Archive for the ‘ Canada ’ Category


Banting House Inn – A downtown Toronto B&B

Sunday, June 16th, 2013

From my experience, you don’t typically find B&Bs in larger cities and urban environments—since my focus is on boutique lodging, I was excited when I found the Banting House Inn in Toronto.  I was visiting Toronto for an annual North American travel blogger conference and was in town for nearly a week.  The location of Banting House is on a relatively quiet street (especially for an urban area, except during the day when children are on recess at a nearby school), and not far from the center of town where I needed to be for the conference.

The Inn is walking distance to many sites, fine restaurants, museums and much more. If what you’re looking for is not nearby, you can easily hop on a streetcar, subway, or rent a bike (which is part of the public transit system and the form of transportation I used most often).  There are stations throughout the area, and if you return the bike within 30 minutes, there is no charge.

The Banting House is a historic three-story home, which was built in 1895 and has seven accommodations from which to choose.  Each room is uniquely furnished and varies in size and configuration. The rooms are nicely decorated with modern touches, including upgraded linens, furniture, and original artwork adorning the walls.  The Banting House has a European feel, which stems from several factors.  First, Toronto is a very cosmopolitan city.  Second, the historic style of the home reminds me of a B&B you might find in Europe.  Finally, it may have something to do with the clientele; I met a number of guests who were visiting from Germany, Spain and France.  It’s also worth noting that five of the seven rooms share two bathrooms, which is also reminiscent of European lodging.  The bathrooms appear to be newly renovated and have a chic/modern feel with state-of-the-art fixtures.  My only complaint was the lack of adequate shelving and/or areas to place a shaving kit or make-up bag. The same was true with the shower, no place to set shampoo, razor, etc.

Given the age of the house, I was, however, impressed with the upgraded doors and windows, which provided surprising insulation from the other guest rooms. Often in older B&Bs you can hear neighboring guests talk, or hear their T.V., I did not notice this to be an issue.

The first floor has a very spacious common area that guests are encouraged to use…it’s full of modern furniture and accents, along with many pieces of local artwork. My favorite place to hang out had to be the garden…it’s like an urban oasis and the perfect place to enjoy your morning cup of coffee.  While outside on the porch or strolling through the garden, you forget you’re in the midst of the largest city in Canada.

Another thing I really appreciated about staying at the Banting House, was how helpful and eager Scott (the Innkeeper) is to be of assistance…whether you need directions or recommendations, Scott is there to be of service.

The morning breakfast is essentially continental style, with freshly baked bread, hot and cold cereals, juice, coffee, tea, and if you like, they will make you some eggs or pancakes. Because of the travel conference I was attending, I was often up and out before the other guests, so I didn’t have an opportunity to take in the full breakfast experience.

If you’re looking for clean, comfortable and affordable downtown Toronto lodging, give the Banting House Inn a look.  Click the following link to see more pictures of the Banting House Inn. If you’ve ever stayed at the Banting House, leave a comment below and share your experience.

Banting House Inn contact info:

Address: 73 Homewood Avenue Toronto, ON M4Y2K1
Phone: 800-823-8856
Rates: $94-$150

Contemporary, Classy: Crystal Lodge Hotel

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

Located right in the heart of Whistler Village, the Crystal Lodge is within minutes’ walk  to just about everything you could imagine…restaurants, shops, entertainment, and of course, the slopes.  The hotel has a lot to offer its guests…from its modern design, spacious and luxurious rooms, array of amenities, to its very friendly staff.  For a hotel of this quality level, the rates are very fair—although the modest rates may be subsidized by the high parking fees…I think it was $22 or $24 per day.

Our room at the Crystal Lodge was very clean and inviting and came with a king sized bed, Jacuzzi tub and a balcony high above the action below.  We also had a small kitchenette, which allowed us to easily pop back into our room during the day to grab a refreshment…and, the convenience of the hotel location allowed us to stop in  to pick  up anything we may have forgotten.

Click on the following links to see more pictures and videos of the area, as well as restaurant suggestions, etc….Whistler Village and the Peak 2 Peak Gondola ride.

If you’ve stayed at the Crystal Lodge Hotel before, please leave a comment below and let my readers and me know what you thought.

Crystal Lodge Hotel Information:

4154 Village Green
Whistler, BC V0N 1B4 – Canada

Check out this hotel supplied video for a more in-depth perspective:

The Beaconsfield Inn, A Charming B&B in Victoria

Monday, September 20th, 2010

When you stay at the Beaconsfield Inn, you’ll feel like you stepped back in time. The turn-of-the-century mansion (circa 1905), turned bed and breakfast is a great reminder of the opulent living of years past. Many of the historic elements that evoke the warmth and hospitality associated with past eras still remain.

The Beaconsfield Inn is conveniently located on a quiet, tree-lined neighborhood, just east of the bustling downtown area. You can easily walk to a number of great restaurants, shops, ferries, activities and much more.

The rooms at the Beaconsfield Inn are full off character and many include: fireplaces, Jacuzzi tubs, ornate stained glass, down comforters, and of course…a decadent breakfast each morning.

The library at the Inn will make you feel like you’re in the study of an English Aristocrat. Lots of books, leather couches, chess set and more.  Each evening you can join fellow guests for a spot of sherry and freshly baked cookies…as well as coffee, tea and bottled water throughout the day.

