Ottawa–the eclectic Canadian capital

This weekend is Canadian Thanksgiving. With everything going on in the world right now (natural disasters, terrorism, and the pending American election) I think many of us Canadians are extremely thankful right now that we are indeed Canadian. There are many places I like to visit in the world, but there is no place like home. So in this post, I tip my hat to Ottawa, Ontario, the eclectic Canadian capital–a relatively small city of 1.25 million permanent residents, but a great destination for art, culture, great international cuisine, and as I shared in this post … chocolate.


I think that like every other Canadian, I am awed by the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa, every time I see them.

I visited Ottawa, Canada, recently on a chocolatour which gave me the great pleasure of enjoying a white chocolate truffle body wrap at Holtz Spa. I didn’t know what to expect, for as we all know, white chocolate doesn’t contain any cocoa powder, only cocoa butter. But as one of the “Top 25 Spas in Canada,” I trusted myself to the team at Holtz Spa and definitely was not disappointed. The atmosphere is chic and professional, and I learned from speaking to spa owner Donna Holtom that the formula for my treatment was especially created for Holtz Spa. It is a blend of natural ingredients that include sheabutter, coconut oil, sunflower seed oil, beeswax, glycerin, and white chocolate truffle fragrant oil.


It was an amazing feeling to be cocooned in the Hausler flotation bed while the white chocolate truffle treatment was absorbed into my body.

My body was covered with the aromatic elixir, then wrapped in a cozy fleece wrap from Germany. The fleece doesn’t absorb the product, but enables  the deep moisturizing treatment to be 100 percent absorbed by the body. Then came the fun part! My body was lowered into a ‘soft pac’ flotation bed made by Hausler of Germany. I felt like I was in a cocoon, surrounded by the warmth of 37.6 degree Celsius water without actually touching the water. It was an amazing feeling, and when the treatment was done, my skin was deliciously soft and I was consumed with an intoxicating feeling of rejuvenation. What a wonderful way to spend an afternoon in Ottawa! I would love to return to the Holtz Spa and further investigate their line of tree essences–especially the Spirit of the Forest special treatment that Donna told me about.


The charcuterie platter at The Albion Rooms was absolutely delightful.


The Albion Rooms is a funky space in the Novotel where you can dine informally on a lot of local products from the Ottawa Valley.

Could this day get any better? You bet! I met a friend for dinner at The Albion Rooms restaurant at the Novotel where I was staying–right in the heart of downtown Ottawa. We enjoyed a fantastic charcuterie platter that featured Glengarry Celtic Blue Cheese made in Lancaster, Ontario, and La Liberté Triple Cream Cheese from Quebec (Ottawa is located just west of the provincial boundary between Ontario and Quebec.) Paired with a citrusy local beer from the Dominion Brewing Company, my taste buds were transported to heaven alongside my joyful spirit. All this in my first day in the nation’s capital.


A box of Cocohari Chocolates of Ottawa was waiting for me when I checked in to the Novotel Hotel. I was happy to share these delicious Belgian-style chocolates with Kim, the uber friendly staff person who brought a welcome tray to my room.

Ottawa, Canada, is truly a destination for foodies,  patrons of the arts and chocolate lovers. Because it is the nations’s capital, there is a vibrant multi-cultural presence throughout the city that makes every day in Ottawa a day of discovery. My sincere thanks to Ottawa Tourism and Ontario Travel for making this trip possible.



Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I'm currently researching and writing volume II of "Chocolatour: A Quest for the World's Best Chocolate". Volume I was published in September, 2013.

95 Responses

  1. I love your posts, Doreen! Very motivational and enlightening!

  2. Hi Doreen, I had to smile at your mention of our election and being proud to be Canadian. I bet that is the sentiment for lots of Canadian as they watch their neighbors. Lol You all might need to scooch over some after November 8th. You may receive an influx of Americans. Good to know you have excellent chocolate! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Hi Susan. I’ve heard a lot of that lately! Canada may not be perfect, but I think we are all pretty proud of our current leaders and the direction they are taking the country.Come on down for a visit! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Sreeram says:

    The Hausler flotation bed enjoying a white chocolate truffle body wrap looks interesting.

  4. I want to try the Holtz Spa white chocolate truffle body wrap on the flotation bed! Definitely the highlight of Ottawa!

  5. Mansi K. says:

    What an incredible experience! I just added this to my chocoholic bucket list Thanks for sharing!

