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Kingston Accommodation Options

• A WorldWeb.com Travel Guide for Kingston, Ontario.
Affectionately dubbed "The Limestone City," many of Kingston's well-preserved historic buildings were constructed of the durable white stone during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, making it seem like a seaside British town caught in the past. The city lies on the eastern shores of Lake Ontario, a mere 242 km (151 mi) from Canada's largest city, Toronto, and is noted as the halfway point between Toronto and Montreal. With a population of 113,000, it is large and diverse enough to fulfill the metropolitan expectations of most travellers, while still small enough to experience on a personal and essential level.

Visitors looking for accommodations in Kingston have a plethora of lodging options available to them, ranging from beds and breakfasts staged in turreted and towered Victorian homes to uber-modern and sleek hotels in polished, mirrored buildings. Princess, Queen and King Street are the main drags in town, and also where numerous sights, restaurants, shops and services are centred. King Street follows the shores of Lake Ontario, Queen Street leads from the harbour into the heart of the city while Princess Street travels just below, past Queen's University to continue west straight out of Kingston and becomes a major provincial highway.

ACCOMMODATIONS ON THE HARBOURFRONT

Hotels & Motels

For the scholastically minded traveller, Kingston is a treasure trove of schools and institutions of higher learning. The world-renowned Queens University, which had its humble beginnings as a seminary school for New World preachers, sits on the west side of Rideau Canal. Founded in 1841, classes initially took place in various homes around the city, finally settling in the limestone residence known as Summerhill, located at the centre of the campus. Several other notable buildings make up the school, such as the Old Medical Building, the first structure to be funded by the University on its own, Ban Righ Hall, the oldest of the student residences, Kathleen Ryan Hall, home of the university's archives and the neo-Gothic Douglas Library.

Across the canal and on its own pristine plot of land is the venerated Royal Military College (RMC), Canada's only officer training school. Smartly uniformed cadets in caps and capes march around the squares of the campus, which also has many notable buildings constructed of limestone, and on a misty fall morning the imagery is remarkably timeless.

Near Queen's University, large accommodation chains tussle it out for prime real estate overlooking Lake Ontario. The Confederation Place Waterfront Hotel is one of the many location hotels frequented by travellers. The 94-room establishment is located on the waterfront and is well-equipped to cater to conferences, with a large ballroom plus several suites available for any occasion.

For people who like to stay in the heart of the city, the Holiday Inn Kingston is also perched on the lake's shores and has extensive events facilities as well. The Four Points by Sheraton is elegantly appointed with many special extras for guests such as a spa and fitness level with a huge indoor pool. A pick that guarantees views of the harbourfront is the Radisson Hotel, offering numerous amenities such as health and wellness packages, high-speed Internet access and a fully-equipped gym.

The Prince George Hotel is one of Kingston's most venerated stays. The building dates to 1809, and, although it has undergone several transformations since then, it still maintains its traditional Victorian construction with a terrace that stratches out over an airy arcade accented by peaked, leaded windows. Its lively Irish pub is a favourite spot for locals, and has a long, shiny wooden bar with plenty of space to belly up to, plus several features imported directly from Ireland. Popular among supernaturalists, the hotel is said to be inhabited by many ghosts, in particular a broken-hearted entity named Lily who died tragically in a fire started by the lamp she lit to signal her lover she was waiting.

B&Bs & Inns
Just one block from Queen's University and three blocks from the waterfront, the Hochelaga Inn & Spa was built in 1879 as a grand private residence. A brick facade, decorative gables and arched windows support its distinctive central tower, which has been renovated into one of the Inn's most popular guest rooms. From the stained-glass, circular sitting room a ladder leads to the very tip, allowing for limitless views of the city and Lake Ontario.

Located on the same street as the Hochelaga, the Secret Garden B&B is girdled by a generous, multi-leveled deck, and is also capped with a fantastical turret. Its rooms are nicely decorated with four-poster beds and handsome armchairs, and some even have their own cosy fireplace. Newly-renovated baths come with deep, claw-foot tubs.

Also on Sydenham Street is the Rosemount Inn and Spa, which is surrounded by a generous courtyard and nicely manicured gardens. Its rooms are decorated with antiques and porcelain touches, and ornate drapes frame the leaded windows perfectly. For a little personal pampering, an in-house spa offers body wraps, facials, massages, manicures, pedicures and more.

The Hotel Belvedere is a eminent and renowned stay in Kingston. Dating to 1880 and with a fashionable King Street address, the inn has been accepting guests since the 1920s, including dukes, duchesses, generals, politicians and occasionally mysterious foreigners from unheard-of lands. Its 20 rooms are decorated in period Canadian and Victorian furniture, several have fireplaces and kitchenettes and all possess their own individual appeal.

