Accommodations are important to me when planning any trip. But not just because I like to know where Henk and I are going to be putting our heads down at night, but because the experience of the accommodation itself is something that can make a trip unforgettable. For Henk and I, that means finding something unusual, whether it is a spherical treehouse perched in the forest on Vancouver Island, a clear dome over our bed from which we can see the stars near Tadoussac, an historic lighthouse in the middle of the St. Lawrence River, or even a *possibly* haunted log cabin in the Yukon. So for our upcoming trip hosted by our tourism partners at Le Québec Maritime, we aren’t just researching Gaspe hotels, we are looking for accommodations that are truly boutique, quirky, historic, or romantic. Here are a few one-of-a-kind places that we hope to call home for at least one night!
PARC DU MONT SAINT-JOSEPH: Geodesic Domes with a View
Géodômes Desjardins in the Gaspé’s Mont Saint-Joseph provincial park is a brand-new take on glamping that took more than 5 years and 3 million dollars to develop. And because Covid-19 shut much of the country down just before their inaugural year, these unusual accommodations have yet to make it onto anyone’s radar. (exactly the kind of local discovery I get excited about!)
The domes are a novel concept that expands on some of the ready-to-camp offerings popping up at many provincial and national parks in Canada. But rather than just providing a more comfortable camping facility, these geodesic domes take the experience up a notch – literally: the fully outfitted private perches are nestled high in the hills of Mont-Saint-Joseph provincial park, overlooking Chaleur Bay, one of the Gaspé most picturesque viewpoints. Talk about a room with a view.
I knew I wanted to stay in one of these fun and funky domes the instant I laid eyes on them. And if the idea of staying in a hilltop bubble surrounded by nature and incredible views wasn’t enough, one look at their interior decor and I was sold: our bedroom at home in Toronto has the exact same bedding! With all these comforts of home, how could we not want to stay here?
NEAR CARLETON-SUR-MER: Sleep Aboard a Replica of Jacques Cartier’s ship, the Grand Hermine
If you’ve ever wanted to step back into history, or in this case ‘sleep’ into history, how about staying in a replica of the Grand Hermine, the ship that Jacques Cartier captained when he sailed up to explore the Saint Lawrence? Yes, this land-locked one-of-a-kind boat/chalet offers perhaps the most unusual overnight experience to be had at Chalets de l’Anse Ste Helene, a Micmac-operated facility about 25 minutes east of Carleton-sur-Mer on the shore of Chaleur Bay.
Even though the Grand Hermine may not be in the water, apparently the views over the water from it are gorgeous. And judging by some of the interior photos from their website, everything looks pretty ship-shape inside, too!
As far as unique Gaspé hotels go, this one definitely floats my boat and I say, “All Aboard!”
*apologizes for all the nautical puns, I couldn’t help myself!*
CARLETON-SUR-MER: Floating Yurt at Aventure Aux 4 Vents
The Gaspésie region, and Chaleur Bay in particular, seems to have no end to creative takes on accommodation. But a floating yurt? You betcha, and I’m all over this! One look at the photos of these little private floating ‘islands’ operated by Aventure Aux 4 Vents, and I couldn’t imagine a better way to enjoy the sunrise or sunset than from a platform anchored in this sheltered enclave along Chaleur Bay’s shoreline.
Of course, the question that immediately came to mind with these offshore accommodations was…rustic is fine, (it’s a floating yurt after all, not the Taj Mahal), but what about the – er – facilities? I’m all about having an experience, but that doesn’t including having to kayak to shore to go for a midnight pee. Fortunately, each floating yurt provides its own composting toilet so my midnight run would only be a short one!
GASPÉSIE PARK: A Mountain Escape at Gîte de Mont-Albert
Not every accommodation we research requires an ‘adventurous spirit’ to appreciate. We also love to enjoy a little grownup pampering, whether that means fine dining, boutique amenities, or personal service. Which sounds like exactly what we could expect at Gîte de Mont-Albert. This 4-star property is located in the heart of the Chic-Choc mountains in Mont-Albert provincial park, where adventure is literally waiting right outside its doors. And since Henk and I are hoping to explore some of these mountains on our visit to this region, this Gaspé hotel could be the ideal combination of adventure-by-day, luxury-by-night.
TOWN OF GASPÉ HOTELS: Auberge Sous Les Arbres
There’s nothing like a smaller property to give you a sense of place, which is why Henk and I often choose B&Bs when we are travelling. The Auberge Sous les Arbres in the town of Gaspé looks like exactly the kind of place that provides a homey stay while away from home. (Plus that front veranda looks like a perfect place to relax with a glass of wine!)
