Niagara Falls has no shortage of run-of-the-mill chain hotels, but if you’re looking for a stay that’s just a little more distinctive, then look for the milk bottle.
The Sterling Inn and Spa is a 41-room boutique hotel housed in a 1928 former dairy — that’s why a three-story milk bottle towers above the main entrance!
With king-sized beds, a spa, and a highly regarded locavore dining room, the Sterling courts couples, although features like complimentary Wi-Fi and work desks appeal to business travelers as well.
The rooms come in a number of different layouts. All are large (if a bit spare), with dark wood furniture and red accents, fireplaces, wetbars, and coffeemakers. Some units have original wood rafters or exposed brick walls, some come with sofas or sitting areas, and some have steam showers or whirlpool tubs.
Rather than offering a standard Continental breakfast, the Sterling delivers a “Breakfast in Bed” tray to your room at the time you specify. The tray includes rolls or croissants, fruit, yogurt, and a couple of slices of ham and cheese, along with your choice of coffee or tea.
In the evening, book at table at AG Cuisine, the stylish restaurant on the inn’s lower level, where you can lounge on a retro white banquette under the twinkling chandeliers and sup on contemporary fare made from regional ingredients. The wine list emphasizes Niagara labels, too.
Parking can be hard to find — and expensive — in Niagara Falls, so the Sterling’s big, free parking lot is another useful amenity. You can park your car and walk down the hill to the Falls in about 15 minutes. To travel see other Niagara Parks sites, hop on the WEGO buses that shuttle visitors to all the major attractions, or rent a bike. Zoom Leisure Bikes has a rental office four blocks from the hotel.
The hotel’s tiny fitness room has only one treadmill, one eliptical trainer, and a weight machine, but walking to and from the Falls may provide better exercise.
Otherwise, the main drawback to the Sterling Inn, which opened in 2009, is that there are no views of the Falls. However, with off-season double room rates dipping as low as CAD$120, you can take the money you’ve saved and enjoy a ride on the iconic Maid of the Mist or even a helicopter tour over the Falls’ cascading spray.
Hotel review by Vancouver-based travel, food, and feature writer Carolyn B. Heller, author of the new travel guide, Moon Handbooks: Ontario, which features fun and funky attractions and experiences, lodgings, and places to eat across the province. Room photo courtesy of the Sterling Inn & Spa; other photos © Carolyn B. Heller. Sterling Inn, in partnership with Tourism Niagara, hosted my stay for review purposes.