I recently moved back to Toronto after living in Ottawa for about a year and a half. I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with the city, so I was feeling relieved to be back in Toronto again. But when Daniel mentioned that he would like me to go to Ottawa for the opening of a new hotel, I laughed pretty freakin’ hard. My first thought was, “yeah but I just left and now you want me to go back there?”. I reluctantly agreed, excited for the opportunity, but not expecting too much out of my experience.
Boy, was I wrong. The minute I walked into the Andaz Ottawa hotel, I felt a big shift. It was like I was transported into this world where I didn’t have icky feelings about Ottawa anymore. This hotel is exactly what the city needs. With the growth and the upcoming changes for Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017 and the Juno Awards taking over the city, Andaz could not have picked a better place to establish it’s first Canadian location.
A unique, boutique environment created by Hyatt, Andaz hotels are located internationally and each have their own specific character, focused on a locally curated experience. “Each hotel features indigenous designs capturing the sights, sounds and tastes of its surrounding area. Our spaces, food, artwork and events bring an authentic, intimate feeling that you’re in a place quite unlike anywhere else in the world.”
Andaz is the Hindi word meaning for “personal style” and they embrace it fully. As someone who travels often, I want to experience the local culture and dive into what the city I’m visiting is truly all about. When you stay at an Andaz hotel, you are being hand-delivered the best of what your surroundings can offer. With the understanding that we all live a mindful and meaningful existence, they have built locations in destinations to help foster our innate passion for exploration.
Located in the heart of Ottawa’s famed ByWard Market neighbourhood, this boutique property features design-forward interiors reflecting Ottawa’s heritage, locally-sourced amenities in each of the 200 rooms and art pieces specially curated by the Canada Council Art Bank. Each floor also features themes from each province and territory with unique touches of copper, wood, flannel and plaid.
One of the highlights of the hotel is the open rooftop patio which boasts spectacular views of Parliament Hill, the Ottawa River and the Gatineau Hills. There are fire pits located on a few of the tables so that you can enjoy the views (with champagne in hand) into the colder months.
At Andaz, they believe that “we are a world without walls, meant to create an open exchange of stories, ideas and moments.” They have created this by offering a unique room experience filled with food, comfort, local art and relevant information about the city. Each room also features goodies from my personal favourite Ottawa-based natural soap company, Purple Urchin, who have created signature blends just for the hotel.
With a belief that products can have a low impact on the environment and a high impact on your well-being, Purple Urchin has some of the best natural beauty products I’ve ever used. My personal favourites are their Heel Healin Balm for the feet, Umarked Anti-Aging Serum and the Rosemary Mint Liquid Soap.
I love food, so travelling for me is always centred around my next meal. Feast & Revel is the signature restaurant located in the Andaz Ottawa and is handled by Executive Chef and Ottawa local Stephen La Salle. His task is to oversee this farm-to-table restaurant, highlighting Canadian ingredients and local cuisine. My personal favourites from the menu are the Open Sky Chicken, the Carrot and Barley and the Elk! You gotta try the freakin’ Elk.
There is also a cafe and bar located in the hotel lobby, which provides a welcoming experience to both the guests and to the general public. Here you can try signature cocktails, coffee from local roasters, Equator Coffee and tea (including a signature blend made specially for the hotel) from Pluck Teas.
Yes, I added a whole section dedicated to chocolate. That’s because Andaz Ottawa has partnered with the local, international award-winning Hummingbird Chocolate. They actually won the 2016 Golden Bean Award from the Academy of Chocolate (yes this is a real thing and I’m not sure why I don’t work for them yet) for best bean in the WORLD! Each room contains a sample bar from these world-renowned chocolatiers and the restaurant uses their delicious chocolate in some of the signature desserts.
Hummingbird Chocolate Makers put a lot of importance into sourcing fairly, ethically and sustainably. Not only does this affect their integrity, it enhances the quality of their chocolate. Amongst my favourite of their collection, is the Reserva Zorzal. To obtain the beans for this bar, the growers have set aside 70% of their 400 hectare preserve to be forever wild, while growing cacao in a way that both supports their mission and promotes biodiversity.
In the vein of remaining authentic, Andaz hires wonderful people who have a pulse on the local scene. Every one of their locations encourages both guests and associates to express their own sense of what the city means to them. Each one of the staff at Andaz Ottawa can tell a different story from a unique and creative perspective. I met artists, musicians, writers and foodies who all worked there, willing to provide you with a constant source of inspiration. And the best part is that you can genuinely tell that they love to work there. If that’s not an indication of a wonderful place to be, I don’t know what is.