Ottawa’s a great choice if you want to visit a city that has world-class museums, a lively nightlife and stunning countryside just a hop and a skip away. I travelled to Ottawa, Canada’s capital, in February, when their Winterlude Festival was in full swing. You can read more about Winterlude here. I wrote here about some of the family-friendly museums in Ottawa. I also visited a few Ottawa hotels. If you’re looking for a place to stay in Ottawa, or near the capital, here are some recommendations.
The hotels in this feature all hosted me during my press trip with Ottawa Tourism and Tourisme Outaouais. Some offered overnight stays, and others gave me food and drink. They had no editorial control over the feature, and all views are my own.
Gatineau hotels for spectacular views: Best Western Plus Gatineau-Ottawa Hotel
Address: 131 Laurier Street, Gatineau Québec J8X 3W3
If you’re planning a visit to Ottawa, it might surprise you to read that one of the recommended hotels is in a different city – and even a different Province. Gatineau is in Québec, whereas Ottawa is in Ontario. But the two cities are right next to each other, on the Provincial border. To get from one to the other it’s just a ten-minute walk (if that), over Ottawa River’s bridge.
The Canadian Museum of History is on the Gatineau bank of the Ottawa River, as was Winterlude’s Snowflake Kingdom. This was in Jacques Cartier Park, and was where a lot of Winterlude’s family activities took place. Think ice slides, zip wires, huge ice sculptures and a snowy playground – they were all just across the road from the four-star Best Western Plus Gatineau-Ottawa Hotel.
I was told that Ottawa is at its most beautiful when seen from Gatineau. The vision from my 9th floor balcony the morning after I arrived at the Best Western Plus made me believe this was true. The frozen river snaked like a white blanket past the historic neo-Gothic turrets of the Houses on Parliament Hill, and the cutting-edge design of the Canadian Museum of History. It was fun to try and spot the landmarks I’d be visiting during my stay in Ottawa. The view from the Best Western Plus also helped give me a sense of my bearings.
Breakfast at the Best Western Plus Gatineau-Ottawa Hotel
The hotel’s breakfast menu was superb. It featured pancakes heaped with fruit and maple syrup, perfectly cooked eggs with bechemel sauce and home fries (which were a bit like small roast potatoes, but fried), and poutine. Although I didn’t feel like eating this traditional Canadian dish of chips (fries), gravy and cheese curds for breakfast, diners around me were tucking into their poutine with relish.
I stayed in a king room, and my bed had an extremely comfortable pillow-topped mattress. An armchair, desk with a swivel chair, coffee machine with plentiful refills, and password-protected WiFi all came as standard,. and my room had a HDTV and a fridge. My itinerary was busy and I came and went from my hotel room when it was dark, but if you’d like to see some pictures of the hotel rooms in the Best Western Plus Gatineau-Ottawa, check out their website. The hotel also boasted a heated saltwater swimming pool and ample space for off-street parking, including an underground parking area.
Downtown Ottawa hotels for excellent customer service: Lord Elgin Hotel
Address: 100 Elgin Street, Ottawa Ontario K1P 5K8
The historic Lord Elgin Hotel, built in 1941, is in an excellent location in downtown Ottawa. The large, elegant hotel is across the road from Confederation Park. Rideau Canal, Sparks Street, Parliament Hill, the ByWard Market, National Gallery of Canada, Shaw Center, and the National Arts Centre are all just a few minutes’ walk away.
I stayed in a Parkview Guest Room, with a HD TV, safe, fridge and free WiFi. The room was bright, fresh and airy.
Staff at the Lord Elgin Hotel went out of their way to make me feel welcome. A lovely platter of cheese and fruit was laid out for my arrival, and I had access to plenty of coffee and tea for the room’s coffee machine. The great service extended to the offer of a complementary bottle of water (“chilled, or room temperature?”) for my taxi journey to the airport when I left the hotel.