I found this inn while searching for B&Bs (I often look for B&B listings using online directories for each country/province, or on popular sites like TripAdvisor and Booking.com, which don’t just offer traditional hotel properties). This particular one came up as the number 1 place to stay based on reviews. And since I’m a big review-researcher, I really liked what I read and saw from other guests. (Now let’s hope there’s room when we finally decide on our dates!)
PERCÉ: Location, Location, Location for “Bucket List” views
Sometimes our choice of hotel is dependent almost exclusively on its location. Which in the case of the town of Percé means we are looking for a property that offers amazing views of the Rock. Since Henk and I definitely want to capture photos of Percé Rock at sunrise, the ideal location for a hotel would be somewhere we can just step outside to take photos right on the property, without having to drive or hike far. (this also means I can sleep in until the last possible minute!)
Luckily, the town of Percé offers several options for this, from the large-ish Hotel Normandie or Riotel that are right in town on the waterfront and offer amazing views from some of their rooms, to a number of smaller family-run establishments that have been here for years. Wherever Henk and I decide to stay, we will definitely plan on spending a couple of nights and hopefully take advantage of the sunrise views. (Fingers crossed for good skies!)
Accommodation Options En Route to the Gaspé Peninsula
Henk and I are planning to drive from Toronto to the Gaspé Peninsula, so we will definitely need to plan a couple of nights along the way, since the drive is a good 13 hours just to get to the start of the Peninsula loop, and we want to enjoy the drive, stop for photos, and explore as we go. So since getting there is definitely half the fun on this kind of bucket list road trip, we are also looking for accommodation along the way that might pique our curiosity. As usual, there are several places I have saved in my Bookmarks folder:
EASTERN TOWNSHIPS: Quirky Forest Ecolodges at Entre Cîmes et Racines
Bet you didn’t know that Québec has its own version of a ‘Hobbit House” right in the heart of the Eastern Townships! Turns out there’s no need to go all the way to New Zealand to stay in this quirky style of underground dwelling, when Entre Cîmes et Racines offers their own unique take on it right here in Canada. This family business has won many provincial tourism awards for its creative forest ecolodge property where they have constructed 14 unusual ‘cabins’ in a 175-acre forest.
Of course, the Hobbit House is going to be a super-popular choice, so availability might be a challenge for that one, but fortunately there are other equally interesting options on-site that would work just as well for us.
And yes, this is a little detour along the way to the Gaspé, but for a Hobbit House? I’d definitely make the time.
TIP: These are ecolodges so staying here means being prepared for no electricity, rustic ‘facilities’ (dry toilets either inside or outside), and showers in the main reception building only. We’ll also need to bring our own linens, but since this is a road trip, and we have plenty of space, Henk and I can happily bring along our own bedding if it means staying in one of these little houses. Oh, and we’ll be bringing wine and snacks/food, of course, too!
LE BIC: Auberge du Mange Grenouille
When it comes to a quirky, unique, boutique B&B, it looks like the Auberge du Mange Grenouille near Parc national du Bic on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River (about 15 minutes west of Rimouski) definitely fits the bill. The decor at this B&B is anything but cookie-cutter, with each of the 22 rooms promising a unique look and feel with fanciful murals, furniture and bedding all designed to provide a creative and whimsical welcome for guests. The decor in the dining room is nothing short of sumptuous, the wine bar has the look of an intimate speakeasy/grotto (Henk will need an entire day just to photograph these spaces!) and the restaurant menu looks like it offers equally creative selections for the palate.
UPDATE August 2021: Le Mange Grenouille has changed hands, but the new owners have kept the unique decor and historic charm of the Auberge, (albeit with a lot of editing!) as well as its reputation as an excellent restaurant. We can say from our experience they are doing an amazing job!
Dream, Plan, Book and/or… Adapt!
Planning a bucket list trip is definitely half of the fun, especially when it comes to accommodations. In fact, I think that a bucket list destination deserves bucket list accommodations, and I’ve even been known to plan entire itineraries around the availability of certain must-stay places!
But even though I might have zeroed in on several of these Gaspé hotels that I hope to visit, I always have to remind myself to be flexible…after all, dates change, places fill up and routes are altered. And sometimes the best part about a road trip is being flexible and discovering things that present themselves along the way.
So, let’s leave these as ‘tentative’ options for our Gaspé hotels for now…and we’ll see what happens as we get closer to the actual trip. We may just surprise ourselves with something altogether different – but amazing nonetheless.
NOTE: Covid-19 isn’t going away anytime soon, which may also influence which properties are open, or able to host guests this summer. Keeping this in mind, Henk and I will be travelling only when – and how – it’s safe to do so. (This is also one of the reasons why we are choosing a road trip, and one within Canada.)
Jane Canapini is a member of the Travel Media Association of Canada and the North American Travel Journalists Association. She established GrownupTravels.com in 2014 to share information and tips based on personal experience so her readers could get the most out of their travels.