CHARLOTTETOWN: FAIRHOLM INN & CARRIAGE HOUSE
P & Family
This is a 19th Century house converted to a B&B that was built and furnished in that sort of late Victorian dark and heavy style. The exterior of the place, for unknown reasons, has some of the windows boarded up. It sits on a relatively large piece of urban land that, perhaps because it is not fenced in or otherwise integrated with the B&B, doesn’t seem useable.
Our room at the back was, you might suspect, dark and heavy. It was relatively hot in Charlottetown for the two days we were there but much hotter in the room and so we appreciated the interior air conditioning unit that rolled around on casters and vented to one of the windows via a long and snaky hvac flexible hose – this is not to say it produced great cooling, but only that it produced some and was better than nothing. All of the lighting in the room seemed to be low watt and virtually no natural light came through the windows. There was a fireplace that we obviously didn’t need. The bathroom was renovated, relatively large and quite nice.
When we arrived, we inquired about a babysitter for our 8 month old. While the manager had a helpful and pleasant attitude, she was entirely clueless about such things and didn’t even have any suggestions about whom we could call for references. Using the available Internet set-up upstairs, my wife determined that the biggest hotel in town (Delta) offered babysitting and, courtesy of Michele in Housekeeping at the Delta, we scored a baby sitter for dinner on both nights.
The Fairholm is well-situated for walking around Charlottetown and, except for the occasional motorcycle races down the street at odd hours of the night, it is close enough to the shopping areas, but not too close for the urban noise.
Breakfast (which was quite good) was served in the downstairs parlor room, which does get significant natural light.
I don’t know about the other rooms – some of the ones in the front may have more light- but I would say that this is more of a “cold weather” kind of a place, which would be cozy in the winter in front of the fire. It is not inexpensive and I would not go back in the summer.
DALVAY BEACH: DALVAY BY THE SEA HOTEL
P & Family
I first stayed at the Dalvay almost twenty years ago on a motorcycle trip through the Maritimes. I remember it as a comfortable and friendly place offering perhaps a dozen rooms in a somewhat run-down 19th century robber-baron’s white elephant summer house, ideally situated virtually on the miles-long beach in the Provincial Park. The food was forgettable except for the omnipresent PEI spud served up under different names, but looking pretty much the same. The front lawn was impassible because of Canadian goose droppings. The mosquitoes were not too bad.
Things have changed dramatically. This time, my wife, baby and I stayed in one of the pleasantly appointed three bedroom cottages that was a stone’s throw from the main house. The decor was natural wood rustic and we like that. The furnishings were not fancy but tasteful and functional. There is no AC (we could have used it one of the days), but you can get by on a hot day with a fan. There is plenty of room to move around in that space.
The dining experience is now fine restaurant quality – no more spuds, spuds, spuds – and, with some rare exceptions, well done and well presented. You really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. The wine list is pretty good, too.
The staff is still friendly and far more competent than the old days. Babysitting can be arranged at reasonable cost. They let you do laundry, too, which is somewhat critical if you are on the road for a while. And you can sit out on the front lawn watching the sunset in an Adirondack chair without tiptoeing around the goose droppings – they apparently have a canine goose patrol system that works.
The beach is still as beautiful as ever and, in late August/early September, virtually deserted. All of the North Shore towns and sights are within an easy and scenic drive.
The mosquitos are still there, so bring your spray.
We did not rent bicycles, play croquet or avail ourselves of other amenities in the two days we stayed.
All of this comes for a pretty penny MAP for the cottages (I don’t know what the individual rooms are like these days) but the Dalvay is a thoroughly delightful, stress-reducing and mellow place.