By Maureen Littlejohn
Saskatoon’s magnificent Delta Hotels Bessborough is more than an icon. It’s an inspiration. Joni Mitchell included it in a self portrait for the cover of her album, Clouds. Growing up in the city, she would often spy it as she gazed out over the South Saskatchewan River from the Broadway Bridge, drafts of future songs running through her head.
The 225-guest-room, castle-like Delta Hotels Bessborough was built by the Canadian National Railway and completed in 1932. It came into being after the city’s business community, jealous of the Canadian Pacific Hotel that had opened in Regina, demanded a grand railway hotel of their own. Due to the financial challenges of the Great Depression, it didn’t open its doors until 1935. Designed by Archibald and Schofield of Montreal, it features Tyndall stone from Manitoba, brick from Claybank, Saskatchewan, and tiles from Estevan, Saskatchewan. The hotel’s namesake is the 9th Earl of Bessborough, who was Canada’s 14th governor general and visited in 1932 while it was still under construction.
Beauty from a Bygone Era
Wide hallways, elegant furnishings, a swish ballroom, and a lush, five-acre garden mark it as a beauty from a bygone era. But the top-notch service, an indoor pool, spa, fitness area, a pet-friendly policy, and water-view patio make it thoroughly modern.
Breakfast is served in the Garden Court Café, and for those who are on the Club level, there is a delicious hot breakfast buffet available in the Club Lounge. During my stay one of the dishes they served was chorizo and quail eggs in individual cast iron frying pans. The spread also included cheeses, smoked salmon, scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, granola, yogurt and fruit.
On weekends, the Club Lounge offers complimentary cocktail-hour appetizers but if you are meeting friends, I’d suggest drinks at Stovin’s bar off the lobby or Metric Garden Lounge with outdoor seating and a view of the river. There’s also a Japanese steak house on site called Samurai where the chef cooks your dinner in front of you.
The Bessborough’s Prime Location
Located in the heart of Saskatoon, The Bessborough is a prime location if you have business downtown. Nearby riverside parks offer a variety of trails for jogging or cycling, and there’s great shopping along Broadway Avenue and a trendy area called Riversdale. Art lovers will appreciate the fact the hotel is a short stroll to the fabulous new Remai Modern, where you can gaze upon the world’s largest Picasso linocut collection as well as exhibits by contemporary artists.
Another good thing about the hotel’s location is its proximity to innovative restaurants often helmed by home-grown chefs and featuring scratch-made, locally sourced dishes. These include Ayden Kitchen & Bar, Little Grouse (on the Prairie), Shift (in the Remai Modern) and The Hollows.
If you plan on visiting in June, be warned. The hotel’s garden is the site of the Saskatchewan Jazz Festival’s main stage and the music doesn’t stop until 11 pm. If you are a music fan, this is a good thing, of course, and rooms overlooking the garden are prime places to watch a show.
An iconic landmark in the Prairie’s fastest growing city, the Bessborough delivers history, luxury and sometimes even a little inspiration to all who stay with her.
To learn more, visit the hotel’s website here.
Maureen Littlejohn has been writing about entertainment, lifestyle and travel for longer than she’d care to disclose. Currently, she is executive director of Culture Magazine (no e!).