When you travel to many cosplay conventions, you end up having favorite convention hotels!
I’ve been to a bunch of cons throughout the years and I’ve stayed in all sorts of hotels. Some were good, some were terrible. But today I’m talking about my top 5 favorite convention hotels of all time! I hope this post will help you figure out what to look for in a con hotel, and where to stay.
What makes a good hotel?
When it comes favorite convention hotels, I actually have a small bias against hotels. To me, most of them are a ripoff. It’s because I’ve stayed in hostels and for a fraction of the price, you get much better value.
At a hostel, you usually have a kitchen to use and you can store your food in a fridge. You have a beautiful lobby to sit down and socialize, play video/board games with other people that are staying there, free Internet/Wi-Fi (some hotels charge you extra for this) and a free breakfast buffet every morning!
Sure you don’t get the nice fancy decor or things delivered straight to your door like you would with a hotel. But that’s a small price to pay.
Even if you wanted your own private room in a hostel, it’s still cheaper than your typical hotel room. For example, when I was in Chicago for a week, I stayed at a hostel for 5 days (in a semi-private room) and then I stayed at a hotel for Anime Central for the weekend. One night at the hotel ended up costing more than my ENTIRE 5-day stay at the hostel, even though I booked the more expensive semi-private room at the hostel. So this is what I mean when I say hotels are usually overpriced.
With that said however, there are still valid reasons to book a hotel. If it’s located near the convention grounds, it’s definitely convenient to stay there, especially if you have bulky cosplays. And some cons offer great discounts for booking with their hotel block. Combining that with having roommates, you can knock the price down considerably.
So that’s my rant on hotels; not really the best bang for your buck, but a nice luxury to have once in a while.
Alright, let’s get to my 5 favorite convention hotels:
Out of all the convention hotels I’ve stayed at, the Blue Mountain Village Hotel is one of my absolute favourite convention hotels! YetiCon is located at Blue Mountain, a popular resort in Ontario.
And the hotel is located right in the middle of the resort village, making it super convenient to access the activities of the convention during the summer. All the restaurants, pools and ski/gondola lifts are within walking distance of your hotel! You get a nice balcony with a view of the village; at night you get to see all the people partying below you, and you get a beautiful view of the beautiful stars (since the convention is far away from a city, you’ll see a lot of them).
The inside of the hotel is even better. I usually get the cheapest room available, which is the 1-bedroom suite. The room includes:
- A fully-fledged kitchen (refrigerator, stove, oven and even a dishwasher!)
- A living room with a table and a faux fireplace.
- 2 televisions: one in the living room, one in the bedroom.
- A large washroom and shower
- Balcony overlooking the village and resort
All in all, everything in the hotel room worked well. We didn’t cook anything but the fridge was great for storing all our drinks and stuff. There’s an outdoor pool and hot tub where you can sit outside, take in the stars in the evening and enjoy yourself sipping a drink. It truly is a wonderful experience not only attending YetiCon, but also to stay at the Blue Mountain Village Hotel.
YetiCon overall is a super fun convention, and staying at the Blue Mountain Village Hotel is a must to get the full experience.
2. Holiday Inn Montreal Centreville Downtown (Otakuthon)
The Holiday Inn Montreal Centreville Downtown one of my favorite convention hotels for Otakuthon (and I’ve stayed in many different venues for Otakuthon). It may not be a 4-star hotel like the other ones around the convention centre, but I feel you get the best value out of the Holiday Inn.
The facilities worked well, especially the air conditioning. Trust me; it gets hot in Montreal during Otakuthon so having great AC definitely comes in handy! I’ve stayed at hotels during Otakuthon with bad AC and it totally sucks.
Like many hotels at Otakuthon, the Holiday Inn Montreal Centreville Downtown is located right across the street from the convention centre, which also means you’re beside the Chinatown neighbourhood AND the Montreal Metro subway system. So whenever I needed a break from the con, to take a train to go sightseeing or hit up a restaurant in Chinatown, all I literally had to do was cross the street! That’s super convenient.
I’ve stayed at other “4-star” hotels during Otakuthon and not only was these hotels more expensive, they offered less than what I got at the Holiday Inn. When it comes to hotels, sometimes paying more doesn’t mean they’re better. The Holiday Inn was only $140 CAD/night at the time, way cheaper than many of the other hotels nearby.
