11 Top-Rated Resorts in Muskoka
Written by Bryan Dearsley
Affectionately referred to in Ontario as ‘cottage country’, Muskoka has been a playground for North Americans for well over a century. Drawn to this sprawling region for its clean lakes, thick forests, and abundant wildlife, the first tourists to the region stayed at rustic log hunting and fishing lodges. Today, many of these same old lodges have morphed into massive developments known the world over, such as Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville, famous for having hosted Canada’s G8 Summit in 2010.
From luxury brands like the JW Marriott The Rosseau Muskoka Resort & Spa to charming family-run resorts such as Severn Lodge and Port Cunnington Lodge, to exquisite wilderness experiences such as beautiful Arowhon Pines (one of only three accommodations allowed to operate in the vast Algonquin Provincial Park), Muskoka delivers no end of great places to stay… and play.
JW Marriott The Rosseau Muskoka Resort & Spa, Minett
One of only two Canadian resorts given the distinction of being under the JW Marriott luxury brand (the other is in Edmonton) the JW Marriott The Rosseau Muskoka Resort & Spa is one of the newest large resorts in cottage country. Since opening in 2008, this huge development overlooking Lake Rosseau – summer home to billionaires and celebrities – regularly ranks on lists of Canada’s top luxury resorts.
A highlight of a stay is simply soaking up the views, whether from your spacious room or suite, from the resort’s restaurants, or from its huge outdoor patios. On-site amenities include: an all-season indoor / outdoor swimming pool (plus separate pool for the kids); the full-service Spa Rosseau with its plunge pools, therapy baths and comfortable lounges (go for the couple’s massage!); canoe and kayak excursions; access to endless hiking and biking trails; nature programs, including astronomy and wildlife tours; private sand beach and boat slips; and in winter, skating, snowshoeing, ice fishing, snowmobiling, and cross country skiing.
Entry-level luxury at The Rosseau includes studio and deluxe rooms, each with living and dining areas (and windows that actually open!), while those needing a little more room can opt for the even larger one- and two bedroom units. The latter range in size from 777 sq ft to an impressive 1260 sq ft and boast additional features such as a private balcony or patio, and separate dining and living areas.
Accommodation: JW Marriott The Rosseau Muskoka Resort & Spa
- Deerhurst Resort, Huntsville
Not only is Huntsville’s Deerhurst Resort one of Muskoka’s oldest vacation properties, it’s also one of the largest. Established in 1896 as a lodge to serve the numerous wealthy sportsmen visiting the area from Toronto and northeastern USA, the resort today covers over 800 acres of prime lakefront real estate and can handle over 1,000 guests. Accommodation options include a choice of hotel rooms and suites, some of them open- concept affairs with king or double queen beds, separate living area, mini fridge, and good-sized outdoor seating on your own private balcony or terrace. Larger units include sumptuously decorated one-bedroom suites with a kitchenette plus a separate living room with a cosy fireplace. For those needing more space, two- and three- bedroom condo-style units are also available, each with full kitchens and additional bathrooms.
Deerhurst has also built a solid reputation for fun and relaxation. Outdoor activities include swimming (there’s a beach as well as indoor and outdoor pools), hiking and biking trails, off-road adventures, golf at the resort’s two courses, a treetop trekking adventure course, boat and jet ski rentals, and horseback riding. Come winter, the outdoor fun switches to downhill skiing at nearby Hidden Valley, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice-skating, and snowmobiling. Year-round indoor activities include a rock climbing wall, tennis and squash courts, a fitness center, and a play zone for the kids. The resort also has a full-service spa, along with excellent dining, including casual- and fine dining options.
Accommodation: Deerhurst Resort
- Severn Lodge, Port Severn
Family owned-and operated, Severn Lodge is a traditional Muskoka all-inclusive resort that places an emphasis on fun. Located in the beautiful Georgian Bay area of cottage country, Severn Lodge is the perfect location for those wanting to get a taste of Ontario’s rugged natural beauty – and all within an easy drive of Toronto, just 150km to the south. The resort has over 700m of lakefront to enjoy, ensuring plenty of fun on-water activities from swimming to kayaking and waterskiing. Other resort activities available for guests include kids’ programs, tennis and badminton courts, basketball hoops, shuffleboard, a games room, and heated outdoor swimming pool and hot tubs. For those wanting some motorized adventure, jet skis are available for rent, and classic boat cruises or floatplane tours of the area can also be booked.
