Gateway to a Greenhouse
By Chris McBeath
Who would have thought that staying the night in a greenhouse would be such luxurious getaway, but at Hastings House on Salt Spring Island, one night just isn't enough!
Nestled among 25 acres of serene meadows dotted with grazing sheep, forests and gardens, you'll find four wonderfully restored lodgings which have turned barns, haylofts, greenhouses and a farmhouse into 17 beautifully appointed country-style suites complete with fireplaces, soaker tubs, and private porches. One of the buildings, now a two-room cottage, was actually a Hudson's Bay trading post, and the first structure built on Salt Spring.
We were to stay in the Barn, located at the end of a winding path bordered by a display of colourful perennials. Although the rough cedar exterior certainly resembled a farm structure, the interiors of each of its five suites were a delightful surprise, offering all the personal touches and attention to detail that has earned Hastings House such an exceptional reputation.
The 16th century Sussex-style Manor House was built by, and home to, Barbara and Warren Hastings from 1938 to 1979, and the tranquillity and charm of their gracious home is captured today with a fine display of original paintings and period furnishings. The expansive Inglenook fireplace that encompasses almost one entire wall of the cozy living room is a marvelous focal point, while Persian area carpets, scattered over dark oak floors, and lead pane windows add an elegance that feels like an English country manor. Of course, the manicured gardens, which sweep down above picturesque Ganges Harbour, simply add to the atmosphere and are an idyllic setting for board games or complimentary Afternoon Tea.
Adjacent to the living room is where meal time magic occurs! Gentlemen, don't forget your jackets, so that you may enjoy the Inn's formal dining at its best. The five course daily menu, built around the herbs and produce from Hastings House garden and orchard, is unforgettable. For a real treat, reserve the kitchen table and watch Chef Kauer in action. The Snug is another dining option during the summer; it offers the same delectable delicacies in a more casual setting.
In the morning, fresh-brewed coffee and delicious home baked blueberry muffins were quietly delivered to our door - a gentle wake-up call for the gastronomic feast to come, everything from a traditional Farmer's Breakfast, with your choice of ham, bacon, or Salt Spring lamb sausage; or a creation called The Gulf Islander, consisting of eggs with a field mushroom cream sauce and Swiss Gruyere cheese. After such a hearty breakfast, you may want to work up an appetite for Afternoon Tea with an activity such as hiking, biking, or kayaking. Salt Spring is the largest of all the Southern Gulf Islands so you're never at a loss for something to do whether it's meandering through the Saturday market, touring the numerous art studios and farmsteads, or catching a movie in what must surely be the smallest theatre in British Columbia! Just be sure to stay a while because staying in a barn, a hayloft, or a greenhouse really is worthy of more than just a one night stand at Hastings House.
If You Go:
160 Upper Ganges Road
Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, Canada, V8K 2S2
Phone: 800-661-9255 / 250-537-2362
Innkeeper: Miles Roseborough
Vancouver and lower mainland travelers: B.C. Ferries accommodates travelers from Tsawwassen terminal. Reservations are recommended. For sailing schedule within B.C. call 1-888-BCFERRY (223-3779) Out of province is 1-250-386-3431
For Vancouver Island Travelers: B.C. Ferries sail from Swartz Bay terminal or Crofton. In Greater Victoria call 250-386-3431, elsewhere in B.C. 1-888-BCFERRY
Other Gulf Island travelers: For inter-island ferry service dial 1-888-BCFERRY
Upon arrival at Salt Spring, drive off ferry and follow sign to Ganges (about 20 mins) or walk on and Hastings House's driver will pick you up.
For those with time restraints, a float plane will deliver you directly to Ganges Harbour in approximately 35 minutes via SEAir or Harbour Air from Vancouver, or approximately 1 hour via Kenmore Air from Seattle.
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