The luxury Wickaninnish Inn has been a part of the Tofino landscape since 1955 and is now a popular destination for tourists all year round, from surfers and hikers in summer to storm watchers in winter. Set within the cliffs of Chesterman Beach, the hotel boasts nine different room styles, each with its own unique view of the most western coast of Vancouver Island.
Accessible by boat or plane from Vancouver, Tofino is still remarkably uninhabited. First named after an Admiral in the Spanish Army in 1909, Tofino has gradually pulled in more visitors and homes are now dotted along the coastline whose residents surf the Pacific waves, walk dogs on the beach and gather in groups around barbecues.
The Wickaninnish Inn, winner of awards from Conde Nast Traveller and Relais & Chateau amongst others, has cleverly made the most of its location overlooking the ocean. The restaurant has panoramic views of the beach with a full glass façade, incorporating more formal dining tables with lounge sofas and armchairs that langorously turn one coffee into three. The menu is extensive but thoughtful, covering fresh fish and light salads to burgers and fries, each served with easy care. The hotel also has a separate café with outdoor tables just steps away from the beach serving fresh orange juice and croissants in the morning and sandwiches thoughout the day.
The rooms at The Wickaninnish Inn are all individual but finished perfectly. Armchairs surround fireplaces and large sliding doors open up on balconies where garden furniture points to the sunset. Some rooms overlook the beach and others sit just above the rocks so that an open window at night brings in sea air and the sound of waves. The bathrooms are all large and luxurious with baths positioned by windows to take advantage of spectacular views.
One of the most successful aspects of the hotel is its ability to combine freshness and modernity while also preserving the most important feature of Tofino, its unspoilt nature. Televisions in the rooms are all hidden within cabinets leaving wooden surfaces clean and all the bookshelves feature guides to the Tofino landscape and maps for local treks.
Tellingly, there is only one taxi in Tofino, but if you are able to book the car, just a short journey from the hotel is 2014’s Best New Restaurant in Canada winner, Wolf in the Fog. The restaurant has two floors, the lower with a bar area and relaxed seating and the upper for more formal dining. The atmosphere is typically Canadian; comfortable, welcoming and incredibly friendly. Food is experimental but confident, with flavours mixed in unexpected ways. There is a wide selection of wines and an expert sommelier to enlighten and advise. Raucous cheers emerge throughout the evening from chefs in the kitchen, a constant reminder of the fun emanating from this new restaurant.
It is hard to know how much longer Tofino will retain its unspoilt beauty but with havens like The Wickaninnish Inn and Wolf and the Fog there are hopes it will be some time yet. There can’t be many more stunning places to stay, whether it is surf or storms you’re after.