What stood out to me with the Sheraton Hamilton Hotel was the service.
A couple of years ago, I drove down to Hamilton for ConBravo! and I booked my hotel at the Sheraton. However, when we arrived the receptionist said we weren’t able to check-in right away because Housekeeping was still working on our room. I didn’t mind; ConBravo! isn’t the biggest convention, so we weren’t in a rush to see or do anything. On top of that, we didn’t have to wait that long to get our room anyway (about 30 minutes).
But the receptionist was so apologetic, she actually gave us a couple of free perks. She offered us free parking underground in the hotel, which was way better than my original parking spot (outdoor in the middle of a sketchy part in Hamilton). And she also let us check-out VERY late at 6 p.m.! That means we could have left our stuff on Sunday, took a shower and then checkout when we’re about to head home.
We really didn’t have to wait that long for the room, so to me the receptionist went above and beyond to accommodate us. But it made our stay a whole lot better; we didn’t have to go outside at all for the entire weekend. The hotel is connected to the convention centre, and also to a mall full of restaurants and stores with supplies. So staying at the Sheraton Hamilton Hotel was pretty sweet. It usually sells out during ConBravo! and I can see why.
4. Quality Suites (Anime North)
Not only is one of my favorite convention hotels, the Quality Suites to me was the best hotel for Anime North. Yes better than the International and Radisson, both of which are right at the convention and immediately sell-out of rooms.
Even though the Quality isn’t close to the convention centre like those two, it’s the hotel itself that was awesomeness. The hotel room had a mini-living room with a separate sink and a small fridge! Interestingly enough, the Quality Suites wasn’t even part of the Anime North hotel block, and it was at least $50-60 cheaper than the ones in the block.
The distance never bothered me either; I had a transit pass and I just took the bus to/from the convention centre, which was only a 5 minute bus ride! My roommates walked back and forth during the convention, and they didn’t mind. Luckily, it was a year when temperatures and comfortably cool (around 15-20 degrees Celsius).
Sometimes the main hotel of a convention isn’t necessarily the best one, and staying Quality Suites is a good example of this. A small sacrifice of convenience meant we got a better quality hotel room at a cheaper cost.
5. Crowne Plaza (Anime North)
Although the Quality Suites is my all-time favourite hotel for Anime North, the Crowne Plaza comes a close second. I booked a double-bed room and got more than I asked for; the room included a living room as well (the bedroom is fully separated by a door). Having a separated bedroom and living room was very nice. This came in handy for people sleeping in the bedroom and in the couch in the living room.
And when we had a small party in our room, we were able to put our valuables and belongings in the bedroom and made sure our guests stayed in the living room only. We also had 2 TVs, one for each room. So if I wanted to play video games and my roommate wanted to watch cable television, we could with 2 TVs!
Best of all, the perks for staying at the Crowne Plaza were top notch. If you book with the Anime North hotel block, you get free parking. I loved this because I can drive to the convention and bring all the cosplays I want. Because my friends usually travel to Anime North by themselves, I don’t have to worry about conserving space for the car.
The staff was also really nice and friendly. They let me checkout later than usual on Sunday. And like many of the Anime North hotels, the cancellation policy is super-generous; if you cancel before 6 pm THE DAY OF YOUR DAY, you won’t be charged a penalty. I’ve never stayed at a hotel that would let you cancel with such short notice. Other hotels have made me deposit money or the booking was nonrefundable from the get-go.
The cost for this hotel was about $160 CAD/night, a decent price these days. For what the Crowne Plaza offered, it was a great hotel.
I couldn’t just end it there. While they’re not in my top 5 favorite convention hotels, they’re certainly worth talking about!
Here’s a few more that deserve a mention:
Sakuracon is one of the few top 10 largest Anime conventions with a ton of hotel room availability AND at a good price (i.e. most cons have rooms that get booked immediately and/or very expensive).
When I was booking my trip for the West Coast, I had like 5-6 hotels to choose from. The Hyatt Olive 8 sounded the coolest and it was one of the closer ones, so I picked that one. And it did not disappoint. The hotel was fancy with its marble walls and sinks, and a great view of downtown Seattle and its skyscrapers. It offered everything that you’d expect from a hotel.
