Fogo Island Inn is a startling and exceptional feat of architecture, perched of the sea’s edge on Fogo Island, off the coast of Newfoundland. But after spending just a few days at this magical hotel, I now understand it is the story behind – and around – the building which makes this place so special.
Fogo Island Inn is the realisation of native Newfoundlander Zita Cobb’s dream to regenerate and revitalise the business and traditions of Fogo Island. When the cod fishing industry crashed, the population of the island began to dwindle and Zita stepped in to save the island’s future, building this Inn and helping save one of Canada’s oldest rural communities. The Inn is part of a larger social enterprise, Shorefast, which aims to support the people of Fogo Island, and any profits from Fogo Island Inn are reinvested into the island.
Local architect Todd Saunders designed the structure with the history of Fogo Island in mind. The stilts mirror the construction of Newfoundland’s waterfront fishing sheds, while the stark white colour blends in with the snow in winter and reflects the abundant light in summer.
We checked in and were welcomed immediately into the warm and friendly Fogo Island Inn family. Greeted with giant smile, we were handed a brass key – a metal cast of a rope – one of many Fogo Island motif’s. All the keys are different items found on the the island and cast in metal. Decorative and functional, they hang in order downstairs, almost an artwork in their own right.
The bedrooms (all suites) have a light and nostalgic feel. All of the 29 rooms face the ocean and boast floor to ceiling views of the endless waves… in warmer weather guests may spot whales or seals as they migrate through the Newfoundland waters.
Every detail in the room evokes memories from the island. Handicrafts from the local community are found throughout, from the beautifully made multi-coloured quilts and specially illustrated wallpaper, to the quirky furniture that is made and sold in a nearby studio on the island. Though there is a Scandinavian slant to the design, the overall character of the rooms is quite unique and unlike anything I have seen before.
The impressive glass-walled restaurant resembles the front of a ship and points out towards the Atlantic Sea. Meals at the Inn are wholesome and showcase the best local ingredients. The Inn’s Executive Chef Jonathan Gushue brings international experience to the Inn offering creative dishes inspired by the seasonal flavours. When we visited in March, seafood and partridgeberries featured on the menu as well as a variety of root vegetables and game.
In the mornings guests are treated to a pre-breakfast snack, the “daybreak box” includes a thermos of tea or coffee and freshly baked treats from the onsite bakery. It was such a pleasure to enjoy these snacks each morning from bed while watching the sunrise.
The common spaces at the Inn are calming and encourage guests to unwind and reflect. In the tea room you can settle with a hot drink and a book by the fire, while upstairs there are open air hot tubs and a sauna for spa relaxation.
On the second day of our stay we visited the Chef’s hut (next door to the Inn) for a special crab feast. An array of stunning cured and fermented ingredients were used to create colourful and tasty salads, which accompanied local Atlantic snow crab and homemade bread and butters. For dessert we were given delightful partridgeberry tarts, a baked treat I’m told is a Fogo Island favourite.
Fogo Island has just over 2000 inhabitants, which is less than in previous years, though it seems to be beginning to rise again as Shorefast continues to create opportunities encouraging the younger generations to return home. Each of the towns on Fogo Island has its own history and heritage, different regions of this small island have varying accents dependant on where their ancestors hail from.
A few hours of Island orientation are included in each stay and given by a knowledgable community host. It was wonderful to explore the island a bit on our tour – we visited a couple of the Shorefast Artist’s studios, beautiful contemporary studio spaces which are given to artists each summer. Built amongst the rugged landscape, I can’t imagine a more inspiring space for a creative to work.
Fogo Island may be remote and challenging to get to, but I assure you that within minutes of arriving on the shores of this unique place you will forget all about the journey and live entirely in the moment, relishing every minute in this incredible place.
More information and book a room to stay at Fogo Island Inn here.
I was a guest of Fogo Island Inn.