Photo courtesy Tourism Ottawa

Where to stay: Alt Hotel Ottawa

This hotel gives you a downtown location and fresh style without breaking the bank. The 148-room property offers a pared-down experience (there’s no on-site hotel spa), but doesn’t scrimp on what matters most to guests: free Wi-Fi, bamboo bed linen, artistic interiors and beers and cocktails in the lobby bar.

Where to eat: Gongfu Bao

Find comfort food at Gongfu Bao, a food cart-turned-restaurant on Bank Street in the Centretown neighbourhood of the city. Headed by chef and owner Tarek Hassan, the menu is neatly divided between bao (handcrafted steamed buns) and non-bao—think MapleBBQ Pork bao or TurDuCken Siu Mai dumplings with fresh scallions.

What to do: Go ice skating

Free winter activities abound in this city. While you can ice skate on the celebrated Rideau Canal, there’s also free skating (with the bonus of refrigerated ice) at City Hall’s Sens Rink of Dreams, Lansdowne Skating Court and—since the 1870s—at Rideau Hall, home to the Governor General of Canada.


Photo courtesy Fairmont Château Laurier

Where to stay: Fairmont Chateau Laurier 

This property is the grand dame of the city’s hotel scene and never fails to impress with its castle-like setting next to Parliament Hill. This 426-room, historic property delivers luxury with its chandelier-laden halls, art deco swimming pool and champagne served alongside your afternoon tea.

Where to eat: Atelier

Every night, 45-seat Atelier restaurant offers a 12-course tasting menu. Chef Marc Lepine, one of Canada’s most innovative chefs, serves creative dishes such as Fogo Island Shrimp, accompanied by a curl of camouflage puffed rice paper, pickled carrot and coconut gel that looks almost too perfect to eat.

What to do: Take a tour with Tours Expédition Ottawa 

Make fresh tracks to Gatineau Park, located north of the city. Tours Expédition Ottawa offers excursions to Renaud Shelter, situated deep in the snowy woods. The outing includes a lunch—complete with linens—to enjoy by the lodge’s wood stove, as well as gear, a guide and photos of your journey.


[This story appears in the January 2019 issue of WestJet Magazine.]