Where is Elora, Ontario, you ask? And why should I spend my weekend there?
Just 70 miles (115 km) northwest of downtown Toronto, Elora is frequently named to lists of Ontario’s prettiest small towns.
Scottish pioneers settled the region in the mid-1800s, building well-crafted homes from the area’s abundant limestone. Many of these grand stone structures now house galleries, shops, and inns, including the Drew House B&B.
About Drew House
The Drew House B&B is comprised of two buildings, set around a lovely garden. The main house (pictured at the top) has two multi-bedroom suites, while in the adjacent stone coach house (above) — a converted barn that dates back to the 1850s — are six guest rooms.
Owner Roger Dufau, who runs Drew House with his wife Kathleen, opened the B&B back in 1999, and the couple’s experience as innkeepers is apparent, starting with the warm welcome they give to their guests.
They’ve stocked an alcove full of books to read, flyers about things to do, and posters of upcoming area attractions. Guests can help themselves to coffee, tea, and cold drinks around the clock.
Guest Rooms and Amenities
The guest rooms in the coach house are decorated in a French country style, with homey quilts, antiques, and other wood furnishings. Braided rugs top the wide-board wood floors, and in several rooms, you can perch on a window seat where the arched windows look out over the gardens.
Bathrooms mix modern and old-fashioned. In my room, the sink was set into a rustic wooden counter, while the combination bath-shower had a jetted tub.
If you need to get online, note that the coach house rooms don’t have Wi-Fi. As Kathleen noted, the signal doesn’t travel through the thick stone walls.
The main house does have Wi-Fi, though, and even if you’re not staying inside, you can pick up the signal from the front porch.
In the main house, one unit — with four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a sitting area, and a kitchen — can sleep eight.
A second suite located in the home’s original servants’ quarters sleeps up to five, with two bedrooms, a bathroom, sitting room, and kitchen.
Roger is a trained chef, who hails from France’s Basque country, and his training shows in everything from the well-prepared breakfasts to the delicious coconut macaroons that he baked for guests in the evening. He also offers cooking classes — a 2.5-hour lesson, followed by either lunch or dinner.
But don’t worry — you don’t have to prepare your own breakfast. The morning meal is served family-style around a massive round table on the main floor of the coach house, a setting that would look right at home in the French countryside.
During my stay, breakfast started with excellent French-press coffee, juice, and a generous bowl of fresh fruit. The main course was a classic eggs benedict served with bacon and a roasted tomato — definitely worth waking up for!
Drew House is just a short walk from Elora’s downtown, which is lined with art galleries, cute shops, and cafes.
Several other Elora attractions are a quick drive away. In a grand building that belies its origins as a “Poor House” (it was built in 1877 as a place of refuge for the region’s impoverished and homeless population), the Wellington County Museum has several interesting exhibits about the area’s past.
Also nearby is the beautiful Elora Quarry, a former limestone quarry turned classic “swimming hole,” open to swimmers in the summer.
Of course, you can always just make yourself a cup of tea and relax in the garden at Drew House. Which is not a bad way to spend a weekend. Not at all.
Hotel review by Vancouver-based travel, food, and feature writer Carolyn B. Heller, author of the books, Moon Handbooks: Ontario and Living Abroad in Canada. Photos © Carolyn B. Heller. Drew House, in partnership with Elora-Fergus Tourism, hosted my stay for review purposes.