If you haven’t been to Cape Breton you must go. And if you go, you’ll want to stay at the Keltic Lodge. There isn’t a single other inn or B&B on Cape Breton with a location that can rival the Keltic Lodge. Located on the east coast of the Cabot Trail in Ingonish, the lodge is actually inside the Highlands National Park. It’s positioned on a point, so there is ocean on two sides. The views are spectacular. And even the drive into the lodge is wonderful. You wander along a narrow road through a birch forest until you reach the grounds of the lodge.
The lodge is made up of many buildings. There is the main lodge which houses a restaurant and has floors of old style hotel rooms (they are small and cramped and do not have air conditioning), some cabins, a modern hotel style two floor building as well as some connected cabins. There is also a building used for banquets, a building with a casual restaurant, and a spa/gym building. You’ll also drive by a run down, peeling building that appears to be the lodging for the staff ( a la Dirty Dancing). A coat of paint would do wonders for that.
We had a bit of drama with our room when we arrived. First of all, the hotel is located past the entry point for the Park and you are supposed to buy a pass before you come to the lodge but we had no instructions about this and didn’t figure it out until the next day. The property has no signs, so you have to just guess where to go and where the main lodge is. And once you are in the main lodge, you also have to guess where to check in. There’s no desk in the lobby. Instead, you go into a small office off to the side. Again, no signs. So actually finding your way to check in is your first obstacle.
We reserved our room online and requested an ocean view. We started to make our way to our room, which was in the two story modern hotel building. However we could not find our room. We walked down the hall one way, then the other, and our room number was missing. There was a big gap in how the numbers were laid out. Fortunately there was a courtesy phone in the hall so we called the desk and asked for help. The room numbers do not go in order we were told and were given instructions as to how to find our room — located beyond the next hundreds block of numbers, which made no sense at all. If this is the case, you would think you would put up a sign OR tell the guests when they were checking in. We finally located our room, which had a lovely view of the parking lot. No ocean. The staff then told us we had not reserved an ocean view and they had none. They did a have room in the main lodge with a view. Off we trekked to this room. We wisely did not bring in our luggage, since it turns out the main lodge has no elevator. The room we were offered was sparse and small. The bathroom was ancient. There was no carpeting. There was no air conditioning (and when we asked we were told it was “in the closet” – the only items in the closet were a window fan and a standing fan — this in addition to the ceiling fan is a good indication that that room is an inferno). The ocean view involved a large Canadian flag directly outside the window, flapping loudly in the breeze.
We declined and went back to our parking lot view room. Once we unpacked, we attempted to open the door to the patio. The door was broken, so we had to get maintenance to come and repair it. Through all of this drama, we found the staff to be unhelpful and unfriendly, which was memorable since everyone else we encountered in Nova Scotia was incredibly friendly and kind. Couple this with the absolute lack of signs and the place felt unfriendly to us.
In contrast, our room was very comfortable, very modern and attractive. We had a mini fridge, Keurig, and a large luxurious bathroom with heated floors. The ceiling was thin though so we heard all sorts of noises from above us. Our rate was $271 Canadian per night for a September stay.
Breakfast was included and the buffet included eggs, bacon, sausage, fruit, baked beans, pancakes, yogurt, cereal, breads and more. We ordered hot chocolate two mornings and both mornings it arrived almost stone cold. We had dinner at the casual restaurant on the property one evening and again found there to be some communication issues with the staff as to what was gluten free and what wasn’t.
There’s lots of room to walk on the property and there is a trail that goes out to the end of the point if you’d like a longer hike. There is also a golf course on the property. A small gift shop was forgettable. The star here is the view and no matter where you walk on the property you will have breathtaking views of ocean, an island, cliffs, beaches and apparently sometimes whales will make an appearance as well. It was one of the most beautiful views I have ever seen at a hotel.
Ingonish is a bit remote from other Cabot Trail locations. It’s a good stopping point if you’re making your way around the trail, but staying here for several nights, we found we were constantly driving back and forth and it got a bit tedious. Mix things up a bit and take the Ingonish ferry for part of the drive if you’re staying a while. Ingonish is a small area and if you want more shops and restaurants you’ll need to head south to Baddeck which is about an hour and a half. It’s a longer drive to find anything to the north and west on the trail.
If you book a room, I recommend doing so by phone to avoid a mix up over what type of view you’ll have. Don’t expect a warm Nova Scotia welcome, and instead focus on enjoying the breathtaking scenery at this location.
If you haven’t been to Cape Breton you must go. And if you go, you’ll want to stay at the Keltic Lodge. There isn’t a single other inn or B&B on Cape Breton with a location that can rival the Keltic Lodge. Located on the east coast of the Cabot Trail in Ingonish, the lodge … Read more