Hilton operates 13 hotel brands, helpfully thumbnailed here. The DoubleTree brand is listed there in the “upscale” category, and is described by Hilton like this:
Warm. Comfortable. Friendly. Providing true upscale comfort to today’s business and leisure travelers.
DoubleTree’s strategy to grow the brand has been to convince operators of other brands to switch flags. This is in contrast to brands like Marriott or Sheraton which rely on new construction to grow their footprint.
And this is true in the case of the DoubleTree Dartmouth where I stayed last night, a Holiday Inn in sheep’s clothing; I know this because Oliver and I stayed here in 2002, the first time we’d left Catherine to her own devices. And because there are still vestigial Holiday Inn “no parking” signs in the back-back parking lot.
You can convince an operator to switch flags, but you can’t drum the essential Holiday Inn out of the Holiday Inn, and so this DoubleTree feels kind of like a faded movie star, with a lot of veneer and spackle to convince us that it deserves the “upscale” slotting.
I am here because the Halifax hotel market has gone crazy: it used to be easy to find a Halifax hotel room for under $200 and, if you booked through a consolidator, for under $100. I paid $207 for this room on Hotwire, and it was the cheapest room I could find in the city that wasn’t in the Stardust Motel on the road to Bedford.
But, despite the peeling paint and the toll plaza proximity, I opted to make the best of a bad thing, and discovered the following nearby delights.
Just down the hill, toward downtown Dartmouth, is St. Paul’s Cemetery. It’s easy to miss, as it’s hidden in a residential area and built into the side of a hill.
There are a mixture of very old and relatively new gravestones in the cemetery, including one for Aquila Maud Chapman Freeman, born 1907, died 1986, on the reverse of which is this puzzle:
On the other side of the road is Dartmouth Common, a large and rambling hillside green space surrounded by a fence that’s dotted with memorial plaques like this one, “in memory of John and Isabella Moir, by their Daughter Olive.” Which sounds like the title of a J.D. Salinger short story.
This morning I walked across the opening to the bridge toll plaza next door to Bagel Montreal Style and had a Zatar-spiced bagel that was, indeed, Montreal-style.
For my morning coffee I walked through the aforementioned Dartmouth Common to Two If By Sea. As finding parking near there as been a perpetual problem for us over the years, walking proved to be a much more relaxing approach, and it only took me 15 minutes in each direction. Along the way I got a fantastic view of the Halifax skyline:
As I drank my cappuccino out front, I made a sketch of the Quaker House across the street:
On the walk back through Dartmouth Common I spotted the Park Avenue Community Oven, which deserves further investigation on my next trip:
My psychogeographic wanderings prove that even in the faux-upscale confines of an evening in the DoubleTree there is beauty to be found.
My time in Dartmouth is drawing to an end; I’m off to shop for electric bicycles, and then back to PEI this evening. I decided to do the sensible thing and call Enterprise to extend my reservation into the evening so I don’t have to rush back, so as long as I time things to avoid moose-dusk, I should do just fine.
One of my favourite places in Halifax/Dartmouth is The Canteen. Give it a go if you haven’t yet.
Try the Chebucto Inn some time. Inexpensive utilitarian north end motel. The restaurant is great value too.