By Sarah Kurchak, AOL Travel
The Fallsview area of Niagara Falls might have the giant hotel towers, the five-star view and the newer, swankier casino, but the single classiest and most lavish property in the city is actually just a short walk away from the cheeky tourist area of Clifton Hill. Nestled just behind the blaring lights and sounds of the Falls’ classic museums and arcades, The Sterling Inn & Spa just might be the city’s best kept secret, a hidden gem that thrives on word of mouth from its discerning and devoted clientele. The area’s only boutique hotel isn’t just an oasis from the madness at its doorstep, it’s an escape from the world in general.
Transforming a 1920′s dairy (and 1990′s bar) into a stylish hotel is no easy task, but the architect and designers behind the extensive 2005 renovation project that led to the Sterling were clearly up to the challenge. Preserving elements of the original structure – including the three story milk bottle-shaped entranceway – and infusing them with new design flourishes, they have created a truly stunning building. Wooden pillars, high ceilings and exposed beams meet neutral colours, abstract art and flourishes of sleek white and red furniture in an almost perfect combination of tradition and modern style. Even the bathrooms, with stone tiling and glass sinks that could be works of art in their own right, are inspired.
No two of the hotel’s 41 rooms are exactly alike, each boasting their own touches from the original building, and their own floor plan. The impressive and enticing list of amenities remains the same, though.
Each room boasts at least one flat screen TV, CD/ MP3 stereo system, king-sized bed, fridge, wet bar, dark hardwood floors and a gas fireplace. Some come with two-person jacuzzis, while the others have their own private steam showers. Traditional, Deluxe, Two-Room and Double Queen suites are available. Even the smallest of them, measuring in at about 550 sq feet, is large enough to rival your average condo.
Meeting facilities and a small but serviceable gym are available onsite. Rooms are stocked with Organiq’s line of eco-friendly bath products, including sea salts for the jacuzzis. Complimentary parking and wi-fi are provided for all guests of the hotel, as is breakfast in bed. Each morning, at a time of their choosing, guests are treated to a rather satisfying spread of fresh fruit, eggs, croissants, cheese, ham, yogourt, granola, juice and coffee or tea. It’s a small but ingenious touch that really completes the luxurious Sterling Inn experience. For even more pampering, the inn’s titular spa offers a full line of massage, body, nail and skin therapy treatments and baths, and specializes in services for couples.
Food & Drink
As far as food writers and gourmands are concerned, the rest of The Sterling Inn’s exquisite offerings are merely window dressing for its award-winning and critically acclaimed restaurant, AG Inspired Cuisine. Influenced by local produce and culture, AG and its team deliver a rotating menu of creative and delightful food and drink offerings with local and seasonal ingredients. As a testament to the restaurant’s dedication to the local food scene, its well-cultivated wine list is 100% VQA. Even its signature cocktails get in on the action with drinks like The Ultimate Icewine Martini, a sweet and potent concoction of Niagara icewine, vanilla vodka, and Niagara Vidal Juice. A small and playful tapas menu filled with bite-sized oysters, quesadillas and gourmet grilled cheese is available on Friday and Saturday nights as part of the AG Lounge, which also features performances by local musicians.
Thanks to its cool sophistication, tireless but unobtrusive service and luxurious amenities, the hotel has become a destination in and of itself for many tourists, as well as a fair number of locals. Guests often check in for a night or two and never even leave the premises, preferring to hole up in their spacious and gorgeous hotel rooms for some much-needed rest and relaxation, only venturing out to enjoy a spa treatment or a meal at AG (room service is also available for guests seeking even more privacy). With this impressive mix of opulence and intimacy, The Sterling Inn is the perfect destination for couples, business travelers, and anyone looking to tune out the world for a while.