Fiona Tapp spends a perfect day in Ottawa

Fiona Tapp is a British Elementary School Teacher, who has called Ottawa home for the past five years. As a native Londoner, she tries to explore and enjoy Ottawa as a tourist, and so far is pretty impressed with this “tiny but brilliant” city!

On the last day of school, before the summer vacation started, amongst the “Best Teacher” mugs, Starbucks cards and boxes of chocolates that littered my desk, a very generous parent of a child in my class had given me a gift of an “Essential Facial” at York Street Spa.

I decided to make a day of it and build a spa/shopping trip around my appointment.

Fiona at the Chateau Laurier pool

First up was a visit to the Chateau Laurier — and for a $20 fee, I was able to use the gym and art deco swimming pool. The gym is fairly well equipped as hotel gyms go, sporting an array of cardio and resistance machines, as well as free weights and a rowing machine. 

After I had worked up a sweat, I retired to a lounger around the edge of the pool and admired the 1912 geometric designs and architecture, including an unused fountain.

The water was warm, and apart from a family, ironically enough all the way from England, I had the place pretty much to myself. It really is quite a unique swimming pool, and seemingly in a time warp, the monogrammed brass door knobs, wooden benches and sunburst motifs ferried me away to a time of jazz, Charleston dancers and talking pictures!

Art deco details at the Chateau Laurier pool

Next up, and just as a light drizzle of rain started to fall, I walked down to Dalhousie to check out three boutiques all in a row: Victoire, Workshop and Milk.

I really enjoyed browsing the one-of-a-kind jewellery in “Victoire”, especially a selection of gold heart necklaces with rather saucy secret messages engraved on them! This store has a wonderful sense of design and whimsy and displays their wares on cake stands, retro furniture and mirrors, which all gives the illusion of having found the jewellery while snooping around a fashionistas bedroom.

Shopping on Dalhousie Street

I moved next door to Workshop and fell in love with a beautiful soft red jacket with a stripy print on the underside of the collar, which the wearer could pop up to reveal, sadly it was slightly out of my price range, but beautiful nonetheless.

Onto Milk, where a fabulous sale was taking place, with great bargains to be had.

What I love about all three of these stores is that you can find something truly unusual or unique that people will ask you about, and of course the customer attention and personal greeting.

I astounded myself by not buying anything, shopaholics can be tamed after all!

The Tea Party

Feeling peckish, I headed to The Tea Party on York Street, and enjoyed a pot of “Windsor Castle” tea and a cucumber sandwich, I loved the cosy feel of this tea shop with its eclectic mix of furniture and dainty china cups and saucers, a trip to the washroom, revealed a claw footed bathtub, which completed the home away from home experience.

Cucumber sandwich from The Tea Party

It was now time for my appointment at York Street Spa, I was met by my esthetician Ioana, a softly spoken Romanian lady who handed me a super soft robe and asked me to soak my feet while she helped me to choose the oils I preferred by scent, they all smelled wonderful.

My treatment included various masques, oils and hot towels applied to the face, while my legs, arms, hands, feet, neck and head were all massaged into blissful abandon.

Despite my “relaxation to the point of catatonia” state I recall misting sprays, the feeling of warmth and the aroma of peppermint — all delivered by such a nurturing, kind lady with a lilting accent that lulled me almost to napping.

At the end of the treatment Ioana hugged me and said she hoped to see me again- no doubt, she will.

Thanks for sharing, Fiona! Got a list of must-hit places in Ottawa? Share your list below!