Newfoundlandâ€™s capital city, St. Johnâ€™s, is a place with a rich sense of history: European fishermen started fishing from its harbor in the 1500s, and its famous downtown route, Water Street, is the oldest street in North America. Itâ€™s also a city thatâ€™s changing fast: thereâ€™s construction all over town, new attractions have opened up in the past few years (such as The Rooms, which contains a museum, art gallery, and archives), and itâ€™s got a thriving nightlife and live-music scene. The accommodations I found in St. Johnâ€™s were as eclectic as the city itself.
The Park House Inn is a bed-and-breakfast on a quiet residential street that’s a short walk from downtown. The Second Empire-style mansion was built in 1870, and its sweeping spiral staircase, towering ceilings and elegant antique and reproduction furnishings make for a grand setting. While I loved my suite (which boasted a Jacuzzi tub), I was most impressed by the kitchen. Iâ€™ve encountered bed-and-breakfasts that consider â€œbreakfastâ€ to mean a couple of slices of toast with jam. At the Park House Inn, breakfast is made to order for each guest, and the staff is familiar with celiac disease. The cook carefully prepared cheese-and-vegetable-filled omelettes for me, serving them with seasoned potatoes and fresh fruit. I spent three nights at the Park House Inn and enjoyed every minute.
My trip was planned so that I would see different sides of St. Johnâ€™s, so I transferred to Blue on Water for the next three nights of my stay there. Blue on Water is a boutique hotel that faces Water Street, and all you have to do to get to the heart of the action in St. Johnâ€™s is step outside (George Street, the main pub-and-club thoroughfare in the city, is steps away). The hotel is luxuriously modern, and its stylish design is complemented by amenities like wireless Net access and CD/DVD players. Best of all was the ground floor restaurant, also called Blue on Water, which serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Again, the staff was familiar with celiac disease, and prepared excellent gluten-free breakfasts (and one outstanding gluten-free dinner) for me.
Staying at a classic bed-and-breakfast or a modern boutique hotel is a matter of individual preference â€” but I was glad to discover that both properties are skilled at taking care of gluten-free guests.
Park House Inn [address] 112 Military Road, St. Johnâ€™s, Newfoundland, Canada [tel] 866-303-0565 or 709-576-2265 [web] www.parkhouse-nl.ca
Blue on Water [address] 319 Water Street, St. Johnâ€™s, Newfoundland, Canada [tel] 877-431-2583 or 709-754-2583 [web] www.blueonwater.com