As a travelling family, we have stayed in everything from a two-star motel-style lodge to the finest, most luxurious hotels you can imagine. So I feel pretty confident about calling Andaz Ottawa a luxury boutique hotel and one that has earned a very (VERY!) rare 5/5 rating.
Location, location, location is key. And Andaz Ottawa delivers. Smack in the middle of Ottawa’s wonderful ByWard Market, Andaz is mere minutes from everything you could want from an Ottawa-based getaway. Walk to myriad restaurants, cafés, market shops, the Rideau Centre (a fabulous shopping mall) and even art galleries.
But I digress, because one of the first things I should have told you about Andaz is that its check-in process is probably the best we’ve experienced anywhere. After stopping right in front of the hotel’s main doors, the valet collected our keys and helped whisk our baggage into the lobby. We’d barely given the front desk clerk our names before we were offered complimentary beverages to satiate us during check-in. The kids each ordered a hot chocolate (with marshmallows), while I had a nice Carbernet-Merlot and Big B enjoyed a local craft beer. This set the tone for our stay and is something any hotel that wants to call itself five-star should be doing. (Talk about setting the bar for every other hotel stay down the road, too!)
Hot chocolate, by the way, remained available to anyone who came into the hotel lobby all weekend. There was a cute little station set up with the yummiest hot chocolate ever (made with some great-quality dark cacao), marshmallows, to-go cups and lids and stir sticks. Great idea. Another nice touch that goes the extra mile for guests.
Similarly, when we called for the valet to bring our vehicle round in the morning, they asked us how we took our coffee. Lo and behold, there were two made-to-order coffees awaiting us in the cup holders when we got in. What?! Honestly, it’s these details that had us in firm agreement that it was one of the best hotel stays of our lives.
There are plenty of room configurations to suit your family’s needs — including accessible rooms. We had a “view” room with two queen beds. Now, normally we prefer to be in a king bed together with the kids on a pullout sofa (in another room altogether is even better), but seeing as it was the opening weekend of Winterlude, we took what we could get! But know that there are suites up to nearly 1,500 square feet, so you’ve got options.
I can only speak for our room, of course, but I imagine they’re all kitted out pretty similarly. We loved the modern, clean lines and beautiful brass accents in the washroom. Design-wise, although the room itself was on the smaller side (think New York-sized hotel rooms vs. Toronto-sized hotel rooms), furniture choices and placement made it really livable. The clever built-in bench seating along the wall near the window and the single Danish-inspired chair beside it, sandwiching a small round table, for example, could seat three easily. An excellent use of limited space.
Everything in the mini-bar (except alcohol) is free. Really. And this is no chintzy mini-bar, either. We’re talking world-famous Hummingbird chocolate, artisan potato chips, interesting beverages, sparkling water. The works. And you just help yourself. It’s replenished each day of your stay, too.
In an age when WiFi should always be free, it’s sadly not in many hotels. So I never arrive assuming we’ll be able to throw Netflix on for the kids, or stream YouTube videos. Happily, at Andaz Ottawa, WiFi is strong and complimentary.
Our bedding was ridiculously comfortable. The comforters were even big enough to prevent my tossy-turny six-year-old who was sharing my bed (because I don’t fit into a queen with Big B in da house!) from stealing any warmth from my side. The linens were high-quality and the pillows divine. I just love a good pillow.
Dining at Andaz Ottawa is a delight. Its in-house restaurant — feast + revel — is strong enough to stand on its own as a fine dining spot in Ottawa, where competition is stiff. Some of our most memorable meals have been had in the nation’s capital, but feast + revel takes the cake. Here’s what you absolutely must try there:
If you don’t start with the mocha, I won’t be able to look you in the eye ever again. It’s made with chocolate ganache for crying out loud! I had two. Because I had to have more.
The $20 adult buffet ($10 for kids) is a great deal, considering how much food is offered. Big B and the kids had all the usual suspects (eggs, bacon, cereal, etc.), which was augmented by lovely pastries.
