St. John’s is a city that’s bustling with life at all hours of the day. As the hub of our province, many Newfoundlanders visit from “out of town” for a weekend of shopping. It’s also a popular tourist stop for people from all over the globe who come to check out the sights, sounds and savours of our fine city. Whether you’re looking to shop uptown or explore the music, food and drinks that downtown St. John’s is famous for, the JAG Boutique Hotel might be just the spot for you to hang your hat.
The hotel is located right where you need it to be, in the heart of downtown. Mile One Stadium and the brand new St. John’s Convention Centre are just a stones throw away. And if you’re in the city and looking for a night on the town, you’ll be pleased to know that JAG is only two blocks from George Street. It’s perfect really; it’s close enough to walk home after a few good pints and a scuff, but there’s enough distance to keep you away from the loud music so you get a good night’s sleep. Although I’d challenge you not to get the best sleep of your life at this hotel. I doubt you’d succeed.
Each room at JAG is rock inspired, and for my weekend getaway to the city, I was lucky to stay in a Superior Room adorned with artwork of Joe Strummer, the lead singer of british rock band The Clash. Upon entering the room, I knew I was in for a weekend of pampering. The rooms at JAG are decorated in muted cream and grey linens, and contrasted by stainless steel light fixtures and ivory leather chairs to give that pop of luxury.
I was welcomed by a fruit platter and a lovely note and quickly snuggled up in the leather chair to eat it all.
The superior room boasted a king sized bed and I was pretty impatient to try it. Do you know how hard it is to photograph a bed that looks this comfy BEFORE jumping onto and then into it? Not an easy task, folks. The hotel is all about rock-n-roll, and this bed was made for a rock god. Or rock goddess in this case. That’s how I felt after a night in it. And did I mention that the pillows were like sleeping on a cloud? I had no desire whatsoever to get out of bed the next morning. I wanted to move in!
THE BELLS & WHISTLES
What JAG does best is pay attention to the little details. In your room you’ll find bathrobes in the closet, a Keurig machine with Starbucks coffee, a well-stocked mini fridge and snack basket, all-natural locally made bath products (you HAVE to try their Iceberg hand lotion), a rainfall shower head, and bluetooth clock radio (this was a wonderful treat to find and fitting with the music theme of the hotel) just to name a few of the swanky features.
But the single best perk of staying at JAG is their nightly turn down service with chocolate from the Newfoundland Chocolate Company or delicious treats made by their in-house chef! There’s no better way to win over my heart than with great chocolate.
I really enjoyed all cool portraits of Joe Strummer and pop art in the room. It was not only a refreshing change from the normal landscapes of St. John’s that many local hotels feature, it also added a pop of colour to the room. These beautiful pieces of music-related art can be seen throughout the hotel.
My superior room was located on the front corner of the building and it gave me an amazing view of the narrows (minus that one pesky ship!). With the curtains open and a coffee brewed, I could have stayed on this couch looking out at the water for hours.
Arriving at the JAG was a breeze. This hotel is located off of Water Street and I was really glad I didn’t have to deal with parallel parking on a busy downtown street in the middle of a holiday weekend. JAG offers valet and bell service (the first hotel in St. John’s to offer this actually) so you’re able to pull up in front of the door and have your car safely whisked away and your luggage brought into the hotel for you. For this stay, I opted to park on the street as it was a holiday weekend with free on-street parking. There’s ample spaces on the street in front of and surrounding the hotel, but I don’t recommend this if you’re staying during a weekday as you have to pay hourly for on-street parking. This is when valet parking really comes in handy! Overall, I loved how accessible the place was for a downtown hotel. This is normally a big concern of mine as I’m not always the most comfortable city driver. But here there was no crazy traffic, no weirdly placed entrances to underground parking, no 10-minute walk to your car each time you come back to or leave the hotel. It was a dream.
As soon as I walked through the door, I was greated by staff and started taking in the decor of the place. Album covers for London Calling grace the entry way, portraits of Ray Charles and Springsteen dawn the walls. I wasn’t in any regular St. John’s hotel. Pictures of the Narrows or Quidi Vidi were nowhere to be seen. And I loved it. I knew instantly that JAG was high-class and hip, and that was exactly what I needed from a hotel.
The bar and restaurant within the hotel is called Exile. While exile is normally a negative term meaning a place you go when you’re not allowed to go home (for many different reasons), this is a place of exile I would gladly return to and not care if I had to spend eternity in. The decor is chic, modern and colourful and most importantly, the chairs are unbelievably plush and comfortable.
Nonetheless, decor isn’t the main reason you want to exile yourself to a hotel bar. Even if you aren’t staying at JAG, you need to go there for the cocktails. Specifically, for their Strawberry Fields Forever magical cocktail that dreams are made of, much like the song itself! It was quite possibly the tastiest alcoholic beverage to have crossed my lips.
And once you’ve sobered up from all the lovely cocktails, you can return to Exile to have breakfast. The menu was well rounded, with everything from Steel Cut Oats to Eggs Benedict, and I chose the Banana Bread French toast served w/ Maple Syrup, Cream & Bacon Crumble. It was undeniably mouthwatering. My taste buds just couldn’t get enough of the food and drinks they are coming up with at Exile.
THE FINAL VERDICT
The JAG Boutique Hotel is a breath of fresh air in a city that shares it’s passion for music and culture. If you’re looking for a place to stay for a weekend getaway, or for a business trip to the city, JAG is the spot that will make sure you’re looked after, even when you didn’t realize you needed to be. I look forward to my next stay. I’ll be going back as many times as it takes to find the Bruce Springsteen room 😉
Disclaimer: My stay at the JAG Boutique Hotel was complimentary as part of a press stay in exchange for an honest review. All views are my own.