The Metcalfe Hotel is Ottawa’s newest boutique hotel, and one of my favourite places to stay in Canada’s capital city. Have you booked a room here?
Last Updated on June 30, 2023 by MacNaughtan
Light pours through the pitched paned-glass roof of The Metcalfe Hotel’s atrium and Living Room lobby lounge. It’s one of the first things you see upon arrival, and resisting its charm is difficult. The decor is mostly art deco, with splashes of industrial charm. There’s a French bistro just off the lobby, and the elevator doors are shiny copper. It’s deliciously trendy and chic, fun, and intimate.
Located in downtown Ottawa, a short walk from Sparks Street and Parliament Hill, The Metcalfe Hotel was once the YMCA (1906 to 2017), and before that, the site of Sir George-Étienne Cartier’s home. It was converted into a hotel around 2017. During the pandemic, The Metcalfe Hotel was renovated and reopened in 2022 as part of the Gray Collection (they own and operate boutique hotels in Montreal, such as William Gray and Le Petit Hotel).
I patiently awaited the reopening of The Metcalfe Hotel. When I decided to stop in Ottawa on my way back to Quebec City after spending time with my family in Orangeville, I knew I needed to stay here. Here are my thoughts!
After 11 days with my family, and sleeping on an air mattress in my mom’s tiny living room the entire time, I was beyond excited when I arrived at The Metcalfe Hotel just after 1 pm and they said my room was ready. At that moment, my brain involuntarily started dreaming of floufy sheep dancing a jaunty jig, and I was ready for a nap like a sleep-deprived toddler.
My room, and Executive King, was on the 4th floor, in a corner with views of the city. It’s spacious, with a surprisingly comfortable leather chair and ottoman (I could write an entire article on the horrible accent chairs in hotel rooms), a little writing corner overlooking the city, and a bathroom with a shower for two. While my room didn’t have a small vanity separate from the bathroom sink, I’m told other rooms in this category do – I’m not a big makeup girl, so no biggie for me.
The king-size bed, however, quickly becomes my new best friend as it gently hugs me and lulls me into a short nap before I need to get ready for dinner at Peking Duck.
The room comes with other amenities, too. There is an abundance of outlets and USB charging stations, a Tivoli Bluetooth speaker, and a 42” flatscreen TV. If I had a pet, it would be welcome as well – I saw the cutest beige poodle in the lobby.
After a long day of exploring the city, escaping to my room was a delightful treat, and similar to my nap shortly after check-in, I fell asleep quickly (which is rare for me as I often sleep poorly at hotels). Thank God, a hotel with good pillows! Seriously, it’s rare for me to sleep well in a hotel – mostly because the pillows are too firm.
chilling out in the living room
Plush modern brown sectional sofas wrap around half of the lobby, and bulb lighting hangs from wooden beams, adding a cozy glow. The sofas are soft and perfect for curling up with a book or having drinks with friends. Behind them, a heavy wood bookcase with a rolling wood ladder and colour-coded books gives the space a cozy quiet vibe. I actually saw guests taking the big picture books off the shelves and reading them, which was fabulous.
There are other seating vignettes as well. Round marble-topped tables with fuzzy low-back black chairs, and a communal wood table with seating for six, perfect for getting some work done or enjoying a cocktail or coffee (available throughout the day and into the evening). A curved café counter nearby has baked goods under glass-covered dishes.
There are intimate seating areas, too. Round velvety swivel chairs are tucked between the two lobby doors, and opposite the reception desk are four more chairs with low tables and warm lighting.
With so many seating options, I could not resist playing musical (silently) vignettes and enjoying the soothing piano music floating from speakers in the hotel’s restaurant, Cocotte. As a fat girl, I was a fan of the brown sofas, as well as the cured chairs in the above photo – so comfy!
dining at cocotte bistro
Cocotte Bistro, the hotel’s restaurant, looks small at first as you enter from the Living Room lounge. The décor is an art deco dream, with black and white MC Escher-esque flooring, arches and curves, foliage wallpaper, and rattan-backed chairs. It’s mustard yellow, forest green, tans, black and white – I have the same colour scheme at home.
My first meal here was breakfast, a grapefruit mimosa, and a French omelet with gruyere cheese, chives, and little potatoes on the side. It was a Saturday, and not yet 9 am, so the restaurant was quiet (yay!). The eggs are light, fluffy, and cheesy. It’s honestly a fabulous way to start the day. The little potatoes were good, too. It was a light breakfast, which is ideal (for me) for a day of exploring the city.
Breakfast provides a nice peek into the quality of a restaurant, but dinner service (in my opinion) is the best way to fully experience a restaurant. I returned to the hotel for an early dinner, sitting along the mustard-coloured banquet facing the rest of Cocotte. I started off with a small order of salmon tartare with ratatouille vegetables and chives. The salmon is cured with Herbs de Provence and lavender, and the flavouring is surprisingly subtle. Overall, the salmon was buttery and the flavours were mild. I also loved that the grilled bread was soft – I’m not a fan of hard crostini.
Next up was steak frites – a cab bavette steak cooked medium-rare with crunchy fries and aioli. I have had the worst luck when it comes to steaks, my last decent steak being at Gibbys in Old Montreal. The steak at Cocotte was tender and perfectly cooked, and flavourful. With a price point of 34 CAD, the steak frites are a win. For dessert, I ordered pistachio crème brûlée. The crackly top was a bit thicker and overdone, but the custard itself was quite good.
Overall, the food at Cocotte Bistro is delicious, and the next time I’m in Ottawa, I’ll swing by to try a couple more dishes.
Overall, I had a great stay at The Metcalfe Hotel. The public spaces are comfortable and perfect for relaxing, working remotely, or catching up with friends. It’s one of the most comfortable hotel lobby lounges in Ottawa. The staff is friendly and helpful, and the room was more comfortable than I anticipated.
As a fat woman, I loved that the chair in my room was comfortable to sit in and that several areas in the lobby are comfortable as well. In my opinion, The Metcalfe Hotel is in my top three for Ottawa, joining Andaz Hotel and Alt Hotel Ottawa.