Tag: hotel

Glamping by the ocean! The most unique of Bonavista accommodations

Glamping by the ocean! The most unique of Bonavista accommodations

Charming B&Bs and vacation homes abound when it comes to Bonavista accommodations, but there is nothing like Bonavista Living’s eco glamping pods.

Glamping in Newfoundland: Feeling Right at ‘Ome

Glamping in Newfoundland: Feeling Right at ‘Ome

While perusing ‘historic saltbox homes near the ocean’ on AirBnb I stumbled upon a series of small cabins cloaked in canvas. “There’s Glamping in Newfoundland?”

Alt Hotel St. John’s Staycation

Alt Hotel St. John’s Staycation

The best part about a staycation? There’s no pressure to leave the hotel! I’ve spent a lot of time taking photos of hotels, and I usually don’t get to enjoy them as much as I should because I’m busy Instagramming my stay. But I still love hotels. I still get excited walking through the lobby, my head on a swivel trying to take it all in. While I’m all about AirBNB for longer trips, the magic of a freshly made bed, a chocolate on my pillow and a fluffy bathrobe get me all riled up (I still always check if there’s a pool, my eight-year-old self insists). As part of a media event, I was lucky enough to win a stay at the Alt Hotel St. John’s, so Adam and I decided it was the perfect opportunity to enjoy a night in a hotel without leaving the room!

Continue reading Alt Hotel St. John’s Staycation

The Food at Fogo Island Inn

The Food at Fogo Island Inn

I ate all of the food during my winter stay at the Fogo Island Inn. Bread on bread on bread at Newfoundland’s most luxurious island hotel.

George House Heritage Bed and Breakfast | Dildo, Newfoundland

George House Heritage Bed and Breakfast | Dildo, Newfoundland

Sometimes I don’t feel at home at bed and breakfasts. Some spots feel like you’re at someone’s parent’s house while they’re away for the weekend. I’m always worried about breaking something or being too loud. Maybe I’m not sophisticated enough, or I’m not old enough 

Shaw Club Hotel | Niagara-on-the-Lake

Shaw Club Hotel | Niagara-on-the-Lake

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.

Shaw Club Hotel Exterior

The Room

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.

Deluxe Room with Fireplace

Bedroom details at the Shaw Club

Deluxe Room with Fireplace at the Shaw Club Hotel

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.

Bathroom collage at the Shaw Club

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!

Shaw Club Guest lounge

Shaw Club Guest Lounge

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.

Zees Grill

Zees Grill collage at the Shaw Club

Zees Grill Breakfast

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.

*Thanks to the Shaw Club Hotel for the overnight stay. All opinions expressed in this post are my own. 

Eating for 72 Hours in Chicago (in the winter)

Eating for 72 Hours in Chicago (in the winter)

For our first trip to Chicago, my list of ‘must-eat’ restaurants was a mile long. From cheeseburgers at Au Cheval to cocktails at Longman & Eagle, I had a hundred recommendations. How was I going to choose what to eat in only 72 hours in Chicago? Trying 

BOLD Hotel | Munich

BOLD Hotel | Munich

Walking through the door of BOLD Hotel Munich Giesing, I couldn’t believe our luck.  It looked SO COOL — modern, hip and still smelled of fresh paint. During our stay, the hotel had been open for like five minutes (April 2014), and considering we were paying under 

The Inn Thing: 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel in Clayton New York

The Inn Thing: 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel in Clayton New York

When people think of 1000 Islands, the image of a charming but rundown cabin undoubtedly comes to mind. Who knew there was a 4-star hotel hiding away in upstate New York? Who knew it’s a fun place to visit in the off-season? And that it’s only two and half hours from Toronto? Why hello there, 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel.

Spending the weekend in Clayton, New York, this time of year is quiet, but I like it that way. Adam and I visited local breweries, wineries and cheese stores with zero wait times and were able to actually chat with proprietors for extended periods of time. We learned about New York’s terroir, the cheese made there and that Wood Boat Brewery makes some damn good beer.

