Vacay.ca has teamed with Hotels.com to create a series of articles highlighting the best hotel travel experiences in Canada. We have spotlighted romantic hotels in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal, as well as destinations for both families and single travellers. In this installment of the series, senior writer Waheeda Harris looks at hotels that offer unique chocolate experiences — just in time for Easter.
Story by Waheeda Harris
Vacay.ca Senior Writer
“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” – Charles M. Schulz
Travel is an indulgence. But it’s a worthy gift to oneself for surviving the daily grind of the office or to fulfill a bucket-list dream to explore the world. Add the possibility of including the sweet taste of chocolate and who wouldn’t want to jump in the car or board the plane?
Hotels.com travel expert, Taylor L. Cole, says there are several ways for chocolate lovers to plan their vacations and holidays around the treats they love most.
“Many hotels cater to travellers with a sweet tooth but you have to do a little bit of research to find them,” says Cole. “Whether you want to enjoy chocolate in your tea, on a plate or in a spa treatment, the opportunities to indulge are endless.”
Vacay.ca offers the following suggestions for accommodations that provide the chocolate-obsessed with a sweet reason to check-in. We also mention a few choices from our Top 50 Restaurants in Canada Guide to help you make dining choices while you’re on the road.
THE HOLLIS, Halifax, Nova Scotia
As one of the newest additions to the DoubleTree Suites by Hilton hotel chain (opened in September 2014), this all-suites hotel offers an endless array of modern conveniences for travellers: 24-hour business centre, free WiFi, laundry service, meeting space, multilingual staff, two restaurants and town car/limo service. Every guest is welcomed with the famous DoubleTree warm chocolate chip cookie during check-in, freshly baked every day for guests. And for those who need to know — there are at least 20 chocolate chips in every cookie.
If you’re not in Halifax, no worries – Canada has eight DoubleTree Suites by Hilton (Niagara Falls, Toronto, Ottawa, Saskatchewan, Edmonton, Kamloops, Victoria and Halifax). I believe it’s possible to get your chocolate cookie fix at any of these locations.
Vacay.ca Tip: Worried about the waistline? Work off sweet treats at the hotel’s indoor pool and fitness centre or go for a walk to the nearby waterfront to take in city sights like the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, the Halifax Citadel or Public Gardens Park.
Vacay.ca Top 50 Restaurants in Canada Suggestions: Two wonderful choices are Chives Canadian Bistro (1-902-420-9626; 1537 Barrington Street; ranked No. 29 in 2014 and No. 20 in 2013) and Brooklyn Warehouse (1-902-420-9626; 1537 Barrington Street; ranked No. 29 in 2013).
Hotels.com Genuine Guest Reviews: 4.5/5.0
Location: 1649 Hollis Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Hotels.com Room Rates: As low as $139 per night. Click here.
HYATT REGENCY HOTEL, Calgary, Alberta
Adjacent to the Telus Convention Centre and the Stephen Avenue pedestrian mall, this downtown Calgary hotel works perfectly for pairing business and pleasure for visitors. In-house Thomsons Restaurant is well-known for offering fresh and sustainable dishes on its creative menu, which changes weekly to reflect local and seasonal offerings. Be sure to order this palate pleaser if available from the dinner dessert menu: the extravagant Chocolate Molten Cake with ginger ice cream. And for those who need sweetness earlier in the day, there’s also a pastry shop to find home-baked treats.
Vacay.ca Tip: Upgrade to Regency Club guestrooms, including access to a private lounge, deluxe continental breakfast, evening hors d’oeuvres, fresh fruit, home-baked cookies and turn down service that leaves the sweet taste of Calgary’s Cococo Chocolatiers chocolates on your pillow to encourage sweet dreams.
Vacay.ca Top 50 Restaurants in Canada Suggestion: For meat lovers, you’ll find a lot of what you’re looking for at Charcut Roast House (1-403-984-2180; 899 Centre Street; ranked No. 14 in 2014 and No. 5 in 2013).
Hotels.com Genuine Guest Reviews: 4.3/5.0
Location: 700 Centre Street SE Calgary, Alberta
Hotels.com Room Rates: As low as $148 per night. Click here.
