Most of Ottawa's best hotels are in or near downtown, close to local gay nightlife, top restaurants, and engaging attractions. A major sponsor of the annual Ottawa Gay Pride festival in August, the stylish ARC Hotel is an upscale boutique property with 112 rooms and surprisingly reasonable rates. Don't be put off by the weirdly awkward official name ("ARC The.Hotel") - it's an inviting hotel with an attractive lounge off of the lobby and sleek rooms outfitted with THANN bath amenities, Frette robes, mohair throws, and minibars. Seven particularly plush suites have spa bathtubs. It's just a few blocks south of Parliament Hill.
The city's grand dame, the Fairmont Chateau Laurier rises elegantly above Rideau Canal, its peaked crenelated green-copper roof-line looking every bit as regal as the nearby Parliament buildings. A favorite address of celebrities and politicos, not to mention leisure travelers celebrating special occasions, the 429-room stunner has warmly furnished rooms in several configurations - try to score a view of Parliament Hill and the canal and park below. The trendy restaurants and nightlife of ByWard Market are just a couple of blocks away.
Another downtown hotel of note is the intimate Hotel Indigo Ottawa, part of the snazzy Indigo boutique-hotels brand. It has 106 sleek, hi-tech rooms, and such assets as free Wi-Fi, a great little pool and fitness center, a fun bar and casual restaurant, and a friendly and helpful staff. This is one of the best values in the city.
Among guesthouses and B&Bs, the Ambiance Bed and Breakfast earns raves for its homey but attractive decor - the lesbian-owned redbrick 1904 house is just a few blocks southwest of Parliament Hill and contains four rooms as well as a suite, all of them replete with plush robes and high-quality linens. You'll save a little money if you choose one of the rooms that share a bath, but rates are quite reasonable even for the spacious suite. In warm weather you can relax on deck overlooking the front garden.
The gay-owned Inn on Somerset occupies a marvelously restored 1890s redbrick house that's close to the gay-popular cafes and nightlife of Bank Street and the many good restaurants along Elgin Street. Rates average around $100, but a small single with a shared bath goes for considerably less, making the inn a nice budget option, especially when you factor in the complimentary breakfast and free Wi-Fi. Four of the antiques-filled rooms have private baths, and two have fireplaces.
In the same neighborhood, the lesbian-owned Radclyffe House B&B is run according to eco-friendly practices and has two smartly decorated rooms with hardwood floors and private baths, plus an expansive two-bedroom family-suite with a private bath and cozy pitched ceilings. A lavish breakfast, parking, and Wi-Fi are included.
Also very popular are two B&Bs a short drive or 10- to 15-minute walk east of downtown: The Avalon B&B, which has four rooms with such elegant touches as comfy leather armchairs, hardwood floors, and exposed-brick walls, depending on the unit (plus in-room satellite TV and Wi-Fi); and the affordable Shirley Samantha's B&B is just a bit farther east, just across the Rideau River and its jogging and cycling path. There are two rooms, with rates around $75 per night.