The Charm of Old Quebec City

I’ve been to Quebec City a few times. The first time as a youngster on a driving vacation with the family. The first overnight stop from Toronto was Quebec City. I remember walking through the gates of the old city and feeling like I had stepped back in time. Thankfully the old city is still there today. And it’s a real treat.

Old Quebec is the only walled city in Canada or the U.S. and is designated as a World Heritage treasure by UNESCO. It’s a mix of history, architecture, heritage, art, and culture and is widely viewed as the home of French civilization in North America.

Early Canadian and French history abounds with numerous historic buildings and museums including the Musée de la civilisation . There are many art galleries and boutiques with a French flair. Restaurants and pubs have a warm and intimate feel and most feature Quebec fare including rabbit, deer, and duck confit poutine.

Quebec8

Quebec9

Quebec5

Quebec6

While there’s a variety of hotels to choose from within Old Quebec and Quebec City itself, my favorite is the Auberge Saint-Antoine. Located in the heart of Old Quebec, the Auberge sits on an historic site dating back to the 16oos. As a member of Relais and Cheataux, the hotel has a strong focus on service and luxury. There are only 60 rooms with no 2 rooms alike, and each contains artifacts that were found on site. Their Panache Restaurant is incredible with Michelin star chef and imaginative menu.

Quebec4

Quebec2

Quebec1

Quebec3

Quebec City is like 2 different destinations in the winter and the summer. In the winter, it can hit -30c. So cold it’s painful but beyond beautiful particularly during the Carnaval de Québec (the Winter Carnival from January 27 to February 12, 2017).

In the summer, there’s the Festival d’été de Québec (July 7-17, 2016), Canada’s biggest outdoor music event. Quebec City is warm and inviting with quaint streets to wonder down and walking trails to explore along the St.Lawrence River. Outdoor cafes abound and you’ll find yourself stepping back in time… and thinking about your next visit.

The Best Airports for Long (Unexpectedly Fun) Layovers

It’s not often you hear someone rave about his or her time at the airport. More often than not our layover is spent on our phones scrolling through emails or texts (or let’s be honest, Tinder) while trying not to overhear the conversation of the person next to us at the gate. But there is good news for all travelers expecting a longer airport wait this year: It turns out there is a lot of fun to be had when waiting for the next flight. We are talking everything from massages to jumping into in a rooftop pool. With fun in mind, we’ve put together the list of the airports taking the layover experience to the next level.

 1. Changi Airport – Singapore

Changi won the World’s Best Airport Award (voted on by travelers) in 2015, and when it comes to spending time during a layover, this airport certainly does not disappoint. What better way to pass the time than a dip in the airport’s rooftop swimming pool? Or take in a film at their movie theater. There is also a butterfly garden, orchid garden, and sunflower garden that boasts a field of more than 500 sunflowers. Changi is also home to the world’s tallest slide in an airport at nearly 40 feet tall. The Crowne Plaza Changi Airport Hotel also has a swimming pool and 24-hour fitness center for those looking to spend the night near the airport. In addition to a plethora of shopping and dining locations, Changi’s unique airport features make it stand out as a luxurious and entertaining spot for long layovers.

2. John F. Kennedy Airport – Terminal 5, New York, NY

Of all the terminals at JFK, Jet Blue’s Terminal 5 is the one you want to spend your layover in. With more than 30 food and beverage spots, you can find just about anything to nibble and sip on. That includes places like Deep Blue Sushi, Dylan’s Candy Bar, and Bar Veloce. The terminal hosts more than 35 retail shops. If sitting down and relaxing is more your style, people watch on the Grandstands while you charge your phone and use the terminal’s free Wi-Fi.  The Marketplace at T5 also hosts concerts with musicians from all over the world, including Taylor Swift, James Blunt and Robyn. Travelers can step out of the airport and over to the Crowne Plaza JFK Airport Hotel to ensure a solid night’s sleep during an overnight layover. Their complimentary shuttle bus will get you right back to the airport in time for your flight.

3. Heathrow Airport – London, United Kingdom

This bustling airport caters to an exceptionally diverse crowd, and the range of shops, restaurants and entertainment options reflects just that. The airport has two spas that offer services ranging from manicures and pedicures to aromatherapy and facials. The No1 Travel Spa offers a jet lag revival package for those who need to recuperate from exceptionally long trips. The iconic shopping destination Harrod’s of London has shops located in each terminal, and personal shoppers are available by appointment to provide fashion and style advice. Restaurants and cafes regularly host events all year round, including special activities and menus for Chinese New Year, like complimentary 2016 Chinese Horoscope cards and special dishes like Hoisin Duck Puffs from Rhubarb British Restaurant and Bar. Travelers can step out of the airport and head to nearby Sofitel London Heathrow for afternoon tea at the hotel’s tea salon or check email at one of their workspaces.

4. Vancouver International Airport – British Columbia, Canada

Voted by travelers as the Best Airport in North America, YVR is not short on entertainment and services to help you spend your time in between flights. The airport has a Meet and Great Service that provides travelers with an Airport Butler who can customize your experience, from getting you to your gate to helping you with the purchase of duty-free items and spa services. The Absolute Spa and Hair Salon can handle all grooming needs, from hair styling and removal to massages. There is a diverse selection of international fare, from sit down restaurants and bars to fast food chains. Less than three miles away is the Radisson Hotel Vancouver Airport where those with longer or overnight layovers can relax in the indoor pool and spa tub, grab food at one of many fine-dining establishments and easily hop back to the airport with complimentary on-demand shuttle service that operates around the clock.

