The Charles Inn is our favourite hotel in the entire Niagara 'region'. It won our hearts with its unbeatable authentic Canadian-meets-British Empire charm, which we found simply irresistible. Located on the other side of Niagara-on-the-Lake, the hotel, that looks more like a large house, sits in a lovely little garden that lines a golf course. Passing by, it is easy to imagine the haunting tale of this house's history. No longer spooky, despite its soul living on through its quirky architecture, walking into the Charles Inn is like coming home (if you were part of an aristocratic family holidaying at its summer house that is). The perfect place for a romantic break with your other half, or even on your own - we were convinced anyway!
The hotel is located on the other side of the village, which is ideal if you really need to get away from it all as it has a completely different feel to the centre of the village or if you are a huge fan of golf - there is a green just next door. Niagara-on-the-Lake has a fresh summery and holiday atmosphere and is well worth stopping by for a night or if you like the sound of touring the wine region and you are going up to the Falls as it is extremely picturesque and relaxed. You will be spoilt for choice in Niagara-on-the-Lake as there are hundreds of vineyards to stop at for wine tastings and every single one has its own distinct feel and practices. The best time to visit the area is in October to most guests we spoke to during our trip as there is the Bernard Shaw Festival happening on the other side of the village.
Worth noting is that due to the building's listed status, it has not been possible to include air-conditioning here, so it can get a little stuffy, especially in the summer. The same goes for the internet, but who would want to be connected here anyway? The hotel has a private car-park (free) out the porch. The hotel is open all year round.
The extremely smart hotel looks like a large affluent family's home, which it once was before it was ruined by a fire and rebuilt to its former glory in 1832. The Kiely family were the previous residents and when they left the region, the house was turned into the Kiely Hotel. Today the house is a listed building hence why its authentic features like its curves doors and windows in places and tailor-made floorboards have been kept as they were. The house has a front door off the street but the main entrance is round the back in the garden via the porch (just like in the films!), which wraps around the house. There is no lobby as such apart from a long corridor that crosses the house where there is a reception desk under the stairs with a friendly face welcoming guests to the hotel. To the left of the entrance is the Veranda room. Our favourite guestroom of the house, it used to be the kitchen and still boasts the enormous original hearth. The beamed ceiling, creaking floorboards and beautiful view through the veranda accentuate the room's charm. Back through the room and into the corridor, you'll see the dining room to next door and upstairs are more guestrooms.
Every bit of décor here has been handpicked by the owner of Niagara's Finest Inns, Sue Murray, in order to maintain the original ambience of the house. Some people even say that the house is haunted, but that doesn't keep them away! For a bit of trivia, there is a tunnel under the house that leads all the way to the lake - in the harsh winters, the house staff would travel via the tunnel to collect the family supplies that arrived straight from abroad. Today it is boarded up, but it made us very curious to see this secret passage!
There isn't a long list of facilities here, but the atmosphere and original décor makes up the draw of the house and we wouldn't choose anywhere else to stay in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
There are 12 rooms spread over the ground and first floors of the house, with the best room, the Veranda room directly to the left off the corridor as you enter through the back of the house. With the original hearth of the house, as it used to be the family kitchen, it is completely different to the other rooms of the house - which are also well decorated and very pleasant.
Every room ha has a unique aspect and feel. Mrs. Murray's personal touch can be felt in every corner of the house, which is a very welcome breath of fresh air - makes a change from the large formatted hotels we are used to!
Every room looks freshly decorated and has a name like 'Onighara' and 'Richardson'; room 2 is a delightful mix of pinks and white, giving it a light and bright feel, whereas room 4 was our least favourite due to the dark tones used and the lack of light coming through. Every room has a fireplace (for show, none are working) and all bathrooms have been renovated. Some have baths and others showers. The rooms on the first floor overlook the greens from the wraparound veranda, which gives the house its smart aspect, which we fell in love with.
The quaint dining room, with soothing upbeat jazz playing from concealed speakers, its creaky floorboards and original details like its windows, shutters and decorative elements like its drapes and wallpaper user give the room a warm ambience. The main focus is the original fireplace. Often very quiet, sometimes unsettling even, we would recommend coming here as a group or for an intimate dinner. Do book beforehand as the kitchen almost tailor's the menu to the number of guests expected. The chef serves French cuisine throughout the day. Otherwise, for something even statelier, guests can opt to have a meal out on the porch at one of the small tables dressed in crisp white tablecloths and adorned with well polish silver and glistening wine glasses - a dream in the warmer months. For a cosier alternative, the hotel also has a cigar lounge-come-bar in the back. Decorated in dark wooden panelling and full of antique furniture, the small intimate bar is popular with the locals wanting to get away from it all for a couple of hours. There is no room service here, although if you ask really nicely, the staff might be able to bring a cup of tea up to your room in the morning.
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