The Charles Hotel
What We Love
- The restaurant—exquisite fine dining in a room with its original fireplace, trim and crystal chandeliers
- The myriad verandahs, especially those on the upper level (book the Magnolia Room and you’ll have one all to yourself)
- Rate includes free breakfast, parking and WiFi
- READ MORE: 72 Hours in Ontario
What To Know
- Each room is individually decorated, balancing period furnishings (canopy beds, oil paintings) with modern touches (gas fireplaces, rainforest showers)
- The petite queen rooms are indeed quite small
- It’s on prime Queen Street but a block or two past the historic district’s shops and eats
Built in 1832, this Georgian-style manor house once served as the residence of Charles Richardson, a prominent Canadian statesman. The 12-room property is still distinguished by its bright white hue and elegantly-chiseled portico; the gorgeous wrap-around verandas were added later. The interiors are predictably filled with antiques, but you’ll find the occasional outlier—bold paint choices are used throughout (amethyst, persimmon, lipstick red) and one guestroom stars a life-size statue of a pink tutu-clad English bulldog. The lounge has a more muted, masculine, and vaguely 1920s vibe, a cozy spot for pre-dinner aperitifs (including a nice selection of martinis). The restaurant is perfect for romantic or special-occasion dinners, with meticulous service, delicious French-inflected fare prepared by Chef Steve Sperling (we had seared foie gras from Quebec followed by Ontario beef tenderloin served with oxtail ragout and hollandaise) and local wine for days (we tried a Trius sparkler that was excellent).
In the Area
Located right where Lake Ontario feeds the Niagara River, Niagara-on-the-Lake is a picturesque hamlet about 30 minutes from Niagara Falls. Specializing in Riesling, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay, the region’s 27 wineries are a year-round attraction, while a January Ice Wine Festival draws oenophiles who don’t mind the cold and like their wine very sweet (ice wine is Niagara-on-the-Lake’s culinary hero). The Shaw Festival Theatre—six months of quality summer stock—is another popular annual event. Locals love Ravine Winery Estate Vineyard’s wood-fired pizzas and the house-made charcuterie at the Stone Road Grille (don’t be put off by the strip mall location); visitors like to bring home jams and marmalades from Greaves (the Four Seasons hotel chain’s brand of choice); take afternoon tea at the Prince of Wales Hotel and pick up gifts for tony tots at The Owl and the Pussycat .
How to Get There
Nice staff (Anna who served us breakfast, receptionist in the morning)
Nice veranda (which could be great if improved with outdoor rugs and potted plants)
We had Expedia booking problems and were given one upgraded "premium" room as a result. I was really happy about this!
As the person that handled hours of fixing the booking the problem over the course of several days, we should have been offered the upgraded room. Receptionist that checked us in probably did not know about this and randomly gave the two key cards out.
Our room was sad, dark, depressing and the size of a shoebox. It was called a "deluxe room" but was anything but. Worn furniture, etc., depressing color scheme. I wanted to spend as little time as possible in there. Our friends' "premium" room across the hall was twice as big and seemed somewhat nicer.
The back of the bathroom door looked like it had not been cleaned recently - quite disgusting, the shower tiles had pink mold growing in the grout, our sink was clogged. Hubbie asked to get the clog fixed. There was a note and little chocolate wrench (cute touch!) indicating the problem was fixed. However....the sink was still clogged. We had to plug the iron in behind the chair. That area looked like it had not been recently cleaned either.
This was a good home base that fell short of feeling like a luxury property. A decorating refresh along with better cleaning/maintenance will help this property reach its potential.
Historic, turn of the century hotel, but the rooms are very well appointed and bathrooms totally modern. Had a nice bright room. Inn is small but that gives it a special ambience. Staff friendly and helpful. Had a great breakfast there with local friends. Will go back to enjoy a dinner in their dining room. Grounds well kept up. They seem to have some very interesting rooms and each one is probably different. Good value.
We stayed here for 2 nights in the Poppy Room to celebrate my birthday. Loved the veranda! Breakfast on the porch was lovely too. Away from the busy Downtown but an easy stroll to get there. We would definitely stay again.