Most hotels are forgettable, mostly just places to spend the night while we travel and rarely the focal point for our journeys.
I’ve had the good fortune to stay in many hotels across this country and around the world, some were flea-pits while others were, literally, palaces.
With the outlook for international travel looks uncertain for Canadians in the coming months, I’m wagering that many of us will stick within our borders and discover what this great nation has to offer. That’s not necessarily a bad thing because we sometimes forget what an amazing place Canada is to explore.
For your consideration t his summer, I’ve come up with a list of 10 memorable hotels from across Canada, one from each province and a bonus territory. I’ve personally stayed in eache of these properties and found to be exceptional. As a compiled the list, I noticed several historic hotels. It makes sense that they’d be exceptional because if a hotel has been in business for more than a century, chances are they’ve figured out how to be good at what they do. From east to west, here are hotels where I’ve had exceptional experiences:
Newfoundland & Labrador
JAG Boutique Hotel, St. John’s
Close to the harbour’s edge in St. John’s, you’ll find a unique boutique hotel that you’d expect to find in a buzzy metropolis like New York or Los Angeles. JAG pays homage to classic rock with photos of famous musicians at every turn and themed rooms honouring different musical acts. I spent the night in the Black Keys room and loved my view of the waterfront. The best touch is that the music in the elevators is not “elevator music,” but rock hits from across the years.
The Westin Nova Scotian, Halifax
The Grande Dame of Halifax is one of this nation’s historic railway hotels. It has gone through a few ownership and name changes since it first opened in 1930, but it’s as elegant today as it was then. On the west side, the comfortable rooms have views of Cornwallis Park, but I stayed on the east side which looks out on the harbour. It meant I got to see a new cruise ship docked outside my window every day I was there. If this hotel was good enough for Queen Elizabeth’s multiple visits to the city, then it’s probably going to be good enough for you.
Prince Edward Island
Dundee Arms Inn, Charlottetown
In a leafy downtown section of Charlotteown sits the Dundee Arms Inn, a four-star Queen Anne Revival mansion that was built in 1903 for a wealthy businessman. Since the 1970s, it has served as an inn with comfortably furnished rooms that will make you feel like you’ve travelled back in time. I enjoyed my night’s stay in the Parker Carvell room with its charming furnishings and its comfy queen-sized four poster bed.
The Algonquin Resort, St. Andrews-by-the-Sea
Looking out on the Bay of Fundy from the historic Algonquin Resort in the charming town of St. Andrews-by-the-Sea, it’s easy to see why this spot has been drawing people since the gilded age. Soak in the sun in Canada’s oldest seaside resort and all of your cares are sure to slip away. I never did get to see the hotel’s resident ghost, but hope to meet him one day.
Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac, Quebec City
Yet another historic hotel on my list. I’m sensing a pattern here. This magnificent building with its castle spires is iconic and said to be the world’s most photographed hotel. While the room I stayed in was small and had a view of one of its turrets, you could feel the history that pervades this storied hotel at every turn. My oddest experience was when I returned to my room and had to pass a tour group in the hallway, all of their eyes upon me as if I was an artifact on display.
Fairmont Royal York Hotel, Toronto
Another Fairmont property and former railway hotel is the fabled Royal York in Toronto, just steps away from Union Station in downtown Toronto. An incredible luxury experience awaits in this world-class hotel. Be sure to visit the ballroom and the concert hall to get a deeper appreciation for the incredible architecture and craftsmanship that defines this landmark hotel.
Inn at the Forks, Winnipeg
I’ve stayed here a number of times and always appreciative of the bright, airy rooms and the great views of The Forks, the traditional meeting place of Winnipeg where the Red and Assiniboine Rivers meet. It’s a hard place to beat if you’re looking for a top-notch place to stay in the Peg.
Delta Bessborough Hotel, Saskatoon
Here’s one more grand historic railway hotel on my list of memorable places to stay in Canada. I have fond memories of the bar and restaurant and found the service throughout the property to be top-notch. The brass railway clock in the lobby is an iconic feature of the hotel and I remember admiring it with bleary eyes when I had to leave at the crack of dawn to catch a morning flight home.
Fairmont Hotel Macdonald, Edmonton
Okay, this is the last Fairmont railway hotel on my list. The ‘Mac’ is an Edmonton landmark and a beautiful hotel inside and out. Enjoy views of the North Saskatchewan River that cuts through the city and relax in the nearby green spaces that will whisk you away from the bustle of the downtown.
Magnolia Hotel & Spa, Victoria
I never did get to use the spa at the Magnolia, but I do remember a lunch that lasted all afternoon in their in-house restaurant. It’s possibly Victoria’s finest boutique hotel and I’d recommend the Magnolia in a heartbeat.
Coast High Country Inn, Whitehorse
I’ve only been to Whitehorse twice, once in the summer and once in the winter. The city and territory show different faces during the different seasons, but the High Country Inn was as comfortable as welcoming no matter what time of the year. And who could resist the giant wooden Mountie that stands guard outside the entrance?