If you’re looking for a quality, conveniently located B&B in Victoria, B.C., Canada…check out the Beaconsfield Inn.  Click the following link to see more pictures of the Beaconsfiled Inn.    Click the following links to pictures of Victoria, Pictures of Buchart Gardens, Video on Victoria, Video on Buchart Gardens and the Firework Show at Butchart Gardens.

Lady Macdonald Country Inn B&B Review

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

Located right in the heart of Canmore, Alberta the Lady Macdonald Country Inn is conveniently located in between Calgary and Banff National Park.  This B&B is fairly large with twelve colorfully decorated rooms.  While the Inn is distinctly Canadian, it does have a European flair, perhaps it’s because one of its proprietors (Peter) hails from Switzerland.

The Lady Macdonald building site was once home to an expansive farmhouse, then later in its life was turned into an apartment building, however a build-up of soot in one of its chimneys caused a fire that leveled the structure.  The building was reconstructed in the mid-90s and soon became a bed and breakfast.  Peter and his wife Tammy purchased the property about five years ago and have been running it ever since.

The Inn has a beautiful porch in which to relax, as well as a nice common area that is always stocked with freshly made cookies, nuts and chocolates.  Oh, and for those cold nights there is a lovely fireplace and plenty of hot drinks to keep you warm.

Tammy is an accomplished chef and will prepare you an amazing breakfast!  One morning in particular she artfully plated breakfast that included two mini waffles with a berry reduction sauce, two sausage links and a side of international fruit that included: dragon fruit, star fruit, grapefruit, blueberry, raspberry, a large orange berry of some sort and a miniature coconut (about the size of a macadamia).  All the various colors, design and textures were just wonderful!

Peter and Tammy are also very knowledgeable of the area and can give you all kinds of suggestions on places to visit, hikes, restaurants and more.  Given that Banff is such an international destination and because Peter is from Switzerland with some European connections, you’ll often be in the company of people from around the world at the Lady MacDonald…which makes for some fascinating and worldly conversations.

As I said, the location of the Lady MacDonald is right in the heart of town, however that convenience comes at a price for guests situated in rooms that face the street as the noise level can be a bit of a burden for some.  Ear plugs are provided and the noise is a small inconvenience given all the other wonderful things associated with the Inn. Given my lodging experience, I found the rates to be very fair and much less than you would pay if you were staying right in Banff for comparable accommodations.

Canmore itself is a lovely community with lots of neat shops, galleries, museum and great restaurants to choose from…all in a great walkable downtown area.

If you find yourself visiting the Banff, Canmore or Calgary area…check out the Lady Macdonald Inn B&B for your lodging accommodations, I think you’ll be quite impressed.

Vagabond Lodge Bed and Breakfast Review

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

Just when I think it can’t get any better, I stay in yet another amazing bed and breakfast.  I recently visited this wonderful ski area called, “Kicking Horse,” which is just above the Golden, B.C. area.  I stayed at the Vagabond Lodge, which is really a quintessential lodge to me.  So many places call themselves, “lodges,” however the Vagabond really feels like one—tons of solid timbers with hardwood floors and western décor.  Each of the rooms is similarly decorated, but wonderfully appointed…including feather beds, down pillows/comforters and radiant floor heat.   My room even had its own private deck with a loft that included an additional bed and seating area.

The common areas of the lodge are quite expansive and luxurious with tons of seating, both inside and out.  You can find a little nook to read, enjoy company on a comfy couch by the fireplace, or lay in a hammock on the deck and take-in the majestic views.

There are ten rooms at the Vagabond Mountain Lodge and none have phones (however there is cell service), nor TVs, which I found to be just fine.  If you’re in a mountain retreat like this, there is plenty to do to entertain yourself—besides, it’s kind of nice to force oneself to relax and just enjoy the surroundings.  And, why watch television when you can watch flames flicker in a fireplace while visiting with guests.

There is a common area with a T.V. if you feel the need, as well as wi-fi, so you could entertain yourself on your computer too.  The main floor has lots to do…you can play a game of chess or other board game, or gather at the bar, which is a huge hand-cut split log and a great gathering area for guests after a long day on the slopes or river-rafting trip.  In case you didn’t bring your computer and you need to check your email or get directions to your next destination, The Vagabond provides a courtesy computer for your convenience.

I stayed at the Vagabond B&B during the summer, but it seems to me that the lodge is close enough to the ski area that all you have to do is put your skis on and trek on over—no driving required.  Also, during ski season, the Vagabond Lodge Bed and Breakfast will include lunch with your two-night stay.  Speaking of breakfast, the Vagabond provides a hearty continental-style breakfast, often with an egg dish or pancakes, along with fresh fruit, muffins, cereal, yogurt, etc.

While in the Kicking Horse area there is so much to see and do…of course there is the skiing and water-rafting, but there are also tons of hiking trails; lakes, rivers and streams to fish; a bear refuge in which you can get up-close to a grizzly; ride the challenging mountain bike park; take the gondola to the top of Kicking Horse for outstanding views and an amazing restaurant that seems to be as high as the clouds.  Or, if none of that is adventurous enough for ya, how about Heli_Paragliding?

To see more of the Lodge, click pictures of Vagabond Lodge Bed and Breakfast.