The Best Hotels
Canada’s selection rightfully recognizes the country’s distinct provinces, from metropolitan Toronto to the serene shores of Prince Edward Island and the forested mountains of the Canadian Rockies. Each hotel takes perfect advantage of its location, elevates the home-away-from-home sentiment, and offers that added comfort of friendliness and hospitality that Canadians are famed for.
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The Fairmont Royal York
At the time of its opening in 1929, The Royal York in Toronto stood as the tallest building in the British Commonwealth. The grand old hotel, now known as the Fairmont Royal York, is still recognized for its luxurious style, and, in fact, it’s where Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II stays when she visits Toronto. Guests who stay in the luxury boutique Fairmont Gold rooms receive private access to the 18th floor Gold Lounge, which boasts a rooftop lounge, a fitness center, personalized dietary plans, and an exclusive in-shower aromatherapy option.
Open-concept, residential-style rooms include a bevy of luxurious amenities, including breakfast and evening snacks, and full concierge service. The hotel’s strong commitment to sustainability is evidenced in its rooftop garden, which contains a space for beekeeping. The garden grows a selection of herbs that are used in the Fairmont’s kitchen, and the bees make their contribution too—find honey in such items as the locally-brewed Apiary Ale. In keeping with the sustainability mission, beds are made with products from sustainably managed forests, and cleaning products are eco-certified. While there’s no bad time to visit, holiday lovers might time a visit to coincide with the annual tree lighting ceremony. Of course, the resulting twinkle is glorious too.
Hotel Zed Tofino
Tofino, British Columbia
Backing on to the forested shore of Tofino Inlet on the west coast of Vancouver Island, the Hotel Zed Tofino is your alternative gateway to exploring British Columbia’s hippiest town. The lobby sets the tone with a sunken living room boasting wall-to-wall shag carpet—just like your parents’ ’70s romper room—a mini disco, and a Don Draper-style living room whose bookcase slides over to reveal a secret arcade with retro video games. The bohemian vibe continues in the comfortable guest rooms that include gold headboards, gold lamé-patterned wallpaper, and French presses that elevate the morning coffee ritual.
When you’re not having your tarot cards read in the Psychic Den, or drinking breakfast cocktails at Zed’s on-site restaurant Roar, hop on a rental beach cruiser and cycle right through the lobby on a bike path that leads into downtown Tofino. You can wander the art galleries, sign up for a surfing lesson or kayak tour, or explore the old-growth rainforest in nearby Pacific Rim National Park.
Inn at Bay Fortune
Souris, Prince Edward Island
On the eastern shore of Atlantic Canada’s charmingly bucolic Prince Edward Island is the magical Inn at Bay Fortune, an intimate, seasonal 46-acre seaside resort known for culinary prowess cultivated from its unique terroir. Open from May through October, the Inn’s 15 homey guest rooms are split between the ground-floor courtyard and the newer tower, some with wood-burning fireplaces, and others with phenomenal sea views and outdoor terraces. Guests can wander the grounds after enjoying freshly-baked breakfast pastries, enjoy the outdoor firepit, or explore the nearby woods where Chef Michael Smith regularly forages for wild mushrooms.
The Inn sits amid the organic farm that grows the ingredients that star in its frequently sold-out weekend Fireworks Feast, the embodiment of the property’s ethos: We grow what we serve. This includes over 200 varieties of fruits and vegetables, free-range hens, heritage pigs, locally harvested oysters, scallops, and other fresh seafood. Guests who partake in the Feast get an hour-long tour to learn about their sustainable farming practices, followed by an oyster happy hour with drinks from the farm bar, culminating in an unforgettable multi-course meal.
Le Capitole Hôtel
Quebec City, Quebec
The charming Le Capitole Hotel, adjacent to the walled city of Old Québec, exudes elegance—a red-carpeted grand staircase in the theater helps with this endeavor. Certified as a historic monument in 1986, the 108-room hotel deserves every five-star review it has collected over the years. Notable features include a 1920s-style cabaret, rooftop garden, and a glass-enclosed heated pool up on the ninth floor. A terrace on the same floor offers majestic, panoramic views of the mountain.
The contemporary rooms are warm and inviting, and bathrooms are chic and well-appointed. On-site dining is excellent: Ristorante Il Teatro serves delicious, modern Italian cuisine. Pasta or pizza is a fine choice but the showstopper is the Cosciotto di Agnello Grigliata, almond-prosciutto-crusted leg of lamb served with a mascarpone tart and housemade gnocchi. Post-supper, you’ll want to check out Le Clubby Bar, a prime spot for Martini-sipping among a lively after-theater crowd. But don’t stay up too late or you risk not getting in all the nearby sites, including La Citadelle de Quebec, the Parliament, and Fortifications of Québec National Historic Site.
Mount Engadine Lodge
Set above a lush meadow with a backdrop of towering limestone peaks, this boutique lodge is the only accommodation in Spray Valley Provincial Park, an hour’s drive from Canmore, Alberta. Not as well-known as neighboring Banff (and far less busy), but with just as many eye-candy alpine trails and valley vistas, this slice of what locals call “Kananaskis Country” makes a sublime retreat to unplug and immerse in nature.
Choose between a room in the main lodge, a private cabin, or a luxe glamping tent with ensuite bath, all decorated with chunky wood headboards and cozy duvets, with classic Canadiana touches such as traditional snowshoes hanging on the wall. After a day hiking in the front-country Canadian Rockies in the summer, or cross-country skiing in the winter, return to the lodge for afternoon tea (a modest name for an embarrassment of charcuterie, cheese, and baked goodies made in-house) taken on the expansive patio, followed by a three-course communal dinner of kale caesar salad, Alberta beef and crème brûlée, for example. Overnight stays come with tea and three meals, including a bag lunch with a homemade sandwich and cookies to take on your adventure.