  6. Another wonderful post by you. I must say that the Parliament building is indeed quite beautiful. Somehow it reminds me of the Big Ben and the Manchester Town Hall. ๐Ÿ˜›

  7. Wow! This looks so interesting! I don’t think I’d leave after visiting this place!

  8. Everything looks amazing! Ottawa seems like a fun place. I need to get myself to Canada sometime soon.

  9. I don’t know how you did that! Being wrapped up in those delicious yummy treats, I would have stolen at least a taste. Sounds like it was an incredibly soothing experience – chocolate, the multi-tasker!

  10. Sue Reddel says:

    There are so many lovely places in Canada to visit. Thanks for introducing us to Ottawa – the Canadian capital. Chocolate spa treatments are icing on the trip!

  11. We were planning a trip to Ottawa for labour day, and just couldn’t get it together – even wanted to stay at Novotel! Looks like you had ‘my’ trip for yourself! (especially the chocolate wrap!)

    • Too bad that your trip to Ottawa didn’t work out, Jane. But pretty much any time is a good time to visit. In winter, you can skate on the Rideau Canal. Something a lot of people LOVE to do! And in 2017, as Canada’s capital city, there will be many events celebrating the 150th anniversary of Canada. So hopefully … you’ll get there sometime soon. I’m, hoping to be back in 2017 to celebrate the launch of volume II of Chocolatour.
      Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…Ottawa–the eclectic Canadian capitalMy Profile

  12. Vyjay says:

    That sounds like a really sweet, exhilirating and rejuvenating experience. A warm cocoon of chocolate really sounds so comforting.

  13. You really seem to enjoy yourself with your chocolate adventures! And in Ottawa of all places! Thanks for a very enjoyable read!

  14. I always enjoy reading about your chocolate adventures!! And Ottawa is such a beautiful setting for them!

  15. Mar Pages says:

    Wow I’ve heard of seaweed, volcanic mud, beer treatment but chocolate wrap? yum! The idea of being slathered in chocolate smelling buttery goodness is simply delicious! I’ll have to try that one! What a lovely share of such a beautiful day, I’ve never been to Ottawa but now I dream of visiting ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Hi Mar: Yes, as it has been discovered that pure cocoa has many health benefits, many spas and wellness centres are now creating cocoao-based spa treatments. It’s truly a decadent experience. And yes, Ottawa is truly a wonderful destination for international travellers. I’m quite certain you would enjoy it.
      Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…Ottawa–the eclectic Canadian capitalMy Profile

  16. We were just in Ottawa last month and loved it, but we didn’t get to experience the chocolate bliss.

  17. I love Ottawa, where I am from in New York State, it is just a 2 hour drive away.
    When I grew up, I grew up on Canadian TV, having more channels available from there than the US.
    Since it is fall, don’t forget to tell us who wins the Grey Cup.

  18. oooh chocolate truffle body wrap?! that sounds fun!

  19. marc smith says:

    Fun, I’m at the Novotel at the end of the month so will check out a few places nearby including dinner at the Albion Room

    • The Ottawa Novotel has an incredible location, Marc. There is a shopping centre and convention centre across the street, and an art gallery on the other corner. And the Holtz Spa is just a 5-minute walk away, as is the ByWard Market. Enjoy your stay.

  20. Sushmita says:

    Amazing post Doreen! I would love to try the massage as well seems good your picture says it all!

  21. Happy Thanksgiving, Doreen! Love that picture of you in the spa bed. After watching the recent U.S. Presidential debate, I sure can use a retreat like that!

  22. I was wrapped in giant banana leaves in Fiji, which I loved (!) so the white chocolate truffle wrap would be something I would try! I am sure, with your love of all things chocolate, that it was a unique experience and one you just had to try! I love your enthusiasm for everything you do, Doreen. It comes through in your writing.

    • Thx so much for your kind comment, Debbie. What was under the banana leaves in Fiji? Was it some kind of spa treatment?

      • Hi Doreen, Yes, it was part of a massage treatment. Here’s the first paragraph of my Fiji article, which describes it: “Iโ€™m lying on a giant banana leaf in the middle of the Fijian rain forest. My masseuse at Koro Sun Resortโ€™s Rainforest Spa has scrubbed my body with natural botanical ingredients designed to help weary travelers like me recover from jet lag. Next, I am covered with another banana leaf and wrapped in soft cloths, allowing the minerals and nutrients to penetrate into my skin. Cocooned like a butterfly, I am soon ready to be reborn.” (You can read the rest on my website, if you’d like, on the Fiji Islands page.)

