Cosy spots in Canada? Absolutely. One of the many things we Canadians do well is winter, after all. It’s our season, our jam. But even hardy stock can feel the chill. So where are the best places to wait it out, to over-winter in a cosy, comfy way?
For a pop culture, nostalgic throwback, we’ve discovered the Victoria-based Hotel Zed’s retrofitted Airstream trailer called the Zedstream, the ultimate in rock-star privacy without the rock star prices ($99/night).
But if a night out dining and imbibing, an evening at a top-notch hotel or even a weekend getaway in remote wilderness is your thing, we’ve got also you covered.
Where: The Broadview Hotel
What: The Summit Lodge at the Broadview’s rooftop bar and restaurant
Why: Ski chalet chic meets warm and fuzzy wine and fondue
Happy Hour is here. And this happy hour includes faux fur throws, bird’s-eye views and a fondue and red wine menu that has us wanting to skip out work early and really take advantage of the cinq à sept vibe (but for the more conscientious, you can also book a table on the weekends from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. The cheesy fondue is brought to your table and warmed up while you wait, but even better is a sip of Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel, an Australian Shiraz or Chardonnay that pairs perfectly with the intense flavours of the cheese. Jacob’s Creek is a partner with the hotel in creating The Summit Lodge. Outdoors meets indoors with ski-chair lifts as seating, cosy fireplaces, lots of wood accents and winter sunset views. Of course, there’s no need to rush, as you can also order dinner from the menu created by chef Richard Singh, who took over the kitchens in May 2019 and oversees the offerings at the hotel’s other two dining venues, Civic and the Café + Bar, both on the main floor. Meet us there. Happy hour, indeed.
What: Japanese-inspired plant-forward restaurant
Why: Chef Darren MacLean and his omakase sushi experience. Plus, he’s a culinary superstar.
If you’re as big a sushi fan as we are, you’ll understand why we’re excited about Nupo, chef Darren MacLean’s latest dining destination. But for MacLean – also Netflix’s The Final Table star and currently seen on Food Network’s Wall of Chefs – it was more than sushi that inspired him. When he asked his mother about her favourite foods, she replied, “I like sushi and salads.” They had been discussing health and vitality and the ingredients to living life that way and his mother’s urging him to really pay attention to the power of plants. So, with that, MacLean decided Nupo, named for his mother’s maiden name, would be a plant-forward paired with sushi-focused restaurant. Healthy eating, sustainability “My mother has been my inspiration my whole life, so I want to pay homage to her with the name and spirit of wellness at Nupo.” But it’s the interiors that inspire us to get cosy and settle in for a long meal. Organic touches of birch, shale and burnt woods mingle with the more organized Japanese esthetic. And about that omakase sushi experience? It’s Calgary’s first, where 12 lucky guests sit at the counter and are served 12 courses of sushi, “piece by piece, with each serving of nigiri appearing to ‘float’ by reflecting itself on the bar’s mirrored surface.” A little culinary magic? Yes, please.
Where: Fairmont Pacific Rim
What: The Lobby – with a side trip up the steps to the Taschen Library and Botanist for food and drink.
Why: For one, the hotel is committed to removing 100 per cent of single-use plastics throughout; for two, Grant Sceney is the best bartender in Vancouver. Nuff said.
It’s not a stop in Vancouver if you don’t make a stop in at the Fairmont Pacific Rim. The lobby is a hub, socially and design-wise, with rectangular fireplaces and lots of lounge chairs for languorous days, evenings or nights by the fire, sipping on the latest concoction from the team at the Lobby Lounge, under the direction of Grant Sceney, the Pac Rim’s creative beverage director (you gotta love that title!). Book the semi-private Green Room just off the main lounge or head upstairs to Botanist, the hotel’s award-winning restaurant, helmed by executive chef Hector Laguna, who has also worked alongside the culinary likes of Susur Lee and David Hawksworth. But it’s also a bar-meets-laboratory-meets-experimental creativity, a visual and taste buds delight. Overlooking the lobby, the Taschen Library retail store, one of only two in Canada, offers up more than 275 titles that line the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, from mammoth coffee-table stunners to the latest best-selling authors. Grab a book, then sneak off to the Lobby Lounge’s Green Room, order a tipple and just sit back, and relax.
Where: River Ranche Lodge
What: In the remote Badlands of the province, it’s a retreat located on the Siksika Nation Reserve.
Why: It’s also a birding paradise – think owls and eagles.
What could more true north than a getaway to the storied Badlands of Alberta, including an experience on the Siksika Nation Reserve. With a view of the Bow River, River Ranche Lodge allows one to soak in the scenic surroundings in a cosy winter home base. With four bedrooms off the main living area, the lodge is equipped for small groups but with an exclusive privacy in mind. Play outdoors, especially after sunset, when the sky is aglow with more stars than one can count, take in authentic Indigenous cultural activities, kick back around the campfire or settle into a warming hot tub. Authentic cultural activities are encouraged, as a learning experience and a deeper connection to the people of this area. Try a sleepover in a Blackfoot teepee camp, get immersed in Blackfoot elder storytelling and a take tour of the Siksika Reserve. The best part? This one’s easy on your budget, too, as rates start at $50 a person.
Beyond Our Borders...
If you’re looking to go farther afield from the Great White North, get cosy and “couple up” your destinations. We asked the travel experts at Virtuoso, the luxury network of travel advisers, to give us their perfect pairing for double-duty travel.
Dublin, Ireland, to Reykjavík, Iceland
“The journey from Ireland to Iceland includes captivating scenery and one-of-a-kind experiences in two vastly different locales. Settle into Dublin with some aged whiskey or feast on fish and chips at the century-old Leo Burdock Christchurch. Adrenaline junkies can enjoy paragliding, buggy racing and rafting, while others can opt for a day trip to the stately Blarney Castle or the remarkable Cliffs of Moher. The rugged beauty of Iceland is also sure to amaze, as capital city Reykjavík can be a party paradise or the springboard for incredible thrills like helicopter tours, whale watching and, with luck, the Northern Lights.”