We tried a homemade doughnut (for research purposes, of course) and it was the kind of doughnut that makes someone like me who isn’t really into doughnuts really really into doughnuts.
I strongly recommend trying the Farmhouse dish. It arrives in a cast iron pan and you’ll think to yourself, “Oh, that’s a bit smaller than I was expecting for $20.” And then you probably won’t be able to eat the whole thing because it’s so packed with delicious morsels. Duck confit, local cheese curds, Brussel’s sprouts, pancetta, roasted tomato and divine mini Yukon Gold potatoes round out this nourishing plate.
Kick the dinner hour off right with something from the bar. The bartender on duty was super knowledgeable, easy on the eyes and made one helluva cocktail. Or, in our case, four cocktails. They were all interesting and went down nicely, but two we tried really stood out: the ANKA (toasted cacao nib-infused Bulleit, simple syrup, cherry bitters, Angostura, Bourbon Cherry), which you’ll find on the main bar menu, and the I’M OLD FASHIONED, which you’ll need to ask for by name. It has a sweet and spicy blend that will both confuse and delight your taste buds, and the flavour complexity changes as the ice melts, making every sip a little different. This is mixology at its best.
This meal will not disappoint. I’d stake a guarantee on it. Like hotels, we have eaten at some beautiful restaurants all around the globe, and feast + revel’s dinner stands as one of our absolute favourites. Starting with traditional Bannock bread, we dove into appetizers with gusto; predictably, the foie gras was my favourite and probably the second-best foie gras dish I’ve had in my life (the first being in a restaurant in Paris in 1999). Big B was pretty tickled with the deconstructed lamb poutine, which is dripping in rosemary jus and features whipped curds that are mind-blowing on the palate. The wild boar rillettes was also excellent but couldn’t overtake the other two starters.
The kids had pogo sticks and artisan grilled cheese. They loved the fries but my Caeser salad-loving boy didn’t appreciate his grilled side Caeser as much as we did — it was just a bit too fancy for his taste.
Big B’s steak was incredible, especially since it was flank steak, which can be challenging to prepare properly so it isn’t chewy. The lobster butter sauce was everything. But we both agreed that my elk rib was the clear winner in the adult entrée race. The tenderness, the flavour, the presentation — all perfection.
It was no different — so good. We thoroughly enjoyed everything we tried, but calling out the Hummingbird chocolate tart (bottom pic in the above collage) is a must. I referred to this chocolate brand earlier, but in case you hadn’t heard, the native Ottawa company won first place in a global contest last year — a first for a Canadian chocolate brand. And once you taste it, you’ll know why. The tart is a great place to start. Or, in dinner’s case, finish.
There’s also a rooftop bar, but we never made it there. Because kids. Same goes for the 24-hour gym.
For those with four-legged friends, a $100 charge allows Muffy to join you at Andaz Ottawa and she’ll be treated like royalty too with dog-friendly amenities, like a doggy bed, doggy bowls, and doggy cookies.
I also can’t say enough good things about the Andaz employees. Everyone was outstanding. So friendly, so helpful — and genuinely so. I was super impressed from beginning to end. Big B and I said over and over during our weekend there that although it may not technically be a five-star property, it sure operated like one.
Finally, price. I’ve seen Andaz Ottawa priced as little as $179 a night on Expedia for a standard room. When I checked on a stay for one-night in early March, I get $349 for the night (with breakfast included). Although that’s on the higher end for Ottawa, it’s a very comfortable range for the level of service, amenities and little extras you’ll find here. This hotel, in my opinion, competes with the likes of Langham and Waldorf Astoria, even if it’s on a much smaller scale — two of the very best hotels in which we have stayed to date — which are much more costly.
Very little storage space if you want to unpack a family of four. This isn’t enough of a deterrent for me to take away from the hotel’s well-earned 5/5 rating, though. But it needs to be mentioned. There are two spots where a suitcase can sit open, and in the closet there were two small drawers into which one person travelling for one or two nights could unpack. But that’s it.