Canada’s London is the country’s 10th largest metropolitan area, a two-hour drive or train ride west of Toronto. Home to the large University of Western Ontario, the city’s significant student population gives it a youthful feel, with lots of pubs and boutiques.
If you find yourself traveling to this other London — that’s London, Ontario, not London, England — one of the city’s most convenient places to stay is the fun and funky Hotel Metro.
Guest Rooms and Amenities
Located right downtown, this 20-room boutique hotel is set in a former shoe factory warehouse. The best rooms, like the one where I stayed during a recent trip across Ontario, are on the fourth floor. Many of these loft-like spaces have exposed brick walls, oversized windows, rainshowers, and separate soaker tubs.
Some rooms face toward an interior courtyard — they’re quiet but smaller and darker — so ask for a room description before you make your booking.
All rooms have free Wi-Fi that worked well, flat-screen TVs, Aveda bath products, and Keurig coffeemakers. The hotel earns bonus points from me for having lots of electrical outlets both at the desk and near the bed.
Double room rates typically range from CAD$$139-199. The hotel has no on-site parking, but you can park in an adjacent garage for $13 per day or hunt for a parking spot on the nearby streets.
The hotel’s restaurant (under separate management but located just off the lobby), Blu Duby is a casual hang-out-with-friends kind of place with a big, crowd-pleasing menu.
They’ve got pear and blue cheese salad, lamb “lollipops,” mussels and fries, an antipasto plate, escargot, lobster mac ‘n’ cheese, poutine, and more — and that’s just on the appetizer menu. From pastas, salmon, and steaks, to short ribs and lentil cakes, it may not be hugely innovative, but you’re sure to find something you like.
Hotel Metro is located directly opposite the city’s Covent Garden Market, which houses produce vendors, coffee shops, and all sorts of ethnic food purveyors. It’s a great place to pick up breakfast or a quick lunch. Twice a week, local farmers sell their wares in front of the market building.
London’s worthwhile art museum, Museum London, is housed in a cool downtown building designed by architect Raymond Moriyama (who also designed Toronto’s equally cool Bata Shoe Museum).
London earned a place in medical history when a local doctor, Frederick Banting, came up with the the idea of extracting insulin from a pancreas as a treatment for diabetes. In 1923, Banting received the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his work. You can visit Dr. Banting’s former home, which is now the Banting House National Historic Site, to learn more about his discovery.
Another made-in-London product is Labatt’s beer. The Labatt Brewing Company opened in London back in 1847 and still makes beer here today. Tours of the brewery, offered Monday through Friday, wrap up with a beer tasting.
Whenever I’m in London, I make at least one stop at my favorite local bakery: Black Walnut Bakery Café, in the Wortley Village neighborhood south of downtown. The quiche, spinach pie, and other savory baked goods are excellent, but the muffins, cookies, and sweets are even better. And if you’re lucky, there will be pie.
For more things to see and do in Canada’s London, check in with Tourism London.
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. Hotel Metro, in partnership with Tourism London, hosted my stay for review purposes.