If it’s uncool to love combining history with a wandering experience, then we’re guilty. We love to get into the spirit of the community we’re visiting, and spending the night immersed in a historic setting is a fun way to take yourself to way-back-when.
Imagine the secrets held within the walls of century-old inns and hotels – the tales of local feuds, love affairs, and ghostly happenings. When you spend the night at a historic accommodation, you have plenty of time to hear all about famous historical figures, interesting architecture, and the stories that helped shape our today.
Once you dig in, you’ll quickly find that the stories of the real people who lived, loved, and lost are far more interesting than the never-ending drama of today’s rich and famous. And the best part of spending the night in a historic setting? You get to have the best of both worlds – rich ambiance but with all the lovely modern conveniences.
Remember that a big part of the joy of wandering is the fun in discovering something new – even if that something new is old. Here’s our take on some of the coolest places to lay your head. Be warned, ghosts walk softly in the halls of these historic spots.
Sir Sam’s Inn & Spa on Eagle Lake
Once the estate of Sir Samuel Hughes, the Minister of Militia and Defence during World War I, Sir Sam’s Inn & Spa has enough historic ambiance to satisfy any history buff. Situated on beautiful Eagle Lake in Haliburton Highlands, this cozy inn offers the best of both worlds – a century-old timeline, unique timber frame architecture combined with a waterfront location that makes for a luxurious and yet rustic hideaway nestled deep in the hills.
Insider Tip: Spend your days wandering the cute town of Haliburton, and your nights curled up with a lakeside view. Dine at Twin Fires, the on-site restaurant, and don’t miss a visit to the wine cellar to choose your own vintage to accompany your meal.
Bonnie View Inn in Haliburton
Remember the setting for Dirty Dancing? You won’t find Baby and Johnny here, but that old-fashioned lodge vibe is what you can expect at Bonnie View Inn. Choose from a selection of rustic cabins or book your stay in one of the inn’s 28 rooms. No matter where you lay your head, you’ll love the old-fashioned resort atmosphere. Fun fact: Bonnie View is one of the last operating lodges on Lake Kashagawigamog and has a history that spans nearly 100 years! Please note Bonnie View was previously open year round, but as of 2020 will be closed between New Year’s and May 1.
Insider Tip: Dine right at the inn for the ultimate in relaxation (there is an on-site bar as well!). Lounge by the cozy fireplace indoors, and if you are into outdoor adventure, borrow one of the inn’s paddleboats, canoes, or mountain bikes to explore the area, or snowshoes, ice skates and cross-country skis in winter (no extra cost).
The Grand Hotel in Carleton Place
Prepare to be blown away by this historic accommodation, especially if you’re into history (and thus among the uncool). Unlike many other inns and hotels, The Grand Hotel was built for only one purpose, to operate as a hotel. Located in the heart of downtown Carleton Place, the hotel was built in 1872 by local businessman, Napoleon Lavalee, and was initially wrought with rumours of deaths that took place during construction. Today, the hotel functions as a magnificent wedding venue, hotel, and dining establishment.
Insider Tip: Check out the stunning interior of the on-site gastropub, Smith & Barrel Pub, or the elegance of the Carleton Room. Visit the Carleton Place & Beckwith Heritage Museum during your visit for a little more history.
Sharbot Lake Country Inn in Sharbot Lake
Formerly a doctor’s house, the Sharbot Lake Country Inn’s history dates back to 1906, when the building was constructed to house a medical practice. A century and many name changes and renovations later, this cozy country inn is steeped in history, and serves as a gathering place for locals and visitors alike.
Insider Tip: Visit the on-site restaurant, The Crossing Pub, a local gathering place that often features live music, and is a happening place year-round. While you’re in Sharbot Lake, make sure to stock up on your local edibles with a visit to Seed to Sausage or the Cardinal Café + Shop.
Dominion Hotel in Minden
Don’t be fooled by the word “hotel” – the Dominion Hotel is really a historic inn dating back to 1865 – it’s older than Canada! Stay in an historic setting with a modern twist in this recently renovated inn that offers only six suites so you will feel like one of the family. Located right in the heart of downtown Minden, this locale is also a popular place to spot local talent at their on-site pub, considered an entertainment hotspot in Haliburton County.
Insider Tip: If you’re looking to feel like a local, this is the place to go! Their slogan says it all: “There are no strangers at the Dominion Hotel.” Combine your overnight in Minden with a visit to the famous Kawartha Dairy for some locally made ice cream, and Boshkung Brewing Co. for a craft beer adventure.
Clyde Hall in Lanark Highlands
Originally built by the Caldwell family in 1846, Clyde Hall is situated on an operating maple sugarbush with the third fairway of the Timber Run Golf Course at its back door. Visitors are often fooled by the historic look and feel of the building, but Clyde Hall was completely rebuilt after a devastating fire in 1999 destroyed everything but the stone walls and basement. Today, you can spend the night in luxury, and waken to a delicious breakfast made by well-known Chef, Robert Salzmann, served with maple syrup produced right on the property.
Insider Tip: Lanark Village is a cute little community to visit, and only a short drive to other small towns like Almonte, Carleton Place, and Perth. Stop by Village Treats for some chocolate or Ugly Apple Cider to sample cider made from wild apples.
Perth Manor Boutique Hotel in Perth
Can you picture a time when a slighted honour could lead to a man’s death? Spend the night dreaming about dueling pistols and love’s angst at this boutique hotel in historic Perth. Built in 1878 as a private home, the Manor has since spent time as a senior’s residence, an inn, a bed and breakfast, and finally as the luxurious and stately boutique hotel that exists today. The Manor’s six rooms are named for key historical figures, including those involved in Canada’s last fatal duel.
Insider Tip: Check in early enough to explore the manor’s architecture and period furnishings. You’ll love the arching porte-cochère, the stately dining room, vintage tapestries, and antique collection. Only a short walk to downtown Perth, you can explore the community and its history in one visit.
Grey Gables Inn in Pembroke
Step inside Grey Gables Inn and imagine what life would have been like in the early 1900s when teatime was a national event and the world moved at a slower pace. Only a few blocks from downtown Pembroke, Grey Gables Inn is the place to go for an authentic “high tea” experience, and to indulge in historical surroundings with a modern twist. Linger in the lobby to enjoy the warmth of the large wood-burning fireplace, and drink in the little touches that make or break a historic ambiance, like wood paneling, oak floors, and luxurious furnishings.
Insider Tip: While in Pembroke, stop for some local fare at Janna & Kerry’s Over Easy Bar and Grill, and see if you can spot all the murals downtown. Plan ahead and book one of the inn’s spa packages to add some rejuvenation to your relaxation.