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No-frills budget accommodation next to the Greyhound station

Pros
  • Free parking, Wi-Fi, and daily national newspaper
  • Many guests appreciated the hotel’s central location in the downtown area with shops, restaurants, and transportation hubs nearby
  • Seasonal outdoor pool
  • Many guests felt the rooms were clean, comfortable, and spacious
  • Many guests felt the staff were friendly and helpful
Cons
  • Many guests felt the hotel was outdated and rundown
  • A few guests were concerned about loiterers around the hotel and thought the area around the hotel was a bit seedy
  • Some guests felt it was noisy in and around the hotel
  • No elevator
Freebies
Free Wi-Fi
Free Parking
Editor's Analysis
Updated Oct 16, 2012
Overview
The Howard Johnson Nanaimo Harbourside is located in Nanaimo’s downtown core next to the Greyhound bus depot and 3 km from BC Ferries Departure Bay terminal. It is primarily used by those needing a central and budget-friendly stay such as business and group travellers (i.e. sports teams). Its proximity to a ferry terminal servicing the Lower Mainland also makes it well used by those travelling through Nanaimo to or from Vancouver.

This 100% non-smoking hotel features 101 rooms on 3 floors. Standard rooms include air conditioning, a TV, an iron and ironing board, a coffeemaker, a hairdryer, a desk, and one or two queen beds. "Home Office" rooms include a mini-fridge, a microwave, and a queen sofabed and a queen bed. Family rooms are more spacious and include a table and two chairs, while “Pool Access” rooms also include these aspects with the added feature of direct access to the hotel's outdoor pool. All rooms include free Wi-Fi, local calls, and a daily national newspaper. Pets under 35 lbs are welcome for an additional $10 charge.

There is a seasonal outdoor pool, an on-site ATM, and fax and photocopy service. Although the hotel does not have an exercise room, guests do receive a complimentary pass to Harbour City Fitness and Tanning, located directly below the hotel. Parking is free.

This hotel is about a 10-minute walk from Nanaimo’s old quarter district filled with boutique shops, cafes, and restaurants. The harbourfront seawall, a walkway that stretches 4.4 km along the oceanfront, is accessible from just outside the hotel, providing pedestrian access to parkland, shopping, dining and the old quarter. There is also a beer and wine store directly beside the hotel and a Tim Horton’s across the street. Bowen Park is a 3-minute drive away while Beban Park Recreation Centre can be reached in 10 minutes by car.

For those travelling to and from Nanaimo this hotel is a 20-minute drive from both the Nanaimo Airport and BC Ferries Duke Point terminal. Nanaimo Harbour Water Airport is 2 km away and Highway 1 is a block away. (All distances and travel time estimates: Google Maps)

Verified by hotel front desk staff on September 11, 2012: Fridges and microwaves available in some rooms, 3 floors with no elevator or wheelchair accessible rooms, seasonal pool and no hot tub, $10 charge for pets.

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The Good
The reviews used for this analysis were mixed, with many guests giving it a mediocre rating. Most of the positive comments centred on the hotel's value, staff, and location.

Although most agreed the hotel is in need of updates, many guests felt this was well reflected in the lower room rates compared to other hotels in the area. Considering the price they paid, guests were pleased that the rooms were clean and spacious. Of those who used the pool, many mentioned that it was also an added bonus as it was well kept and enjoyable. The inclusion of a mini-fridge and a microwave in some rooms was also considered added value by some. All in all, many guests felt this hotel provided a no-frills and practical option for a reasonable price.

The hotel staff received numerous compliments in reviews. Guests mentioned that they were helpful and accommodating. Some felt the staff created a friendly atmosphere with smiles and pleasant conversation.

The central location of this hotel is also a key feature that was positively referred to by many reviewers. Convenient access to the ferry terminal was a main reason for choosing the hotel by multiple guests. A few others felt that the proximity to Tim Horton’s (across the street) and a beer and wine store (next door) also added to the convenience of staying at the hotel.

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The Bad
Of the reviews used for this analysis a fair amount referred negatively to the hotel. Negative comments were particularly focused on the physical state of the hotel and potential security issues.

Many guests commented that this hotel is in need of updating. A lot of guests felt the building was aged and worn with many suggesting that it also required new decor, fixtures, and linens. Due to the age of the building, more than one guest found it difficult to find enough electrical outlets to charge personal electronics. The lack of an elevator was also seen as an inconvenience by a few. External noise was also an issue for a few guests.

A few guests were concerned about security in and around the building. Although some felt that its proximity to the Greyhound bus station (connected to the building) was an asset, most felt that it resulted in an increase of loiterers. A few guests mentioned that side or back doors to the hotel were left open during the day allowing for easy access by non-guests. Overall, the feeling by some was that the area was a bit seedy and that you would have to use caution when leaving your car parked and/or walking around at night.

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Show Sources
Sources
TripAdvisor.ca ranked this hotel #12 out of 19 hotels in Nanaimo and it had an average guest rating of 3 out of 5, based on 66 reviews.

Expedia.ca ranked this hotel 3.3 out of 5, based on 51 reviews. 68% would recommend the hotel.

Hotels.com ranked this hotel 3.4 out of 5 or good, based on 97 guest reviews.


Verified by hotel front desk staff on September 11, 2012: No free breakfast or restaurant, fridges and microwaves available in some rooms, 3 floors with no elevator or wheelchair accessible rooms, seasonal pool and no hot tub, $10 charge for pets.
Editor's Analysis by Steph J.
Analyzed by Steph J.
Stephanie lives on Vancouver Island, BC, where she enjoys all things West Coast. She has daydreamed about travelling since childhood and has visited over a dozen countries since, but Canada is always at the top of her list.
Guest Reviews
6.7
Fair
#
13 / out of 16
hotels in Nanaimo

Rated 6.7/10 based on 1875 reviews

Ranked #13 out of 16 hotels in Nanaimo

1875
Map Marker Howard Johnson Nanaimo Harbourside
1 Terminal Avenue, Nanaimo, BC