The Ontario cities of Kitchener-Waterloo make up one of Canada’s high-tech hubs, a Canadian “Silicon Valley.” BlackBerry put Waterloo on the tech innovation map, when the company developed its smart phone here in 1999, and these days, Google has a large facility in the region, as do Shopify, OpenText, and many other entrepreneurial ventures.
Until recently, though, travelers to the Waterloo region, an hour’s drive northwest of Toronto, had little choice of accommodation beyond standard chain lodgings. The Walper, a recently renovated boutique hotel for the high-tech crowd (and for any other travelers seeking somewhere cool to stay), has changed all that.
Here’s the scoop:
About the Hotel
Built as a hotel back in 1893, this five-story brick building is centrally located in downtown Kitchener, across the street from THEMUSEUM, an eclectic cultural destination that’s part children’s museum and part “museum of ideas,” and a short walk from the Kitchener Market, where vendors offer food from around the world. One of the city’s most inventive restaurants, The Berlin, is less than a block from the hotel.
I had stayed at The Walper several years ago, when the property had been partially renovated, but in 2017, the hotel reopened after a complete overhaul, and it couldn’t be more different. It’s been entirely transformed into a cool boutique accommodation.
Facilities and Services
The all-white lobby is furnished with sleek leather sofas, while the elevators proclaim, in bold graphics, “We’re here to lift you up.”
On the second floor, The Lokal, an airy lounge with colorful artwork and mid-century modern furnishings, arranged in comfortable conversation groupings, feels like a community living room, serving creative cocktails and local microbrews.
The hotel also runs a bistro and bar next door, TWH Social, in a brick-walled lower-level space. It’s open for lunch, dinner, drinks, and weekend brunch.
The Walper doesn’t have a fitness room or pool, but guests have complimentary access to a nearby Good Life Fitness facility or to a local yoga studio.
Guest Rooms and Amenities
Although they’re all slightly different, the Walper’s 92 guest rooms share a minimalist esthetic with honey-hued millwork, wood floors, and contemporary lounge chairs.
In my fifth-floor room, a huge beam dominated the space, dividing it into a sleeping and sitting area. (But you do have to watch your head!).
Other rooms range from the petit “Pocket Queens” (the hotel’s smallest units at 190 square feet) to the 550-square foot “Historic Collection Suites.”
All have complimentary Wi-Fi, bedside reading lamps, and plenty of electrical outlets where you’d expect to find them.
All the units also have supplies for making your own pour-over coffee (wouldn’t you love this set-up at home?), and staff stick inspirational messages on the mirror in the modern bathrooms. The memo pads on the spacious work desks note that they’re designed “for deep thoughts and doodles.”
If you stay at The Walper, you might want to keep those memo pads handy.
Because who knows?
A stay at this tech-friendly Ontario boutique hotel might kindle your own entrepreneurial spirit.
Standard double room rates at The Walper start at CAD$179/night. Valet parking is $25, or you can park your car yourself at a garage a block away for $14.50/day, with in and out privileges. Make your reservation directly online at the hotel website or through a booking site such as Expedia.
Hotel feature by Vancouver-based travel, food, and feature writer Carolyn B. Heller. Photos © Carolyn B. Heller. The Walper and the Waterloo Regional Tourism Marketing Corporation arranged my stay for review purposes.