Great Stays: Andaz Ottawa ByWard Market
Just three months old when I visited, the Andaz Ottawa ByWard Market, located in the heart of downtown Ottawa, is already a bustling, scene-making destination, and at 16 stories, an unmissable beacon in the local skyline. And if you’re looking for a stylish-but-cozy stay in this fun, hospitable capital city, you couldn’t do better than this locavore-centric stop.
325 Dalhousie Street
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K1N 7G1
Location, location, location. The hotel is within walking distance of Canada’s gorgeous 19th century Gothic revival Parliament Hill where tour guides will usher you through the building’s chambers and incredible library graced with a statue of Queen Victoria. There is free yoga (sponsored by Canadian company Lululemon) every Wednesday at noon during the summer on Parliament Hill’s emerald green lawn and rumor has it hunky PM Justin Trudeau often stops in for some downward facing dogs. The famous Rideau Canal is close too, and features ice skating in the colder months. Children will be especially delighted by the way boats pass through the canal’s sequence of locks.
Dissertations could be written on the differences between the classic New York bagel and the sweeter (boiled in honey water) and more modest-in-size Ontario bagel. But when I bit into the smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel breakfast sammie at the Andaz I made my decision. Ottawa, all the way.
Need a luchador mask? The traditional fried dough delicacy: a decadent Beaver Tail? A locally-made scarf? There is quirky retail galore just steps from the Andaz at the four-square block public market, the ByWard Market, as well as more universal offerings like Anthropologie, Kate Spade and Nordstrom at the nearby mall, the Rideau Center Shopping Complex. Don’t be like me, and pass up the deals at the chain shops like H&M: the jackets I loved, but passed on (because, who shops at H&M in a foreign city?), were 30 percent less with the favorable exchange rate in Ottawa. Kicking self.
The beautifully designed lobby and public areas by Toronto’s Mason Studio feature high-style love seats and leather lounge chairs designed by Ottawatian Laura Langford and there is a complimentary fridge where you can grab a sparkling water or a glass of wine before you head out on your Ottawa adventure.
At sunset, the rooftop bar Copper Spirits and Sights is a site to behold with mod firepits at outdoor tables and a luxurious inside bar for when it gets truly brisk. If a more meat market scene is not your style, check out the bar before 10. After hours, especially on weekends, the Copper can draw a clubbier, more raucous crowd. In addition to a variety of Ontario-made beers the cocktail-forward rooftop bar features a delectable spin on the Bloody Mary, the NCC (National Capital Caesar) featuring the regional fave Ketchup Chips (a ketchup-flavored potato chip, which grows on you) and the 1826, a real floor-show cocktail that involved the mixologist creating a mini-bonfire at the table before serving this smoky goodness with a sugar maple candy to suck on between sips.
The Canadian delicacy of poutine is a definite guilty pleasure: cheese curds and gravy piled on top of French fries for a feast of warm, umami deliciousness—the perfect antidote to a surly hangover. The Andaz’s new Canadian restaurant Feast + Revel does a very deconstructed, ethereal spin on poutine with a melt-in-your-mouth braised lamb shoulder served on a sturdy wooden board (also sourced from a local craftsman) with dollops and streaks of rosemary jus, potato fondant and whipped curd arranged like a Jackson Pollock canvas. So good, I wanted to pull the communal poutine board to my chest and keep it all to myself, but I tried to remain civilized and shared it with my companions. Other regional delicacies, to put you in a very Canadian state of mind, at this chef-driven restaurant include wild boar and elk.
Part of the charm of the Andaz division of Hyatt is its dedication to sourcing locally for food, amenities, even artwork. Uber-quirky Ontario artist Drew Mosley’s oddball animals are featured in six different illustrations in the room art and in an unforgettable wall mural in the hotel’s parking lot. Local toiletry purveyors Purple Urchin (PU, get it?) provide the deliciously fragrant soaps, shampoo and shower gel in both rooms and public areas (you’ll find yourself squirreling away as many as you can during your visit) and each room comes stocked with chocolates from award-winning bean-to-bar chocolatier Hummingbird and local beer Beau’s Lugtread.
Though still relatively new, it’s very clear that the Andaz Ottawa is becoming quite a local scene, something that is a real benefit for guests, who have lots of opportunities to connect with local culture without even leaving the property. As the Andaz settles into its groove, it’s planning a number of fun Happy Hours (or Revel Hours, per the Andaz), barista, wine and beer events, as well as a forthcoming salon series that will connect guests with all of the unique local creatives who make Ottawa such a happening city.