THE DEAL: WAVERLEY INN, Halifax, Nova Scotia
THE BACKSTORY: When Oscar Wilde arrived in Halifax in 1882 to begin his tour of North America, he famously stated that "I have nothing to declare but my genius." This quip apparently satisfied the customs officials, and Wilde went on to spend a night or two at the Waverley Inn, a couple of blocks from the waterfront. Wilde checked out more than a century ago but the Waverley Inn, which was built in 1866 as a private house before it became an inn, is still a Victorian charmer. Family portraits line the walls, the woodwork is pristine, and the wallpaper a pattern book of high Victoriana. In short, a friendly staff, a great location and a great value.
THE ROOMS: The 34 rooms are very Victorian-flavored, with antique beds, that period wallpaper, and a mix of contemporary and antique furniture. All bathrooms are ensuite. And you can stay in the Oscar Wilde room, if you’re so inclined. He probably would have liked the free WiFi.
MORE REASONS TO STAY: It had been a couple of decades since I was in Halifax and it was a delight to see the city again. It reminds me a bit of Portland, Maine before that city was discovered, and has the kind of scruffy student feel of Cambridge about 1978, thanks to lots of impecunious Canadian students. There are thrift shops, fusty bookshops piled high with dusty tomes, the smell of the sea, museums, galleries and many pubs, most featuring traditional Celtic music every night. A pint of Propeller Porter is a mighty fine thing with fiddle music in your ear. Half an hour from downtown is a coastline that makes Maine look like Malibu. Put Halifax on your list.
THE DEAL: Rates start at about $117 per room, per night, including breakfast. The Oscar Wilde Room, one of the largest, is about $214.
INSIDER TIP: Air Canada now offers direct flights from New York’s LaGuardia Airport to Halifax, a hop of just one hour and 20 minutes.
CAVEAT: The Waverley Inn is far removed from the often overly slick, airbrushed bed & breakfasts that exist in the United States. Things creak a bit, and some areas need a bit of TLC. It’s a lot like an inn you’d find in the north of England, or in a Scottish town. Baked beans for breakfast, anyone?
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION: A five minute walk to downtown, a couple of blocks to the waterfront. In short, ideal.
THE DETAILS: Waverley Inn, 1266 Barrington Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia;