Why St. Davids?
If you appreciate laid back luxury in a quiet setting The Woodbourne Inn in St. Davids, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario will be for you. Not that the “old town” of Niagara-on-the-Lake, a mere 15-minute drive, is a bustling urban metropolis but it can be busy with day trippers crowding the streets eating ice cream cones wandering amongst kitschy shops and where parking can be difficult during the weekends. The old town of Niagara-on-the-Lake is best enjoyed off season or when the day trippers have left because it is then that it shows its charm. St. Davids on the other hand is blissfully peaceful with no town to speak of yet mere minutes away from the many Niagara locations such as Niagara Falls, the Butterfly Conservatory, the Botanical Gardens and the old town of Niagara-on-the-Lake. Some twenty wineries are within a short drive. In fact Ravine Vineyards with its Michelin starred chef is but an 8 minute walk from The Woodbourne.
The History of The Woodbourne Inn
The Woodbourne Inn is an 1839 historically designated treasure. While at a bloggers weekend at Marynissen Estate Winery in 2014 I was lodged in a bed and breakfast nearby. The owner of the B&B asked me to drop by at The Woodbourne as he was just about finished with his renovations and knowing I reviewed hotels wanted to speak with me. Speak I did and had a tour of the almost fully renovated property. It quite blew me away with its top end finishes. So three visits later to The Woodbourne I end up reviewing it in November 2022. My previous visit was October 2020 in the height of COVID which was spooky and surreal. Imagine 40 people at Niagara Falls and free parking!
The Woodbourne Layout
The Woodbourne is located on a quiet section of Four Mile Creek Road. There is a grand vestibule as you enter. To the left a living room with 4 sofas and two tables with chairs which are used as you wish including a relaxing place to have your second breakfast. To the right a sumptuous library with seating and games if you wish. You may have your breakfast in the library. There is also a dining room off the professional grade kitchen with one table sitting five and two tables sitting two. Off the dining room is the guest pantry. There are rooms on the main floor and up the stairs with 8 rooms in total. There is also outdoor seating in the garden with two rare Osage trees and a Pa Pa tree.
You might wish to describe the 8 rooms as “Georgian”. There are 5 rooms with king size beds, two with queens and one with twin beds. Big soaker tubs, plush towels, top quality linens and towels make you feel you are living the life of a prosperous country squire! There are no televisions. Fall and winter rates range from $250-$350 with a discount available for multiple nights.
Feeling at Home
You get the feeling at most hotels you are a “guest” in a rented room and that is what you get…a room. Some like that sense of anonymity. At The Woodbourne I had the feeling I was at home. One night I was reading and forgot I was in an inn but rather at home. Perhaps a delightful hallucination.
The Double Breakfast
With a double breakfast at The Woodbourne Inn quite frankly who needs lunch. Upon check in you will be asked what time you want for the first and second breakfast. The first breakfast is delivered outside your door and consists of your choice of coffee, organic juice and 8 organic looseleaf teas from master tea blender Genuine Tea. There is also a home baked pastry. For me the pastry day one was a sausage roll and day two an almond paste scone. The tea was in a brew pot and I loved the Sakura Rose tea. After two huge cups I was just about flying down to the second breakfast. By the way Jenn the pink haired chef at The Woodbourne has a background as a pastry chef and it certainly shows. The day one second breakfast was almond roasted French Toast topped with lavender preserved tangerines with papa cream from very rare Pa Pa trees growing on the property. Day two second breakfast was Eggs Benedict with locally made prosciutto served over fresh baked potato rolls and yet more of that delicious Sakura Rose tea. It is so good I am ordering some from Genuine Tea. You have your choice of where you want to have your second breakfast. You can have in the dining room, the living room or in the library. There is one table in the library, two in the dining room and off the kitchen a table for five and two tables of two. Should the huge amount of tea and juice kick in there is a powder room off the living room.
The Guest Pantry
Off the kitchen there is the guest pantry. There is a supply of ice buckets, Riedel stemless wine glasses, cutlery, toaster, plates, cutlery, coffee maker, microwave and everything you need should you decide to make it a wine and cheese type of night. Yes I did that with some friends on my last visit when COVID paranoia made restaurant dining a dance with death! And since you have purchased some wine at the many wineries in the hood there is a refrigerator which is also full of chilled bottles of filtered water. Yes The Woodbourne advocates sustainability so you will not encounter any single use containers here. Oh and the pantry has custom packets of Sweetwater trail mix or meringue drops if you are in the mood for sweets.
Where to Eat?
Dining options are a plenty particularly in nearby Niagara-on-the-Lake such as at Treadwell, The Oban or Kitchen 76 just to name a few.
Dining options are limited in St. Davids. My top choice is a brewery-restaurant The Grist with its signature pizzas and 11 beers on tap. Ravine Vineyards restaurant is known for its Michelin quality food but was closed when I was in St. Davids. The Old Firehall strikes me as a Tony Soprano New Jersey Roadhouse with an eclectic mix of Greek and jazz music although the cuisine is fine it really may not be worth your patronage. The Garage Pizzeria I hear has good take-out pizza. All these eateries are within walking distance so drinking and driving can be out of the equation.
Easy Peasy What to Do
In the library you’ll find cards with hints of what to do in the hood. The cards are “Feeling Artsy?”, “Feeling Thirsty?”, “Feeling Hungry?”, “Feeling Energetic?” and “Feeling Spendy?”.
Further north of the Woodbourne I recommend Big Head Winery with its clay amphoras and concrete tanks on the leading edge of Niagara wineries. Also of course Ravine Vineyards a short walk. Chateau de Charmes is a very commercial “chateau” that attracts tour buses….enough said! But wineries are all over the place!
RKS Hotel Rating 93/100.
(The Woodbourne Inn, 214 Four Mile Creek Road, St. Davids, Ontario, Telephone 289.296.9631