Top hotels and restaurants on Cape Breton Island | From resorts and luxury, to top meals and eateries

by W. Andrew Powell
Inverary Resort, Baddeck

Cape Breton Island is one of the most charming and beautiful places in Canada, and there are dozens of places to stay and eat while you’re visiting. I have a few favourites though.

There is so much to see and do on Cape Breton Island, so where do you stay? From the northern Highlands, around the coasts, and along the shores of Bras d’Or Lake, there are so many hotels, resorts, inns, B&Bs, and cottages where you can stay and soak up the east coast hospitality.

Nova Scotia’s gorgeous island also offers some of the best food–from fine dining to great, home cooked-style meals. Here are some of my favourite places to stay and eat while you’re on the island.

Keltic Lodge at the Highlands, Ingonish

Keltic Lodge at the Highlands

Keltic Lodge is one of the top places to stay in Cape Breton Island, and the upscale hotel offers one of the best restaurant on the island too: the Purple Thistle Dining Room.

The hotel has a great golf course, and it’s located inside the Cape Breton Highlands National Park, with a trail right around the corner for hikers. Charming, and a little old fashioned, the historic hotel has a spa, an outdoor pool for the summer, and your choice of rooms inside the lodge, or in a cottage or suite.

The views from the rooms are impressive, and the cozy rooms offer everything you’ll want while you take a little downtime after exploring.

At the restaurants, you can enjoy upscale dining at the Purple Thistle Dining Room, with a focus on locally sourced dishes and seafood, or enjoy a relaxed pint, their delicious kettle chips, or fish and chips at the Highland Sitting Room.

Inverary Resort, Baddeck

Inverary Resort, Baddeck

Baddeck is one of Cape Breton’s most charming towns, with incredible views over the Bras d’Or Lake, and my favourite place to stay is the Inverary Resort.

Featuring numerous guest room options, in a number of lodges around the lovely grounds, the resort has everything for a great getaway, including lots of activities. The summer months at the resort include the option to get out in a kayak or paddleboard, enjoy a floating picnic on the lake, or you can rent jet ski.

The resort also features a spa, indoor pool, plus meals at either the Lakeside Restaurant, or Narrows Café and Bar.

We really enjoyed the rooms, walking along the lake, and dining at the restaurant. The dinner menu in particular at the Lakeside Restaurant has an excellent mix of delectable dishes with a fine-dining twist.

Glenora Inn & Distillery

Glenora Inn & Distillery

On the western side of Cape Breton, near Inverness, the Glenora Inn & Distillery is a perfect destination with quaint chalets that look out over the area, or rustic rooms in their inn.

Rooms are perfectly priced for a stay of a few days or even a week, and larger groups can try the two and three bedroom chalets for the perfect space to spread out and enjoy the beautiful rural setting.

Plus, for anyone who loves whisky, the distillery is excellent, and you can sample a dram in the bar or restaurant, or take home a bottle if you really fall in love.

Hampton Inn by Hilton Sydney, Membertou

Sydney has a few hotels, inns, and B&Bs, and my favourite was the Hampton Inn by Hilton Sydney in Membertou. The hotel is newly renovated, offers a pool with a slide, a free hot breakfast, and there are suites, a gym, and laundry available.

Located across the street from the Membertou Convention Centre, it’s a short drive to the waterfront, numerous excellent restaurants, parks, biking trails, and the Membertou Entertainment Centre.

The hotel is also pet-friendly, and affordable, with excellent rates. Since it’s a short drive to a lot of what Sydney has to offer, including the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site, it’s a great place to stay for a few days.

Maritime Inn Port Hawkesbury

Port Hawkesbury is the first town near the highway when you arrive at Cape Breton Island, so it’s also a great place to spend the night if you arrive later in the day and want a break before the rest of your trip.

Maritime Inn Port Hawkesbury has suites and standard rooms, with a swimming pool and restaurant, and the hotel is a one to two hour drive to just about anywhere in Cape Breton. It’s also well-priced, with the option of rooms that have walk-outs, for easy access without going through the hotel.

And the hotel also offers a lively restaurant, and meeting rooms for business travellers.

Le Gabriel Restaurant & Lounge, Chéticamp

The town of Chéticamp is a gem on the west coast of Cape Breton, just before you reach the Cape Breton Highlands National Park.

There are quite a few meal options in town, but Le Gabriel Restaurant & Lounge stands apart with authentic French Acadian dishes that are so delicious. The staff were so friendly and welcoming.

You can find burgers and sandwiches, but the highlights include haddock bites, mussels, scallops, crab dip, kettle chips, seafood chowder, fish cakes, and lobster.

The restaurants menu is extensive, with wonderful desserts too, and they also host events and entertainment in the lounge, where you can also just grab a drink and get to know some travellers or locals.

Morrison’s Restaurant, Cape North

Morrison's Restaurant, Cape North

Morrison’s Restaurant was my favourite restaurant in Cape Breton, thanks to the excellent dishes and great staff.

A short drive from Ingonish, along the Cabot Trail through Highlands National Park, Morrison’s is a laid back restaurant, and the food is so good, you’ll want to visit a few times.

The restaurant has a children’s menu, pan or deep fried fish, a seafood platter, and my favourite, the Neil Angus Burger that you can get with mashed potatoes or fries.

And make sure you leave room for dessert because their strawberry shortcake and carrot cake are just like grandma used to make.

Governors Pub & Eatery, Sydney

Governors Creme Brulee

Sydney has some great restaurants and pubs, and one of my favourites was Governors Pub on Esplanade. The historic eatery, that’s been there since 1867, serves a range of classic and unique pub dishes that go down perfectly with their impressive lineup of beer on tap, and you can sit inside or there’s a great patio for the warmer months.

If you’re new to the east coast, try a donair, or lobster ravioli, and I loved the pulled pork sandwich. They also had a slice of creme brulee cake that was unlike anything I’ve had before.

On top of the great food, the pub often has live music upstairs on evenings, so it’s a perfect night out to enjoy some east coast music and a few pints.

Tom’s Pizza, Baddeck

My biggest regret from visiting Baddeck was not having enough time to get Tom’s Pizza a second time. The pizzeria was one of the best I’ve ever tried, and the restaurant has a unique atmosphere with some of the best staff.

The absolutely charming family owned restaurant is located on the main street in town, with space to eat in or take out, and their menu also features alfredo pasta, chili, lasagna, cabbage rolls, and spaghetti.

The main attraction though is their pizzas, from cheese, pepperoni, and Hawaiian, to Tom’s Special with tons of toppings, Donair pizza, or make your own.

Cake from Cedar House Bakery & Restaurant

Cedar House Bakery & Restaurant, Boularderie East

For the drive to Ingonish from Sydney, or headed from the Highlands down to Sydney, if you’re looking for a road-side diner, Cedar House Bakery & Restaurant is incredible.

They have a great menu with soup, nachos, sandwiches and burgers, hot turkey or clam strips, baked beans, fishcakes, and even personal sized pizza.

And don’t forget to browse the bakery before you leave. They have amazing breads, cookies, cakes, pies, and pastries.

More ideas

Looking for something else? Check the Cape Breton Island website for more accommodation ideas, including hostels and camping, culinary activities, or visit Tourism Nova Scotia’s website.

Looking for more Canadian travel ideas? Visit our Canadian Travel Guide for ideas across the country.

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