My Winter Staycation at the Alt Hotel in St. John’s
What’s the best way to get the feeling of travel without having to hop on a plane or train? Book yourself a staycation in your hometown. I recently spent a relaxing, but stormy, weekend in downtown St. John’s checking out the brand new Alt Hotel.
The Alt Hotel St. John’s is the newest in the family-owned chain and the location couldn’t be much better. Most rooms have harbour views and you’re only steps from great restaurants and shops. The Alt hits right in that sweet spot of having the soul of a boutique hotel with the price tag of a mid-ranged chain. With rooms starting at $149/night it’s a great wallet-friendly option but you’ll feel like you’re staying in a trendy big city hotel.
Eventually, there’ll be a bar and restaurant on site but for now, snacks are available at the Altceteria in the lobby. The lobby itself reminds me of a super cool university dorm common room. There were several different seating options: long bench couches, rocking chairs, a dining table, bar stools at a coffee shop style communal table. There were fleece blankets you could borrow to wrap up in and a pool table in one corner to entertain yourself. It’s a lobby that feels designed for hanging out rather than just waiting for your taxi.
I had a king room with a harbour view for two nights. The room was compact but well designed with plenty of storage and never felt cramped. I loved the local touch of the large puffin image on the back shower wall. They had all the things you need: comfy bed, reading chair with a table for your coffee, a desk to work at, large screen tv, even an ironing board and iron, without the extras that you don’t really use at some hotels. Who really reads through that giant binder anyway?
I started off my staycation with a quiet night in. I took a quick trip down the road to Smoke’s Poutinerie and got some delicious perogie poutine to indulge in back in my king room. Here’s where I discovered one of the best bits of design at the Alt: the bedside table is actually a lap desk. Genius. Nothing says Canadian staycation like eating poutine in bed.
Each room has a control panel, not only by the door, but also right by the bed, that allows you to control the temperature, the lights, the blinds, and even a Do Not Disturb notice that displays in the hall. No more need for cardboard hangers outside your room. The lights have a convenient full and dimmed setting with a separate reading light option. I loved the option to open the blinds without getting out of bed. The perfect wake to cox yourself awake.
Let the Staycation Begin!
After a good night’s sleep under a goose down comforter it was an early rise. A Keurig meant I could caffeinate before leaving the room. I still wish North American hotels could figure out a way to offer milk instead of Coffee Mate, the way Irish and English hotels do. Maybe someday.
Took me a minute to figure out how to work the shower. There were two shower heads (one rainfall, one handheld) and just one unlabelled dial. I eventually figured out how to switch between the two but it wasn’t until the next day that I caught on how to get the water hotter (tip: push the little button and you can turn the dial further).
Showered and fueled up it was time to head up the street to Posie Row and wait in line to get my very own Maple Leaf Big Stick bologna Christmas ornament from Baddy Vinyl. The hottest thing in St. John’s this Christmas. Posie Row recently expanded across two buildings and have opened up some rooms to other small businesses looking for retail space. I loved this co-op feel and being able to easily shop local. It was also nice to be able to pop right back in to the Alt afterwards to drop off my purchases.
Since a staycation should be about pampering yourself, I had a manicure booked across the street from the Alt at Ruby Rose Beauty Bar (they have since moved). Not only do they have the cutest reception and the nicest staff, they also have great prices and the brilliant Manis and Martinis concept, where they serve you a martini while you get your nails done. Perfect!
By now it was lunchtime and my belly led me through the building snow storm to Bad Bones Ramen, where I had my very first real bowl of ramen. Yes, I’ve been to Japan. No, I didn’t have ramen there. Shame, I know. But I made up for it. A steaming bowl of spicy miso chicken ramen was the perfect way to spend a snowstorm lunch.
It was now a full on storm and things were shutting down so I headed back to my warm, cozy room at the Alt to read and watch Netflix. Despite the howling winds I never heard a peep, unlike in my 100 year old downtown house. The Alt was such a cozy place to spend a snowstorm.
The perfect way to end off a staycation at the Alt Hotel St. John’s? The touton breakfast sandwich for brunch at the Bagel Cafe. Tip: split it between two people or get a doggy bag to take half home. It’s massive.
Even though it was only a kilometre from my house, I really felt like I was on a mini vacation. I ate at restaurants and shopped in stores I don’t usually get to. There is a real wave of entrepreneurship happening in St. John’s these days and it was great to get out and support some local talent.
So if you’re looking for a great place to stay in downtown for your own St. John’s staycation, look no further than the Alt Hotel.
- Where: 125 Water Street, St. John’s, NL
- Cost: Rooms can range from $149-$164
- Number of Rooms: 148
- Amenities: free wifi, fitness centre, parking available, board games and yoga mats available, pet friendly
- Rating: TripAdvisor 5*
- Check Availability