RITZ-CARLTON MONTREAL, Quebec
Since the hotel’s 2012 renovation, the fabulous and fashionable have beat a constant path to occupy rooms in the contemporary décor of this light-filled hotel. Whether in town for business meetings, shopping for the next season or attending one of this city’s well-known festivals, guests have easy access to many of Montreal’s neighbourhoods. Start the day with breakfast at stylish Maison Boulud by ordering the Belgian waffle, served with chantilly, maple syrup and chocolate sauce. The welcome sugar rush will energize any traveller for a day of exploring la belle cite.
Vacay.ca Tip: Need another chocolate indulgence before bedtime? Maison Boulud’s dinner menu includes the classic French dessert Chocolat Coulant: a chocolate cake with warm chocolate centre served with caramelized milk ice cream and fleur de sel liquid caramel.
Vacay.ca Top 50 Restaurants in Canada Suggestions: Montreal is brimming with wonderful restaurant choices. Check out Maison Publique (1-514-507-0555; 4720 Marquette; ranked No. 3 in 2014), which is co-owned by Jamie Oliver. Two other outstanding choices are sister restaurants Le Vin Papillon (2519 Rue Notre-Dame Ouest; ranked No. 8 in 2014) and Joe Beef (1-514-935-6504; 2491 Notre-Dame West; ranked No. 9 in 2014 and No. 1 in 2013).
Hotels.com Genuine Guest Reviews: 4.8/5.0
Location: 1228 Sherbrooke Street, Montreal, Quebec
Hotels.com Room Rates: As low as $525 per night. Click here.
ROSEWOOD HOTEL GEORGIA, Vancouver, British Columbia
With a pedigree dating back to the 1920’s jazz age, this landmark of downtown Vancouver has been garnering awards and accolades since its reopening in 2011. Well-known for its excellent service, elegant surroundings and contemporary art collection, the hotel’s partnership with chef David Hawksworth has added another reason for locals and visitors to walk through the doors to sip and savour at Hawksworth Restaurant and Bar (ranked No. 6 in 2014 and No. 12 in 2013). This popular after-work stop has a lengthy list of crafted libations but those with chocolate on their mind should consider the spicy and sweet Ancient Ruin cocktail with serrano-infused mezcal, crème de cacao, lemon juice, agave syrup and tonka bean.
Vacay.ca Tip: The hotel’s best-kept secret is Reflections: a hidden outdoor patio open for lunch and dinner and along with tasty tapas and signature cocktails, the menu includes a housemade Chocolate Bar, a sultry combination of milk chocolate and peanut butter.
Vacay.ca Top 50 Restaurants in Canada Suggestion: Without question, pay a visit to Vij’s (1- 604-736-6664; 1480 West 11th Avenue; ranked No. 5 in 2014, No. 2 in 2013 and No. 1 in 2012), owned and run by pioneering chef and “Dragons’ Den” personality Vikram Vij. Be sure and order the famous lamb popsicles, which are a rack of lamb served with curry and meant for eating with your hands using the rib bone as a stick ($28).
Hotels.com Genuine Guest Reviews: 4.9/5.0
Location: 801 West Georgia Street, Vancouver British Columbia
Hotels.com Room Rates: As low as $320 per night. Click here.
TRUMP INTERNATIONAL, Toronto, Ontario
There’s a reason why Vacay.ca mentioned this luxurious venue in our Toronto’s Best Hotels For Romance. We wrote “Chocolates, roses and Champagne are synonymous with Valentine’s Day, and the Trump can help serve you all three. The chocolates are a highlight. They’re made in-house at the hotel’s large pastry kitchen called the Chocolate Lab. Selections are made with Valrhona Grand Cru chocolate — and will win over anyone’s heart. You’re likely to find some greeting you in your room.”
Don’t think for a second, however, that the fun begins and ends on Valentine’s Day. Vacay.ca Co-Founder Adrian Brijbassi had a chance to visit the laboratory himself and says this slice of heaven is a must for anyone who loves chocolate.
