CANADIAN INTERIOR DESIGN stars Yabu Pushelberg made their first foray into the world of boutique hotel design with Arc The Hotel, which opened in 2000 in Ottawa’s down-to-business downtown core.

Everything from the front door to the 112 rooms and suites resonates with smart, simple elegance. An inviting upper lobby provides a cozy spot to stop and chat over a complimentary coffee, and a small library just beyond that sequesters those needing a quick half hour of quiet time. A decent, 24-hour fitness centre occupies the lower deck, while two extra boardrooms take over part of the second floor.

Airy rooms sport a modern traditional vibe with a mushroom, sage and dove grey colour palette. Roman blinds and wood-paneled screens further enhance the cocooning factor. Nice surprises include amenities from top spa line Gilchrist & Soames, Frette waffle-weave robes and art that is actually tasteful. The hotel has partnered with a couple of nearby spas for a little extra pampering to round out the boutique experience.

The Arc Lounge and Restaurant is upscale Canadiana—red padded walls, leather sofas, rich wood finishes, an easy pace. The eclectic menu shoots for seasonal, local and as organic as possible. The room is a destination spot for the local lunchers, with regular special events keeping the after-work martini crowd in the swim. As well, 2009 marks the Arc’s third year as the official hotel for Ottawa Gay Pride.

When you’re not at home base, the famous Market, Parliament Hill and the Rideau Canal are all just a short walk away. Don’t forget to pack your skates.

RATES $129 to $325 (low season); $169 to $425 (high season).