5. Denver International Airport– Denver, CO

Denver’s airport stands apart with its appealing architectural style, complete with a vast collection of public art, more than 140 shops and restaurants, and relaxing lounges. The airport offers free Wi-Fi, but many travelers find themselves putting down their phones to stare at the gorgeous views of the Rocky Mountains near gates C23 and C24. Denver is also home to Paradise 4 Paws, 9http://www.flydenver.com/traveler_services/pets) an on-site pet resort. Dog suites have their own flat screen TV’s and massage therapy and veterinary services are also available. Cats won’t feel left out either with their own bungalow and Adventure Jungle. Who said layovers can’t be fun for pets too?

6. San Francisco International Airport – San Francisco, CA

San Francisco airport is a tech-lovers layover dream. The #Converge@flySFO loungeis a unique space inside the airport created specifically for travelers to share ideas around technology, entrepreneurship and ways to create change (among many topics). The room has free Wi-Fi, white boards to write down ideas and places to charge electronics. For less business-minded guests, the airport also houses theAviation Museum and Library, the Berman Reflection Room for quiet meditation, XpresSpa’s for spa services and a free yoga room. Travelers and their pets with longer layovers are welcome at the Aloft San Francisco Airport Hotel located just two miles from the airport. Guests can enjoy stretching their legs on the scenic jogging trail or taking a dip in the hotel pool before grabbing a bite to eat and heading back to their airport to catch their next flight.

 

This post was posted by The Hipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind Blog on March 11, 2016.

 

The 6 Best Hotels for Viewing Niagara Falls

The vistas of Niagara Falls have beckoned travelers for centuries. Long visited by newlyweds — and nowadays a mandatory stop for the Instagramming road-tripper — the self-styled Honeymoon Capital of the World has plenty to offer in addition to its thundering falls. Gambling is available on either side of the river, but it has especially blossomed on the Canadian side, which also boasts hotels situated closer to the iconic Horseshoe Falls (hello, views). Meanwhile, the New York side is home to an aquarium, wine trail, and the lushly conserved Niagara Falls State Park. So pick a country, pack your passport for optimal bridge-hopping, and book a room at one of these area hotels which will keep you close to the main attraction.

1. The Red Coach Inn (U.S.)

This historic and cozy English Tudor inn sits alongside the Upper Rapids and is a mere 15-minute walk to the American Falls. With jacuzzi tubs and a full-service restaurant featuring a distinctly old world ambiance that harkens back to its opening in 1923, this alternative lodging is much more than a simple bed & breakfast. The Red Coach Inn also offers a variety of packages for those looking to discover the Falls or simply enjoy a romantic weekend getaway.

2. Crowne Plaza Niagara Falls Fallsview (Canada)

The Fallsview Boulevard District of Niagara Falls, Ontario is home to a number of the area’s best hotels, and for good reason. As the name not-so-subtly implies, it is situated alongside the river and boasts incredible views. It’s also a developed entertainment district, and the Crowne Plaza in particular is a very family friendly choice thanks to its direct access to the Fallsview Indoor Waterpark. The hotel also sits next door to Casino Niagara and the Rainbow Bridge, which allows access to the American side and is itself a popular landmark. And don’t let its modern furnishings fool you, the hotel formerly known as the Brock Plaza has a long legacy and even hosted Marilyn Monroe during the filming of the 1953 film Niagara.

3. Marriott Fallsview Hotel & Spa (Canada)

The Marriott bears the distinction of being the closest hotel to the main Horseshoe Falls, and it even offers a money-back guarantee if guests on the eighth floor or higher are dissatisfied with their view. The hotel contains a luxurious indoor pool and spa as well as the Terrapin Grille Falls View Restaurant. If you want to get even closer to the water, take a quick walk to the funiculars that will lower you down to theJourney Behind the Falls attraction, where visitors don ponchos and get up close and personal with the roaring mists.

4. Embassy Suites by Hilton (Canada)

Another Fallsview Blvd mainstay, the Embassy Suites by Hilton is next door to the Marriott and a mere block from the popular Fallsview Casino Resort complex. Venture one block past that and you’ll arrive at the Skylon Tower, which offers 360 degree views of the area in case your panoramic hotel view isn’t quite enough. Guests can also unwind at the end of the day with complimentary evening receptions featuring drinks and light snacks.

5. Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino (U.S.)

If you’re looking to do some gambling on the U.S. side of the border, stay at the Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino for an all-inclusive experience. Furnishings are basic, but the casino attracts top comedy talent and stage shows and is conveniently located to area attractions. Book a ride on the Maid of the Mist boat tour, which lets tourists feel the power of the falls from a distinctly humbling vantage point.

6. The Giacomo (U.S.)

Situated in a stylish Art Deco building in a central location, the Giacomo offers well-appointed rooms and a cozy fireplace in the lobby for those seeking a boutique hotel experience. Walk to the State Park to explore Niagara’s natural wonders, or to the nearby Aquarium of Niagara for a fun and educational activity. Opt for the Luxury Dining Package and the hotel will arrange meals for your at area establishments, or choose from one of their many other romance, adventure, or entertainment-centric packages.

 

This post was posted by The Hipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind Blog on February 8, 2016.