a peek inside the fishbowl

08 Aug, 2018

This was our 20th anniversary staycation in Ottawa

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Ottawa

As of yesterday, Mark and I have been married TWENTY YEARS. That might officially make us Old People but I will say this, I don’t feel old, for the most part. I feel like things are really just getting started!

Personally, I would have liked to host a Wedding 2.0 and invite all of the people who were at our wedding back in 1998. Although Mark is not too keen, he promises to consider the idea for our 25th anniversary.

We will be marking this milestone in other ways later on (stay tuned, because it’s a biggie) but we wanted to do a little something on the actual day.

Allow me to backtrack for a moment. Awhile back I was invited to attend the official media launch of Le Germain Hotel here in Ottawa. It was, in a word, amazing. Sophisticated rooms replete with little comforts and thoughtful details (like heated bathroom floors!), great food with an emphasis on Canadian cuisine, all in a central downtown location. Little did I know that when I was handed a swag bag on my way out the door that night that it contained a gift certificate for a complimentary stay. So, my Fishies, this is where we spent the night last night.

Here’s the exterior view from the one side:

View of le Germain Hotel Ottawa and the Ottawa Art Gallery (OAG)

But I am getting ahead of myself! Our evening actually started at the Elgin Street location of Whalesbone. I’ve been wanting to eat here for ages.

We found parking right out front, which was a minor miracle considering the construction.

Thank goodness I made an early reservation, because I was starving. We began with a bottle of wine and some starters. I ordered the tuna poke, which tasted great although was a bit oily for my liking…

Tune Poke at Whalesbone

.. and Mark ordered the shrimp cocktail. I think Whalesbone needs to go back to the drawing board with the presentation because it looked a little sad to me:

Sad shrimp "cocktail"

Mark ordered a steak as his main and I opted for seafood pasta and a side of garlic greens, which may possibly be my new favourite thing. They’re in the background of the photo below, but they should really ought to be the star of the show:

Pasta dish at Whalesbone

There was no room for dessert (at this time) and we waddled back to our car.

We made our way to Le Germain and eventually figured out how the parking works here. (Tip: you pull up on the sidewalk for valet parking.)

Check-in was swift and painless and we were soon admiring our room for the night, which was on the 11th floor.

Our view from Le Germain Hotel

Our room at Le Germain, Ottawa

That glass rectangle in the middle of the photo below is the shower. (!) It was amazing.

Our room at Le Germain

I was really quite taken with the room. It’s definitely not your traditional hotel room! I loved the tile floor and the elegant furnishings. The bed was soft and luxurious. One hiccup: The cold water wasn’t running cold, but they helped us figure out the ice machine and so we were set up for the night.

After awhile, we realized we actually had room for dessert. If you live in Ottawa you know there are lots of options for dessert-type items downtown. Two notable options: Piccolo Grande for gelato and Sweet Jesus for soft serve ice cream. We opted for Purdy’s, which is in the Rideau Centre. They are our favourite destination for chocolates but if you haven’t had their triple hand-dipped ice cream bars, well, just make sure you try one before the summer is over. You will not regret it.

Ice cream bar from Purdy's

We walked around for a bit, taking in the scene, before we realized we were tired and made our way back to our hotel.

The next morning we tried out the in-room Nespresso machine. It makes a really good coffee and I remain duly impressed. We made our way down to the restaurant for breakfast, which was part of our package.

Restaurant seating at Norca, Le Germain

It was a self-serve style breakfast but with better “continental” breakfast foods than you’d find in a typical hotel. I started with coffee and an excellent bowl of yogurt and granola topped with fresh berries:

Breakfast at Le Germain, Ottawa

… and for round two I had bacon (organic and made in-house!), a croissant, and cheese. It was exactly what I needed.

Soon it was time to walk it all off, but I don’t think we burned too many calories because our destination was the newly renovated Ottawa Art Gallery, which was right next door!

If you haven’t been before, you must visit. It’s not a huge gallery, but there is a lot to see, whether you’re the type who likes more “traditional” art or something a little quirkier and thought-provoking.

At the Ottawa Art Gallery

View inside the Ottawa Art Gallery

I really liked this multimedia piece about the Royal Alexandra Interprovincial Bridge that reframed this magnificent piece of architecture as a musical instrument. We’ve all heard the sounds of the bridge when we cross it. It was really interesting to see how it could come together in a way that can be shared:

"Bridge" at the Ottawa Art Gallery

I really like this piece as well. It’s hard to tell from this photo, but it’s embroidered. I’m sure all creative types can relate:

The Art World is Killing Me, at the Ottawa Art Gallery

This part of the gallery was cool too. Visitors were asked to write down the title of their life story.

If my life were a story...

It was hard to pick a favourite, there were so many truths here:

If my life were a story (closeup)

If my life were a story (Close up)

If my life were a story... (close up)

After our visit to the gallery we did a bit of shopping at the Rideau Centre (boring but necessary) and picked up some lunch to take back to our rooms:

Sushi in bed

I should mention that Le Germain has a very novel approach to check out times… basically, there is no check out time! Isn’t that great? We lounged around for a bit before we finally had to face reality and head home again. Unfortunately, I had work to do. Booo!

Here’s Mark as we waited for our car to be dropped back off to us:


He’s eating what I have jokingly been referring to as a “Display Apple.” They’re there for the guests taking, but I like to tease Mark that they’re only for show.

So to summarize, we thoroughly enjoyed our lovely little getaway and were very happy with our stay at Le Germain. I’m certain you’d like it too. If you’re looking for info about the hotel, click over to their official website.

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human offspring: Emma (24) and Sarah (22). During the day I work as a writer at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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