For my birthday weekend it’s become a tradition to visit wineries. Last year Adam and I guzzled grapes in Prince Edward County, so this year we decided to explore the Niagara region. Feeling sophisticated and officially in our 30s, we wanted a more refined experience than your run-of-the-mill bed and breakfast synonymous with Niagara-on-the-lake. So we chose the Shaw Club Hotel.
The CAA 4-Diamond Shaw Club Hotel opened in 2006 around the corner form the main strip of Niagara-on-the-Lake (NOTL to those in the know). In 2013, it was ranked one of the best hotels in Eastern Canada according to Conde Nast Traveler, and in 2014 it was called one of the most romantic hotels in the country by TripAdvisor. The location of this 30-room boutique hotel is ideal for exploring NOTL — it’s right around the corner from all the cute little shops and restaurants. The wineries are also a quick drive away.
The outside of the hotel fits right in amidst the sea of Victorian architecture standing tall alongside the mouth of the Niagara River. Inside, it’s much more modern with a sleek and simplistic lobby.
Check-in was quick and seamless after a Friday afternoon drive from Toronto with rush hour traffic. Initially, we were booked in a Classic King room, but because it wasn’t a busy weekend, we were upgraded to a Deluxe King with a fireplace. Sometimes it pays to travel in the offseason! Our room overlooked Wellington Street, across from the world-class Shaw Festival Theatre. Simply but classically decorated, the rooms are cozy with dark wood furnishings and a muted palate in the colour scheme. While our room had a fireplace, other Deluxe rooms are appointed with two-person whirlpools or balconies. Suites have the whole shebang and a larger living area.
Facing southeast meant our room got glorious morning sunshine. We spent extra time relaxing and reading in front of the fireplace in the morning. The big comfy bed made it pretty easy, and so did the Keurig coffee maker.
There’s a TV in the bathroom because…why not?
The bathroom tile was a little dark for my taste, but the shower was huge and the rainfall shower-head was heavenly. Plus, there was a TV set into the mirror, because who doesn’t want to watch the morning news while they’re washing their hair? The accompanying bathrobes and large format shampoo and conditioner are always a plus that’s appreciated.
Private member status is the norm
The goal of this boutique property is to feel more like a private club than a hotel, and they do it justice. Adjacent the lobby there’s a private lounge for guests where you can sit and watch TV, read the free daily newspapers or have some hot chocolate and coffee whenever you want. There’s also a decent DVD collection from which you can pick a movie to bring back to your room. Wi-Fi and parking are included in the price of your room (obviously). The Shaw Club also provides an in-town shuttle service after 4:30pm, making it super easy to get to those dinner reservations. Wine for everyone!
Breakfast at Zees Grill
The on-site restaurant at the Shaw Club Hotel is Zees Grill. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the large dining room is bright and airy, with a great (and popular) patio. Chef Matt Tattrie serves up cuisine with a kick of international flair with dishes like Moroccan Lamb Shank or Southern style fried chicken. We didn’t get the chance to eat dinner at Zees, but we had breakfast there after a restful night’s sleep.
While breakfast isn’t complimentary for guests, the hotel does offer a special price for those spending the night. I went with the Canadian Style Eggs Benedict with back bacon, three year old Ontario cheddar and delightfully light hollandaise. Adam chose the traditional breakfast with bacon. Both our meals were served with a delicious potato galette we’re still raving about.
Who wants to stay here?
The Shaw Club Hotel is the perfect boutique hotel for couples who want a little touch of luxury and escapism in NOTL. The hotel is adults only, so soaking up the romantic atmosphere is as easy as drinking the local wine. From the horse-drawn carriages parked outside to the beautiful patio at Zees Grill, there’s lots of room for love.