When I stayed at the Lord Elgin Hotel, during Ottawa’s Winterlude festival, it was a hub for people meeting before heading off to the festival. The wide hotel lobby was friendly and bustling. Guests could sit in the lounge area in front of a roaring log fire, eat in the Grill 41 restaurant, have a coffee in Starbucks, or nip into the gift shop for last-minute souvenirs and pharmacy items. The hotel’s swimming pool was on the first floor. Guests had access to a spa, gym, and sauna; and valet parking was available.
Downtown Ottawa hotels for fabulous cocktails: Fairmont Château Laurier
Address: 1 Rideau Street, Ottawa Ontario K1N 8S7
Overlooking the Rideau Canal Skateway, Fairmont Château Laurier is a historic hotel that was founded in 1912 and played host to prestigious list of politicians, heads of state, royalty and entertainers. King George VI, Queen Elizabeth II and Winston Churchill all stayed there, as did famed portrait photographer Yousuf Karsh, who had a studio at the hotel.
The five-star Fairmont Château Laurier has 429 guest rooms. It’s minutes away from Ottawa’s Parliament Buildings, Rideau Canal, Byward Market, National Gallery of Canada, Shaw Center, and the National Arts Centre. The hotel is renowned for its afternoon teas, but they invited me there to sample cocktails in the newly renovated Zoe’s lounge bar. Surrounded by people dressed in casual winter jumpers and snow boots, we drank elegant cocktails beneath elaborate, heavy-looking chandeliers.
Cocktails at Zoe’s
Zoes’ cocktail menu was enticing. It included mixtures like Old Man and the Sea, with Patron Silver, Mezcal, Curacao, lemon and Seaweed Syrup; and Aurora 17, with Ontario Ice Wine Tea, which changed in colour from a deep purple to a light pink. My favourite cocktail was the Statesman. The whisky and maple syrup concoction arrived encased in a chamber of beech smoke, and our waitress delicately took it out. It was delicious – just the right balance of bitter and sweet.
To accompany our drinks, we ate an exciting platter of cured meats and Balderon cheddar that had been soaked in honey for 24 hours before being torched on a cedar plank. With nibbles this good, I would be keen to try some of the main meals on Zoe’s menu, like lobster cobb salad, cod and chips or stuffed quail.
Hotels near Ottawa for relaxation and beautiful countryside: Fairmont Le Château Montebello
Address: 392 Notre-Dame Street, Montebello Québec J0V 1L0
If you wanted to see Ottawa and the Outaouais Valley but would rather stay in the countryside, Fairmont Le Château Montebello would be a good option. Based in the small town of Montebello, an hour from both Ottawa and Montréal, the hotel is the largest log cabin in the world. It was built as a private members club in 1930, and its distinguished visitors range from Bing Crosby to Margaret Thatcher.
Things to do in Montebello
The cosy, genteel hotel helps guests explore the wilds of its grounds through activities like snowshoeing, dog sledding, cross-country skiing and ice skating in the winter. In the summer, visitors can play golf, cycle, kayak, SUP, try the local sport of horseshoe-throwing or have a go at Canada’s only Land Rover off-road driving experience.
Fairmont Le Château Montebello is just a few minutes’ drive from Parc Oméga. In this 2,200 acre space visitors can see indigenous animals like wolves, bear, moose and elk in their natural environment. I’ve written about Parc Oméga (Omega Park) here. The park is well worth a visit if you’re in the area.
The five-star Fairmont Le Château Montebello has recently been renovated. Guests can spend time in the spa or the elegant swimming pool, and eat delicious seasonal local produce in the hotel’s restaurant, Aux Chantignoles, which is a renowned eaterie. Guests come from the local area to dine at the informal but delicious buffet, along with all the hotel guests.
Lunch at Aux Chantignoles
Fairmont Le Château Montebello invited me to lunch at Aux Chantignoles. I ate tasty local salmon followed by a medley of desserts, all washed down with gourmet Lot 35 tea. My favourite was the decidedly unphotogenic bread pudding, served with local maple syrup. Proof (as if we didn’t need it) that something doesn’t have to be instagrammable to be good. The pretty gold coffee bean-topped mousse layer cake was rather nice too, though…
Have you stayed in any Ottawa hotels? Or hotels near Ottawa? If so, I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below.
Don’t forget to read more about Ottawa and the Outaouais Valley:
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