These Wildly Luxe Canadian Lodges Need to Be on Your Hot List

Fogo Island Inn, Canada

Stay in a castle. Or escape to an island where icebergs float past your hot tub. Here, a local shows you around a historic chateau presiding over a French-speaking food capital. And if you like that level of luxe with a side of adventure, you’ll love the epic retreats hidden in Canada’s most remote wilds…

The iconic stay: Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, Québec City

Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, Québec City

“I love how this place brings old-world magic to a city full of modern food and culture,” says Marc Duchesne, who has lived in Québec City since the age of seven and now runs Cicérone Tours, guiding visitors around its twisting cobblestoned streets.

“The Château, which sits on a cliff top overlooking Québec, isn’t just the castle on postcards. This place is tattooed on the locals’ hearts. We come here for Pernod cocktails or a roasted chicken club sandwich because they are the best – and Québécoise care alot about food! The chateau is part of what makes this city unlike anywhere else in Canada, or the world.

“It’s filled with history. The opulent Salon Rose is where Roosevelt and Churchill worked out the plans for the landing at Normandy to end World War II. Princess Grace of Monaco stayed here in 1969. And although it looks so European on the outside, little touches connect to the Canadian landscape; the ceilings in the lobby are painted the blue of the St. Lawrence River and the top-level suites have views all the way to Orleans Island and the gentle peaks of the Laurentian Mountains.

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“This city’s wound together by First Nations, Canadian and European cultures. Our cuisine reflects Italian and French influence and chefs are putting more and more emphasis on boreal flavours, which is what makes the food scene here so unique.

One of my favourite restaurants is Bistro Hortus on rue Saint-Jean in Old Québec. The chef, Stephane Roth, exclusively uses local products – the restaurant even has gardens on the roof and bees are kept there.

Right next to Château Frontenac, there’s a spot called Chic Shack that I say does the best poutine, our local favourite. They make it with potato wedges (rather than the usual French fries), fry it in duck fat and top it with cheese curd and a veal stock gravy.

“We also love our craft beer and pubs. There’s one called Le Sacrilége in the borough Saint-Jean Baptiste: downstairs, inside a nook in a stone wall, there’s a little case marked ‘This is where Champlain lies’. Samuel de Champlain was the French colonist who founded the city. No one really knows his resting place and I don’t think it’s really here but it’s very Québec. There’s a little bit of history or culture wherever you look.”

If you like luxury with a side of adventure, you’ll love these unique retreats around Canada…

Fogo Island Inn, Newfoundland and Labrador

You’ll love… Watching giant icebergs from your hot tub

Fogo Island Inn, Canada

Time moves differently on Fogo Island; a fog-swept, sometimes ice-bound island on Canada’s remote north Atlantic coast. When you’re planning a stay at Fogo Island Inn, a modern architectural marvel hovering above rocky coastal cliffs, you need to consider seven seasons rather than four.

You’ll get snow, bonfires and pease puddings in winter and coastal strolls or swims at sandy coves in summer. In spring, local foragers collect edible plants, chunks of glacier and fat sea snails for their kitchens. The long and warm days of ‘trap berth’ season are ideal for fishermen, while November is ‘late Fall’, when farmers pull up parsnips and caribou are about.

In the berry season between September and October, island meadows brim with blueberries, partridgeberries and raspberries that locals invite you to help bottle. ‘Pack ice season’ is in March, when creaking, almost living ice floes surround the island, attracting seals and seabirds to bask on their shimmering white expanses.

The inn’s trick is to coddle you while exposing you to the elements. You’ll dine on strictly seasonal bounty and centuries-old Fogo recipes. Inside suites, giant windows blur lines between the inside and the sea. Come between mid-May and June and you might be able to watch skyscraping icebergs from the rooftop hot tub.

Local tip: This is a retreat perfect for couples or groups but the serenity of Fogo Island is also ideal for solo travellers. You can explore the landscape on your own – unlikely you’ll have to share any of it – or one of the inn’s community hosts can join you on your rambles.

Are these the most epic stays on earth? Watch icebergs from your hot tub. Sleep in a canvas palace or a luxe cabin with a front-row view of the Northern Lights. Book a bucket-list escape with great fares for flights to Canada on qantas.com

Trout Point Lodge, Nova Scotia

You’ll love… Rustic luxury in ancient woods

Barrel Sauna, Trout Point Lodge, Canada

At first it seems all’s quiet in this mossy green woodland but then your ears adjust: a hummingbird buzzes as it dips at a flower, a deer rustles behind a maple and a beaver clunks a log onto a dam. You’ll soon feel part of the ecosystem at Trout Point Lodge, a log cabin gone five-star on the edge of a UNESCO biosphere reserve, around a four-hour drive from Halifax. Pull on your boots and puffer jacket to go fly fishing, forest bathing or canoeing. Then stargaze around a firepit or retreat to the fireplace in your plush suite. The kitchen turns foraged, wild Atlantic ingredients into a fine dining experience, with dishes such as just-caught lobster with beurre blanc and wild berries dressed in Valrhona chocolate and garden herbs.

Local tip: The resort is open between May and October. Summer’s the pick if you want to see lively wildlife; book in autumn if saunas and crackling log fires are your scene.

Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge, British Columbia

You’ll love… Glamping on a food safari

Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge, Canada

On Vancouver Island, a 45-minute seaplane ride from Vancouver’s bright lights, you’ll find yourself in iconic wild Canada: pure air and epic scenery begging for bracing adventures. Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge is the highest-end base camp imaginable. There are 25 lavishly appointed canvas tents woven into the old-growth conifer forest, some only footsteps to the waters of Clayoquot Sound. You’ll want to do it all – ride horses, heli-hike, canoe and kayak – before surrendering to a hot-stone massage inside the waterside spa tent, the sauna or a hot tub. Eating is also an adventure in indulgence. The Cookhouse restaurant specialises in sustainable British Columbian produce such as freshly-caught ceviche and prairie-raised bison. In the evenings, s’mores are toasted on the outdoor fire.

Local tip: “Visit in September and you can swim with the wild salmon,” says general manager Sarah Cruse. “You can snorkel and swim with the spawning fish as they cruise freely in the pure – and cold – Canadian river waters. It’s a remember-forever moment.”

Blachford Lake Lodge, Northwest Territories

You’ll love… Northern Lights or midnight sun

Blachford Lake Lodge, Canada

For most of the year, it’s aurora chasers who book up the cushy wood cabins and hotel-style rooms at Blachford Lake Lodge. Conditions are so good here on the edge of the Arctic Circle that you’ve got a 96 per cent chance of seeing the lights in a three-day stay.

You won’t mind the wait. Strap on the snowshoes or take the kids kicksledding across blankets of snow, play pond hockey or, when conditions are just right (usually in February and March), build an Inuit-style igloo and camp out while watching for the lights.  Never fear if you drop off by the fire, there’s an aurora wake-up service and windows are angled to drink up the sky.

From May through early August you can’t see the aurora in summer’s 24-hour daylight. But you’ll find a thawed-out wilderness exploding with colour and wild berries. And running from the sauna to plunge in a lake under the midnight sun is its own kind of natural wonder.

Local tip: The snow is so pure that locals roll hot, sweet maple taffy into fresh-fallen flakes and call the snack tire sur la neige (draw on the snow) – ask the lodge’s cook to show you how.

Aurora Beaver Cabin, Blachford Lake Lodge, Canada

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Image credits: Fogo Island Inn; Chateau Frontenac; Fogo Island Inn and Alex Fradkin; Trout Point Lodge; Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge; Martina Gebarovska & Blachford Lake Lodge.

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