The Westin Buffalo – The New Kid on the Block

There’s one member of the staff at The Westin Buffalo who never asks for vacations or bathroom breaks. You’ll have a chance to meet it – yes, it – when you stay at the downtown property opened in September 2016. The hotel is big on innovation and doing things differently to please its guests. It’s a poster child for the next generation of Westin properties.

It’s just one of 20 hotels in the U.S. that has employed the services of a robot butler. This waist-high mechanical member of the staff will bring a cocktail up to your room, a toothbrush, snacks for the kiddies, or just about any small to medium-sized items you might need. Once it has been programmed with a room number, it will navigate its own way to its destination. And it will phone you upon arrival. It’s cute and sleek, and never requests a tip. And it’s a huge hit with guests, especially children who think of it as R2D2. If you don’t need anything, pretend that you do so you can meet this affable, new member of the Westin team.

Technology is just part of the story at this sleek hotel in the hub of the city on Delaware Avenue. Its design is smart, intelligent, and most importantly guest friendly. The lobby is bright and open with welcoming sitting areas where you can sip on a coffee, hold a small meeting, or wait for friends before heading to dinner. The décor has a mid-century modern vibe, boasting clean lines, a soothing, but not boring, color palette, and plenty of natural light. The check-in desk is smaller than seen at other hotels. Gone is a massive, long counter than separate guests and staff members. This smaller version creates a more inviting feel.

Westin Buffalo has 116 guest rooms and suites, ranging from traditional (350 to 360 square feet) to a chairman suite with 827 square feet. Regardless of the size, they are loaded with amenities and features that matter, including those famous Westin Heavenly beds. (They’re also available for pets, too!)

With a deadline I have to meet the next day, I was happy with the ergonomic office chair and desk. Too many times, I’ve had to wreck my back by trying to write in bed, propped up with a pile of strategically placed pillows. I realize not everyone has to do business during their hotel stay, but it’s refreshing to stay at a hotel that strikes a perfect balance between the needs of business travelers and leisure ones. This set-up was ideal and conducive to getting work done.

I also loved the flow of the room. It might sound like a strange thing to notice, but when it doesn’t work, it can put a damper on your stay. At another brand new property where I stayed recently, there was so much furniture jammed into the room that I couldn’t walk more than a few steps without bumping into something. Did I really need a full-sized sofa and four chairs surrounding my bed in a regular room? No!

Whatever was in my room at the Westin Buffalo had purpose and deserved to be there. It was pragmatic, but also very comfortable. It’s a tough sweet spot for hotels to hit sometimes. This property got it right.

The Westin Buffalo also gets points for its green initiatives. I like the fact you can decline housekeeping and get a $5 voucher at participating food and beverage outlets or get 500 Starpoints, if you’re a loyalty program member for Starwood. Should you want to participate in the Make a Green Choice program, you can let the staff know when you check in or look for the door hanger in the room.

Buffalo is brimming with fantastic restaurants these days. You need to explore them at some point in your stay, but if you’re pooped after exploring the city’s art galleries, museums, fantastic architecture, craft breweries, coffee shops and eclectic neighborhoods, it’s nice to have the option to stay and eat at restaurants onsite.

Patina 250 is a cheery open space that has a nice mix of seating. Sit at a long table, perfect for socializing with your crowd, or enjoy privacy in one of its booths. It’s an atmosphere that begs to be soaked up over the course of a leisurely evening so kick it off with cocktails in the bar before your dinner.

The cuisine is described as “casually refined” and leans on wood-fired cooking, a technique that is perfect for grilled meat, from burgers to lamp chops. Chef Homer Former, a recent returnee to Buffalo, shines a spotlight on local ingredients and hometown favourites. Crispy cauliflower gets a dose of zippy flavor from Buffalo wing sauce and housemade potato and leek pierogi are elevated when fried and served with a heap of crispy fried onions and a generous dollop of fresh sour cream. Mains don’t disappoint either. They are prepared well, whether it’s pan-seared salmon and a classic New York strip steak. Can’t make up your mind on what to order? Opt for the share plates and try it all!

Before you grab your suitcase and check out in the morning, swing by Jake’s Café for a healthy-ish breakfast. Boost your body with a vitamin-packed SuperFoodsRX juice, or dive fork first in French toast. Just need a coffee to go? Westin Buffalo has you covered on that front, too.

Room rates start at US $282 per night. Check rates with the hotel directly or try a site such as Hotels.com, Travelocity or Expedia.

Michele stayed as a guest of The Westin Buffalo and Visit Buffalo Niagara. As always, her thoughts and opinions are her own. Photos courtesy of Michele Sponagle and The Westin Buffalo.

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  1. Jim Anthony

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