The James Hotel, Saskatoon, Canada – Review
Saskatoon is growing at a fast pace, drawing more business visitors and hip tourists than ever before to its downtown that, while compact, is rich with restaurants, bars, and shops. The family-owned James Hotel is the city’s first design boutique hotel and is seen as a major part of the effort to bring contemporary style into the center of town.
Celebrities, among them Oprah Winfrey and the Kiss band, bunk here when in town. During the week, repeat business travelers make the James their home away from home. It is a converted apartment building, and many of the guest units (only a handful on each of the 12 floors) are suites.
Two glass doors at the entrance with long wooden handles lead arrivals into the swank lobby where a huge marble-slab reception desk greets guests. Much of the hotel’s marble was imported from Italy and Iran, giving a worldly flair to the designer digs.
Before arrival, I received an email from the hotel inquiring about my preference for the complimentary still or sparkling water and whether I would like to have turndown service. This was my first indication that this hotel treats its guests with utmost consideration.
Guestrooms and suites, accessible via two key card-activated elevators, are the city’s finest. All are oversized due to the building’s former life. Hardwood floors are topped with colorful area rugs, and floor-to-ceiling mirrors give the large rooms an even more spacious appearance.
The hotel’s studio suites are quite popular due to their open-plan style, but my Premium one-bedroom suite had separate living and sleeping areas separated by a door, making it ideal for families or business travelers who may prefer to conduct business in the living area without having a bedroom in sight.
The L-shaped sofa faced a wall-mounted flat-screen TV and a clever coffee table that could be separated into two as space needs may dictate. A screen door opened to a large balcony with views of the river and a charming church. Not all rooms have balconies, and they can go quickly.
The bedroom was quiet (the building’s brick walls are great at isolating sound) and had its own flat-screen TV and iPod docking station. Beds have pillowtop mattresses with a quartet of plump pillows and some of the softest sheets I have ever slept upon. The sheets’ exceptionality is reinforced by the front desk’s offer to arrange for guests to purchase a new set.
The marble bathroom was sizeable with excellent lighting and L’Occitane toiletries. A hairdryer was thoughtfully provided as were stacks of towels in various sizes. The shower’s water pressure was surprisingly high, especially for a building of its age.
There was ample closet space with a luggage rack and terrycloth robe. Turndown service was performed promptly in the evening, replenishing bottled water and toiletries as needed.
ROAD WARRIOR SUPPORT
A large work desk with easy plug access and both wired and wireless complimentary Internet was great. The cushioned chair was comfortable, and the adjustable desk lamp had two levels of illumination.
A Keurig coffee machine atop the minibar, alongside a half dozen K-Cup selections, was an appreciated way to uninterruptedly continue my morning work instead of having to venture out to a nearby coffee shop.
There is no meeting space in this boutique hotel, but the adjacent Sheraton Cavalier has space available for small to large conference groups. Guests with cars can avail themselves of the free parking at the James, something quite unusual for a downtown hotel.
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