There are very few hotels, inns or bed and breakfasts that not only give a place to lay your head, but are luxurious, unique, and literally transport you to another time where if you close your eyes you can almost imagine the faint scent of cigars, the sound of horses nickering in the street, and the whiff of a good scotch.
Idlewyld Inn & Spa is one of those locations that really make an impression, and it’s all good.
It’s hard to describe the feeling of walking around in a home that is as beautiful as a museum piece, but one where you’re invited to become part of the scene and relax on a rich brocade sofa with a scotch on the rocks, imagining you are in the 1800s where men retired to smoke cigars after dinner while ladies embroidered in the drawing room.
Located in London (the Ontario version!), Idlewyld Inn & Spa wraps you up in a historic embrace throughout your stay, immersing you in the history of the 1800s, and beyond. Build in 1878 as a private home for Charles Smyth Hyman, the inn makes you wish you’d been alive when stunning buildings like these were used to house a single family.
Hyman was not only a successful businessman, he was also Mayor of London, a Federal Cabinet Minister under Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier, and as if that wasn’t enough accomplishments for one lifetime, captain of Canada’s national cricket team and seven times Canadian men’s singles tennis champion. He was a true renaissance man!
The inn has served in a number of forms, beginning as Hyman’s home and moving on to become luxury apartments in the 1930s and a nursing home in the 1960s, before finally being restored into the luxurious inn you see today.
Idlewyld Inn is a true architectural marvel, and a carefully preserved example of a typical home in that time. Beginning with the large, carved wooden doors flanked with stunning stained glass and topped by a stained glass transom, the hotel is filled from top to bottom with unique original fixtures and woodworking that makes visitors feel like they’ve stepped back to a time when rich opulence and luxury were the norm (for some at least!).
The original house included a formal parlour, dining room, a library with a private study, an informal parlour for ladies, and – of course! – a ballroom. Today, the main floor is a comfortable place for guests to gather for drinks before dinner, boasting three fireplaces, a piano, and a separate restaurant with a patio on the front of the house that overlooks the greenery outside, and a fountain.
There are also several interesting architectural details in the house that have been restored to their original condition – the first is the intricate woodworking that is found everywhere throughout the building. Railings, newel posts, richly textured wooden doors, original shutters, intricate mantles, and trimwork elevate the inn from a mere building to a work of art.
I was fascinated to hear that the famous original Lincrusta-Walton wall coverings are still on the walls of the inn today, a rich wall covering found in illustrious locations like the White House, buried beneath the ocean on the Titanic, and in Idlewyld Inn & Spa in London, Ontario!
As if the historic luxury found downstairs weren’t enough, the upstairs is even better, combining just the right amount of history into each room while making sure the space was updated to suit even the most fussy standards. The rooms were large, bright, airy, and my room even had a real, honest to God window seat that was just perfect for relaxing on with a glass of wine.
The bed was comfortable, the walk-in glass-enclosed shower was a nice touch to an already well-appointed washroom. Because I was a returning guest I even got a small box of chocolates in my room with a handwritten card thanking me for returning!
Breakfast is included in your stay, and it’s very pleasant to wander down to eat in the stunning dining room or take a table outside on the patio. The whole experience of Idlewyld Inn & Spa just screams “relaxation!” For celiacs the breakfast may not be ideal, the bacon rests on bread (why do people do that??) but the chef is happy to accommodate gluten-free, and prepared a breakfast just for me! My husband was jealous.
We also ate our evening meal at the inn, which is highly convenient after being in the car all day no one wants to head out to find somewhere to eat in a different city. Instead, we relaxed on the patio with a before-dinner drink, and enjoyed a five-star meal (gluten-free, of course!). The chef was happy to make accommodations for me, and there was virtually nothing on the menu I couldn’t eat!
And I haven’t even gotten started on the “spa” part of Idlewyld Inn & Spa! London is also an interesting place to visit (they even have a Thames River, just like in London, England!) with lots to do and more interesting history to explore.
Needless to say I’m a fan of this unique inn and plan on making trips here often. Owned by Farhi Holdings Corporation, Idlewyld Inn & Spa even has a sister inn in Ingersoll, Elm Hurst Inn & Spa, that’s supposed to be even more oppulent and with an equally impressive history as Idlewyld. That’s one for the bucket list!