Escaping from a Nightmare Basement to a Posh Hotel

Wrapped in a white fluffy dressing down, fresh from a long luxurious shower, I wandered into the bedroom and admired the king size bed that was sumptuously layered with cushions. Then I moved into the spacious office room where a plush couch, coffee table and desk could be found. I was staying in an executive suite at a posh hotel in Toronto. So what? you might think. The story here is how I unexpectedly wound up staying here for the night.

No, I didn’t throw the towel in and decide I couldn’t spend another night in a hostel (I like staying in hostels). Nor did I necessarily feel like indulging in luxury. It was a set of circumstances that led me to be in Toronto one Friday night with nowhere to stay. The International Toronto Film Festival was underway and everywhere was fully booked.  How had I missed the small detail that a major event was taking place here and why was I arriving so unprepared?

Toronto buildings

Longtime readers of my blog might have read about my unfortunate time spent working on a farm near Ottawa, where I slept in a dark, dirty basement that reminded me of a scene from a horror movie. Well, I was running away from this situation and the only bus heading out of town that afternoon was going to Toronto. During my three long days at the farm, I had been offline and hadn’t had a chance to book accommodation. Saying this though, I’d planned on staying here for two weeks and didn’t know I was leaving until I finally decided to stop fighting against all of my instincts and just get the hell out of there.

On my way to Toronto, I didn’t think there was anything to worry about as there always seemed to be space in hostels last minute for one person; even if it meant going in a mixed dorm for a few days. I quickly realised this wasn’t the case when I was sitting in a food court in Toronto on my laptop, looking up availability. ALL of the hostels were full and ALL of the budget hotels were full. It was then that I clicked about the film festival.

view from cn tower in toronto

It was 9pm and getting darker by the minute. I was in an unfamiliar city. I didn’t know anybody here. Was I scared? Not at all. I was just tired, very tired. I decided to walk around and pop into any hotel I came across to see if there was any space. I had become resigned to the fact that, despite being skint, I’d have to probably have to fork out a lot of money if I wanted to find somewhere to sleep. The first hotel I went in had the honeymoon suite available some ridiculous amount of money and didn’t budge on the price despite me trying to negotiate (a night in the honeymoon suite would’ve made an interesting article!). I gave up and the guy in reception said they had a database showing availability at the local hotels.

He said there was a room left at a hotel down the road that wasn’t too expensive. Ah great, sounded like I might get some sleep after all. As it turned out, it was a smoking room. I’d rather spend the night in a train station than sleep in a smoke-filled room. The receptionist said there were rooms left at the Ramada Plaza Toronto a short distance away and I decided to just pay out on my credit card and get some rest. I must’ve looked like a dishevelled mess, but decided to turn on the charm to work for a discount. Ha, who am I kidding, it was more like ‘hope they take pity on me’ situation rather than a me ‘working my charm’. Either way, they gave me a small discount and a free upgrade to the executive suite.

cn tower in toronto

To say that the room was nice is an understatement. It was one of the loveliest hotel rooms I’d even been in. Funnily enough, I didn’t do any sleeping and decided instead to enjoy the room to the fullest. That’s where the long luxurious shower and fluffy white dressing gown bit came in. I pulled an all-nighter, did a bit of work and took advantage of this luxurious time out that was a far cry from the horror film basement I’d been in 24 hours earlier. Spending the equivalent to a week’s hostel stay hurt quite a bit though!

Have you ever landed somewhere with nowhere to stay? Do you have any stories like this?