Travel Story Heading to Canada? Here's where to stay

Camping, Parks Canada
Photo of Suzanne Morphet

From historic luxury stays to quirky camping with a difference, Canada has accommodation options to suit a variety of travel styles and budgets.

Canada is known for its great outdoors but it also boasts some pretty nice indoors — as in hotels and resorts. Whether you’re looking for a five-star stay, historical properties that say something about Canada, or just a comfortable place to lay your head after a day of hiking or sightseeing, options abound. 

A number of high-end hotels in Canada have history on their side. The Fairmont brand operates 19 properties including the legendary Canadian Pacific Railway hotels built towards the end of the 19th century to welcome some of the country’s first well-heeled tourists. 

The Hotel Vancouver opened in 1888, followed by Banff Springs, Chateau Lake Louise, Le Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City and, in 1929, the Royal York in Toronto. Other railway hotels were — and are — equally grand, including Ottawa’s Chateau Laurier, Victoria’s Empress and Winnipeg’s Fort Garry Hotel (fairmont.com and fortgarryhotel.com). 

Another homegrown brand known for elegant hospitality is Le Germain, which opened its first boutique property in Quebec City in 1988 and now has six more: one each in Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary and Charlevoix, and two in Toronto (legermainhotels.com).

Independent properties are often hidden gems. The Listel Hotel on Robson Street in Vancouver is within easy walking distance of Stanley Park, while Skwachays Lodge is an aboriginal hotel with an art gallery in the Downtown Eastside (thelistelhotel.com and skwachays.com). 

In Tofino, British Columbia, the Wickaninnish is the place to stay, partly because of its prime location on Chesterman Beach, but Long Beach Lodge is also a local favourite (wickinn.com and longbeachlodgeresort.com).

Near Tofino, and accessible by float plane or water taxi, is Clayoquot Wilderness Resort, one of Canada’s first glamping properties. Sleeping in a luxurious tent is just part of the fun; you can also horse ride through forests and fly fish in a lake (wildretreat.com). 

In Alberta, it’s worth knowing about Lake O’Hara Lodge in Yoho National Park, built in 1926 and the only lodge on the lake. It’s open summer and winter but getting a reservation in summer in just about impossible. Instead, think about doing a back-country ski trip here in winter (lakeohara.com). 

Nearby Emerald Lake Lodge, also in Yoho National Park, has a dining room that serves delectable “Rocky Mountain cuisine” such as buffalo short ribs and elk salami, both from animals raised on its own ranch (crmr.com/emerald).

In Toronto, the 27-room Templar Hotel feels like a true find in the Entertainment and Fashion District (templarhotel.com). If you’re travelling between Niagara Falls and Stratford in south- western Ontario, the Elmhurst Inn and Spa in Ingersoll has been a delightful landmark since 1872 (elmhurstinn.com). 

In Montreal, the 45-room Auberge du Vieux-Port and 30-room Hotel Gault are both good options in the Old Port, with their 19th-century architecture and intimate interiors (aubergeduvieuxport.com and hotelgault.com).

In Quebec City, the historic Auberge Saint Antoine perches on the St Lawrence River in the heart of a UNESCO World Heritage site. Hundreds of artefacts dating to the 1600s found on the property are displayed inside (saint-antoine.com). More affordable but equally historic is Le Monastere des Augustines, with 65 rooms in a former monastery (monastere.ca/en).

Travelling in Canada’s north often means staying in hotels that are less than lovely. But if you want to see wildlife and enjoy your down time, Churchill Wild offers four lodges, three on Hudson Bay (where walking with polar bears is the main attraction) and one in the boreal forest 200km south. The latter is the most luxurious, with stone fireplaces and outdoor hot tubs. Wolves, moose and bears can be spotted (churchillwild.com).

Many people love to camp but Parks Canada knows that not everyone has their own gear or wants to haul it with them. It’s testing new accommodation options in different parks. For instance, there’s a tiny cabin in the shape of a water droplet in Fundy National Park. At other parks, the oTENTik (pictured at top) is a part-tent, part-cabin option for up to six people. And in some places, Parks Canada is partnering with the Mountain Equipment Co-op outdoors store to provide tents that are set up and ready for you (pc.gc.ca/en/voyage-travel/hebergement-accommodation).

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