One of my favorite things about traveling is being able to stay in quirky and unique accommodation and in this case I was fortunate enough to be able to spend two nights at the Retro Suites Boutique Hotel in downtown Chatham, Ontario.
Over the years boutique hotels have become some of my most preferred places to stay because of the more personal style that these properties tend to exhibit and for the unique aspect that each hotel seems to offer.
It was no different at the Retro Suites and if you’re looking for somewhere to stay in Chatham that has a funky vibe and is probably unlike any other hotel in Ontario, then this is where you’re going to want to spend the night.
Chatham turned out to be a pretty interesting place to visit. It’s only an hour away from Point Pelee National Park, which is the Southernmost point in all of Canada, and it’s an easy 3 hour drive through picturesque rolling farmland from Toronto (check out my article on other day trips from Toronto).
The city itself is very quiet, there was hardly anyone around on a friday night, and if you’re looking to explore more of Southern Ontario then Chatham is a great place to check out.
Retro Suites Boutique Hotel – Exploring Chatham
The Retro Suites Hotel is a boutique hotel that’s located in the historic downtown area of Chatham.
What makes it unique and completely memorable is the fact that each of the 45 rooms on the property have been individually designed with a variety of different themes. Some of the themes include interior room designs like:
- The library room, with comfortable reading chairs, a fireplace, and bookshelves
- The log cabin room, with wooden tones, wood panels, a log bed, and a very “cottage” vibe
- The Paris room, designed with Parisian life in mind with Eiffel tower decorations and a French feel to it
- The Santa Fe room, with cactus and typical “Southwestern” interior decor
Each of the different rooms offers something personal and unique to every traveler, and if you book far enough in advance you can choose a room that best matches your own style and interests.
It’s not just the rooms that have a chic design, the entire interior of the hotel from the main lobby to all of the hallways boast a hip and trendy decor with eye catching pieces of artwork, interesting sculptures, and one-of-a-kind collectibles scattered across the entire interior of the hotel.
Everywhere you look it seems like there’s something fresh and exciting you can check out so you never forget that you’re staying in a unique property with a focus on chic decor and trendy design.
Wandering through the hotel you’re going to want to take the time to stop and admire some of the classic advertisements on the walls, the old furniture, vending machines, other older “exhibits”, and you definitely want to spend some time in the lobby where you can grab an amazing photo with the huge nutcrackers that were actually once on display in New York City at the FAO Schwartz toy store.
Everywhere that you go on the inside of the hotel there is something that will fill you with inspiration and a sense of wonder, making a trip to Chatham and the surrounding area that much more memorable and exciting. Of course, you could always opt to stay at one of the chain hotels that you’ll see on the outskirts of town but you definitely won’t get the sort of intimate feel and personality that you get here at the Retro Suites.
Not only is the property unique when it comes to the available accommodation in Chatham, it also has a very interesting history and meshes well with the historic downtown city center. Over the years the different buildings of the hotel have undergone quite a few renovations and thankfully much of their original architecture and historic charm has been preserved.
Compared to some of the other buildings in the downtown area, the Retro Suites Hotel buildings are a prime example of Victorian architecture in Chatham and also one of the best examples of historic row blocks that you’ll find in all of Southern Ontario.
The outside of the hotel has looked pretty much the same for more than 100 years and even on the inside, right in the lobby, the staircase has been used since 1895 when it was part of a different hotel.
All of this historic charm as well as the unique and contemporary interior design help to make the Retro Suites one of the most memorable places that you could visit as well as spend the night at in the entire region.
There are very few hotels that I’ve visited around the world that have such a memorable yet historic appeal and even if you’re not interested in visiting Chatham at all I would still recommend spending a night or two at this hotel just so that you can experience all of its unique qualities.
Aside from all of the distinctively designed rooms as well as the exceptional interior, the hotel offers quite a bit more for its guests.
Attached to the property is the Chilled Cork Restaurant and Lounge, one of the best options for fine dining in Chatham, and this restaurant offers a very similar appeal to visitors just like the hotel.
