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

Prince of Wales Hotel
Prince of Wales Hotel, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario
During a recent excursion to Niagara Ontario's wine region, we spent the night at the Prince of Wales Hotel (905-468-3246) 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.

Prince of Wales Hotel
Prince of Wales - hotel room
Photo © Christine Collie
Quality in everything from the Prince of Wales restaurant, to the elegant rooms, to the fabulous Secret Garden 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. Don't miss the ornate Victorian lobby and mahogany-paneled Churchill Lounge, even if you stay elsewhere.

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 fireplace, plush carpet, marble bathroom, half-canopied bed and antique furnishings. The little extras included: heated towel rack, a separate well-lit marble shower stall with a glass door, an iron and ironing board in the oversized well-lit closet, deluxe hairdryer, and Gilchrist and Soames toiletries.

Prince of Wales Hotel
Prince of Wales - dining room
Photo © Christine Collie
We had an early dinner the hotel's Escabache restaurant that was entirely in keeping with the overall quality of the Prince of Wales hotel. The menu is a collection of Italian, Mediterranean and French cuisine created with Niagara wines and local farm ingredients. For those brave souls traveling the luxury route with young ones in tow, the restaurant also provides selections for children.

After dinner, we 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.

Note: A treat not to be missed during your stay at the Prince of Wales Hotel or during a visit to Niagara-on-the-Lake, is the leisurely Afternoon Tea served in the elegant Drawing Room to the left of the main lobby. It's an elegant high tea complete with fresh scones and fruit, dainty sandwiches and perfect tea.

Related: Niagara Ontario Wine Tours




 
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