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Food and travel captivate Janet Podolak, who chronicles both for The News-Herald. Get the back story of her three decades of stories here. Guest bloggers and fellow News-Herald staffers also periodically share details of their trips.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Step into the Victorian era at the Prince of Wales in Niagara -on- the- Lake

Sometimes it takes an outsider to glimpse the potential of a place. And the Vintage Hotels in Niagara-on-the-Lake seem a prime example of that. The Prince of Wales, where I stayed, and its sister properties Queen’s Landing and Pillar and Post were developed by a Hong Kong family and are now among the top hotels in the Ontario home of the Shaw Festival. You’ll read about the town and the wonderful plays being presented there in the June 9 Travel section, which will go up online at www.News-Herald before that.
The Prince of Wales was built in 1864 and is in the heart of the historic village. Known at first by other names, it got its Prince of Wales designation in 1901 after a visit there by England’s future George V and Queen Mary.
It had always been a landmark but had seen better days when its new Hong Kong owners refurbished it to its Victorian elegance. Each of its 110 guest rooms is individually designed and decorated with brocades, tapestries and antiques so the experience is never the same twice. That’s possibly the reason why so many of its guests become regulars.

The  drawing room at the Prince of Wales Hotel is a vision of Victorian era comfort. It's where afternoon tea is served.
Its drawing room, where afternoon tea is served in bone china cups, is a vision of comfy and tea is super indulgent. A tiered silver tray of finger foods has savory tiny sandwiches such as cheese and chutney, egg salad, spinach and prosciutto rolls on the bottom. The middle layer has warm scones with jam and clotted cream on the side while the top has little creme brulees and lemon meringue tarts. The video shows how pretty it is.

Bowls o fresh roses are everywhere around the Prince of Wales Hotel.
Pale yellow roses fringed with a blush of pink set the tone everywhere at this hotel. They’re found in huge bouquets, in pretty bowls with their stems cut short and long stem roses are placed on pillows at turndown. Crisp high thread-count sheets drape each bed and heated towels are found in the bathroom. Many basins in washrooms and the spa are adorned with delicately stenciled designs.

We found a trio of perfectly shaped oranges poised on china plates beneath a Tiffany lamp in our room and quickly peeled and ate them. 
It’s not often that overnight lodging sets the tone of a place so exquisitely, but the Prince of Wales Hotel is spot on. To find out about the many packages offered, including some with theater tickets, contact the hotel directly at 888-669-5566 or go to
Step out the front door to continue the Victorian immersion with a horse drawn buggy tour of the village, which is awash in history for the War of 1812 — when today’s Ontario was an outpost of Britain and we were the aggressor. While you’re in town, consider a visit to the nearby Laura Secor Homestead to learn the story of an 1812 heroine who ran through the forests to warn British troops of the impending invasion. It’s an interesting take on the war considered by Canadians as leading to the birth of their nation. 

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