at the front and asked if they could suggest a place to find fresh pastries and coffee. The young woman recommended I go next door to the Petro Canada filling station.

Yeah, right, that's what I came to Canada for, to buy fresh pastries from a gasoline station. (Just for the record, they look terrible.) I had to go and hunt down a place on my own. 

Fourth, the hotel has only one small elevator, which had to be shared with all the staff (cleaning, moving luggage etc.) and it was so slow I suspect they were relying on squirrel power to hoist it up and lower it down. Fortunately, we were only three flights up. Our room, or suite , was designed primarily and almost solely with an eye on form, certainly not function. It was long and narrow, rather like living aboard a 30-foot boat with a lovely view of Petro Canada. The AC unit was at one end, by the bathroom and the bed at the other end.

Lighting was terrible and all but useless -- but I'm sure it was aesthetically pleasing. Lastly, late on our first full day we had to ask at the front desk to have the room made up. No apologies, no "pops," nothing. Nada. Zip. Niente.

 Hovering on the upside, the staff was friendly and pleasant if clueless, and, with the exception of the valets, virtually useless.

Hotel Belle Plage
view from the restaurant
The Belle Plage in Matane was functional to be sure and right on the water, although our room was in an annex across the street, a section that had been built sometime around the time of Champlain's arrival in New France. Anyway, they were accommodating when we asked for a fan -- although they seemed puzzled, since it was only 120 degrees in the room.

But the food in the restaurant was good if pricey, the wine nice, the service very adept and the view of the water sublime.
Hotel Cote surprise
We found the Hotel Cote Surprise to be adequate and certainly nicely located, and our room did have a unique layout: the sitting area was actually raised to loft status in order to overlook the famous "roche" or rock that seemed to draw Quebecois tourists like a flame draws moths; and us, too, of course.

We wish we could have stayed longer to have taken a boat ride closer and to explore a tiny island offshore. The food at the Cote Surprise was fine -- the town promised little beyond pub fare -- but again pricey. Service was pleasant and all-in-all we give it thumbs up.

 Still, when combined with the food costs, neither hotel in the Gaspe was a good value.

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