Hôtel-Musée Premières Nations
5 place de la Rencontre, Wendake, Québec GOA 4V0, Canada
Here's one for the bucket list: a luxury rural hotel coupled with a rich cultural experience. This modern lodge takes "rustic redux" to a new level, weaving in Aboriginal history, crafts, artifacts, and, most notably, architecture. With a museum, spa, and a traditional longhouse.
This is a rural adventure, yet the lodge's rooms and lobby have free Wi-Fi and all the comforts of a swanky urban hotel. Check out the cultural packages to experience jewelry making, tea ceremonies, longhouse tours, and more. The guides are entertaining and informative.
Decorated with fur throws, HBC blankets, and wind catchers, the rooms are discretely well appointed. Guests enjoy the comfort of a Keurig coffee machine, bathrobes, a goose down duvet, an iPhone and iPod docking station, a small fridge, a big TV, hair dryer, iron, and more. Ask about sleeping in the longhouse one night.
All rooms face onto the Akiawenrahk' river, providing a soothing soundscape when you slide open the French-style patio door.
Modern and bright, the bathrooms are stylish and spacious. Some bathrooms have ceiling-to-floor glass showers.
A triumphant contemporary design, uniting stone, leather, and wood. The lobby disabuses guests of any notion that they are merely glamping--nothing more. Not so. A team of top designers was obviously paid a fortune to blend luxury with accents of Aboriginal heritage. It worked, showcasing a four-sided fireplace. A Labrador tea ceremony is served each day from 3 p.m., near the hearth.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Front desk service can be uneven. Most guests report friendly and welcoming service, while others (much fewer) report a surly attitude. This could be explained by one staffer having a bad day.
The spa is in keeping with the hotel's high standards. There are Nordic pools, heated sidewalks, a fire pit, a yurt, body treatments, and many tempting packages.
All meals are served at La Traite Restaurant, which specializes in Huron-Wendake cuisine. The up-scale dining room serves wild game, organic fare, and rare dishes, such as seal. There are tree levels of table d'hote, with our without wine paring.
Order the duck meat pie--a staff favorite!
You need a car. Located 20-minutes north of Quebec City, the hotel has ample free parking, then you can enjoy the complex on foot. There are historic hiking trails and outtings. Ask at reception.
It would be silly not to eat at the hotel, but on the second night, venture down the road to Restaurant Sagamité (5-minute drive). They also serve Wendat cuisine in an upscale, woodsy decor.
Stay put and drink at La Traite Restaurant, which stocks its cellar with many internationally loved bottles of red and white. We recommend that you have a more authentic experience by ordering Quebec wine and ciders, the Kir Wendat or the Vodka Martini a l’Eau de Rhubarbe (rhubarb martini).
WHY WE LIKE IT
Part anthropology adventure, part luxury escape--we love the Hôtel-Musée Premières Nations' unique blend of tradition and tourism. This destination bundles together several buildings: a Ekionkiestha' longhouse, a museum, a restaurant, a spa, and more. At night, guests gather at a fire pit for myths, legends, and laughs. While none of this comes cheaply--you can spend the night ($750) in the longhouse--it's also an education. Priceless.
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