If you unwittingly wandered into Edmonton’s Metterra Hotel on Whyte, you might think you had detoured from Alberta’s capital city into a sleek boutique lodging in Bali or Penang.
Located in the Edmonton neighborhood of Old Strathcona near the University of Alberta, the Metterra is a comfortable business hotel that sets itself apart with two things: its collection of masks, carvings and other artifacts from Southeast Asia, as well as its complimentary services, from free local calls to nightly wine tastings.
The art-filled “conversation room” off the lobby (pictured above) is one of the hotel’s most intriguing spaces. While it’s not very private — a glass wall separates the room from the busy main lobby — you could sit by the fire to have a quick chat with a colleague, check your e-mail, or get an update on the hockey standings (the room has two TVs).
You’d never guess that the building formerly housed government offices, particularly in the window-lined lobby with its two-story stone wall and open staircase.
Beyond the lobby, the 98 guest rooms are more standard, with dark wood furniture, flat-screen TVs, and granite-topped bathroom counters, as well as mini-fridges, microwaves, and Keurig pod-style coffeemakers. Batik prints and photos from Asia add a slightly exotic feel.
Road warriors will find the work desks handy, with comfortable desk chairs. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel.
Tip: Avoid the low-floor rooms facing Whyte Avenue, as they’re prone to late-night noise from the adjacent Mexican cantina.
The premier rooms are the spacious 700-square-foot (65-square-meter) “Fire and Water” suites, which have separate living room and bedroom areas, as well as wet bars. Suite 801, on the top floor, is filled with photos, sculpture, even puppets from Indonesia and elsewhere in Asia and also has expansive views across the flat Edmonton landscape in two directions.
Exercise junkies should note that the hotel has no pool, and the strictly functional fitness center won’t win any medals. It’s equipped only with a treadmill, an eliptical trainer, an exercise bike, and a couple of weight machines.
The second-floor Hospitality Suite serves a respectable continental breakfast every morning (with make-your-own espresso and cappuccino), as well as wine and cheese every afternoon. Both are complimentary for guests.
Although the Metterra has no restaurant, you don’t have to go far for food. Restaurants and pubs abound in the Old Strathcona district that surrounds the hotel, including the deliciously hip Three Boars Eatery, the diner-style Sugar Bowl (known for its rancher-sized cinnamon buns), and Transcend Coffee, which offers a small (and surprising) menu of Latin American-style street foods along with its excellent java. The popular Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market, which operates every Saturday year-round, is just around the corner.
Getting around Edmonton is easiest if you have a car, so another plus at the Metterra is the complimentary valet parking. Downtown is a quick drive across the North Saskatchewan River. North America’s biggest shopping center, the mega West Edmonton Mall — with more than 800 stores and services surrounded by the world’s largest parking lot (!) — is about 20 minutes away.
Rates for standard double rooms start at about C$140. Because the hotel caters to a business clientele, you’ll often find slightly lower rates on weekends. Book online at the Metterra Hotel on Whyte. If your trip isn’t strictly business, Travel Alberta and Edmonton Tourism can tell you more about what to do in and around the city.
Hotel review by Vancouver-based travel, food, and feature writer Carolyn B. Heller, who also blogs about her culinary adventures at WanderFood. Lobby photos courtesy of the Metterra Hotel on Whyte. Room photos © Carolyn B. Heller. Edmonton Tourism arranged my Metterra stay.