I Found the Perfect Spot for an Unplugged Vacation with My Teen

By late August of this year, with summer’s departure looming darkly and setting off the annual “Where did it go?!” panic, my daughter and I still hadn’t embarked on our yearly summer ritual of getting away for a few days or a week, somewhere in Ontario. We’ve done a downtown TO staycation, popped into cute little towns like Elora, and done the busy family-resort thing in Horseshoe Valley. As my daughter is now a teenager what I wanted from this year’s summer vacation was an escape not just from work and the daily grind but from screens and social media and the draining parent-child battle about them: something unplugged and forested; I wanted to bring (and read!) books, play Scrabble, sit on the grass and float in the lake, let everything slow to a crawl, hypnotized by a fire. My vision was taking shape as a camping trip, but…a comfy bed sure would be nice. We do so love a hotel stay together.

And so developed my vacation obsession: Could we get all that unplugged nature goodness and have the chic-hotel experience that we both love so much at the same time? But finding what I would call a chic hotel in Ontario’s cottage country (with the exception of Prince Edward County) has always proved a challenge. I refuse to pay 5-star prices for polyester floral bedspreads with matching curtains. I wanted a boutique hotel among the pines. After much searching, I landed on the Somewhere Inn in Calabogie, a chic boutique motel among the pines in the Ottawa Valley.

Somehere Inn
The Somewhere Inn Calabogie, in the Ottawa Valley. Photo: Niamh Barry

It’s a bit of a drive, four hours from TO, but the car is one of our favorite places to hang out, where my daughter gets me hooked on Doja Cat and I beam when she tells me she’s now into one of my ’90s obsessions Liz Phair. After our journey of tunes and highway stops for fries and gravy and grape Crush(??), we pull into the gravelly drive of the inn, a long strip of black brick nestled in against a forest, set back from the road across a huge Lawn dotted with hammocks, lounge chairs and picnic tables and strung with lights. The once-typical rural roadside respect is now all hip rustic chic, black and olive, quietly blending into its woodsy setting.

Somewhere Inn
The Somewhere Inn lobby and bottle shop. Photo: Niamh Barry

shop now

We check in in the tiny “lobby” and bottle shop, a little cabin that serves as reception, gift shop, liquor store and gourmet snack depot. A lot is accomplished in this little space: Friendly staff check answer all your questions about the area and make recommendations for local restaurants, activities and sights. The fridge stocks local craft beer, canned cocktails, white wine, rosé and bubbles, plus non-alcoholic sparklers. One wall features a larger curated wine selection with tasting notes for each and snacks like artisanal chocolate bars, chips, crackers, spiced nuts, cured meats and cheeses. The rest of the space is filled with a quirky and/or chic products: decor, skincare and Somewhere Inn merch that is cool enough to get the 14-year-old’s approval by way of “Mom, can I get this…and this… ?”

Excitedly we step into our big, bright, open room, all white and light wood: spare and Scandi, rustic but refined. The bed is all white, comfy (Endy mattresses), modern and nary a polyester floral in sight. Ours comes with a soaker tub right in the main area, near the wood-burning stove, with a little over-the-tub tray for your wine or tea. There’s a curtain to pull across the space for privacy if you want it. The bathroom has a glassed-in stand-up shower decked out in white and striking forest green square tiles, with the elegant inclusion of Malin and Goetz bath products. The room has Canadian art and sweet touches for a woodsy spot like binoculars, a flashlight, a wine bottle tote, but blissfully—no TV.

Somewhere Inn
A king room: spare and Scandi, rustic but refined. Photo: Niamh Barry

shop now

After unpacking, we stretch out on two of the great big hammocks in a far-off spot on the lawn, looking up at the trees, enjoying a complementary welcome beer and sparkling lime drink. We’re giddy with relaxation, if that’s possible, swinging our hammocks with our bare feet in the grass. The teenager’s phone lies on the ground ignored. Later, a few feet from our hammock spot, we join a yoga class on the lawn. We’re ready to lean right into this unplugged few days of retreat.

Somewhere Inn
A bank of hammocks on the lawn. Photo: Niamh Barry

Over our few days here, we fill our time with all the non-tech activities that abound at the inn and nearby, renting kayaks and hitting Calabogie Lake, climbing to the soaring lookout at Eagle’s Nest conservation area, swimming at the little beach across the road from the motel, playing the corn hole game over and over, a brilliant reminder of the totally absorbing fun that can be had with lo-fi toys banged together with plywood, nails and bags of beans. (Sadly we miss outdoor movie night.) We play Scrabble at the picnic tables, listening to the inn’s chill Spotify playlist that wafts from speakers on the lobby cabin. And I feel triumphant and a full-body contentment when I rest my book on my chest to watch my daughter sway in the hammock next to me, reading her own book she held aloft to shield her eyes from the sun.

Somewhere Inn
The writer’s daughter, Lily, unplugged and loving it, with Scrabble and s’mores. Photo: Eden Boileau

It fully feels like a camping trip—except when we’re in our lovely room—but when it’s time to eat, there are surprisingly plentiful options of cute, cool and elegant restaurants nearby: breweries, cafes, coffee houses and bistros. The inn also hosts food truck events, where local food trucks set up in the parking lot for a few hours and wine tasting events with live music.

Jake Weckwerth Somewhere Inn
Local folk artist Jake Weckwerth plays under the stars. Photo: Eden Boileau

Every night a campfire is lit on the lawn, open to guests and locals, who come to sample the bottle shop offerings and the s’mores kits, which are free for guests. On our last night, we join the fire, where local singer Jake Weckwerth plays originals and folk-rock classics by the woodshed. We chat with other guests and locals, and the inn’s owner. I tell him something I’ve been thinking since I got here: “You’ve really created a magical spot here.”

Accommodations for Eden Boileau were provided by Somewhere Inn. Somewhere Inn did not review or approve this story.

This article contains affiliate links, which means The Kit may earn a small commission if a reader clicks through and makes a purchase. All our journalism is independent and is in no way influenced by advertising. By clicking on an affiliate link, you accept that third-party cookies will be set.More information

Leave a Comment