We stayed at the Shaw Club for three nights in a superior king room with a patio. Check-in was friendly and reception and other staff were excellent throughout. By European standards, the room was quite small (approx 10 m sq) and dominated by the huge bed. There was adequate wardrobe space, a small desk area and an L-shaped couch that takes two people at a pinch. The air-con is situated below the window near the couch, so anyone sitting there gets the full blast of cold air. A large flat-screen TV is on the wall opposite the bed. The iPod dock mentioned on the website was nowhere to be seen. The bathroom was about 4 m sq and dominated by a rather ugly, slipper-design bath/jacuzzi. The toilet roll holder and the bath faucet weren't securely fixed. Unusually, the minibar fridge was completely empty - water is provided on the 2nd floor in a cooler - but at least there's space for wine brought back from wine tasting. The patio is a bit of an apology for an outside sitting space, being right next to the road with absolutely no privacy and consisting of a couple of chairs (no table) on a slab of concrete. There's no other space for sitting out or sunbathing and no swimming pool but there are parks nearby and the N-O-T-L greenery is a short drive from the hotel.
The gym is in the basement and there are four cardio machines and a multi-gym - adequate for a hotel gym although the water cooler wasn't functioning. Wifi and wired Internet access is provided throughout the hotel free of charge, but the wifi signal was rather weak away from reception and didn't reliably stretch to our room. There's a pleasant lounge area with a laptop and printer, complementary beverages and DVD library, but the lounge has seating for just six guests. The hotel tends to push its various 'therapy' packages provided in the Shaw Spa: the 'milk chocolate mousse and tiramisu facial' ($135) must appeal to those with a morbidly high BMI.
Breakfast is served in Zee's Grill and is included in the room rate. This was a continental type, but was brought to the table rather than being served buffet style, and includes granola with fruit and yoghurt, fruit juice, a few slices of toast, a spoonful of compote (shared), a cinnamon Danish and coffee or tea. Cooked options are available for an extra charge. The breakfast was good but didn't vary from one day to the next and the single spoonful of compote shared between two was a tad stingy.
Picton Street is the main drag for Niagara-on-the-lake and there's a wide range of shops and restaurants catering for visitors. Everything is best done when the coachloads of tourists have departed for the day. We tried a few restaurants during our stay. Epicurean Fine Foods does a self-service lunch with various salad platters but the standard wasn't much better than canteen food; it might be better for dinner when normal table service is resumed. The Shaw Cafe seemed a friendly place for drinks and food and they have a number of wine (& beer) 'flights' available as a quick try-out of Niagara vineyards. The Charles Inn is more off the beaten track on Queen Street and a sister establishment to the Shaw Club. The food is a bit more expensive but of a high standard and service was friendly and informative: a good place for a quiet meal for a couple. Zee's Grill is also fine for drinks or meals but is expensive. The highly-rated Ginger Restaurant is some way out of the centre and serves reasonably priced, authentic Asian food in a slightly run-down hotel ambience.
Wine tasting is a must if you're visiting N-O-T-L. There's a helpful Ontario Wine Route map which the hotel may have (we gave them a handful) but otherwise is available from vineyards or the Chamber of Commerce. Tastings are invariably charged for and varied from $3 - $9 for three wines, but this is usually refunded if something is purchased. The larger vineyards tend to attract the coaches and are best avoided. Smaller vineyards like Stratus, Jackson-Triggs, Hillebrand, Ravine and Vineland are a better bet. We found the best architecture and wine-tasting experience at Stratus and Jackson-Triggs. Vineland has a particularly good terrace restaurant which is ideal for lunch following a tasting. Hillebrand also has an excellent restaurant which deservedly rates high on the Trip Advisor list of N-O-T-L restaurants.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Shaw Club Hotel epitomizes contemporary luxury. Designed to feel more like a private club than a hotel, each sophisticated guestroom is individually accentuated with the latest technology and has been designed to ensure unparalleled comfort. Located directly across the street from the Shaw Festival Theatre, The Shaw Club offers full service accommodation and extraordinary dining at its restaurant, Zees Patio & Grill. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Shaw Club Hotel Niagara-On-The-Lake
- Shaw Club Hotel And Spa
- Shaw Hotel