The rate was surprisingly cheap for a hotel located in the city center; under $177 USD a night. Sakuracon has so many hotels under the convention block so no one is fighting for a room, so that is truly nice. I wish more cons were like that; easy to obtain a hotel room within walking distance and at a reasonable price. We’d all be happy Weebs instead of fighting for a hotel room. The Hyatt Olive 8 made my trip to the West Coast memorable.
Hyatt Regency Montreal (Otakuthon)
One of the better hotels for Otakuthon. When I stayed at the Hyatt, I had 3 other people stay with me and we all fit comfortably in one room. The hotel lobby is just beautiful. It was a very nice and relaxing place to lounge around during the wee hours of the con, before you call it a night.
By far the best thing about the Hyatt Regency is the location. The hotel is located inside Complexe Desjardins, a huge office tower building with a shopping mall inside. The complex has a food court downstairs with a ton of restaurants.
Like the Underground PATH in Toronto, Montreal has an underground pedestrian walkway network that connects to various buildings downtown. And luckily, the Hyatt/Complexe Desjardins connects directly underground to the convention centre where Otakuthon takes place (Palais de Congrès). Like I mentioned earlier, Montreal can get really hot in the summer. So being able to walk from the hotel to the convention completely indoors is very nice!
I’d say the only annoying thing is that you have to take 2 elevators. One elevator to get to the 3rd floor where the elevator to the actual hotel is located. From that elevator, you go up to get to the hotel lobby. And then from there, there are the hotel elevators to get to the hotel room. Since there’s only 1 elevator from the mall to the hotel, it can get annoying because you’ll have to wait a bit during busy times.
But other than that, the Hyatt Regency was a great hotel in an amazing location. It’s slightly farther away from the Holiday Inn, but you get the advantage of staying inside for the whole convention, which is very nice during the hot and humid summer in Montreal.
40 Berkeley Hostel/Hotel (Anime Boston)
This place no longer exists but when I went to Anime Boston a few years ago, this place saved me and my friend a ton of money. You see, Boston is not only one of the most expensive places to live in the U.S. but it’s also expensive to travel there as well. I’m sure Boston has the same problem as San Francisco; small little peninsula with little room to build anything so prices go up. And when it comes to hotels the prices are insanely high, even under Anime Boston’s convention block.
When I was planning my trip to Anime Boston, I noticed that the convention hotels were around $250-$300 USD a night! Holy crap, that’s close to $400 CAD a night, more than what I’d pay for an entire weekend at most conventions. Luckily, my friend found a little hostel/hotel that was relatively close to the convention called 40 Berkeley. Only a 20 minute walk through a bunch of malls and plaza to the convention center.
The reason why I’m calling it a hostel/hotel because the place wasn’t like a hostel. We didn’t have to share a room or a bathroom at all like you would at a hostel. In fact, we had our own room with 2 beds, a small table and drawer and a washroom.
So in reality, it was a fully-fledged hotel room (although nowhere as fancy as one). How much did we pay for this simple hotel room? Only $40 USD a night. Compared to $300 USD/night that the convention was offering, this was a steal. Being able to save over $500 USD while still getting a hotel experience is one memorable hotel stay for me. Too bad this place doesn’t exist anymore. Speaking of Boston, I need to back there. I really miss it; it’s a nice city.
There you have it; my top 5 favorite convention hotels of all time, including some honourable mentions. I’ll definitely update this list as I go to more conventions in the future. I still haven’t hit up the biggest ones like Anime Expo and Otakon, or even the more popular ones like Colossalcon. Like I said, I’m pretty damn picky with hotels since I find hostels are a much better deal. But If I end up staying in a hotel that becomes a top 5, I’ll keep you guys posted.
Which convention hotel was your favorite? I’d love to know. Tell me in the comments!
My name is Roger Senpai. I’m a cosplayer that’s been in the community for well over a decade now. I’ve traveled all over the world to Anime and Comic conventions and hosted my own cosplay events. Now I’m writing articles for new and experienced cosplayers like you to help inspire, save you money and improve your cosplays!