Accommodations are well suited to families and larger groups. Particularly popular are the spacious two-bedroom suites and lodges with separate bedrooms, living rooms (with pull-out couches) and kitchens, along with large decks and screened porches overlooking the lake.
Accommodation: Severn Lodge
- Residence Inn by Marriott, Gravenhurst
Located in the heart of the multi-million dollar Muskoka Wharf project in picturesque Gravenhurst, the Residence Inn by Marriott is one of the busiest hotels in cottage country. Just steps away is everything that makes a cottage country vacation memorable: direct water access on lovely Lake Muskoka with its great boating (kayaks, canoes, personal watercraft and boats can be launched or rented just feet away from the hotel); world-class attractions, including North America’s oldest-still operating steamship, the RMS Segwun, and the Muskoka Boat and Heritage Museum with its fascinating displays of the region’s boatbuilding heritage; delicious home-made cooking at European-influenced establishments like Wolff’s Den Café and The Blue Willow Tea Shop; and great shopping at The Shipyards, a permanent “pop-up” store showcasing Muskoka-crafted goods and foods.
Consisting of over-sized rooms and suites – including some larger one- and two-bedroom condo style units – a stay at the Residence Inn offers plenty of in-room amenities designed to make your stay comfortable. Highlights include well-quipped kitchens, king and queen beds, pull-out sofas, gas fireplaces, and balconies or terraces (most with lake views). A number of pet-friendly and accessible rooms are also available. Other perks include use of an indoor swimming pool and gym, free Wi-Fi, and complimentary breakfast.
Accommodation: Residence Inn by Marriott
- Sherwood Inn, Port Carling
Another of Muskoka’s historic resorts, Sherwood Inn was built in 1939 and has been providing guests with an upscale vacation experience ever since. Situated on beautiful Lake Joseph – another popular cottage destination for the rich and famous – and just minutes from the delightful village of Port Carling with its boutique stores, art and craft galleries, plus dining options, this charming year-round waterfront destination offers a mix of traditional hotel-style rooms and stand-alone cottages. Consisting of a queen bed and bathrooms with separate tiled showers, each room also comes with pleasant garden views. Larger luxury suites are also available with living areas, pull-out couches, and balconies.
Other accommodation options include quaint bedsitting cottages situated along the lakeshore, each with a wood burning stove; and the spacious boathouse, a 400 sq ft suite with king bed, separate seating area with a pull-out sofa, fridge, large jet-tub, fireplace, and private deck. There’s much to do around the resort, too, including indulging in some pampering at the full-service Beginnings Spa; playing table tennis, darts or shuffleboard in the games room; working out in the gym; and on-site dining. Outdoor activities include golf at any one of a number of great courses, including the famous The Rock, plus kayaking and canoeing, paddle boarding, waterskiing, and boat rentals.
Accommodation: Sherwood Inn
- Touchstone Resort, Bracebridge
Bringing a distinct touch of modernity to Muskoka – the resort’s architecture is contemporary and classy – Touchstone Resort on Lake Muskoka is one of the region’s newest and chicest vacation properties. A mix of resort-style holiday accommodations and luxury real estate offerings, Touchstone offers a variety of modern spacious suites and condos. Couples can enjoy the privacy of a king room featuring a kitchenette, fridge, and balcony, while larger groups can opt for a two-, three-, or even four-bedroom unit. These larger units feature everything needed to be completely self-sufficient while vacationing, including kitchens, pull-out beds, and large decks with their own BBQs.
There’s much to do around the resort, too. Fun for active individuals includes swimming at the private beach, volleyball and tennis courts, a jungle gym, nature trails, and a soccer pitch. Also available are jet ski and boat rentals, spa, infinity edge swimming pool, dining, a fitness center, and fire pits.
