25 Quirky Hotels Across Canada
From an historic lighthouse to a haunted jail, these quirky hotels across Canada are attractions in themselves.
Spend the night in a 19th-century lighthouse
There are a few sights that are guaranteed on any road trip through Prince Edward Island, namely red soil, lobster traps and lighthouses—but have you ever considered spending the night in the latter?
The West Point Lighthouse on the southwest coast of Prince Edward Island gives weary travellers a truly unique place to lay their weary heads. Built in 1875, the historic black-and-white striped structure remains PEI’s tallest lighthouse, standing 69 feet. After more than a century of service, the lighthouse was converted into an inn, museum and restaurant. Now, it’s outfitted with 13 rooms (two of which are inside the lighthouse itself), all boasting breathtaking views of the Northumberland Strait.
A kitschy cool stay in Kelowna
Don’t feel comfortable travelling without your vintage comics and vinyl collection? You’ll feel right at home in Kelowna, B.C.’s quirky Hotel Zed. Between the eye-popping décor and retro-fab flourishes (there’s an on-site mini-disco, complete with fog machine), everything here is designed to put a smile on your face. Heading into town? The hotel has a vintage VW shuttle on standby, or you’re welcome to borrow a pair of roller skates, skateboard or cruiser bike at no extra charge.
A wilderness retreat on Toronto’s doorstep
If your itching to escape the city (specifically Toronto) for a few nights but the idea of camping brings on a wave of panic, perhaps glamping is more your speed. A 90-minute drive east of Toronto into the rolling hills of Northumberland County will land you at Whispering Spring Wilderness Retreat.
This premier glamping getaway provides an elevated wilderness experience that allows guests to connect with nature, without enduring the, erm… Rustic charms of traditional camping (Hello electricity, running water and saltwater pool). The 200-acre property is peppered with 12 luxury tents boasting luxurious linens and plush robes. Add to your stay by taking part in a group yoga class, a leisurely paddle in a canoe or a relaxation massage in your private tent.
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Sleep at a train station—on purpose
All aboard, train enthusiasts! The Train Station Inn in the northern Nova Scotia town of Tatamagouche welcomes guests for overnight stays in both in the decommissioned train station itself, as well as in vintage boxcars and cabooses. There’s no train traffic to keep you up (the old rail bed is now part of the Great Trail, which runs along Tatamagouche Bay), and it’s an incredible chance to experience a slice of Canada’s rich railway history.
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Sway yourself to sleep in a wooden sphere
Spending the night in a treehouse is every child’s dream, but if you find yourself on Vancouver Island, you can turn those dreams into reality. A 45-minute drive from Nanaimo, B.C., will land you at the base camp for Free Spirit Spheres, three wooden globes that hang from the old-growth trees in the coastal subtropical rainforest. Designed to immerse overnight guests in nature, the unique accommodations are equipped with electricity and heat, with private bathrooms located nearby.
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Live your fantasy (for a night)
Leave it to North America’s largest shopping centre, the West Edmonton Mall, to host an over-the-top themed-room hotel. Whether you’re looking to lose yourself in Ancient Rome, the Wild West, or even outer space, chances are the Fantasyland Hotel has a hotel room (120 of them, in fact) decked out in that very motif. If you tire of your surroundings during your stay, you can always request a room change the following night to transport you to another continent—or planet!
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Spend the night behind bars
Has an “Orange is the New Black” marathon made you wonder what it’s really like to live behind bars? Well, you can satisfy your curiosity (while keeping a clean record) on your next trip to our nation’s capital. Although it’s now a quaint, comfortable and super-affordable hostel in our nation’s capital, the HI Ottawa Jail served as a prison 150 years ago. Situated in the heart of the city and offering both communal lodging and private rooms, you can’t beat its location, price and atmosphere—it’s rumoured to be extremely haunted!
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Get cozy in a swish chalet
Nestled in the lush woodlands of Charlevoix, Quebec, is a cluster of Scandinavian-inspired micro-cabins that make for a truly unique Canadian getaway. The family-owned Repere Boreal offers three types of lodgings (two of them ingeniously fashioned from shipping containers), all decked out in chic apres-ski style, complete with rich pine paneling, luxe linens and panoramic windows that are perfect for stargazing. For the true Scandinavian experience, make use of the property’s wooden hot tubs and barrel-style sauna.
