I couldn’t find research to back this next statement, but sometimes I feel like tourists know more than locals when it comes to hotspots in a city. I mean, locals know where the everyday essentials are, but they don’t always go the extra mile, they tend not to explore close to home and don’t necessarily splurge on staycations. But if you factor in the cost of travel, you may be ahead if you just stay close to home and treat yourself! And if you’re too busy to get away for an entire weekend, consider what you can do in just 24 hours. Katie Hession (Yow City Style) and I were up for the challenge when Outaouais Tourism put together a decadent stay for us to experience 24-hours of R&R in Gatineau: Nordik Spa, Biscotti & Cie and The Wakefield Mill were on the agenda!
Nordik Spa-Nature in Chelsea
We headed to Nordik Spa-Nature in Chelsea, bright and early. I recommend getting there early because it gets booked up very quickly, aim for 9:30 a.m. and ideally on a weekday. This way you won’t be affected by morning traffic in downtown Ottawa or Hull. Plan to spend the entire day, trust me. Book a massage, upgrade to the KALA floating baths and make a reservation at one of four healthy gourmet restaurants on site. Take advantage of all the amenities: the aromatherapy saunas, the steam rooms, the body scrubs, the hot tubs, the hot stone beds, the napping stations, the hammocks… EVERYTHING, YOU HEAR ME! You can relax here, you can relax there, so make sure you try it all. Whether you are looking for peace and quiet, low chatter or full-on social scene among the trees, there is a place for everyone to relax at the Nordik spa.
To get the most out of your experience and reap the health benefits of thermotherapy try the “Hot>Cold>Rest” thermal cycle. I am a chicken and cannot do the cold baths though :S
Not sure what to pack? Bring a modest bathing suit (it’s not Miami people), flipflops, sunglasses, and bathrobe. A towel and locker are included in your stay. The locker and your method of payment for food is all programmed in your bracelet… it’s very convenient! Technically there are no phones allowed on the premises, which is why I have limited shots of the entire stay. Although worth it, the Kala floating salt bath was very harsh on my hair so consider a shower cap.
OPEN FACED BAGUETTE | smoked brisket | fennelkraut | dijonnaise | winter salad
Biscotti et Cie Cafe and Restaurant in Chelsea
We had a lovely dinner at Biscotti et Cie, a quaint cafe, and restaurant located in heart of Chelsea square. Biscotti et Cie is known for their famous yurt outside, you know the one!
They recently expanded and built an addition that would allow them to serve coffee and treats for people on the go and also accommodate those who want to sit and enjoy their meal. What a brilliant idea! Below is a picture of their Moroccan-inspired loft, located just above the kitchen.
Sadly, I didn’t take any pictures of our meal because it was quite dark in the eating area, but trust me it was delicious. The two of us shared a cheese board, the beef tartar, and a freshly baked pizza. After dinner, our bellies and hearts were full following the chat we had with the owner, Manuella. She has established quite the presence in Chealse and runs the best businesses in town! She is a true Community leader… it was so inspiring.
Before heading back to our hotel, I bought some fresh coffee beans, a typical souvenir I usually bring home from all my travels.
The Wakefield Mill Hotel and Spa
This is no run-of-the-mill boutique hotel (see what I did there? ha!). It’s a piece of history preserved in time, that offers gorgeous views, delectable meals and a relaxing stay.
The Wakefield Mill Hotel & Spa offers guestrooms in two buildings: The Heritage Mill with exposed brick walls (where we stayed) and the newly more modern LEED-Certified Eco River Lodge (where I hope to stay soon!).
Breakfast was pretty spectacular. We sat in the sunroom facing the falling river and enjoyed our 5-star breakfast. Katie and I like to try everything on the menu, so once again we shared 2 dishes: the tofu scramble and mushroom hash.
Albeit we did not have time to visit the spa located on the ground floor, we did have a chance to soak in the hot tub outside after breakfast. The spa also has a cute barrel sauna outside, that seats about 4-6 people (this is the part of the stay where you wish you had more time).
That robe life- There is something about sitting in a hot tub surrounded by snowy trees in a peaceful forest that will just never get old. I can’t wait to come back!
If you’re considering 24-hrs of R&R in Gatineau, I prepared this little Google map tool to show you how close the Nordik Spa, Biscotti & Cie and The Wakefield Mill are to one another and to Ottawa! Did I also mention that it’s a gorgeous scenic drive? I definitely recommend extending your stay if you can… there is just so much to do, see and eat in Chelsea and Wakefield, you will want more time, I promise!
A big thank you to Outaouais Tourism, Nordik spa, Biscotti et Cie and the Wakefield Mill for hosting our stay.