Grand Hotel Nanaimo

Grand Hotel NanaimoThe four-story Grand Hotel Nanaimo offers city visitors a touch of elegance at a manageable price. Most of the 72 rooms have balconies overlooking the Nanaimo North Town Centre, formerly known as Rutherford Mall. Although the hotel manager declined to show me a room, I'm told all are equipped with a work desk, coffeemaker, iron and ironing board, bath tub, shower, 25-inch TV, movie channel, highspeed internet, free local telephone calls, and voice mail. Thankfully, all rooms are non smoking and two are wheelchair accessible.

Formerly the Four Points by Sheraton Nanaimo, The Grand Hotel was built in 1998. Its small lobby with marble floor and crystal chandelairs is clean and inviting, and a large meeting room is to the right of the entrance. The hotel's expensive Cornerstone Restaurant just beyond the reception has cozy patio views and is open for breakfast daily and for dinner from Tuesday to Saturday. Room service is available during restaurant hours.

Other facilities of the Grand Hotel include a heated indoor swimming pool, an exercise room, and free underground parking. Prices range from $119 to $279 a night plus 13 percent tax depending on the type of room and availability. As is the case at most large North American hotels, the exact room prices seem to fluctuate daily and it's always worth inquiring about specials rather than accepting the first rate quoted.

Although public transportation is available nearby, most guests at an upscale property such as this will arrive by automobile. Those who come on the Nanaimo airport shuttle can order a car from Enterprise Rent-a-Car (tel. 250-751-1200), 3700 Island Highway North. The Grand Hotel Nanaimo (tel. 250-758-3000) is at 4898 Rutherford Road, two blocks off the Island Highway North, about 10 kilometers northwest of the city centre. If you need to stay downtown, check out the Coast Bastion Inn or Best Western Dorchester.

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