If you want luxury in Waterloo County, it doesn’t get any more deluxe than Langdon Hall.
It’s a member of Relais & Châteaux, an international association of independent inns and restaurants. Langdon Hall is the only one in the province of Ontario, and only one of 10 inns in Canada (the others are in Quebec, Alberta, and B.C.).
Langdon Hall was built originally as a summer home for Eugene Langdon Wilks, youngest son of Matthew Wilks and Eliza Astor Langdon, Eliza being the granddaughter of real-estate mogul John Jacob Astor. Matthew Wilks had bought a home and property near Galt, Ontario (now Cambridge) in the mid 1850s that he saw for sale in a newspaper advertisement, with the intention of using it as a summer retreat; son Eugene returned to that community after finishing university and married a local woman, Pauline Kingsmill.
Eugene and Pauline’s new home, on 105 acres of property, was “designed along the lines of summer homes south of the border, employing the Federal Revival style that was de rigueur during the 1890s,” Langdon Hall’s official history states. “Intended mostly for summer use, the house was a spacious thirty-two rooms, totalling more than 25,000 square feet.” Wilks family members lived there until 1982, when the property was sold.
In 1987, the property sold again, this time to an architect and his wife who wanted to create a top-class country hotel. Langdon Hall, the inn version, opened its doors in 1989.
It’s so ritzy a place that even Drake — yes, that Drake — likes to pretend he lives here. He used Langdon Hall as the backdrop for a promotional video for his 2016 recording, Views.
For those of us without Drake’s budget, Langdon Hall is one of those places we only consider if it’s an anniversary or birthday ending in zero and we somehow simultaneously come up with an unexpected boon in our budget: rooms run from $325 to $725 nightly; at dinner, appetizers are $25 and mains go north of $50. The slightly less expensive brunches and High Teas are popular for Mother’s Day and elegant family celebrations. Adjacent to the formal dining room is a lovely bar area open to day visitors, as well as guests staying overnight.
The inn continues to expand and refine, mindful of not ruining the peaceful country feeling that makes it such a relaxing getaway. Additional rooms and a reception hall now flank the large garden that provides much of the kitchen’s seasonal produce.
I’ve been to Langdon Hall for several celebration lunches but only have been there once overnight. A trick I learned years ago when it comes to high-end inns: they often are jam-packed at Christmas, as wealthy families gather and let the inn do all the festive hosting for them, but the few days before Christmas can be quite empty and sometimes there are deals to be had. We had a gift certificate toward a meal at Langdon. There was a pre-Christmas overnight discount package sale, combining dinner and room. And so it came to pass that we travelled, not to Bethlehem by donkey, but by Hyundai to Cambridge. And there was, let the angels sing praise, room for us at this inn.
It was all I had thought it could be: a beautiful room with fireplace; amazing food and a terrific wine steward who guided us to a special wine that didn’t require forking over a month’s rent; time to walk in the woods around the property and time read and reflect in such beautiful rooms. What fun to make believe for a few hours that, yes, we were to the manor born.