On the interior you’ll find a very eclectic design with great examples of original modern art as well as iconic pop culture pieces. While the interior is worth visiting on its own, you’ll also love the menu items that have a focus on fresh ingredients from the Southwestern Ontario area.
The central area of the hotel makes it really easy to explore downtown Chatham on foot and there is a free parking lot on site so you can quickly hop into your car and head out to explore the surrounding areas. Each of the rooms come with wifi so you can stay connected with friends and family back home and I really like that there was complimentary use of the GoodLife Fitness gym just a short walk away from the hotel.
My Stay in the Library Suite at the Retro Suites Hotel
For my 2 night stay at the Retro Suites Boutique Hotel, I stayed in the Library suite.
After looking at all of the different types of suites available, I was happy that I was given the Library, and right away I really loved the cozy seating with the large fireplace as well as the high ceilings that gave the room a very bright and airy feel.
One of the first things I did was turn on the fireplace, grabbed a book from the shelf, and sat down in front of the electric flames to start reading which really helped for relaxing after the long drive I’d had.
Getting up to explore the room I really liked the large globe display right when you walked in and the rest of the design features helped to put my mind at ease and made me feel totally comfortable.
The Library suite had a very homely feeling to it and it didn’t at all feel like your typical hotel room. The room was packed with character and this added another level of enjoyment to our historic trip across Southern Ontario.
Some of the books on the shelves even gave us more insight into our visit to Chatham and I was able to learn some more about the historic Underground Railway, for which the area is so well known for.
Some of the other interesting features included a small kitchenette, with a sink, fridge, and microwave, an old Algonquin Park map mounted on the wall high above the fireplace, and the silver paneling on the ceiling that also helped to give it a more unique and personal feel.
From the window I had a view over the parking lot and downtown Chatham, so I could keep an eye on my car while gazing at the church steeples and tops of some of the historic downtown buildings.
The large bed was just what I was looking for after spending the remainder of my day walking around Chatham. Once I returned back from dinner I took a quick shower, spent some time reading, and quickly fell asleep on the soft mattress while watching the electric flames dancing on the silver paneled ceiling above me.
The bathroom was much more modern than the rest of the room and I liked the fact that the artwork featured some of the historic houses and old Victorian mansions found in downtown Chatham. The shower was a huge walk in shower, it even had a seat inside, and there were some basic shower and bathroom amenities included.
Helpful Tips for Visiting
There is a free parking available at the hotel and the parking lot provides quick access to the interior of the building through a side entrance. Depending on when you’re visiting the lot can fill up quite quickly and you might have to ask someone at reception if you’re able to park somewhere else if there isn’t anywhere available for you in the lot.
There are quite a few different styles of suites available to choose from. Make sure to check the hotel website for a better look at the different suites or call the hotel to see which of the rooms they recommend for you.
Amazing for Weddings
Given the central location, availability of parking, and many different rooms having wedding appropriate themes, it’s not surprising that the hotel is a popular place for people to have their weddings, wedding parties, or honeymoons. There is a restaurant on site, plenty of space to host a wedding party, and many of the rooms are perfectly suited for taking photos and spending the night in comfort.
Exploring Chatham and its Surroundings
Chatham itself is quite a small town though it has a rich history and a deep cultural attachment to the Underground Railroad. Not too far away, only about an hour by car, is Point Pelee National Park and this is definitely worth visiting especially if you want to spend some time exploring the southernmost point in all of Canada. The location of the hotel makes it really easy to get into your car and make it to any of the surrounding attractions rather easily.
Eating at the Hotel
As I mentioned up above there is a restaurant on the ground level of the hotel that provides quality service and a fine dining experience. The restaurant is a great place to stop by whether you just want a glass of wine and some quick appetizers or you’re looking for a more personal dinner experience that you can share with your loved one. Instead of having to wander around looking for somewhere to eat you can simply head down to the lobby and walk right into the restaurant.
- Visit the hotel website
- Read more guest reviews on TripAdvisor
- More information about Point Pelee National Park
- More information about the Underground Railroad
Other Ontario Hotels
Here are some of the other hotels I’ve visited in Ontario that I would also recommend if you’re looking to explore more of the province: