Man, winter can really take it out of you. Hubby and I have been working loads and were craving a getaway, but with my upcoming $10,000 bill for gum surgery + Invisalign, a trip down south is out of the question. So when the kind folks at Strathmere invited us for a stay, we jumped at the chance.
Located just south of Manotick, Strathmere has become one of our favourite local spots to recharge. It's a quick 30-minute drive from downtown but feels like a total change of pace. From the moment you arrive you'll move a little slower, breath a little deeper, and let go of that urge to multi-task all. the. time.
I have to admit that until hubby and I visited last summer, I thought they exclusively did weddings and events. Not so. The Retreat at Strathmere boasts (huge) overnight guest rooms, a spa, a restaurant with both a head chef and a head gardener, snowshoeing trails, yoga classes, hot tubs, and more.
We checked in to our spacious suite, which had a fully stocked kitchen, dining table for six, and sitting area with a fireplace. You could easily share one of these suites with friends and make a weekend out of it: tons of room and easy to cook if you like.
We dropped off our bags and headed to the spa for a couples treatment called The Retreat Warm Herbal Bouquet Stem Massage. Holy heck, it was next level.
It starts with a 15 minute soak in one of their outdoor hot tubs, followed by a 90 minute massage with densely packed herb bouquets (similar feel to hot stone massage), then finishes with a cup of tea and a baked treat by the fire. Whoa.
The massage incorporates gentle table stretching and breath work, so it's basically like someone is doing yoga *to* you. We stumbled out of the treatment room in a fog of aromatherapy. After our treatment we spent the afternoon in our suite, snuggled up in cozy robes and reading books by the fire.
Next up: dinner! I adore The Retreat Café at Strathmere because they create everything from scratch with local ingredients and it's incredibly affordable. Example: most dinner mains are around $20 and their entire wine list hails from Ontario (Prince Edward County and Pelee Island!), with most bottles for $30 and most glasses for $7.
They have wonderful vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free menu options too, like these vegetarian risotto balls (aka arancini):
My pick: try their Local Wallace Beef Burger ($20). It's made with local ground beef, topped with house pickles & chips, seared brisket, double smoked beer-infused cheddar, arugula, and garlic aioli, served with Yukon potato wedges with truffle oil, thyme & parmesan.
It's been named one of the best burgers in Ottawa and my stomach knows why.
After polishing off an incredible meal, hubby and I headed back to our suite for a relaxing night in. Strathmere has Netflix in their guest rooms (!!!) so we binged some New Girl, I had a bubble bath, we did face masks, and hung out by the fireplace.
In the morning hubby hit the snowshoeing trails while I headed off to yoga. The yoga studio at Strathmere is positively beautiful, with a big fireplace and loads of sun streaming in through the windows.
The teacher led us through an invigorating flow that served as the perfect warm-up for Strathmere's Champagne & Whiskey Brunch (in my mind brunch is a sport, but maybe I've got Olympics on the brain).
Here's just a *wee* taste of what we devoured that morning:
Blood Orange + Raspberry Mimosa
Café Hot Toddy with Lemon Peel + Thyme
Blue Crab Eggs Benny on a Chive & Leek Scone (YAAS)
Maple Bacon Sausage-Rolled Crepes with Whiskey Syrup (OMG)
Brown Sugar Baked Beans
Buttermilk Fried Chicken + Waffles (also YAAS)
Indian Spiced Lentils + Chickpeas with Roasted Eggplant
Champagne-Battered Avocado Tacos with Pickled Carrot + Cilantro
Winter Green Salad with Beets, Pomegranate Seeds + Blood Orange
Local Artisan Cheese + Charcuterie Board with Crostini + Preserves
Lime + Cardamom Cinnamon Buns
Vegan Date Squares
Dark Chocolate Espresso Pot de Crème
And sooo much more
After stuffing our faces for an hour and a half, we headed back downtown feeling rested and recharged. Thank you, Strathmere! Because I loved my experience so much, I wanna treat one of you! Read on.
win a strathmere staycation
A yoga class in their beautiful studio
Hiking or snowshoeing on their nature trails
A soak in their outdoor hot tubs
Relaxation by the campfire (it's licensed so order a hot toddy!)
Two $20 credits for food + drinks at The Retreat Café