I’d love to see Canada’s countryside but I won’t have much time. You’re in luck. Langdon Hall Country House & Spa lies just an hour’s drive south of Toronto. In a bucolic setting far from hectic urbanity, the 60-room hotel occupies 25 hectares of woodlands and has evocative, manicured gardens designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, who is better known for having planned New York City’s Central Park.
What’s the mood? Built by Eugene Langdon Wilks, great-grandson of fur trader and real-estate magnate John Jacob Astor, the Gilded Age mansion and its Federal Revival estate feel distinctly American. An original “ladies” parlour – called a Whisper Room – and antique chairs, which belonged to the Astors, set the mood in the modern, amenity-savvy, well-polished hotel. With a grand house, a more contemporary wing called the Cloister and stables dating back to 1898 that have been transformed into sumptuous suites, the hideaway is a draw for city slickers looking for tranquil rural repose.
What if I get bored with that novel I planned to read before a roaring fire? Don’t worry, there’s plenty to do. Twelve kilometres of well-marked hiking and mountain-biking trails surround the manor house. In winter, guests can conquer them in snowshoes, and the North American eastern seaboard’s colourful leaf show bedazzles in autumn. The offered archery, croquet, tennis and swimming help fuel the appetite of those guests who sign up for the hotel’s complimentary seasonal wine tastings, garden tours and cooking demonstrations.
My wife won’t go unless there’s a spa. Never fear, Langdon Hall has one of the best. Renovated last year, it features 12 treatment rooms and Swiss skincare brand Valmont’s products, which are rarely encountered outside Europe. Therapists combine herbs and other ingredients from the hotel’s vast gardens with estate-harvested honey to augment essential oils and bring the terroir into the treatment room.
What’s on the menu? Seasonal dining that defines the region is the idea. In the Five-Diamond award-winning Dining Room, breakfast might include soft-poached duck egg with foraged mushrooms and truffle hollandaise; dinner could be Ontario pork loin with heritage beans, kalette and Iberico fat vinaigrette; and dessert sinful gratification that groups a ginger biscuit with chocolate crémeux and cinnamon ice-cream truffles.
What if I want something simpler? Plonk yourself down in Wilks’ Bar. The cosy tavern in the main house that exudes pub bonhomie should do the trick with its fish and chips and sliders.
Which room should we request? While the main house has allure, and the convenient suites in the Cloister have ample terraces and accept pets, the re-kitted Stable suites must win out. Go for the Sheep’s Room, with its soaking tub, forest vistas and a wood-burning fireplace.
What’s the bottom line? Rates start from C$310 (HK$1,840).