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“Almost Valhalla”

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The Normaway Inn & Cabins
Certificate of Excellence
Chevy Chase, MD
Level 6 Contributor
143 reviews
51 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 89 helpful votes
“Almost Valhalla”
Reviewed August 21, 2013

Were it not for the Normaway Inn’s indifferent concern for something we left behind after two quite lovely nights there, we’d give the place five stars. In a rush, we forgot an $80 laptop computer cord under the desk of our room. We called a day later, heard it had been retrieved and were assured it would be sent to us promptly at our expense. Hearing nothing further a few days later, we emailed the innkeeper, who said he had the cord and would send it right off. Now, a week later, our computer is still down. Mea culpa for forgetting the cord, but it seems reasonable to expect better service from such an otherwise responsive business.

That said, what a pleasant, relaxed and unpretentious retreat this is, with timeless structures of white clapboard with green trim situated on 200-some acres just off the Cabot Trail on Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island. Nearing the end of a breathtaking five-day counter-clockwise drive along the trail, we entered an alley of pines, not unlike the poplars lining approaches to Loire chateaux if less haughty. Horses graze on the grounds, near the inn’s fifteen pine cabins and one with three suites. The inn offers an exquisite setting for hiking and for fishing in the salmon-packed Margaree River and not far—surprisingly enough for an area so far in the north--from secluded, uncrowded beaches warm enough for swimming in July and August. The Normaway also rents well-maintained mountain bikes.

The cabins, though lacking kitchens and air conditioning and dated in decor, offer seclusion and spaciousness, usually plenty big enough for a family of four or more and some come with porches and Jacuzzis. But the three big corner rooms on the first floor—numbers 1, 2 and 3, which cost around $200 a night--are the better choice for a couple. With a highly polished wood floor, a well-fitted window air conditioner, an old claw-foot bathtub with a shower, and the best of reproduction antique dressers, seating, desks and beds, our room, No. 2, readily met the standard of the best bread & breakfasts. Five rooms on the second floor are similarly attractive, but tucked within the inn’s gables, they are small, cramped and dark.

The Normaway Inn also has a restaurant that it makes some effort to encourage guests to use. It is not a hard sell: Adequate restaurants off the premises are 15 and more minutes away. But the cooking, in spite of an uninspired, largely seafood-focused menu, is quite good. From the window of Room No. 2, we saw why. In the back of the inn, we spotted the chef making frequent visits to his garden there, nursing his vegetables and selecting those for his guests.

To make much of the inn’s relaxed response to our need for the computer cord might border on petty. For five stars, however, we would expect something more for an otherwise most welcoming visit.

Room Tip: 1, 2 or 3 in the inn
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  • Stayed August 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
2 Thank Peter K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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244 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
  • Sleep Quality
  • Rooms
  • Service
  • Value
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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (53)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Any
English first
Big Pond , Nova Scotia
Level 3 Contributor
18 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
Reviewed August 20, 2013

Recently stayed at the Normaway's Green Cabins with my In-laws. Cabins are rustic but clean, in general good repair except our inner cabin door did not lock. The cabins have a door to the screened in porch then double inner doors, the outer one did lock however it's just screen windows on both sides and the screen was pulled away by the door, easy to reach in and unlock. Carrying our stuff with us each day was a bit of a pain, but overall we enjoyed the trip. The property was so quiet and peaceful, great for the mind. Plenty of wood was provided for a fire, which we took advantage of in the outdoor pit. Beds were soft and comfy, and we all slept well after all the fresh air and peace of the property! Breakfast in the Inn was hardy and tasty and a great start to the day. I plan on coming back in the fall!

Room Tip: The double Green Cabins are fine for two couples travelling although the beds are in the same room...
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  • Stayed August 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Localexplorer902
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sydney, Canada
Level 3 Contributor
21 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed August 19, 2013

I had a lovely two-night stay at the Normaway Inn. I chose to stay in a large corner room in the Inn itself. Upon arrival I received a welcoming greeting and was provided with information on the in-house musical line-up and local events and walking trails. Check-in was very easy and efficient.

My room was clean and had lots of space. The owners have maintain many of the original fixtures. I did pack for hot summer weather and was surprised at how cold my room was in the mornings and evenings!

Live performances by musicians during both evenings were a welcome treat in the main lodge living room. Although I retired early, I enjoyed listening from my room.

I enjoyed breakfast in the morning the 2nd day - Eggs "Hughie D" while watching their beautiful horses run around in the field. The food and service were excellent. I was not told, however, when I checked-in that breakfast was included with my room price - if you don't know you should ask.

Overall, I enjoyed my stay at the Inn and would stay there again if visiting the area.

