Until recently, I hadn’t given the town of Old Aylmer, right across the Champlain Bridge from where I live, much thought. I’ve been all around the Outaouais region and love to visit Gatineau Park and dine in Chelsea, among other things. But up until last Friday, I hadn’t spent much time in Aylmer at all. What a shame that is, because as I discovered it’s absolutely lovely. The village of Old Aylmer is charming, picturesque and rich with heritage and culture.
This past weekend, I was invited to experience a stay at the British Hotel – the newly renovated and historic boutique hotel situated on Rue Principale in the heart of Old Aylmer. The British is a 19th century building, that was built by Robert Conroy in 1834. It was an inn and hot spot for some of Canada’s most elite, including prime ministers, senators, country music stars, royalty, Quebec legends, and apparently even a few alleged assassins on the run.
As my husband and I drove up to the British Hotel, we couldn’t help but admire the regal stone building, with its inviting dormer windows and arched front entrance. We parked around back and entered the hotel through sliding doors into the bustle of the front desk area and open-concept restaurant. On a Friday evening, the place was lively and full – much as you would imagine it to have been back in the mid 1800s.
We were shown to the Prince of Wales executive suite, where we would be enjoying our stay. Upon entering the room, there is a plaque with the history of the suite which recalls the visit of the Prince of Wales’ in 1860. The future King Edward VII of England stayed in our very room! Isn’t that wild? During his visit, a ball was thrown in his honour and afterwards, from the balcony in the suite, he spoke to the townspeople who had gathered outside the hotel to see him. This event is just one example of the incredible history within the British Hotel.
As you might expect, the Prince of Wales executive suite is a magnificent blend of modern luxury and historical integrity. The suite has an extravagant king-sized bed that is surrounded by windows with a view, the original fireplace (now electric), a coffee bar and seating area, as well as a spacious bathroom that features a relaxing soaker tub. It is everything you desire in a luxurious hotel room and more.
If you are looking for a relaxing getaway from the bustle of the city, a staycation at the British Hotel could be just the thing. The suites are elegantly decorated, while maintaining the beauty of the traditional elements, such as wood beams and stone walls, making for a truly enjoyable experience within your room, and you have the additional convenience of being able to wine and dine at the Public House restaurant and pub within the hotel.
After an evening out on the town, we went up to our room for a rest and then decided since the night was still young to head downstairs and explore the pub. We enjoyed the ambiance and cocktails by the sophisticated bar – just the right touch to finish the evening before a pleasant elevator ride took us right back to our suite and welcoming bed.
As you can tell there is much to be said about the British Hotel, from its grandiose style to its historic beauty. Beyond the stunning visual presentation, it must also be noted, the hotel staff are friendly and helpful, the atmosphere in the common areas is energetic and fun, and the stay in our suite was quiet, relaxing, and absolutely luxurious.
The British Hotel is truly a gem within Old Aylmer that I would recommend to anyone visiting the capital region or wanting to have a staycation close by. There is plenty to see and do along Rue Principale and nearby, including a heritage walk, boutique shopping, and fine dining.
We certainly look forward to returning and already have plans brewing to attend the Christmas market which The British is hosting this year in its courtyard.
To learn more about the heritage and ameneties of the British Hotel, visit thebritish.ca.
A special thank you to The British Hotel, Tourisme Outaouais, La Ville de Gatineau, and APICA Rue Principale for hosting us during this press trip. As always, all opinions are personal.
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