Accommodation: Touchstone Resort
- Hidden Valley Resort, Huntsville
Located on Peninsula Lake just a few minutes drive from the tourist town of Huntsville – popular for its shopping, dining, galleries, and live theatre – Hidden Valley Resort has the distinction of being Muskoka’s only ski resort. Winter activities include both downhill skiing and snowboarding, along with cross-country skiing and snowshoeing on nearby trails. In addition to ski privileges, the resort’s guests enjoy access to a swimming pool, a private beach (with water toys), kayaks and canoes, tennis, a fitness area, plus a sauna. An on-site restaurant provides daily meals, while nearby Deerhurst Resort offers a number of other dining options, along with two golf courses.
A variety of hotel-style accommodation options are available, one of the most popular being the comfortable Hillside Rooms. Finished in warm earth tones and natural wood, these spacious rooms include an oversized bathroom area, seating, a fridge, and HD TV.
Accommodation: Hidden Valley Resort
- Winderemere House, Windermere
One of the best known of Muskoka’s luxury resorts – and one that’s frequently visited by celebrity cottagers staying on lovely Lake Rosseau – a visit to Windermere House gives the distinct impression you’ve arrived in a corner of ‘olde England’. Perched overlooking the public beach and docks of this quaint village setting, Windermere House has been welcoming guests looking for a classy getaway since it opened in 1870. Highlights of a stay include wonderful lake views from the resort’s large wraparound veranda, heated outdoor pool, a spa, gym facilities, and a number of dining options, including al fresco on the patio, and in-room catering (be sure to order one of the picnic hampers, a real treat as you explore the region).
Consisting of 56 luxury accommodations, guests can choose from elegantly furnished hotel rooms with lake views and private balconies, all the way up to gorgeous four-bedroom cottages with kitchens, screened porches, and beach access. Off-site sports activities include a classic 18-hole golf course (literally across the road), tennis and badminton courts, volleyball and basketball, bike rentals, and canoes. There’s also a handy full-service marina nearby with boat rentals and slips.
Accommodation: Windermere House
- Port Cunnington Lodge, Dwight
Owned by the same team behind the prestigious Bigwin Island Golf Club (rated one of Canada’s top golf courses and just a boat ride away), historic Port Cunnington Lodge has stayed true to its roots as a family vacation destination. Located on the lovely Lake of Bays, the lodge offers everything needed for families to kickback and reconnect, from campfires and sing-alongs, tennis and basketball courts, watercraft such as kayaks and canoes, plus plenty of quiet corners to hunker down and unwind. On-site dining is included in the cost of your stay.
When it comes to accommodations, a popular choice for large family groups is to opt for one of the larger cottages. Options include the Ptarmigan Cottage, consisting of beautiful two-story tall stone fireplace, two upper bedrooms with a shared balcony with lake views, and two main floor bedrooms. Also popular are the open-concept Peregrine Cottage, also boasting four bedrooms plus two full bathrooms, and the Sandpiper, comprising a mix of one- and two-bedroom suites.
Accommodation: Port Cunnington Lodge
- Arowhon Pines, Algonquin Park
One of only three resorts to be allowed to operate in Algonquin, Ontario’s largest provincial park, Arowhon Pines offers a phenomenal all-inclusive experience that’s particularly popular for those wanting to get a taste of Canada’s vast wilderness with all the home-comforts included. A highlight of a stay is the wonderful food. Prepared fresh daily using local-sourced and foraged seasonal produce when available and served in the massive octagonal log dining room, no two meals are ever the same, but are always delicious. Best of all, second-helpings are encouraged!
All accommodation includes three meals daily (yeah!), and consist of a mix of private and shared log cabins, each with its own wood-burning fireplace and private deck. The fun-stuff includes use of the resort’s extensive collection of canoes and kayaks, perfectly suited for exploring the many lakes, streams, and rivers in Algonquin (guided day-long tours can be arranged, as well as lessons if needed). Stand up paddleboards (popular for on-water yoga) are also available, and permits can be acquired for those wanting to get in a little fishing.
Accommodation: Arohown Pines