Old Meets New at This Quaint Tofino Getaway
By Sandy Faust
Contributor to Travelink Publishing

"Inn at Tough City," seen at a distance through sea salted car windows, looks as if it’s been in the village of Tofino forever.

It could have been a grand old house, a general store, or a cannery. Take a closer look, though, and you’ll see the weathered brick walkway and courtyard, the wrap around verandah, the gleaming hardwood floors in the foyer and an artfully displayed collection of antiques and memorabilia. Throw in a genius use of colour on the freshly painted walls, a funky clothing boutique, and a captivating view of the busy Tofino harbour, and you have an inn completely new and like no other.

Greeted by our host, Johanna Vanderkley, my husband and I couldn’t stop ourselves from asking her for stories to go with all that we saw. Where did the collection of vintage advertising and signs come from? The old tins? The antique furniture? Soon we had a picture of a couple who would stop at nothing to build the inn of their dreams, even if it meant bringing forty-five thousand recycled bricks from Old Downtown Vancouver, gathering hardwood floors from an old racquet club, and rescuing original stained glass from as far away as Scotland.

The comfortable marriage of old and new whispered from every nook and cranny during our stay at "The Inn at Tough City." Climbing the spiral staircase, we found ourselves appreciating a collection of First Nations art. We were lured to peek into unoccupied rooms by glimpses of colour: sea blues and greens, dark coral, apricot and emerald. All eight rooms have their own colour scheme, stained glass, decks or balconies, and antique furniture. Guests will appreciate their host’s attention to detail, with features such as soaker tubs, hardwood floors and fireplaces. My eye was caught by the simply elegant bedding and window treatments, all custom made of soft, healthy unbleached cotton. On the beds, the natural fabrics cover lofty down duvets and pillows, adding a soothing note to the fresh, vibrant rooms. All of these thoughtful, European touches are bound to make guests feel like they are staying in the private home of a stylish hostess with exceptional taste.

Unable to resist the winter sun on the pounding surf of nearby Long Beach, we had stopped for a walk on the way to the inn, and were chilled to the bone. After warming up in a soaker tub sized generously for two, we ventured out to explore the many shops and restaurants within walking distance. As well as being a great place to shop for pottery, art, First Nations art, jewelry and crafts, Tofino won’t disappoint those who have wilder things in mind. Guests in search of adventure can surf, storm watch, golf, fish, whale watch, or enjoy the natural wonders of Pacific Rim National Park.

While we enjoyed complete quiet when we desired it, Johanna was on hand the moment we needed her to offer us an excellent dinner recommendation. After wandering a couple of blocks for a beautiful local meal, we let the harbour breezes keep us awake just long enough to get back to our room. Lighting the fireplace, we climbed under the down duvet and settled in to choose a movie from the many channels offered.

"The Inn at Tough City" doesn’t offer breakfast, but provides all of the makings for hot chocolate, tea and coffee, as well as wine glasses, cutlery and plates. In the morning, my husband strolled over to a local bakery to pick up freshly baked muffins, croissants and cinnamon buns. With a bag full of warm goodies, a steaming pot of coffee, and a stack of newspapers, we settled ourselves down for breakfast in bed. It does, however, have the only sushi restaurant in town, and adds a fabulous West Coast twist to traditional favourites, alongside teriyaki steaks and more.

Tearing ourselves away from the inn, we joined the legions of visitors who have wished that they could make their own homes as beautiful and comforting as "The Inn at Tough City." Johanna’s guests are so taken with her style, they often call her for advice when it comes to painting and decorating their homes. I hear that during the summer months, guests can enjoy a seafood barbeque on the rock patio, and plans are underway for a restaurant and bar. That’s all the excuse I need to visit again, and next time I’ll bring my paint swatches!

"The Inn at Tough City" lets guests experience all the best comforts of civilization, on a rugged, windswept coast that feels like the end of the earth.

If You Go:

The Inn at Tough City
350 Main Street
P.O. Box 8
Tofino, BC
V0R 2Z0
Phone: (250) 725-2021
Toll Free: 1-877-725-2021
Fax: (250) 725-2088
E-mail: cityinn@cedar.alberni.net
Web site:

Vancouver and other lower mainland travelers: B.C. Ferries accommodates travelers from Tsawwassen or Horseshoe Bay terminals to Duke Point or Departure Bay. General Information for sailing schedule is 1-888-BCFERRY (223-3779)

For our State-side Neighbors: Either the Victoria Clipper, The Princess Marguerite, or the Washington State Ferries will meet your needs 206-464-6400
Take Island Highway #19-across island to the fishing village of Tofino

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