Vacay.ca Tip: It goes without saying that the chocolate offerings in this hotel are outstanding. If you get a chance check out the chocolate cart in the hotel restaurant. It features decadent truffles and an assortment of whimsical delights from the Chocolate Lab.
Vacay.ca Top 50 Restaurants in Canada Suggestion: Bar Isabel offers stellar Spanish tapas that has won rave reviews. (1-416-532-2222; 797 College Street; ranked No. 2 in 2014).
Hotels.Com Genuine Guest Reviews: 4.9/5
Location: 325 Bay Street, Toronto, Ontario
Hotels.com Room Rates: As low as $392 per night. Click here.
THE SHAW CLUB HOTEL & SPA, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario
Located in Ontario’s major wine region, this award-winning boutique hotel offers the perfect escape from the big city with private club amenities and close access to a variety of distractions such as The Shaw Festival Theatre, historic Fort George, Niagara-on-the-Lake Golf Club and myriad wineries. Travellers will appreciate the ability to unwind with the Shaw Spa’s signature treatment: the Dark Chocolate Body Mousse Wrap to detoxify, purify and energize the body in an hour — and it’s calorie-free.
Vacay.ca Tip: Go for broke with The Chocolate Fix, a three-and-a-half-hour wellness treatment at the Shaw Spa, including a Milk chocolate and tiramisu mousse facial, chocolate oil massage and the dark chocolate body mousse wrap. Float away from the spa treatment with a dozen roses and chocolate truffles.
Hotels.com Genuine Guest Reviews: 4.5/5.0
Location: 92 Picton Street, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario
Hotels.com Room Rates: As low as $159 per night. Click here.
STE. ANNE’S SPA, Grafton, Ontario
When the opportunity came up to review this outstanding getaway, Vacay.ca Writer Chris Ryall jumped at the chance, saying all guests, whether they stay overnight or just visit during the day, are given a warm and unpretentious welcome by knowledgeable reception staff. If you’re looking for a relaxing escape with a chocolate twist, then Ste. Anne’s will have everything you need. Afternoon tea includes espresso hazelnut chocolate biscotti and reverse chocolate chip cookie. But it isn’t just mouth-watering morsels that you can eat that make this stop a syrupy gem — at Ste. Anne’s you can actually wear the chocolate.
For $145 you can spend an hour enjoying the Warm Chocolate Swedish Massage seasonal spa treatment. This treatment combines “dark chocolate with coconut oil and your choice of peppermint or clementine essential oils,” an aromatherapy blend that is then applied to the skin.
Vacay.ca Tip: When you’re finished your spa treatment, wind down even further with a delicious cup of chocolate spice tea ($15.99). If all this doesn’t address your need for chocolate, check out the bakery featuring gluten-free cookies and chocolates such as flourless cake, hazelnut terrine and chocolate concord.
Hotels.com Genuine Guest Reviews: 5.0/5
Location: 1009 Massey Road Grafton, Ontario
Hotels.com Room Rates: As low as $269 per night. Click here.
While we were focusing this list on chocolate-friendly Canadian hotels, I just couldn’t resist adding in a bonus:
THE LANGHAM, London, England
Steps from smart shopping lures of Piccadilly Circus and close to media ground zero of BBC House, this fashionable address of London initiated the tradition of serving afternoon tea 150 years ago. Stylish ladies and sartorial gentlemen regularly spent the post-lunch hours chatting over tea, sandwiches, scones and sweet treats. The Langham Afternoon Tea with Wedgwood includes Wedgwood speciality teas, Wedgwood china and the must-have Wedgwood Tea Cup: a white chocolate mousse with jelly and dark chocolate.
Vacay.ca Tip: Head to The Artesian, chosen as the World’s Best Bar for the past three years by the Drinks International World’s 50 Best Bars ceremony — ask for a Glad I Said, a cocktail concocted for Valentine’s Day that comes with a white chocolate kiss.
Hotels.com Genuine Guest Reviews: 4.7/5.0
Location: 1 Portland Place, Regent Street (near Piccadilly Circus), London, England
Hotels.com Room Rates: As low as $495 per night. Click here.
[box_light]You can also give the gift of travel this year with a Hotels.Com gift card.[/box_light]