Ottawa, Canada - Full-Time Travel

Ottawa, Canada

Ottawa, Canada

A Luxurious and Cozy Approach to Winter

The idea of heading north during winter might sound like total insanity, but hear us out, because nobody does hunker-down season better than the Canadians. The country’s capital, Ottawa, comes into its own when snow blankets the Gothic spires of Parliament, parks are resplendent with twinkling holiday light displays, and the annual Winterlude festival energizes the city with art installations, ice sculptures, and culinary championships. Not to mention, Ottawa has perfected the art of the snug Anglo-Celtic pub, complete with blazing fireplace and disgustingly delicious comfort food (hello, poutine).

The Must-Do

The Rideau Canal, Ontario’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, takes center stage during the winter months. From December through February (temperature permitting), it transforms into the world’s largest naturally frozen ice skating rink – a 4.8-mile trail of smooth ice utilized by 20,000 people every day, from tourists to commuting locals. If your past festive skating experiences have entailed circling a rink for an hour while dodging uncoordinated crowds, this is a massive upgrade. Rent a pair of skates and glide through the heart of the city, stopping to warm up with a coffee and a BeaverTail – a traditional Ottawan whole wheat pastry sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. 

If the Rideau Canal Skateway hasn’t quite satiated your desire for outdoor activities, try Camp Fortune, a 24-trail ski center celebrating its 100th season this year, or Parc Omega, a wildlife sanctuary that brings visitors into the domain of Canada’s native animal inhabitants. Spend the night in Wolf Cabin’s cozy rooms with floor-to-ceiling glass windows, and you’ll practically be nose-to-snout with the pack 24-hours a day.

Inn Crowd

Don’t let the Metcalfe Hotel’s modern-industrial lobby fool you; this building is rich in history. Originally the site of a home owned by Father of Confederation, Sir George-Étienne Cartier, it was later converted into Ottawa’s YMCA (look out for framed portraits shot by former guest Yousuf Karsh, who photographed luminaries including Winston Churchill, Ernest Hemingway, and Nelson Mandela). Finally, in 2017, the landmark building was transformed into a family-owned boutique hotel. It’s not the city’s most opulent accommodation (that title goes to the Fairmont Château Laurier), but the Metcalfe's modern rooms, indoor pool, and unparalleled location steps from Parliament Hill give it the edge in our opinion.

If you have time, contrast city with the country by booking a couple of nights at Cabin on the Bay, a cozy Airbnb that provides an off-the-grid experience while also being a 15-minute drive from downtown Ottawa. The absence of wifi makes this the digital detox retreat you’ve been desperate for. Save your cabin-porn photos for a ‘latergram’ and cozy up by the fire, playing board games and drinking red wine out of mugs. The cabin also comes equipped with snowshoes for exploring the ancient forest and frozen river on your doorstep.

The Table

Ottawa has more than its fair share of fancy and unusual dining options, including the North American outpost of Le Cordon Bleu. Recent buzz-worthy restaurant openings include Alice, a creative eight-course experiment in vegan cuisine helmed by award-winning Chef Briana Kim, and Gray Jay, a chef’s table concept shaped by the seasons, and, curiously, the team’s “foraging adventures” (expect atypical ingredients like pineapple weeds, sea-asparagus, lilac vinegar, and edible wildflowers). 

We are also fans of Riviera, the third restaurant by Chef Jordan Holley and his team, joining the ever-popular El Camino (best tacos in town) and neighboring Datsun (for your noodles and dumpling fix) on Elgin Street. This sleek high-ceilinged spot, which featured on enRoute’s Best New Restaurants Across Canada list in 2017, boasts a seafood-focused menu prepared in a bustling open kitchen. Try the silky crudo and a decadent lobster spaghetti, washed down with a signature tipple from master mixologist Stephen Flood.

The Last Call

Ottawa excels when it comes to cozy drinking establishments filled with laughter and good conversation, and we’d be remiss not to mention the most famous of them all: Château Lafayette. Known as “The Laff,” this landmark watering-hole has functioned as a community hangout for more than 150 years. Come at 4pm on a Saturday to catch Lucky Ron, a local celebrity and weekly musical fixture at the bar since 1999.

Looking for something a little more ambient, preferably with extravagant cocktails? Try Rabbit Hole, a speakeasy-style spot with inventive tipples and oysters on the half shell, or The MoonRoom, beloved for its craft beers, loungey vibe, and always-awesome music playlists.

The Downshift

If you’re in need of winter skin revitalization, book the Maple Luscious Body Scrub and Wrap treatment at Holtz Spa, which exfoliates and rehydrates using Canadian maple syrup, shea butter, and aloe. 

