Despite our busy schedules managing work, the kids and life in general, my husband and I managed to make some time, just for us. We decided on Niagara-on-the-Lake for the perfect mini getaway. After researching the many hotel and B & B offerings in what is often called “the prettiest town in Canada”, the choice was obvious. Harbour House was the clear front-runner. In fact, it’s rated the # 1 hotel in Ontario on TripAdvisor, who also just named it the ‘Most Romantic Hotel in Canada’. Perfect, that’s just what we need – romance. We booked a package that included dinner at a sister property, The Charles Inn (which coincidentally also topped the TripAdvisor list of Romantic Hotels in Canada at # 5).
We arrived in Niagara-on-the Lake around 5 pm. It was absolutely beautiful – the major snowstorm just days before left a glistening blanket of snow that just added to the charm of this idyllic town. We even passed a young couple bundled up on a horse drawn carriage ride, talk about romance!
After reading the reviews, I was very excited to check out the hotel. Harbour House is located across from the marina, overlooking the picturesque Niagara River. With a design reminiscent of maritime life in the 1880’s, the hotel was built just over 10 years ago and features 31 guest rooms & suites. It’s also within walking distance to the main street with many fine restaurants, shops, galleries and the world-class Shaw Theatre.
Upon entering the lobby, we are greeted by Bruce & Maggie who define excellent guest service and are clearly proud of the hotel for which they are representing. The lobby is warm and inviting with a roaring fire and cozy accents that make you feel right at home.
We just narrowly missed the daily wine tasting in the lobby featuring homemade cheese with crackers and two selections of red & white local Niagara wine. Bruce explains how the tasting is just one of the small touches that make staying at the Harbour House memorable. He pours us a glass and leads us to our room.
Three words: intimate, luxurious and serene. A king size bed adorned with 300 thread count linens and a down duvet; a gas fireplace and bathroom with a whirl pool tub and California shutters that open to overlook the bed and sitting area. A throw blanket is casually draped over the cozy sitting chair and right away I notice one of my favourite features. It’s a guest book placed beside a personally addressed bag of treats with two of the most delicious homemade peanut butter cookies we have ever had. The guest book features comments from previous guests and dates back two years. It’s a testament to the level of hospitality the hotel provides and the confidence they have in guest satisfaction. It’s very endearing to read the comments, which all seem to have a similar theme. First class accommodations, intimate atmosphere, romantic getaway and most importantly, over half seem to be repeat visitors.
Related: Click here for more pictures.
After settling in, we take the shuttle (Bruce is our driver) to the award-winning Charles Inn for dinner. Located right on Niagara-on-the-Lake’s main street, this 1832 Inn is totally refurbished yet still retains it’s historical charm and intimate elegance. Again, a beautiful fire casts a warm glow throughout the dining room located in the old parlor. Our server, Jillian is top notch and takes us through the winter menu featuring rich and luscious selections making it difficult to decide. We start off with an amuse-bouche, compliments of the chef – a delicious cheese and cauliflower soup that leaves us wanting more. Our entrees, ‘Caramelized Diver Scallops with Bacon’ for me, and ‘Roasted Breast of Magret Duck’ for my husband are perfectly divine and we finish with an amazing chocolate dessert.
Back at the hotel, we select a movie from the DVD library in the lobby and settle in for the night. Although we ‘re full, we are looking forward to checking out the breakfast the next morning, which also garners rave reviews (Harbour House is one of the few NOTL hotels to offer breakfast with your stay.) Breakfast does not disappoint. The rhubarb and apricot French toast with almonds and the homemade raspberry jam left the biggest impression on us.
After our 11 am check out we walk the main street and venture in and out of the quaint shops and take in the picturesque views. Our getaway is not complete without a wine tasting at one of Niagara’s world famous wineries. We opt to visit Trius Winery at Hillebrand. What a lovely way to finish off our trip. We leave feeling reconnected, rested and most of all, ready to tell our friends that they should do the same!
Niagara’s Finest Inns (Harbour House, The Charles Inn & The Shaw Club) is offering Oakville.com readers a 20% discount off regular room rates through June 30, 2013. Visit www.niagarasfinest.com/reservations/, choose your property of choice and enter the promotional code: RMGSAV. (Discount valid on online bookings only, subject to availability, 2 night stay may be required for Saturdays)