How Luxury Hotels Are Filling the Dinner-Date Void in Ontario and Quebec
Having just parted ways with the parka-clad crowd trudging along snow-encrusted King Street, my date and I raise our room-service gin and tonics. “To desperate measures!” Angela says with a laugh, referring to the four-course dinner we’re about to enjoy not in an outlaw restaurant, but in a stylish suite on the ninth floor of Le Germain Hotel Toronto Mercer. Purposefully launched following the pandemic-induced closures of public indoor dining in Ontario and Quebec, the one-night “Gastronomy Package” we booked is also available at Le Germain properties in Montreal, Quebec City, Ottawa, and a second Toronto location in Maple Leaf Square. In addition to ensuite dinners for two prepared and curated by the chefs and sommeliers of each hotel’s in-house restaurant, the getaways include valet parking and lavish continental breakfasts. Le Germain Gastronomy Packages start at $399 (all prices are based on double occupancy).
At the appointed hour of 7 p.m., a masked room-service attendant greets us at our door and passes us trays laden with colourful plates of grilled shrimp and steaming bowls of butternut squash soup, accompanied by a superb bottle of Cuvée Jean-Paul’s Vaucluse Rouge. Forty-five minutes later, blackened rainbow trout and flourless chocolate cake are delivered to what feels like our own private dining room, furnished as it is with a beautifully dressed table for two. The package provides a welcome antidote to both restaurant withdrawal and pandemic fatigue, as well as the unusual opportunity to slip into something more comfortable before dessert.
These Le Germain hotels aren’t the only upscale Canadian accommodations filling the dinner-date void with culinary getaways focused on in-room dining. For instance:
Manoir Hovey, North Hatley, Que.
This upscale Relais & Châteaux property on the shores of Lac Massawippi in the Eastern Townships has pivoted to have fare ranging from homemade granola with “Hovey Honey” and local blueberry jam to an eight-course tasting menu delivered to any of its seven standalone cottages. Guestrooms, meanwhile, have been furninged with dining tables and chairs to accommodate packages such as the aptly-named “Relaxation & Fine Dining” package, which includes two 60-minute massages and an eight-course “Discovery Menu” for two that spans Lake Saint-Pierre sturgeon caviar and venison with black truffle and foie gras sauce, and includes a seven-glass wine flight. (From $690 a night)
Sterling Inn and Spa, Niagara Falls
As another effective cure for pandemic fatigue, massage therapy fits right into the one- or two-night “Retreat Package” at this upscale boutique hotel on the quiet northern outskirts of Niagara Falls. It parlays a three-course in-room dinner for two from the award-winning AG Inspired Cuisine restaurant with a 55-minute couples massage in the Sterling’s full-service spa, as well as breakfast in bed the following morning. (From $499 a night)
“Dinner & Bed” packages, Montreal
As one of North America’s most fun-loving and gastronomic cities, it figures that Montreal is home to a plethora of in-room dining partnerships between gourmet eateries and upscale hotels. The resulting “Dinner & Bed” packages from Hotel Nelligan, Hotel Place d’Armes, Auberge du Vieux-Port, and the William Gray Hotel all include parking and multi-course dinners from eateries ranging from Méchant Bœuf and Brasserie 701 to Kyo Bar Japonais and Maggie Oakes, with some offering welcome cocktails. (From $160 a night)
Hotel X, Toronto
Scenically overlooking Lake Ontario, this 30-storey member of the luxurious Library Hotel Collection is offering a “Dine-In eXperience Package” until February 28, 2022. It includes a three-course in-room dinner — think East Coast oysters, steak frites, and chocolate mousse — and complimentary parking. (From $810 a night)
Le Baluchon Eco-resort, Saint-Paulin, Que
This forest-shrouded rustic-chic resort halfway between Montreal and Quebec City offers a one-night “Great Escape” package that includes a three-course gourmet dinner and breakfast, complementary use of the surrounding cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails — equipment included — and use of the indoor pool. (From $330 a night)
Four Seasons Toronto
Hogtown’s homegrown luxury hotel chain is getting a head start on the second pandemic Valentine’s Day with “Sweet Celebration.” This package includes a complimentary room upgrade, overnight valet parking, a bottle of Perrier-Jouët champagne, a welcome gateau, and last but not least, a $100-per-night room-service credit that can be very well spent on a AAA-grade tenderloin steak slathered with Bordelaise butter. (From $467 a night)
L’Auberge des Battures, La Baie, Que.
Whether focused on snowshoeing, ice fishing, snowmobiling, or dog-sledding on and around the stunning Saguenay Fjord, all of the winter packages offered by this luxe lodge include an in-room three-course gourmet dinner starring locally sourced elk, walleye, and cheese. (From $235 a night)
Millcroft Inn, Caledon, Ont.
This bucolic 100-acre estate in the rolling hills northwest of Toronto is offering a “Retreat to Nature” package that includes a three-course dinner and hot breakfast for two. (From $469 a night)
Photos courtesy of Le Germain, Manoir Hovey, Sterling Inn, Hotel Place d’Armes, Hotel X, Le Baluchon, Four Seasons, L’Auberge des Battures, and Millcroft Inn