With chilly winter days, it's tempting to want to curl up in front of a crackling fire and watch the snowflakes tumbling from the sky. It’s even better when you’re swaddled in comfort at a luxury lodge, rustic lakeside cottage or boutique hotel. So indulge! Even a quick getaway close to home can help you rest, recharge and fully embrace Canada’s winter.
Bundle up the family or simply hunker down with your honey in these top Canadian winter accommodations.
Unusual city stays
Who says urban adventures have to involve planning the fine details or seeking uncharted territory to feel that rush of getting away. Sometimes, bedding down at an unusual accommodation is all the walk on the wild side that’s needed.
In British Columbia's capital, Victoria, not everything is about high tea and politics. At hip Hotel Zed, chill out in The Zedstream, a one-of-a-kind Airstream trailer transformed into a crash pad, complete with private deck, TV, shower, and mini-fridge. Winter is quite mild on the southwestern coast of Canada, so you can stroll the Inner Harbour (or even go kayaking), gaze at the twinkling lights on the BC Parliament Buildings, then grab take-out before heading back to your digs to settle in with a comic book supplied by the hotel.
If you prefer your city retreat to be even more chilled out, then it’s time to book a few nights at Quebec City's inimitable and luxurious Hôtel de Glace. Of course, this is Quebec, fêted for its bonhomie, so you can choose a room with a comforting fireplace set amid all those blocks of ice and snow. There’s an ice skating path, plus a thermal spa, and indoor and outdoor swimming pools located in the on-site Hôtel Valcartier.
Some vacations are about unplugging, but a stay at Churchill Northern Studies Centre (a spacious LEED-silver certified facility) in Manitoba will fire your imagination and fuel your sense of wonder. CNSC's learning vacations take guests into the great outdoors to spot wildlife and view the aurora borealis, or northern lights. The town of Churchill boasts that it’s the best place in the world to see them. Bonus: CNSC has changed up its packages to include options for solo travellers.
If you want to keep your eyes on nature while staying warm, check in to one of Ridgeback Lodge’s ultra-cool Dream Domes. Located in New Brunswick, just outside St. John, these romantic suites sport a fully equipped kitchenette and private deck. The lodge also has two self-contained cabins available year-round.
Lodge life from luxe to low-key
Canada’s lodges are shapeshifters, ranging from rustic wilderness resorts to indulgent mountain and lakeside retreats. What these spectacular stays share in common is how your sense of winter wonder is heightened by surroundings swathed in snow.
Northern exposure goes deep at Blachford Lake Lodge just outside of Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories. With self-contained log cabins and cozy guest rooms (including the one Will and Kate stayed in during their Royal Tour of Canada), it’s the ideal base for a Canadian winter adventure. Outdoor activities abound with snowmobiling tours (some come with tea and cookies), searching for snowy owls and foxes on nature trails, gawking at the aurora, or chartering a float plane from Great Slave Lake. “Next door” in the Yukon, the Northern Lights Resort & Spa in Whitehorse lets guests stay extra-cozy and get close to the aurora action when bedding down in one of its signature glass-fronted chalets.
With the serrated Rocky Mountains, turquoise lakes and impossibly blue skies, it's no surprise that Alberta is flush with memorable mountain lodges. One of its standouts is the singular Skoki Lodge, set in the high-alpine region in Banff National Park. Only intrepid cross-country skiers willing to take the 11-kilometre route from Lake Louise can access this National Historic Site during the winter season. Beware: Rumour has it that five ghosts haunt the old Halfway Hut en route.
On Canada's Atlantic Coast, winter retreat meets digital detox at Eagle Mountain Lodge, hunkered down amid the Long Range Mountains. Situated about 70 km north Deer Lake, in Newfoundland and Labrador, this is the true backcountry, bordering the ancient landscape of Gros Morne National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Forget social media—the lodge doesn't have cellular phone coverage. (It does have a high-speed satellite internet connection, if you must get online.) You’ll be too busy communing with nature, carving your own pathway by snowmobile and relaxing in your ensuite room, mesmerized by the power of nature just steps away.
Boutique hotels and charming cottages
Small wonders, whether quaint cottages or chic retreats, are about solitude, personalization, and exclusivity. Find those hidden trails to explore by making your base on-grid or off.
Prince Edward Island loves winter so much, the island province celebrates the season with a fest: WinterlovePEI. So head to the capital, Charlottetown, where charm and hospitality aren't strange bedfellows at Fairholm Boutique Inns. Located downtown, the property is composed of four restored heritage buildings with 32 suites spread among them. Make this your weekend retreat for winter revelry like tobogganing, ice skating, and drinking mugs of steaming hot chocolate, of course.
Need a getaway where you can bring your pooch or kitty? Head to Rossland, where pet-friendly The Josie hotel holds court on the slopes of RED Mountain Resort, just one of British Columbia’s countless outdoor winter playgrounds. In fact, The Josie was named Canada’s Best Ski Boutique Hotel in the 2019 World Ski Awards. Whatever your "pre" activity—fat biking, cat skiing, snowboarding, or snowshoeing—enjoy an après cocktail on the patio before falling into bed after a day well spent on the mountain.
Just outside Québec City is the alluring Hôtel-Musée Premières Nations, a boutique hotel inspired by a traditional longhouse and adorned with original Wendake-made crafts. Guests can discover Huron-Wendat culture at the on-site museum, explore the hiking trails year-round, enjoy a Labrador tea ceremony, and get rejuvenated at its Nation Santé Spa.
When snowmobiling is your idea of paradise and you want to get off the grid—but not eschew all creature comforts—bunk down at Iron Mountain Cabins on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. It features five heated cabins and a main lodge surrounded by snow, but just 35 minutes from the convenience of the Canso Causeway. Did we mention there’s also a licenced pub with Nova Scotia craft beers on tap?
Bring on winter! Skating, curling, skiing, and hiking Saskatchewan's boreal forest are go-to activities for guests at Elk Ridge Resort. But you’ll need somewhere to sleep. Choose from family friendly townhomes, cabins, and cottages, equipped with kitchens, gas fireplaces and more.
Ontario is no stranger to idyllic winter landscapes, and one easy escape from Toronto to fully appreciate such beauty is a jaunt to Blue Mountain. Along with activities like snowshoe tours and sleigh rides, this winter adventure hub has its share of sexy slope-side accommodations like the Westin Trillium House. Nestled in the mountain’s pedestrian-only village, the boutique hotel’s expansive suites can accommodate families wanting to spend their days exploring and evenings relaxing in their home away from home.