Checking In: Mabou River Inn, Mabou, Nova Scotia

Booking a hotel in a town of only 1,300 residents can be a challenge. Even in Mabou, Nova Scotia, Canada, where the economy is heavily dependent on tourism dollars, the choices are quite limited. There are basically three hotels, two restaurants, a grocery and a gas station, as well as some of the most beautiful scenery you’ll ever see. Still, with limited choices or competition chances of finding a stand-out hotel are pretty low. It turns out we got lucky with our stay at the Mabou River Inn. It was top notch.

The hotel doubles as the local pizza shop (so I guess three restaurants in town, not two) and check-in was handled at the pizza counter. OK, a bit interesting, but I’ve had worse. Like most of the other small properties we stayed at on this trip check-in was a matter of giving my name and being handed a key. No paperwork, credit card imprint or other formalities. I like that relaxed vibe. Certainly helps me stay in vacation mode.

The rooms are newly renovated for 2011 and they’re pretty darn impressive. Ours came with a desk and seating area, along with the king bed. As you can see from the photo below there was quite a bit of space available.


Similarly the bathroom was spacious and reasonably well appointed. No 300 thread count Egyptian cotton towels, to be sure, but good water pressure and sufficient space in there to hang out our stinky hiking clothes to air out. Not bad at all.


A continental breakfast in the morning is included in the room price (we paid ~$135/night), with cereals and fruits along with fresh homemade biscuits and muffins. Additional breakfast choices – eggs, pancakes, etc. – were also available at quite reasonable prices.

Free WiFi is included in the room rate as well. Even better is that the coverage reaches out onto the spacious deck and lawn they have. I love being able to relax outside with a cold beer and still get my blog posts written or research the next location on the travel itinerary. Very nicely done.

The other advantage that the Mabou River Inn has is the location. The "downtown" area of Mabou is not large by any stretch so only being a 10 minute walk to the other end of town might not seem like that amazing a feat. But at least one of the hotel options is much farther afield. After a night of drinking and music at the Red Shoe Inn I was not in much of a condition to be driving on narrow, winding roads with forest or sea on the sides. Definitely much better to be able to easily stumble back to the hotel room for a restful night’s sleep.

Plus, along the walk to and from the other side of town you get great views like this one:


Overall it is quite easy to see why spending a few nights in the Mabou area is a good idea if you’re touring Cape Breton. And if you’re in the area the Mabou River Inn is the best of the hotel properties available, especially with the recent renovations.

Read more of our Maritimes adventures here!

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. Rockport, Maine to Cape Breton was one of the great road trips of my life back in summer 1994. My wife had her first bee sting when were about 50 miles from the nearest town and we waited to see her reaction. Fortunately just a few tears.

    Cape Breton National Park was great camping and I remember the Atlantic Ocean water being so much warmer than Maine or even San Diego where I had been swimming a few weeks before. That Gulf Stream current is something else so far north.

    Molson XXX and cold lobster fueled our bodies and great music, scenery and starry night skies fueled our souls.

    1. Sounds like great memories, Ric.

      They’ve upgraded the beers to local micro-brews these days and we flew in before driving around but other than that it sounds awfully similar. Oh, and we stayed in hotels rather than camp, but mostly because we don’t have the gear nor the desire to acquire and schlep it.

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