Hi GC. I live in the city of Burlington located 10 minutes from downtown Hamilton. Burlington is a city of 150,000 located right on the shores of Lake Ontario. There is a lovely downtown area with many, many shops, boutiques and restaurants. Burlington has one of the nicest waterfronts in the area with a beautiful park right on the water called Spencer Smith Park and a beach area for swimming. I think you'd get a fairly relaxed holiday feel if you stayed here.
They do a yearly asssessment on the best cities to live in Canada and Burlington has been in the top 4 for the last 5 years. This year it was ranked the #2 best city in all of Canada based on education, crime, income, livability, etc....
There is a hotel located right on the water's edge directly beside Spencer Smith Park in the heart of downtown with everything you'd want within walking distance. Here is the link for the hotel....
Burlington is divided into two sections.....urban and rural. You would be staying in the urban area but if you drove straight up Brant Street (the hotel is located on the corner of Brant and Lakeshore) for about 10 minutes you'd hit Dundas Street and everything north of there is lovely countryside along the world famous Niagara Escarpment which runs 750kms from Queenston in the Niagara Falls area north to Tobermory. The trail along the escarpment is called the "Bruce Trail". It's exceptional for hikiing.
Burlington also has 6 conservation areas which are great for hiking, rock climbing, picnicing and relaxing. I believe this would be a great location for you as there is much to see and do where you'd be staying and you'd only be 10 minutes from your friends.
Burlington also has some very nice golf courses in the area for all levels of play...if you do golf. I see you are from Scotland so you very well may...lol.
I hope this gives you something to think about.