For all-day indulgence and respite from the chill, our tip is Nordik Spa-Nature. Located at the entrance to Gatineau Park, this expansive pamper spot offers visitors outdoor hot tubs, a Finnish sauna, steam baths, a Nordic waterfall, and contrasting icy pools. Do the Scandinavian hot-cold circuit, said to reduce inflammation and relax the muscles, or settle in a steaming pool and watch snowflakes swirl through the evergreens.

INTRO: @Ottawa Tourism

THE MUST-DO: @pushtheimpossible

INN CROWD:  top images - The Metcalfe Hotel, 4té Design Inc, and JVLphoto. bottom images - @Cabin on the Bay

THE TABLE:, photo by Jamie Cronick

THE LAST CALL: @Rabbit Hole

THE DOWNSHIFT: @embuffone

A lucky snorkeler watching a MASSIVE fever of Mobula Rays glide past him during a trip with @bajarawtours. The Mobula migration is in full effect right now in Baja. Every year from April to June, you can witness huge congregations of these animals along the shores of the peninsula. It`s truly an incredible thing to see.

Reel: @wandering.westerner

421 3

Quang Phu Cau Incense Village is a traditional craft village located in Quang Phu Cau Commune, Ung Hoa District, Hanoi, Vietnam. The village has a long-standing history of producing high-quality incense sticks, and it is considered one of the oldest and most famous incense-making villages in the country.

Reel: @travelmina_

100 1

An English fairytale in Canterbury. A wonderful spot for a picnic especially when the sun is shining.

Reel: @pocketwanderings

258 3

As the only Hindu region of the predominantly Islamic Indonesian archipelago, Bali is an island rich with festivals and spiritual rituals – many of which visitors are welcome to respectfully participate in. After rinsing yourself under the holy spring water which cascades through a series of waterspouts, you will emerge feeling cleansed in body and soul.

Reel: @lksjohan_ljc

350 1

Our team & @sassafranski just finished a whirlwind road trip throughout the state of Kentucky visiting some of the best museums and cultural destinations in the state. Below are some of our favorites stops that should be on your list next time you visit.

Stop 1: @bluegrasshall
Stop 2: @owensboromuseumoffineart

Stop 3: Paducah Floodwall Murals
Stop 4: Guided Tour of Metropolitan Hotel

Stop 5: @downing_museum
Stop 6: Bowling Green Murals

Stop 7: @flame_run_gallery
Stop 8: @frazierhistorymuseum
Stop 9: @oldlouisvilleky Walking Tour
Stop 10: @speedartmuseum

Visit @kytourism for your next trip to the Bluegrass state! #TravelKY #partner

77 19

A hidden gem in Saudi Arabia, AlUla is a place where ancient history meets modern luxury. Reel: @hobopeeba ...

350 1

Welcome to Season 4 of The Trip That Changed Me! Our first guest of the new season is @lauriewoolever, writer, editor, public speaker, a graduate of the French Culinary Institute (now the International Culinary Center) in New York, and former assistant to @anthonybourdain, with whom she co-wrote several books.

In this episode, Laurie shares memories from Sri Lanka, where she joined Bourdain (or “Tony,” as she affectionately calls him) on a shoot for the TV show “Parts Unknown.” For Laurie, this trip was part business and part pleasure; an opportunity to explore the lush island nation with her friend and mentor while working on a story about Sri Lankan home cooking, but it was especially significant because she was newly sober. Navigating triggers and travel rituals that involved alcohol was challenging, but the experience shifted Laurie’s perspective. To her surprise, the world was bigger and better without the booze.

🎧 Link in bio to listen to an interview full of wonderful, personal anecdotes about Anthony Bourdain the traveler, plus loads of insider tips that food-obsessives will appreciate.

Cover Art: @nelsonknatalie

186 3

This enormous staircase took 200 years to complete. With 691 steps, it has nine decorated levels with pyramids and statues called the Courtvard of the Kings. It crosses the hill to reach the Santuário Nossa Senhora dos Remédios.

Reel: @bokehm0n

167 2

Morning swim @borgobastiacreti

Reel: @victorsfitz

240 3

Surround yourself in a picturesque scenery of cherry blossoms, tulips, pansy, viola and more at the rainbow colored flower field at Hinoyama Koen Park.

Reel: @1min.traveller

524 4

Town between the mountains 🌊

The settlement of Ponta do Sol was founded around 1425, shortly after the discovery of the island by Portuguese settlers coming from Minho, the Beiras and the Algarve.

Reel: @ilya.somewhere

525 2

From the picturesque canals of Friesland to breathtaking Flevoland, and the stunning Weerribben-Wieden National Park, there`s so much to explore in The Netherlands.

Reel: @kuhrmarvin

668 2

Known for its colorful houses built on steep cliffs overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea, Positano is a small town located on the Amalfi Coast in southern Italy. Some people might consider it overrated because of its popularity and high prices. However, others might argue that its beauty and charm are worth the cost and crowds. Tell us, what do you think about Positano as a summer destination?

Reel: @rflcpl

273 1