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Crash in a former convent
A hop, skip and a jump from Grasslands National Park in Saskatchewan, you’ll find the Convent Inn. The 1930s-era convent and school lay abandoned for years before being fully restored and converted into a bed and breakfast. True to its schoolhouse roots, the lobby is filled to the brim with books, and breakfast is served under a blackboard in one of the former classrooms. It’s also rumoured to be haunted by a spectral nun—consider yourself warned!
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The ultimate Canadian adventure resort
Perched among the Rocky Mountains, and accessible only by water (a 40-minute boat ride from Tofino, B.C.) or air (floatplane from Vancouver), Clayoquot Wilderness Resort is truly remote. The fact that it’s also one of the best adventure holidays not in just in Canada, but in the world, makes the trek entirely worthwhile. The 25 white canvas tents take glamping to the next level: We’re talking heated bathroom floors, double sinks and outdoor cedar showers. The food is also top-notch, with all meals included, as well as many of the activities and excursions, including horseback riding, whale and bear watching and kayaking. Staying at this Conde Nast 2019 Gold List property is a once-in-a-lifetime experience—with a price tag to match.
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Spend the night in a converted grain bin
When you think of Saskatchewan, it likely conjures up images of big blue skies, flat fields and grain bins. But we’re pretty sure the thought of sleeping in one of those grain bins never crossed your mind. Well, now you can—in fact, it’s becoming a hot new trend in prairie lodging. All over the province, decommissioned grain bins are being converted into accommodations; one of the most luxurious of which can be found at Alive Sky Lodge, about an hour southwest of Saskatoon. The interior features a vaulted ceiling, metal accents, kitchenette, in-floor heat and a fireplace.
Live like Frodo for a night
If you love The Lord of the Rings and always wondered what it was like to live like Frodo and his friends in Middle Earth, then you absolutely must spend a night (or two) in Quebec’s Le Hobbit at Entre Cîmes et Racines. The 175-acre estate near Easton, Quebec (an hour and a half from Montreal), has 14 unique accommodations, though nothing’s quite like Le Hobbit with its circular door and cozy wood interior, straight out of the Shire. The site includes about fifteen kilometres of forest trails and offers playful activities including a labyrinth and a treasure hunt.
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Spend the night at a mineral spring
If you’re seeking a wellness-focused getaway that’s well off the beaten path, look no further than Salt Spring Island’s Mineral Spring Resort. Renowned as Canada’s only seaside mineral springs resort, the property draws visitors from far and wide for rejuvenating soaks in its skin-pampering mineral hot spring. After you’ve tapped the warm waters’ therapeutic effects, cozy up in one of the resort’s private ocean- or forest-view chalets.
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Enjoy midnight at the oasis (pod)
Not quite a tent yet not quite a cabin, this water droplet-shaped structure is a new form of accommodation that Parks Canada introduced in 2018, with more to come. The so-called “oasis pods” can currently be found at Terra Nova Park in Newfoundland, Kouchibouguac National Park in New Brunswick and Fundy National Park, also in New Brunswick. The idea behind the unique structures is to eventually have them suspended from trees, like the water droplets they evoke; but for the time being some are grounded whereas others are suspended on stilts. The unique pods can sleep two adults and two children, but guests are expected to bring their own bedding and supplies, as you would if you were camping.
Cool down on a bed of ice
Quebec City has a claim to fame as the only walled city in North America, but it’s also home to the continent’s sole ice hotel. Rebuilt each winter, the Hôtel de Glace is a truly magical structure made from 30,000 tons of snow and 500 tons of ice. The furniture in the 44 rooms is also made from ice and snow, right down to the bedframes. Despite these frosty surroundings, the hotel creates a comfortable sleeping experience and beds are topped with soft, comfy mattresses fully dressed with sheets, pillows and a cozy faux-fur throw. The property is a 15-minute drive from Quebec City and is surrounded by winter activities that will keep you toasty warm, such as an ice-skating path, saunas and hot tubs.
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Get yourself a grown-up treehouse for the night
If you’re afraid of heights, you might want to skip staying in one of Les Toits du Monde’s soaring treehouses, located a two-and-a-half hour drive from Montreal in Nominingue, Quebec. Built on five-metre high stilts over the forest floor, these quirky accommodations are accessible only via hanging bridge among the treetops of fir, maple and birch. Once you’re settled into your treehouse, you can prepare your own meals in the kitchenette. The ensuite bathroom features a rustic shower and compost toilet.
