It’s a quiet Friday in downtown Ottawa as my Uber driver rolls down the road. The streets are still, and the only disruptions are plumes of warm steam billowing up from sewer grates and greeting the frigid air. Any traces of the city’s sleepiness dissipates as soon as I arrive at The Metcalfe hotel, though.

A diverse cast of characters greet me as I pull open the glass door below the red-brick façade and enter the hotel. At the bar, smartly dressed businessfolk chat, sip murky tipples and beam flashy grins. People gesture at virtual colleagues in Zoom calls and tap away at their keyboards in the sprawling, light- and plant-filled lobby lounge, dubbed the "Living Room." Further in, I spot more guests curled up on leather sofas, laughing with a friend or peering deeply into a novel they’ve pulled from the towering lobby library.

An overhead view of the Living Room at the Metcalfe hotel in downtown Ottawa

The Metcalfe hotel: The draw

I immediately fall in love with The Metcalfe’s vibe, which reminds me of a busy coffee shop on a Sunday morning. Conversation and laughter constantly echo all around the open space.

It's a change of pace from the glitz and grandeur of Ottawa's most famous hotels; instead, The Metcalfe opts for a welcoming, comfortable atmosphere. If you’re looking for a break from the hubbub, though, you can sink into one of the “sensory deprivation” nooks carved into a wall just behind the library.

The façade of The Metcalfe hotel in downtown Ottawa

The boutique property is one of five owned by the Gray Collection, a growing Montreal-based hospitality group. After an extensive renovation, The Metcalfe Hotel opened its doors in September 2022.

Masterminded by interior design company Iron & Ivory, the hotel is stunning and stylish. You don’t have to look any further than the Living Room. Teeming with greenery and featuring a striking vaulted glass ceiling that lets a deluge of natural light pour in, the space feel like a luxurious greenhouse. Ride the gold elevator up for a different perspective; each floor opens up to a balcony that overlooks the space.

The Metcalfe hotel: The rooms

Stay in luxury

The hotel has six lavish corner suites that come complete with a king-sized bed, a separate living room and a closed bedroom. It’s dog-friendly, too.

The Metcalfe Hotel was built inside a historic building; inside, a few sections of exposed red brick are hints of its past life. The 108 rooms on the property are all modern luxury, though. They're outfitted with gold light fixtures, leather headboards and hardwood floors. Thick curtains offer ample privacy, but I keep them open for views of Metcalfe Street and downtown Ottawa.

I get a little too excited when I discover the gleaming white-tile bathroom and spacious shower are stocked with Le Labo shampoos, lotions and conditioners.

The Metcalfe Hotel: Cocotte Bistro

The Metcalfe Hotel’s on-site restaurant Cocotte is a happening spot in downtown Ottawa. On weekends, it’s packed with locals as well as hotel guests. Also designed by Iron & Ivory, Cocotte is a marvel, from the Italian marble bar and floors, to the plush hunter-green booths, polished mirrors, wood arches and white panel walls. Three distinct dining areas offer plenty of seating.

Cocotte is open for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner with French-inspired fare on the menu, but the wine selection is where the restaurant really shines. I’m spoiled for choice with the impressive list, curated with oodles of Old World options. I go with a pleasantly acidic and zesty Zahel Grüner Veltliner and it ends up stealing the show.

The Metcalfe Hotel: What else?

The Metcalfe Hotel is in a prime location to explore Canada’s capital; at the intersection of Metcalfe and Laurier Street, it’s mere minutes from downtown Ottawa’s top attractions. Walk on over to Parliament, shop the day away at the Rideau Centre, fill your belly with ByWard Market’s tasty eats, lace up and skate down the Rideau Canal or ogle at magnificent dinosaur fossils at the Canadian Museum of Nature.

Grab a pint at one of the raucous Irish pubs on Elgin Street, or sip top-tier tipples at Charlotte, a cozy midcentury-style cocktail bar and lounge above a plant-forward restaurant.

Return to The Metcalfe for a glass of wine at Cocotte before heading upstairs and sinking into your blissfully large mattress.

The Metcalfe is ideal for business and leisure travellers, as well as families on a weekend getaway in downtown Ottawa. With a coveted location smack-dab amongst the city's top attractions, you’ll never be far from the action.

Rooms from $249 per night;