The Stone's Throw Bed and Breakfast is a stately limestone residence located "a stone's throw" from Kingston's most popular tourist destinations. The rooms are warm and inviting, with walls textured by brick and stone, and the home's common areas are expertly decorated with plush chairs and sofas and handsome antiques.

The rooms of A Bon Accord Bed and Breakfast are bright, crisp and clean, and the sunny rooftop patio is lush with plants providing an earthy appeal. Breakfast is served in the rooms.

ACCOMMODATIONS ALONG PRINCESS STREET & HIGHWAY 15

Princess Street and Highway 15 are the two main routes both in and out of Kingston. When entering the city, follow either directly to the harbour, and, when leaving, each hooks up with Ontario's infamous Highway 401, which is renowned for regularly being used by more than 500,000 vehicles daily.

Several reputable hotels and motels line these strips. On Princess Street, the Best Western Fireside Inn is near the Norman Rogers Airport and is less of a hotel than a country inn. Each room has its own fireplace, and suites are outfitted with quilted, canopied beds. A nearby Howard Johnson Inn offers classic, economical motel accommodations with comfortable rooms suitable for families. Inquire about group, senior and hospital rates. Also on Princess Street is a cheerful Super 8, which has been recently renovated and sports brand-new and flawless decor and sparkling baths.

For those travelling by vehicle, the Comfort Inn on Highway 401 is conveniently located and offers enough parking space for the most extensively kitted-out tour buses to pull up for the night. Pets are welcome, and Internet access is available. Just off of the highway on a quiet street is Kingston's Days Inn, which has beds covered with fluffy duvets and piled with fat pillows while the general motif stays sleek and modern. Generous leather chairs in the tiled lobby greet tired guests after a long day of travelling. This newer facility features an outdoor swimming pool, a spa and fitness centre, and meeting and banquet rooms.

The Green Woods Inn is surrounded by a huge yard and is a secluded retreat just outside of Kingston on Highway 15. The home is impeccably maintained and accessorised with carefully-chosen antiques, and guests sleep on featherbeds dressed with the finest, softest linens. On another large, rural plot of land on Highway 15, the Tymparon Inn Bed & Breakfast was once a 19th century farmhouse. It has been converted in the fashion of an English country inn, complimented by sloped ceilings and paneled windows. Floral touches and wood accents complete the decor.

ALTERNATE CHOICES

The Alexander Henry Ship Hostel is a favourite choice for lovers of the sea. The hostel and bed and breakfast is actually a converted ice-breaker called the Alexander Henry, which now enjoys retirement after 30 long years of busting through the thick winter crusts of the Great Lakes, first setting sail in 1958. The ship is also a museum, and is visited to have its technology studied by engineers. Dozens of documents are also on board from the designer (German & Milne), the shipbuilder (Port Arthur Shipyards), and the operator (Canadian Coast Guard).

For those who like to be in charge of their own accommodations, Vacation Home Rentals are a popular option. All are ideal for longer stays, with each providing the comforts of home. Some are located right on the water, and are offered for several weeks at a time for the ideal summer holiday.

TRANSPORTATION

The Normon Rogers Airport is the arrival point for people travelling by plane. For people seeing the country through the nostalgic conveyance of the railroad, VIA Rail locomotives leave from Toronto regularly. Voyageur and Greyhound all operate motorcoach services to Kingston from Ottawa and Toronto. Drivers enter the city via Highway 2 or 15, and because of Kingston's smaller size they find the city simple and pleasant to navigate.

WEATHER & WHAT TO DO

Due to its location on the shores of Lake Ontario, Kingston is blessed with a relatively mild climate year round. The phenomenon know as the bay effect or ocean effect is to thank for the gentle conditions. From May to August, the days along the lake are warm, with temperatures around 25C (75F). The winters are also noticeably temperate, with the mercury dropping down to about -10C (15F).

Kingston is known as an excellent starting point to explore the Great Lakes and thousands of islands that dot the waters of Lake Ontario. Popular excursions include setting out on the water on sea kayaking endeavours, canoeing out to Wolfe Island, or searching for the many shipwrecks sitting at the bottom of Lake Ontario on scuba diving tours. Less strenuous boat tours are also available for those who prefer to put their feet up and take it easy during their very precious vacation time.

Kingston's location, architecture and history are all reasons to consider the city as a holiday destination, and the young minds of Queen's, the tradition of Royal Military College and the stoic construction of Old Fort Henry add to the mix to create a city that both demands and earns the respect and admiration of its visitors.

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