Here’s a sneak peek at what you will find in Spring 2018 – on newsstands March 5th.
While a bed and breakfast can be synonymous with romance and spoils, the idea quickly divides guests into two camps. There is a fan base for the intimate and personal experience of a B&B while many others steer clear for those very reasons. A larger chain hotel offers privacy, soundproofing, steady wi-fi, big screen TVs, even bigger beds, endless hot water and usually a Keurig for a self-sufficient morning. There’s no forced communal breakfast or shared toilets—though, if you are game for sharing a table with strangers in the morning, the reward is huge. B&B owners tend to be unofficial experts in the breakfast department, pulling out all the stops with a decadent line-up of banana breads, French press coffee, warm granola, frittatas, piles of bacon and stacks of pancakes.
If you don’t mind creaking wood floors, hearing your neighbours (or inn owners) moving about, there’s a unique opportunity to be found in a B&B: heritage, a farm-to-table menu, old paperbacks, artifacts, fine art, locally milled soaps, Scrabble boards and genuine local ambassadors eager to introduce you to a secret insider experience. While an average B&B in Canada has three or four rooms, up to 11 rooms can still be considered as a Bed and Breakfast or guest house. Hosts are keen mind readers too—they make themselves as present or absent as you’d like.
While TripAdvisor and the like can provide a quick top 10 list of pubs or bakeries in the area, a bed and breakfast owner can direct you to the very best Shepherd’s Pie, picnic spot, running route or coffee shop that offers origami workshops.
There’s much to be shared at a B&B—beyond breakfast. Hosts are a treasured breed who open their homes and history to visitors. Sometimes there are cats and dogs, also eager to greet you. Proprietors are usually well-travelled sorts, picky for good reason. They have slept all around the world and refined the very best of their experiences for guests.
While Airbnb listings have surged as of late, there’s still a lot to be said for the reliable nature of B&B’s versus some mortgage-broke couple trying to make a fast buck by calling their basement/laundry room a “suite.” Trust me, I’ve experienced a few of these.
Here’s a list of some of the B&Bs that make our hearts pound with thoughts of hot soaks in slipper tubs, a little Prosecco, a serene sleep and eggs Benny.
Treetop Haven, Mount Tryon, PEI
There are five magical, woodsy geodesic domes to choose from at Treetop Haven. Most fitting would be the “Blue Jay” as it is Prince Edward Island’s provincial bird. Perched nine feet high in the trees, the 425- square foot TreePOD is a marvel with a private outdoor hot tub, deck, fully equipped kitchen, barbeque, 4-piece bath and a killer view. This takes bird watching to the next level! Founders and seasoned travellers, Sheila Arsenault and her daughter, Danika, have been dreaming about Treetop Haven for a long time, ensuring every design detail is with purpose. Sheila has explored over forty countries around six continents, while her sidekick Danika has been to ten countries. (Editor’s note: Danika is five years old!) Sheila has her diploma in Travel & Tourism Management, as well as her Red Seal as an Electrician. Danika has graduated from preschool and now takes the school bus to kindergarten. Dream with these two in their aptly named Haven. Though not technically a bed and breakfast, we say close enough!
Earle of Leinster “Inn Style” B+B, St. John, New Brunswick
Think plaids, skins, snowshoes. The Pine Room at the Leinster is one of nine carefully curated rooms, and this is rustic at its best. You might wake up confused about your whereabouts—is this a remote mountain lodge or just a short walk from historic downtown St. John? Built by the city’s water commissioner, the home is now owned by professional photographer Dwight Reimer and his wife Cheryl. As one of the first homes to be built after the great fire of 1877, the weight of history is enormous here. Many of the rooms have original marble fireplaces, 14-foot ceilings and a nod to the Victorian era. Bonus: DVD collections of spaghetti westerns in the Pine Room or, better yet, if you book the colourful Savoy, the furniture in this room was in a Tom Selleck movie!
Bailey House, Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia
The 650-square-foot two-bedroom Coach House is designed for escape, marriage proposals and serious recharging. Located in the privacy of meticulous English-style gardens, the clawfoot tub beckons. Handsomely designed with Shaker-style furniture, a glass mosaic tiled shower and warm cork flooring, the mood is instantly set. The wingback chairs just beg for books to be read. Built around 1770, the Georgian period timber frame Bailey House is located on one of Canada’s oldest streetscapes. Proprietor Suzan Hebditch is the daughter of a hotelier, so innkeeping is in their bloodlines. She has attended the Culinary Institute of America—so, don’t skip breakfast. Dog lovers will delight in the company of Lucy, the resident Portuguese Water Dog.
La Rose des Vents, Magdalen Islands, Quebec
Located between the sea and river, sunrise and sunset (and heaven and earth as the owner would suggest), this B&B on Havre-Aubert Island is the kind of place that will make you want to uproot and find real estate of your own nearby. The windswept dunes, white powder beaches, lagoons and whimsical art studios of La Grave pull at all angles—if you can manage to leave the comforts of the B&B. It’s rare that you can fall asleep to the sound of waves and exhaling horses—or watch them romp about in the morning from the vantage point of “La Dolce Vita,” the summer kitchen where host Geneviève Alain showcases the best local stuff (baked bread, honey, cheese, preserves) in a fairy tale spot. The surrounding flower gardens are as carefully tended to as the divine breakfast. Expect good, stiff coffee, fresh yoghurt shakes and an abundance for all your senses.
The Orange Bicycle Guesthouse and Gardens, Tobermory, Ontario
“A short trip from the big city, nowhere near ordinary,” neatly sums up this B&B in Northern Ontario known for its middle eastern hospitality. After a slog on the nearby Bruce Trail restores your weary body with a King size bed, 600-thread counts Egyptian cotton sheets and Turkish cotton towels. In the morning, your most difficult decision will be whether to order the date and pecan grilled sandwich or the infamous avocado scramble egg plate. The Orange Bicycle is owned by Nick Ferrence and Neda Sarbakhsh. Neda, who is originally from Tehran, Iran, had to sell her bicycle when she was 15. Girls were banned from riding bicycles after the Islamic Revolution in Iran. When she immigrated to Canada in 1998, Neda purchased a second-hand bicycle in Kensington market and landed a job as a bike courier in downtown Toronto. This old Huffy bike and remains in the garden as testament to her journey and continued commitment to exploring and adventure.
Jules Torti’s resume reads more like a well-folded treasure map. She has been a canoe outtripper, outdoor educator, colouring book illustrator and freelancer. Jules has volunteered (and eaten all sorts of questionable things) in the soupy jungles of Costa Rica, Uganda and the Congo. Her work has been published in The Harrowsmith Almanac, The Vancouver Sun, The Globe & Mail, travelife, Canadian Running and Coast Mountain Culture. She actively feeds her blog, Alphabet Soup, with posts on books, birds, burgers and beer (in no particular order) across the latitudes from Zanzibar to Iceland. Closer to home, she was grandfathered into the Galt Horticultural Society, was the caretaker of a 155-year-old stone heritage cottage and has chronic fantasies about church conversions, beekeeping and owning llamas. She has been known to slam on the brakes for photo ops of saltbox houses, saddle roof barns, snowy owls and sunflower fields. As editor-in-chief of Harrowsmith she is thrilled to be able to curate, write and read about the very best things in life.