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The hotel at the end of the world
Unique architecture? Check. Unique location? Check. Newfoundland’s Fogo Island Inn is world-renowned as a bucket list hotel, and with good reason. The contemporary structure rises up from the barren rocks like an iceberg, and is decorated with a treasure trove of locally-made goods including wooden furniture, woven rugs, quilts and hand-painted wallpaper. What’s more, there’s a personal touch to the service that makes you feel like you’re a guest in someone’s home rather than a five-star luxury hotel. Whether you spend your days hiking or walking the coast foraging for gooseberries, a stay at Fogo Island Inn is a truly unforgettable experience.
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Catch Zzz’s in a teepee
Some of the most unique places to stay in Canada are also the most remote, read: breathtaking. Case in point, Sundance Lodges in Alberta’s beautiful Kananaskis Country, a 45-minute drive from Banff. This family-run resort doesn’t provide your typical hotel accommodations or your standard camping experience. Rather, the stunning property is scattered with beautiful painted tipis and trapper tents that offer a rustic—yet comfortable—and utterly unforgettable western experience.
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Spend the night with a masterpiece
What do you get when you mix an art gallery and a hotel? The answer lies in The Gladstone Hotel, a legendary institution in Toronto’s trendy Queen West neighbourhood. A haven for art lovers, the boutique-style hotel has no fewer than three dedicated gallery spaces on-site and hosts upwards of 70 exhibits each year. Each of its 37 rooms are unique; designed by various artists.
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Sleep in a suspended sphere
In the same vein as the Free Spirit Spheres (but on the other side of the country), are the two fibreglass “tree bubbles” of Cap Jaseux Adventure Park. Located 25 minutes from Saguenay, Quebec, the park supplements its unique accommodations (which also include log cabins, domes and treehouses) with a variety of ecotourism activities like via ferrata, sea kayaking and fjord high ropes.
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Live (and sleep) your Wild West fantasy
If you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of Calgary and authentically experience Alberta’s rich ranching history, saddle up and make your way down to Sierra West Cabins. A two-hour drive due south of Calgary will land you at the base of the Canadian Rockies, where you’ll find this working cattle ranch and rustic resort. The property straddles the banks of Todd Creek and offers three log cabins as well as a mini-village, known as Cowtown, that’s complete with three bunkhouses, saloon and cantina—straight out of a spaghetti Western. Guests can experience a cattle drive, horseback riding and nighttime campfire sing-alongs. No pets are allowed—but you’re welcome to bring your own horse. Yee-haw!
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The yurt is the word
What’s a “yurt,” you ask? The round, canvas-covered tent commonly used by Mongolian herders has become a staple of the glamping scene over the past decade. You won’t find two cuters yurts than the ones on offer at Flora Bora, a 30-minute drive north of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. The “Yeti Yurt” and “Betty’s Abode” come fully furnished and offer amazing views of Christopher Lake and the surrounding forests.
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Sleep with the polar bears
A stay at the Frontiers North Tundra Buggy Lodge in Churchill, Manitoba, doesn’t come cheap, but consider the items you’ll check off your bucket list while you’re there. First off, you’ll get to see polar bears in their natural habitat—namely, Polar Bear Point, home to the largest concentration of polar bears in this part of Canada. What’s more, you can actually sleep alongside them—albeit separated by several layers of insulation, with you snug and warm in your lodge while the majestic creatures stalk the frigid tundra outside. If the view from your winter isn’t enough, join one of the daily tours via raised buggy for an up-close-and-personal photo opps. The final bucket list experience? Viewing the spectacular Northern Lights from the lodge’s very own rooftop observation deck.
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Stargaze in a geodesic dome
Love nature, but hate camping? You can have it all in the “glamping domes” at New Brunswick’s Ridgeback Lodge. The 185-acre property on the Kingston Peninsula is about an hour and half drive from Fredericton, Moncton and Saint John, and makes for the perfect romantic weekend getaway. Each dome houses a king-size bed (complete with memory foam mattress), bathroom, kitchenette and barbeque.
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Spend the night in a century-old church
No matter what your beliefs, one night in this fully refurbished deconsecrated church will have you counting your blessings. This century-old church-turned Airbnb in Western Ontario has traded in its tabernacle for a games room, complete with pool table, ping pong, darts and even a poker table. It’s also large enough to sleep 12, making it perfect for a weekend getaway with friends—provided you’re all on your very best behaviour, of course.
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