The Wickaninnish Inn is one of those places on earth that comes to mind when asked “If you weren’t here, where would you be right now?” as I found out during a recent trip to Alaska.
After too many days throwing good money at bad hotels, I said to my partner “Let’s fly back early to Vancouver, take a ferry to Vancouver Island and spend the last two days of our holiday at The Wick”. So we did.
This was my third stay at the hotel and it won’t be my last.
It is located on the west coast of Vancouver Island right on the edge of a magnificent Pacific beach on the outskirts of Tofino – a quaint fishing and whale watching community – and quite simply does everything right.
All rooms have picture windows with sea views and are decorated in a way that brings the outside in.
Beds are huge and incredibly comfortable; bathrooms have baths shaped for two people with views directly over the water and tea lights set into local granite pebbles.
Frette towels and Aveda amenities are in abundance, a clock radio comes with a CD player and a selection of local CDs, the tv is hidden inside a lovely wooden cabinet so you can pretend it’s not there, there are plenty of goodies in the mini bar and water is provided on the bedside table at turndown which is perfect for when you wake up thirsty in the middle of the night and have no idea where you are.
But my favourite part of the room is the fireplace that comes to life at the touch of a button – if there hadn’t been a million other things to do in Tofino, I would happily have spent my entire stay stretched out on the sofa with my feet up on the footstool, working my way through the selection of topical books and magazines provided in the room and scanning for whale blows with the in-room binoculars. Heaven.
The restaurant at this hotel in Tofino is perched up on the cliffs in a round room with huge windows and cedar beams rising to a central chimney.
If you need to focus on a conversation with your partner, don’t sit beside the window – I did and couldn’t take my eyes off the sea all through dinner!
Food is imaginative, well presented and delicious with an emphasis on local ingredients – not surprising for a hotel that is part of the Relais & Chateaux collection but better than we expected.
There is a spectacular wine list with plenty of local British Columbia wines and a sommelier on hand to help out with pairings.
The hotel is filled with local art I wanted to take home, bikes, bright yellow waterproofs and rubber boots are provided for trips to the village and long walks on the windy beach, local wood carvers work from a beachfront cabin and are happy to show tourists around and explain their native art (I had a fascinating conversation with ‘Feather George’ who carves delicate eagles’ feathers from local wood) and there is a spa to die for.
In fact, the Ancient Cedars Spa ranks up there among my favourite hotel spas (check out the Dolder Grand in Zurich, the Ritz-Carlton Powerscourt in Dublin, the Villa Padierna in Marbella and Trisara in Thailand if you like that sort of thing) not only for the setting – ask for the cedar-shingled massage cabin perched on the cliffs – but for the quality of service and the overall experience.
We booked a couples’ aromatherapy massage, made sure we had time to enjoy the steam room and came out over 2 hours’ later ready for bed! The pre-massage treatment is so lovely that I have recreated it in my garden back in London – I won’t give the game away but it involves a large tub, a bag of marbles, hot water and your favourite essential oils…
This is the first time I had visited The Wickaninnish Inn during the summer and it was just as magical as my last mid-winter stay when huge Pacific rollers pounded the cliffs and fires were lit throughout the hotel. I love this hotel and have no hesitation in recommending it, whether you live locally and need to get away from it all or whether you are traveling from overseas and visiting Vancouver. It’s a stone’s throw from the city and will really give you a sense of what the west coast is all about.
If you are travelling by ferry to the island and or by car, like we did (you can also fly directly to Tofino by float plane), make sure you allow three hours from the ferry terminal to the hotel so you can admire the lakes along the way and stop for half an hour at Cathedral Grove to stroll among the massive Douglas firs, cedar and spruce trees – it’s all part of the experience and, if you are anything like me, one you will want to live over and over again.