1000 Islands Harbor Hotel is a CAA/AAA 4-Diamond property and the only large hotel in the area, with 105 rooms and suites. Most accommodations in the immediate area consist of motels or B&Bs, so many of the locals know the hotel well (in fact, our border agent raved about it). Positioned at the end of Riverside Drive, the main street with boutique shops and restaurants, it’s an ideal home base for exploring Clayton and for venturing to the islands’ castles and outdoor activities.


Throwback decor

Even though the hotel opened in 2014, there’s a sincere shout out to the area’s history portrayed in the decor. The restaurant and bar have sophisticated dark wood paneling and the lobby has a giant stone fireplace, reminiscent of the mansions built in the area by New York’s elite in the late 1800s and early 1900s.


Black and white photography line the hallways, featuring cottages, islands and boats from the area’s heyday. They’re on loan from the Antique Boat Museum, one of Clayton’s biggest attractions, and contribute to the sense of history here.


Outside, the property is expansive, sitting on a large lawn buttressing the St. Lawrence River. Even though we visited during the off season, the river was teeming with activity — Adam spent a lot of time watching the boats go by. During the summer you can eat a meal on the Riverside Patio, and in colder months sit by the fire with a cocktail.



In addition to historical ambience, 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel has the full range of modern amenities expected (and appreciated) at a four star hotel, like free Wi-Fi throughout the property. There’s also sunlit pool area with Jacuzzi.


The small but state-of-the-art fitness centre is on the second floor overlooking the river. If you have to work out, that’s not a bad view to sweat to, is it?


Big is beautiful guest rooms

There are several types of guest room spread across the second, third and fourth floors of the hotel. While the citrus accents were a little orange for me, the decor is simple, clean and cozy. There’s no carpet, which I love — because carpet in hotel rooms is just gross — and the rooms are huge! The double queen rooms are great for families, and have the sweetest little window seats overlooking the river or the charming town of Clayton.


1000IslandsHarborHotel.Double beds

We stayed in a king room on the fourth floor with a lovely view of the river and sitting area. I would definitely recommend asking for a river view room when you arrive! The hotel offers nightly turn down service, something I always associate with ultra-expensive hotels, so the chocolate on the pillow was an extra special touch for me.


1000IslandsHarborHotel.Room table

1000IslandsHarborHotel.King Bed

One of my favourite features of this hotel? It’s coffee related, obviously. The hot beverage service is available every single morning on each floor. Tea, coffee, hot chocolate, plus all the fixings are stationed by the elevators.

1000IslandsHarborHotel.Coffee stand

1000IslandsHarborHotel.Coffee in bed

It was nice to just relax in bed with a coffee that I didn’t have to make in a crappy hotel coffee machine. Plus, all of the refills.

1000IslandsHarborHotel.Coffee and Newspapers

Dining at Seaway Grille

The 1000 Islands Bar is adjacent to the main restaurant, serving up classic bar snacks and daily happy hour specials.


Breakfast lunch and dinner are served daily in the main dining room, the Seaway Grille.

1000IslandsHarborHotel.Dining Room

We only ate dinner at the restaurant, but it was lovely. With a roaring fire in the fireplace and prosecco, what more could a girl want?

1000IslandsHarborHotel.Seaway Grille

And seriously, the bread basket might have been my favourite part of the meal.

1000IslandsHarborHotel.Bread Basket

We started with calamari, beautifully battered with spicy sundried tomato sauce.


For my main, I went with duck breast served with port wine cherry gastrique and wild mushroom risotto. The sauce was amazing and paired so well with the earthy risotto, but the portion was so big I couldn’t finish it! Adam chose the special for the evening: lobster risotto. He demolished it.


1000 Islands Harbor Hotel is suited for both families and couples who are looking for a romantic getaway. I cannot wait to go back again in the summertime to explore the hiking trails and cozy up with s’mores by the fire. The hotel also has a bunch of events throughout the year, including Fire & Ice Celebration coming up in February at their ice bar! Check out their website for details.

*Thanks to the 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel for the overnight stay and dinner. All opinions expressed in this post are my own. 

