It took me many years to find the best hotel in North America. After having stayed all over Canada and the continental U.S. in plenty of five-star resorts over the years, I certainly didn’t think that the best hotel I have ever checked into would be located in Port Hope, Ontario. After spending one night at The Waddell (1 Walton Street, Port Hope ON), however, I can unequivocally say that it is the best absolute best hotel I have ever had the pleasure of staying in and is the perfect weekend getaway location.
The Waddell has been around since 1845. Originally known as The Lantern Inn before being rebranded by new owners Bob Sanderson and Steven Sherman, The Waddell is one of the largest brick buildings built on Port Hope’s main street. The land was originally received by one of the city’s founders, Elias Smith, for services rendered during the American Revolution. Smith went on to sell the land to Sherriff Robert Waddell who then commissioned William Thomas as its architect.
Building upon the success of their Black Beans steakhouse venture (also in Port Hope), the owners met each other while both working at the Banff Springs Chateau in 1979. When the opportunity presented itself, they seized it by taking ownership over the luxury estate and immediately changed the name of the hotel from The Lantern to The Waddell in honor of the man who was chiefly responsible for the building.
Today, The Waddell is a spectacular site to see. It features 12 rooms, two of which are luxury “Terrace” options that are decorated with rich four poster beds, wing chairs around an all-season fireplace and custom mahogany furnishings. The Terrace rooms also feature phenomenal views of the Ganaraska River on private patio terraces. The room I stayed in was actually larger than most of the apartments that I have lived in and actually rivals the size of many high-end condominiums that I have seen. It is the not only the standard of an upscale stay but truly its very definition.
In addition to the two terrace rooms that are available, there are also “Riverside” rooms as well. While these feature the same high ceilings, furnishings and four poster beds that the Terrace rooms do, they do not include the terrace patio (which for me is primarily what changed my perception of The Waddell as just being an above-average property to being the very best in the country).
Finally, there are more affordable options as well as you can also choose to stay in smaller “Double-Queen” or “Streetside Mill” rooms which are just as impressive if not as grandiose.
In addition to the wonderful accommodations, I was also thoroughly impressed by the hotel’s impressive customer service. When I asked if a wifi password was needed to connect to the internet, I was quickly advised that my Riverside room was notorious for having a poor signal. Cameron at the registration desk quickly moved me into a Terrace room with much a better signal and also provided me with a filled ice bucket for the Kawartha Wine that I had brought along with me. It was just another notch of perfection in an absolutely seamless check-in.
While there is a restaurant and wine bar inside the hotel called the Trattoria Gusto, my guides and I opted to try the aforementioned Black Beans Steakhouse & Lounge (63 Walton Street, Port Hope ON). While our server went through the protocol of detailing the ravioli special, it was clear that we were there for the steak. With options including a Beef Tenderloin from Alberta, a Kansas City strip loin from Colorado and even an Ancho-braised White Strip lamb shank from Grassy Flat, Australia, I opted for a well-done Kentucky Rib-Eye. There were different types of sauces and butters to use with the steak that included a black bean sauce, bourbon ancho gravy, peppercorn sauce, steak sauce, horseradish jalapeno butter, chipotle goat cheese butter and blue cheese butter. What was interesting was that the steaks arrived before the butters did, so one note of improvement would have been to have the butter melted onto the steak prior to its serving. We paired our meat with a 2011 bottle of The Velvet Devil Merlot from Washington State.
The meal itself was divine as the steak was tender, juicy and flavorful.
We each tried a Bananas Foster Cheesecake with graham crumbs, caramelized Costa Rican banana rum sauce and whipped cream after dinner and I can easily admit that this was the best dessert I have ever tasted and added a further exclamation point to one of the best getaways I have ever taken.
With Port Hope’s active theatre scene and history, there is plenty to do in the city. With that being said, given the experience that I had at The Waddell and Black Beans Steakhouse & Lounge, I can attest to enjoying a fulfilling and relaxing weekend simply just by staying and eating in-house. During my stay in the Kawarthas-Northumberland region, The Waddell was the best hotel I stayed in and the meal that I enjoyed there was also my favourite. It was the perfect way to spend my last night in the region.