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Janice Tober

Executive editor

A hotel lover since her first hotel stay, when she realized she didn’t have to make her own bed, Janice Tober is a freelance travel writer who has contributed to Lonely Planet, CN Traveler’s HotelChatter, Bravo TV’s Jetset and others.

When you walk into The Westley hotel in downtown Calgary (opened in 2021), you could be walking into a hotel from the 1970s, but one redesigned to bring out the best of the era, like the Dodge Challenger or the macramé fashion trend.

To your left is the lively lobby bar filled with foliage and, beyond that, is the modern Mexican restaurant, Fonda Fora. Ahead is the marble-clad front desk, behind which is a large painting with a palette that lends a visual hand to the retro feel.

Street cred: It’s all about location

The Westley Calgary Downtown, a Tapestry Collection hotel by Hilton, sits on 4th Avenue in the Eau Claire neighborhood, close to Stephen Avenue Walk. It’s a welcome part of Calgary’s downtown revitalization.

Who hangs here: Is this hotel for you?

There is a mix of both business and tourist types, with a slight slant toward business travelers.

The straight goods: What’s in the room?

The 104 rooms have a cool retro feel. Brass lamps, engraved wood headboards and a large work desk with built-in outlets in all shapes and forms for your various devices make up the bulk of the room. There is also a kettle for tea or instant coffee and, when requested, a Keurig coffee pot and pods showed up swiftly.

I stayed in a ‘savour’ king corner room (room 210), which also had a small sitting area with two golden tufted chairs and small table, plus huge windows on two sides that bring in loads of natural light yet managed to keep out any hubbub from the downtown neighborhood.

The room was a bit unadorned—a painting or two would be nice—but the size and comfort of the room made up for this small omission.

The bathroom was equally spacious with a black countertop and white-tiled shower with large-size Gilchrist & Soames toiletries.

Photo: Janice Tober

Good eats: Cocktails and cuisine

Fonda Fora is the on-site restaurant serving delicious Mexican fare that mingles with a fresh Californian influence, providing a lightness to the dishes. Executive chef Emilio Montenegro was named a Top 30 Under 30 chef by Food and Beverage magazine in 2022.

Photo: Janice Tober

Starters include chicken tostados with low-and-slow braised chicken, traditional refritos, queso fresco, enlivening pickled onions and avocado; also, beets in mole verde, consisting of sweet sautéed golden beets covered in a brown butter honey glaze, mole verde, shaved almonds, whipped queso and fresh mint.

Larger plates run the gamut from confit pork belly served with salsa, charred pineapple and chayote squash slaw, crispy onions and heirloom corn tortillas to braised beef brisket topped with poblano mole, tamal, parsnip and a whey dressing.

Although I felt I was at the restaurant too early to imbibe an alcoholic beverage, I longed to try one of the house cocktail concoctions such as the honey margarita, a blend of tequila, Benedictine, honey, orange, lime and topped with Chinese five spice or the more serious Smokey and the bandido, made with smooth and dark Buffalo Trace bourbon, artisanal mezcal, agave and mole bitters.

Bragging rights: What else has it got?

The lobby bar is a hopping, happening place. When I came back to the hotel one evening, it was filled people milling about and chatting. It looked to me as if the bar would be popular with or without hotel guests there, always a good sign. I looked wistfully at the crowd since my plans were focused on heading upstairs to pack instead.

There is also a 24/7 gym, sure to appeal to jet-lagged gym rats.

A few of our favorite things: What stood out?

The inviting lobby bar, of course, as well as Fonda Fora. The staff, too, was so friendly and welcoming, that you feel like you were coming home at the end of a busy day.

Parting shot: If we could change one thing

I like a good moisturizing routine before beddy-bye, so having body lotion in the room, would be appreciated. Again, however, when I stopped by the front desk to ask if some could be sent up, I came back to find not one, but two different options.

Rates in March start at CAD$152 (USD$113).

Photos courtesy of Tapestry Collection Hotels by Hilton except as noted.

Janice stayed as a guest of Tourism Calgary and the hotel. Parties did not have editorial approval.

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