Burlington, Ontario may just be your next road trip destination (yes, seriously).
Once an unexpected road trip spot for Toronto residents, The Pearle Hotel and Spa has put the city of Burlington on the map as of late as a great overnight escape. Sitting on prime waterfront real estate in the vibrant downtown area, the elegant urban hotel became Ontario’s first Autograph Collection property when it opened its doors in the fall of 2021.
We recently picked up a shiny new GMC 2023 Acadia AT4, a media loaner for a few days, and hit the highway to escape the big-city grind. The easy-on-the-eyes midsized SUV features confident lines, exclusive wheels, and sexy, darkened details. The tech-packed vehicle also features a slew of innovative safety options – something that is particularly appreciated when it comes to driving on highways. This means everything from a suite of GMC Pro Safety Plus driver-assistance features, to safety alert seats with vibration pulses, and high-definition surround vision.
While Toronto traffic inevitably meant a slow commute out of the city borders, the car’s SiriusXM kept us well-entertained in midst of the congestion woes. After an hour and a half of car singing and dancing in the roomy vehicle (in better traffic, you can make it in an hour), we pulled up at the impressive property.
Sleek yet timeless, the Pearl Hotel and Spa hotel sits on 300 feet of shoreline and is designed to emulate a modern lake house, with elegant white oak panelling and views of both the lake and the rapidly growing downtown Burlington. With its cascading grand spiral staircase and stunning chandelier as the lobby’s backdrop, the Pearle makes a dramatic statement upon entry. Designed by the world-renowned Studio Munge, the 151 guest rooms and public spaces are meant to reflect the richness of the changing Canadian seasons and draw heavily on local artists.
The Pearle Hotel and Spa is the brainchild of Pearle Hospitality, a family-run company that has been in the business of providing thoughtful and memorable experiences since 1936.
As for the hotel’s name, there’s a special lady behind it – and guests will feel they’ve gotten to know her well by the time they check out. Nods to Grandmother Pearle, the founder of Pearle Hospitality, are found everywhere from a central display of photos from times past, to postcards in the guest rooms that reflect her love of writing letters.
Rooms either offer views of the soothing, endless lake or the lights of Burlington – with the former being the preferred option. Lake views are also found at the spa’s indoor pool, where guests can enjoy dedicated child-free hours (key for the relaxation cause) and drinks service. After a workout in the spa’s state-of-the-art gym, a revitalizing Eternal Glow with Oxygen facial, and a relaxing session in the Hammam steam room, a crisp glass of pinot grigio poolside was a perfect way to end the impeccable spa experience at the Pearle.
Pre-spa, we fuelled up on fresh grilled veggie focaccia sandwiches and cappuccinos at Pearle’s Café, which has become a quick go-to for hotel guests and local residents alike, thanks to the café’s street-level storefront.
Meanwhile, the hotel’s restaurant Isabelle Restaurant and Lounge offers a warm and homey feeling with inviting interiors, while bringing major vacation vibes in the summer months. The spot zeroes in on fresh local ingredients, many of which come from Pearle Hospitality’s farm down the road. The Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and Californian-inspired menu is plant forward (don’t worry: the meat-lovers have many options too) and share-style, offering everything from a comforting halloumi with truffle honey (so good!) or fresh beef tartar to start, to a summertime risotto, grilled flank steak, or charred octopus.
The restaurant has an expansive lakeside terrace that transports guests to vacation mode with the dreamy views of the never-ending blue water. On beautiful spring and summer days, the patio, outdoor benches, and boardwalk fill with people enjoying views of the sparkling lake. While best enjoyed in the balmier months (in my opinion), the weather-friendly patio remains open for service in the spring and fall, thanks to fire pits and blankets for guests.
That’s not to say the hotel isn’t recommended year-round. It sits within short walking distance to a slew of wining and dining spots – everything from fine dining restaurants to The Dickens, a beloved dive bar with live music on the weekends. For quality pizza and fresh-brewed beer, there’s Pepperwood Bistro; award-wining fine dining spot The Carriage House offers a distinct ‘special occasion’ vibe for those looking to indulge; and Paradiso Restaurant serves up comforting Italian fare in the city’s Historic Village Square. For some post-dinner LOLs, there’s also YukYuks Burlington.
The hotel also sits about a 15-minute walk from the Joseph Brant Museum and the Burlington Art Centre.
So, if you’re in the market for a change of scenery and breezy vacation vibes just over an hour from Toronto, book an overnight escape at the Pearle and get to know Burlington a little better.