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
The Charles has redecorated it main floor. The Hob Nob looks great, really nice bar /restaurant. My wife had a medium rare hamburger, excellent and I had for the third time the Grilled Salmon delicious. Great place for a casual tasty diner . They could get a bigger TV which we suggested many times and while they are at it they could some nice painting on the blank wall beside the TV.
Our queen room was very poor, desperately in need of a renovation. The position of the bed only allowed you to get out on one side, forcing us to climb over each other.
There was no comfortable seating in the room, just 2 hard dining room chairs.
The bed was very hard as were all the towels. The air conditioner didn’t work and the only functioning window was in the bathroom. There was also no coffee maker in the room.
Although the guest rooms clearly need renovating the dining room and bar/lounge were both lovely. The food was good and the hotel is perfectly located.
A problem with my reservation at the luxurious Prince of Wales Hotel resulted in a four day stay at the twelve room Charles Inn. This was true serendipity because this little hotel is a very special spot. I was in the very small Room 12; but it was comfortable and immaculate. A great bed, and a terrific rain shower.
The restaurant at the Charles is called HobNob and it is truly fine dining. Pricey, but a good menu and a good wine list.
If you are looking for a charming hotel experience, friendly staff, beautiful grounds, this is a very nice place to stay.