A Woodland Retreat Minutes from Stratford

As evening descended I pulled into the Forest Motel & Woodland Retreat’s long drive. Getting out of the car I was welcomed by the sweet sounds of crickets singing their end of summer song, and the fresh scent of a campfire. And before entering the office I paused to watch a family of swans waddle out of the tranquil lake. Surrounded by towering trees and a dense woodland I was enchanted at the thought of staying at this magical place.

Forest Motel & Woodland Retreat

Forest Motel & Woodland Retreat

Only a five minute drive from downtown Stratford, Ontario, the Forest Motel & Woodland Retreat is set on 32 acres. Surrounded by untamed forest, it’s also home to a private lake, Lake McCarthy. This pristine wilderness is home to 30 different species of mammal, over 60 bird species, and a variety of reptiles and amphibians.

The Forest Motel’s property was once owned by the Grand Trunk Railway Co., nearly 150 years ago. But by 1919 it was abandoned. So, William E. McCarthy and his wife purchased it. After passing through a few hands the place is now owned and operated by Kim and Conroy Schelhaas and their children. They’ve completely reworked the motel and have poured their heart of soul into creating a truly remarkable place. I always love supporting local family run businesses.

Forest Motel canoes

There are 19 rooms, a half a dozen are suites, and endless amenities. A continental breakfast is included, along with the use of BBQs that are situated along the lakefront. Every night in the summer, weather permitting, there is a bonfire, where guests are welcomed to sit around and roast marshmallows. For the active traveller, there are a few hiking trails on the grounds. Along with swimming in the lake, you can also use their canoes, kayaks, and paddle boat. Life jackets, in varying sizes, are also provided. Or opt for a bike ride. There are single and tandem bikes available, and downtown Stratford is only a 20 minute bike ride away. But don’t think of the Forest Motel & Woodland Retreat as a strictly warm weather destination. In the winter you can go cross-country skiing or snowshoeing on the trails, or go skating on the lake.

Forest Motel swan family

Forest Motel swan family

My Stay

I knew as soon as I arrived at Forest Motel & Woodland Retreat that this was my ideal accommodation. Surrounded by a warm blanket of woodland, a tranquil lake, and a beautiful suite to rest after a busy day exploring Stratford. I felt like I was in paradise. And all just a 5 minute drive from Stratford.

Forest Motel B&B

For our stay at the Forest Motel & Woodland Retreat we had The Canadian Suite, in the B&B. The B&B is a large house just a minute down the road from the main building. This 650 square foot suite has a king and double bed, a private deck with a saltwater hot tub (one of three on site). Comfortable lazy boys to watch one of two flat-screen TVs, complimentary Wi-Fi, and a Keurig coffee machine with gourmet coffees, all add to the difficulty of leaving the beautiful suite.

The Canadian Suite

One of the many things I loved about the suite was all the cottage-like details. From the solid Canadian made furniture to the small library nook and the swan-armed wicker chairs out front, it created a very special space. In contrast to the warm cottage feel of the rest of the suite, the bathroom was modern and spacious, making you feel like you’re in a high-end city hotel. And they even provide eco-friendly toiletries.

Forest Motel breakfast

Another great slice of our stay was the continental breakfast. This isn’t your standard toast, muffin, cereal. It was a literal smorgasbord of fresh food to start your day right! Along with the cereals, toast, bagels, and yogurt, there was boiled eggs and fresh baked goods. My favourite was the light and spiced pumpkin scones! Melt in your mouth goodness! Another delight, and something that’s usually lacking in other continental spreads, is fresh fruit! Every morning I filled half my plate with strawberries, melon, grapes and more!

Related Post: Savour Stratford – An Adventure for the Palate

And on top of the fabulous suite and wonderful breakfast, I was astounded by all the activities available on site. While I didn’t get to try everything out, I did venture into the woods to hike a couple of their trails, including Acorn Alley. Wildflowers, mushrooms, and acorns dotted the trails, while birds sang in the trees above. It felt like I was wandering the paths in rural Ontario, away from the sights and sounds of city life.

Canoe on Lake McCarthy

The crowning jewel of my stay at the Forest Motel & Woodland Retreat was an early morning canoe ride around Lake McCarthy. The mist was slowly rising from the still lake. The crisp air was met by the warming sun rising over the treetops. And the only sound was our paddles hitting the water and the echo of a kingfisher. The shore was a mix of tree roots, dense lily pads and open water. A green heron flew from half sunken logs to marshy shore. And breathing it all in, I felt rejuvenated, at peace, and in love with this hidden gem in Stratford.

Would I recommend a stay at the Forest Motel & Woodland Retreat?

YES! My stay was beyond remarkable! I can’t find fault in anything about the Forest Motel. They were friendly and welcoming, the rooms were clean and comfortable, and even the diverse guests a delight. And with all the activities available you’ll be kept busy and entertained. The prime location, minutes from Stratford is great for those coming to explore the city or head to the theatre. But it’s also great for a fun-filled family vacation or romantic couple’s getaway. Or if you’re like me and love exploring new places but relish in the tranquility of being surrounded by the great outdoors, the Forest Motel & Woodland Retreat is the perfect place to rest your head – and good luck pulling yourself out of that comfortable bed, and explore.

Looking to stay at the Forest Motel & Woodland Retreat? Book your stay today!

Or check out Stratford for special’s and packages!

I was a guest of the Forest Motel & Woodland Retreat and Visit Stratford, and as always, all opinions are my own.

Acorn Alley trailForest Motel breakfast spreadForest Motel room detailsForest Motel patio


Forest Motel: A Woodland Retreat minutes from Stratford, Ontario


I'm a Canadian gal with a passion for wildlife, the great outdoors and travel and hope to inspire others to feel the same way! Travelling mostly solo I love to explore Ontario Gems in my own backyard as well as exotic cities around the world.

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