How to find Black Friday & Cyber Monday hotel deals

How to find Black Friday & Cyber Monday hotel deals

When I think of Black Friday deals, one terrifying image comes to mind: I’m standing at the front of a line the minute the doors are unlocked, and thundering crowds trample me as they are reaching for the latest iPhone. This may seem hyperbolic, but 

36 Hours in Salzburg

36 Hours in Salzburg

Never have I fallen in love with a city faster than I did with Salzburg. Even though it rained, even though we were only there for 36-hours, my love for this city grew exponentially with each corner turned. I already loved Salzburg through the scenes of 

Hotel Sidorme Madrid Fuencarral 52 | Madrid

Hotel Sidorme Madrid Fuencarral 52 | Madrid

Walking up the busy pedestrian street, I barely noticed all the cool shops and restaurants on Fuencarral. After a gruelling overnight flight from Toronto to Madrid Adam and I were exhausted, and dirty. We had met up with my sister and her boyfriend Sean right after we landed for some early morning exploring before checking in. All was great until Adam fell asleep at a bar and a bird pooped on him: it was time to head to the hotel.

Then the words that no one who has travelled all night ever wants to hear.

“Your room isn’t ready yet.”

Dread. Sweaty tired dread.

“Oh wait,” she exclaimed in broken but friendly English, “my mistake, your room is ready.”


Hotel Sidorme Madrid Fuencarral 52 is smack right in the middle of Fuencarral Street, which is teeming with people all the time, and right off Gran Via making it the ideal homebase for sightseeing. It also straddles the trendy neighbourhoods of Chueca and Malasaña, where all Madrileños hipsters shop and drink.

The entrance is completely unassuming, with a keycard-only entrance right off the street. What I love about this hotel is that they didn’t waste space or money on a grand lobby (the check in area is tiny), but they provide much appreciated extras instead. For example, every morning a little breakfast fairy puts a bag full of fruit, pastries and juice on your door to enjoy in your room or on the terrace. Think boutique hotel chic meets hostel vibe; there were just as many young American backpackers as there were wealthy British retirees in the commons areas.

Sidorme Madrid 6

The design of the hotel is sleek, modern and clean, with an impressive staircase that makes up for the teeny tiny elevator (that has a cool view of the interior terrace’s living wall). The common area is on the penthouse floor with a large outdoor seating area, and there is a kitchen to prepare meals. Two giant espresso machines pump out caffeinated beverages 24/7 next to a never-empty bowl of fruit.

Sidorme Madrid 7

Our room was on the sixth floor, so we were lazy and rarely used the stairs. While our room is on the small side when compared to major chain hotel standards, it suited the needs of two people perfectly. The decor is clean, airy and modern, with really good air-conditioning, a necessity for travelling in Spain in the peak summer months.

Sidorme Madrid 1Sidorme Madrid 2

The windows are really well soundproofed, a big bonus if your room overlooks the street as it is loud all night long with revellers strolling Fuencarral. The best part of this hotel room was the terrace which, granted, was an upgrade. But the Superior room that comes with either a balcony or a terrace was only about $10 more a night, and you get this:

Sidorme Madrid 9

With this view:

Sidorme Madrid 8

Rooms have a small fridge with just enough room to store some cold Cava and water. One strange thing was the location of the sink; it wasn’t in the bathroom. While this was super convenient for getting ready to go out in the evenings, it wasn’t conducive to washing one’s hands after using the toilet. (Pardon my wrinkly plane clothes in the photo below; how do professionals take pictures of mirrors without themselves in it?)

Sidorme Madrid 3

We spent two nights at this hotel and it was perfect. Because it was peak season, we spent around $140 per night which was a splurge for us, but Adam and I wanted to be in a central location (the rooms range from $70-$165 per night depending on the time of year and the room type). Hotel rooms along the Gran Via and its arteries can run anywhere from $100-$450 per night, especially in the summer months when tourists flock to the area. We saved money by staying a little off the main drag, but this also saved us from the throngs of foot traffic.

If we were staying in Madrid for longer I would have opted for an Airbnb to avail myself of a kitchen, but for the length of our stay it was perfect. I would recommend this to travelling couples, as a double room at any nearby hostel will run you at least $110 per night with fewer amenities and no fancy breakfast fairy. I think this was a bargain for the quiet rooms in an awesomely loud central location.

Where is your favourite spot to stay in Madrid?