  23. Anda says:

    While I have no doubts about the great effect of chocolate when ingested, I kind of doubt its effect on my body. I think a chocolate wrap is a waste and I doubt I would like the feel of it on my skin. It must be gross, probably like mud, although you seem to have enjoyed it a lot.

    • Hi Anda. Every chocolate treatment is different. Some have indeed had that “mud” consistency you have mentioned. But the white chocolate truffle wrap is definitely not in that category. This treatment is very creamy as it is made from a blend of oils. Think of the very best shea butter or cocoa butter cream you may ever have applied to your body and the wonderful effects it may have had on your skin. then magnify that tenfold from the effects of this treatment on the flotation bed. It really is heaven. Not sure what kind of spa treatments you have had in the past. It took me awhile to warm up to spending time at spas. But now that I have … I’m addicted! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Anda says:

        I’m addicted to eating the chocolate, Doreen. Did you try to taste the chocolate they used on your body? Was it sweet and tasty?

        • No, Anda. The white chocolate truffle treatment at Holtz Spa is in a jar. You wouldn’t want to eat it. But some of the chocolate spa treatments I’ve had have been made from pure cocoa and you could indeed eat them if you were so inclined. Each one is very different.

  24. I’d love to visit Ottawa and you’ve just given me two more reasons – I love the look of that charcuterie platter and the white chocolate truffle wrap looks just amazing!

  25. I’ve traveled through several parts of Canada but have never been to Ottawa. I don’t think I would ever have considered a white chocolate spa treatment, but you certainly make it sound appealing. I’ll use these tips to plan a future Ottawa visit.

  26. Nancie says:

    Your spa sounds amazing! The last time I was in Ottawa I was working a conference, and it was probably 100 degrees outside. The hotel AC decided to break down, and no air for 24 hours. It was a conference to remember for all the wrong reasons, but I still like Ottawa! ๐Ÿ™‚

  27. Happy Thanksgiving! What a marvelous adventure Doreen. I’ve been to Ottowa 3 times on business, other than driving by the capital building, I’ve seen little more than the inside of hotels. I hope one day to return, especially after following along on your special day!

  28. What a delicious way to spend a few hours – enjoying chocolate without a worry about the calories! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Hi Jackie and thanks for your comment. In my business (world), if I worried about the calories, I’d never enjoy the chocolate I had the opportunity to try. Fortunately, dark chocolate is low in calories and high in health benefits, and as that is the bulk of the chocolate I consume, I’m managing the weight not too badly.
      Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…Ottawa–the eclectic Canadian capitalMy Profile

  29. Well, who knew you could have a chocolate wrap? Wow!
    Ottawa really is an interesting place. I’d love to go back and explore the museums especially.

    • Hi Jill. If you search “chocolate spas” on my site, you will find an amazing selection of spas that offer chocolate treatments I have enjoyed. There will be a chapter on chocolate spas in the next volume of my book.

      Yes, Ottawa really does have an incredible collection of great museums. My favourite is the one that used to be called the Museum of Civilization. I think it’s now called the National Museum. An amazing architectural structure, setting, and collection of exhibits. The last time I was there, I caught the Voodoo temporary exhibit!
      Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…Ottawa–the eclectic Canadian capitalMy Profile

  30. Ken Dowell says:

    I’ve never been to Ottawa but looking at your images, it is someplace I’d like to get to in the future. The Parliament buildings are spectacular.

  31. I would have preferred to eat that body treatment! I love white chocolate.

    • Carole: The best and most creative spas, feed you chocolate before, during or after your chocolate treatment. The spa at Jade Mountain in St. Lucia probably gets the ticket for being the most decadent chocolate spa I’ve visited to date! They fed us handcrafted chocolate truffles while we were enrobed in molten chocolate made from the same cocoa that they grow right on their estate. It doesn’t get any better than that …
      Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…Ottawa–the eclectic Canadian capitalMy Profile

  32. noel says:

    This looks like an enjoyable trip and the chocolate inspired treats and spa really tie in well.

  33. The Holtz Spa white chocolate truffle body wrap on the flotation bed looks and sounds amazing. My daughter and husband have both done sensory deprivation floatation tanks and loved them. They are not for me as I am a bit claustrophobic. The spa treatment looks more my speed.

