Trying to find a great inn or hotel in northeastern Nova Scotia is a difficult task I discovered recently when planning a girl’s getaway with my mum. Luxury accommodations are not thick on the ground in this part of Canada. In fact, I only found one that I can fully recommend, Des Barres Manor Inn in Guysborough County, and it is a very fine place indeed.
What makes DesBarres a treat to stay in? After all, it doesn’t have the glitzy urban vibe you usually associate with luxury stays, accompanied with flat screens in the potty or an all service spa with a Devan waiting to paint your nails. Call me old fashioned, but while I don’t want stodgy; I don’t need a bathroom TV amid scenery worthy of a sonnet.
No, what I like about DesBarres is the enormous fireplace with crackling fire, the unflashy sitting rooms, the wraparound back porch with wonderful country views, the gently sloping grounds. My favorite detail? The luxe beds. As a woman, and a busy, sleep deprived mother this is the one detail that must be spot on. And the DesBarres beds are so spot on.
Since launching Girls Getaway, I’ve been lucky enough to lay my head down at a few top dollar hotels throughout the world, but I must say that the bed I slept in at DesBarres was one of the nicest of the lot. I don’t know my linen thread counts or the names of the very best duvets but I do know when the stuff is quality. The DesBarres linens were soft, I kept touching them, caressing them, and it felt smooth, like butter. The blanket was a hidden treat, tucked in quietly over the linens and under the duvet, making for a delightful discovery when my hand sank into its velvet creamy softness. Best of all, I had the bed all to myself, free to stretch out and luxuriate in comfort! No kids crying, no interrupted sleep. The night was blissfully quiet, country quiet. I slept in.
But I do realize that a hotel may need more than a good bed to entice guests to visit. DesBarres Manor is fast gaining a stellar reputation for its gourmet meals and offerings of fine wine. DesBarres Manor received the Taste of Nova Scotia Cuisine of the Year Award in 2008 and is a three time recipient of the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence 2009, 2010 & 2011. They recently were lucky enough to entice Joe MacLellan as the new executive chef. Prior to working at the Inn, Joe was Sous Chef at George Restaurant in Toronto, rated by Zagat’s as one of the World’s Top Restaurants. Joe also held progressive chef roles in Thuet Bistro, and Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.
The kitchen, which is enormous, is one of the first things you see when you arrive at the hotel, you can peek in to see the chefs busy working away at your dinner, with delicious scents hinting at the meal to come. I have to confess, I strayed into the kitchen, close to dinnertime. I couldn’t help myself, there is no door, and the room called to me, with its aroma of good food, the display of beautifully prepped veg, the soft whir of mysterious appliances.
Chef Joe MacLellan kindly greeted me and despite being in the midst of mealtime madness was happy to talk to me about the food, and the menu as I watched him prep cucumber shooters, a delicious concoction of cucumber, splash of olive oil and a dusting of sea salt. The shooter looked as good as it tasted, a nice introduction to the tasting menu being prepared for the evening meal. And a great meal it was. I tried the maple painted smoked salmon, the butternut squash soup with grilled prawns and the perfectly grilled sirloin tip steak: delicious.
Just the facts:
DesBarres Manor Inn is located in Guysborough Nova Scotia, halfway between Halifax and Sydney, and 25 minutes off the Trans Canada Highway.
The Inn has ten spacious guest rooms, with choices of king, queen and two double beds.
Room rate includes breakfast for two, complimentary afternoon tea, and high speed wireless Internet access.
* A special thank you to DesBarres Manor Inn for hosting me during my Nova Scotia Adventure!