Room Tip: My corner room was very spacious with a queen-sized bed and small pull-out sofa; however, may not be...
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  • Stayed August 2013, traveled solo
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Helpful?
1 Thank Erin P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Wilmington, NC
Level 5 Contributor
81 reviews
28 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 29 helpful votes
Reviewed August 18, 2013

I came here with a group of 14 men golfers. The owner Dave MacDonald greeted us when we arrived. He had opened a week early to accommodate us. Some of the cabins weren't quite ready so a few of us stayed down the road which was fine. Dave is a great host and fun to speak with if you get the chance. The cabins are rustic but totally acceptable. There are times when it is nice not to have your 60 inch flat screen. There is wi-fi if you need it. The chef comes from New York and prepares an excellent choice of meals. One night we had a singer come and entertain us. We were all singing and having a grand old time. For me it was just a fun experience, interesting host and excellent food.

  • Stayed June 2013, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Tripwilmington
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed August 16, 2013 via mobile

We had a nice time staying at Normaway- we chose to stay in a cabin. It had a comfortable bed, a swinging chair in the covered porch and a nice jacuzzi tub, along with a wood stove and bathroom. The hosts were wonderful and very helpful when assisting us with plans for the remainder of our stay in the area. The breakfast was awesome- get the porridge bread if you enjoy homemade bread! Also, while here, we attended a fiddlers concert in the big red barn and it brought out quite a large crowd. It was well worth out time! We would recommend it to anyone looking for a rustic experience in the woods!

  • Stayed August 2013
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank HVDRS
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Essex, Connecticut
Level 2 Contributor
5 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
Reviewed July 31, 2013

My husband and I recently returned from a two week trip to the the Bay of Fundy, Antigonish, Nova Scotia for the 150th Highland Games and Cape Breton. We booked a three night stay at the Normaway Inn largely based on attractive photos in the NS Tourism brochure "Doers and Dreamers" and reviews in Tripadvisor. We ended up staying only two nights (if they did not already have $247 of our money we would have left immediately) because of the quality of the accommodations. The Inn itself is old, which could be charming, but it is in drastic need of cleaning up, painting, updating. We were offered a cabin but declined because of the odor. Both the cabins and the rooms in the Inn have the "feel" of a "camp" which, if you are expecting this, might be acceptable. However the cost of the stay and the price of the dinner suggest a much "classier" establishment. Our room, on the second floor, was dark, the furnishings old, the air conditioner noisy and the bedding worn. The second night we discovered beetles in the bed! There is no cell phone reception (expected) but the Inn has a pay phone in a small wooden booth about 50 yards from the Inn. It has a dirt floor, one clean shelf and a window full of spider webs - again like "camp." The second morning we opted not to eat breakfast there (included) as it did not include anything from the "grill" and the oatmeal the morning before was barely edible.
In contrast to the accommodations and breakfast, the dinner was excellent, although pricey. The chef accommodated all our requests, the food was fresh, served hot and prepared to perfection. The dining room is small and the night we ate there they had one waiter to serve five different parties. At times he appeared frantic although was very professional - clearly had a good deal of experience.
We both felt somewhat sad to see the condition of the Normaway as it has been operating for a very long time and had, in the past, an excellent reputation. We met a number of people in Cape Breton who had fond memories of family vacations spent in the Cabins or the Inn. At this time, however, it has the appearance of having seen much better days.

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
4 Thank Essexbluebird
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Saskatoon, Canada
Level 5 Contributor
78 reviews
42 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
Reviewed June 30, 2013

We stayed here after driving the Cabot Trail. It is comfortable, and wish we had arrived on Friday night, when the music was on in "the barn". The dinner was extremely good, with ample sized portions, and comfortable service. The desserts were extremely good, the chocolate pate was smooth and sweetened just right. the next morning, breakfast was included. We would definitely return, but would plan to be there for a Friday evening at the barn.

Room Tip: The cabins are comfortable and clean. Enjoyed the evening fire.
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  • Stayed June 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank StobKent1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about The Normaway Inn & Cabins

Property: The Normaway Inn & Cabins
Address: 691 Egypt Rd., Margaree Valley, Nova Scotia B0E 2C0, Canada
Location: Canada > Nova Scotia > Cape Breton Island > Margaree Valley
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 4 Specialty Lodging in Margaree Valley
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:3 star — The Normaway Inn & Cabins 3*
Number of rooms: 28
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Also Known As:
The Normaway Inn & Cabins Hotel Margaree Valley
The Normaway Inn And Cabins
The Normaway Inn & Cabins Margaree Valley, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

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