    • Hi, Donna. I have to admit that by the end of the treatment, I was beginning to feel a bit claustrophobic being cocooned in that wrap. My therapist entered the room at just the right moment! So I would suggest that anyone having the treatment let their therapist know if they are at all claustrophobic.

  34. Can I please have that WHOLE box of chocolate? The city looks like a lot of fun. One more place added to my super long list of must-see cities.

  35. Erica says:

    That food platter looks so good. And the spa treatment seems so relaxing. All and all, seems like a very good day to me!

    I need to spend more time in Canada as I’ve only ever been to Quebec. Will have to plan for summer as I don’t do cold well!

    • Hi Erica. Quebec is lovely. But you’ll find Ontario great, too. There is so much variation within it, as it’s a big province! Anytime between April and October is a great time to visit.

  36. Nathalie says:

    Nice post about our hometown. It is definitely changing and growing. I don’t know if I’d be into a white chocolate wrap but there are definitely a few new restaurants I’d like to check out when we’re there at the end of the month.

    • Hi Nathalie. Indeed, Ottawa had a load of terrific restaurants on offer, many of which are offering the “small plates” approach. Kind of like the Canadian version of tapas. I really enjoyed my small plate meal at Play, too. Check it out!

  37. You look so happy in the water massage photo. Travel can’t get much better than that smile!

  38. Sabrina Quairoli says:

    I’ve never been to Ottawa. It looks great. The spa sounds so lovely and can really use that right now.

  39. Phoenicia says:

    A white chocolate body wrap – sounds divine!

    I could do with a day (or ten) of relaxation. Laying back whilst I receive a much needed shoulder and back massage.

    Canada is a beautiful country with a number of sights to see. Their winters are awfully cold though.

  40. Emily says:

    Wow the white chocolate truffle body wrap looks amazing! I had a chocolate massage when I was in Budapest late last year which was great but this seems like on another level. It seems like a wonderful way to have ‘me’ time and to relax!


  41. It was a pleasure to have you here in Ottawa, Doreen! I just came back from a record release party by local artist Amanda Rheaume to discover your post… A great combination of music and chocolate! I’m sorry our paths didn’t cross during this visit but look forward to the next!

  42. Beverly says:

    You couldn’t look any cuter than when you were lying on the Hausler flotation bed enjoying a white chocolate truffle body wrap at the Holtz Spa. The treatment would certainly fit into the category of one of life’s sweeter things. Oh yes, I love Ottawa and would love to visit that fair city again soon.

  43. Linda Strange says:

    Another wonderful trip full of treats ! Lovely food with good company, rejuvenating spa treatment, and Choclatour in our Nation’s Capital. Great timing, with our country’s big birthday coming up. How lucky we are ! Thanks for an enticing report, Doreen .

    • Thanks, Linda. Yes, I’m thinking that a launch of volume II of Chocolatour in our nation’s capital next year would be a really cool way to acknowledge the chocolate scene in Ottawa. Stay tuned! And Happy Thanksgiving! ๐Ÿ™‚

  44. WOW! That cocoon looks totally amazing! I’ve never heard of such a thing. Ottawa sounds great. THanks for the intro. Doreen

    • Hi Kathy and thanks for your comment. Yes, I was truly impressed with the treatment at the Holtz Spa. That Hausler bed can be raised or lowered and is used in various other treatments. Ottawa is one great city! I hope you get to visit soon. The arts scene is really vibrant.

  45. Tammy says:

    Sounds wonderful. I enjoy your adventures.

    • Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment, Tammy. It’s great knowing you’re here, following me along on my chocolate travel adventures. I hope to see you at the chocolate dinner in Gimli one October 28th in support of the New Iceland Heritage Museum. We will be enjoying four different flavours of Hummingbird Chocolate during the four courses of the delectable meal. Cheers, and Happy Thanksgiving.
      Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…Ottawa–the eclectic Canadian capitalMy Profile

  46. Linda Paul says:

    I tip my hat to my neighbors to the north and what may be the last vestiges of good, common sense in the Americas.

  47. Peter Johansen says:

    You have certainly captured some of my own go-to hometown spots with keen precision, Doreen. The Albion Rooms are a favourite, and for many years I have been a patron of Holtz. On the latter, however, my visits have been limited to a pedicure. You have tempted me to go to a whole new level there. You’re nothing short of wicked. Chocolate lovers have a few excellent stops in the capital!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge