Gourmet Travel - Prince of Wales Hotel Review - Niagara on the Lake, Niagara Falls Hotels

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Tasting Niagara - Prince of Wales Hotel, Niagara-on-the-Lake

by Wade Rowland - Part 4

We spent the night at the Prince of Wales Hotel in Niagara-on-the-Lake (a half-hour drive north of Niagara Falls and just a kilometer or two away from the Peller Estates winery), a little town boasting dozens of quality hotels and B&Bs. Niagara-on-the-Lake embodies the mid-to-late history of Ontario in its pubic buildings along King street (it was the original colonial seat of government), and in the stately Victorian homes and Ontario vernacular-style cottages set well back along streets lined with mature maples and walnuts.

Like the rest of the town we saw, the Prince of Wales Hotel arose from the ashes left behind by retreating American troops in the War of 1812-14. (Only one house remained standing.) It has recently undergone a cost-is-no-object restoration and renovation which has left the exterior and most interior architectural features pretty much unchanged in their original Victorian charm. What has been added in expanding this rustic hostelry to 150 luxury rooms has been integrated so well that it's difficult to separate old from new.

Quality in everything from the Prince of Wales restaurant (don't miss the lobby and Churchill Lounge, even if you stay elsewhere), to the rooms, to the fabulous spa with its heated saltwater pool, is what one would expect to find in any of the fine old railway hotels now mostly owned by the Fairmont chain in Canada. No detail has been overlooked.

Prince of Wales Hotel
Prince of Wales - hotel room
Photo © Christine Collie
The Prince of Wales's main building was fully booked, and we were given one of the deluxe rooms hidden away in renovated cottages adjoining the hotel property, on a side street a few steps from the hotel's rear entrance. From the street, the cottage looked like what it had once been, a typical nineteenth- or early twentieth-century, single-storey clapboard home, complete with wooden screen door and painted plank porch. Step through the front door, though, and you're in a fine (low-ceilinged) hotel, with the full range of amenities including room service, gas fire place, plush carpet, marble bathroom, half-canopied bed and antique furnishings.

We had an early dinner that was entirely in keeping with the overall quality of the hotel, and walked a short couple of blocks to the famous Shaw Festival Theatre, where we were delighted by superb performance of Pygmalion and joined the rest of the audience in giving the ensemble cast a well-deserved standing ovation. This is one of North America's premier festival theatres, and we had expected no less.

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