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Travelers to Canada are lucky: The quality of hotels and lodging in Canada is very high. In fact, along with the Swiss, Canadians seem to have a natural gift for the hospitality industry.

A national accommodations rating system is in place in Canada. Called Canada Select, it rates lodgings between one and five stars based on the evaluation of independent adjudicators. The system is more prominent in some provinces than in others; it is also completely voluntary, so the absence of stars doesn't necessarily mean that the property is substandard. In fact, the Canada Select program is most popular and meaningful for smaller inns and B&Bs, where an independent evaluation is often reassuring.

Generally speaking, most travelers would be comfortable staying in accommodations with at least three stars. These accommodations may not be fancy, but they will be clean and pleasant. Four-star accommodations are usually top-notch. It's worthwhile noting that the gradations between four and five stars have to do with features that may not directly affect the comfort or pleasure of your stay -- types of curtains, types of door locks, and so on. In other words, you may not even recognize the supposed superiority of a five-star property over one with four stars.

Every Canadian city has a selection of upscale luxury or business hotels. The preeminent Canadian chain of luxury hotels is Fairmont Hotels and Resorts (tel. 800/257-7544; www.fairmont.com), which is the company that now controls many of the historic and utterly fabulous hotels built by the Canadian railroads around the turn of the 20th century. These include a number of hotels that are practically symbols of Canada, such as the Empress in Victoria, the Château Lake Louise, the Banff Springs, and the Château Frontenac in Québec City. These Fairmont hotels have been lovingly restored, but you'll have to decide if their rates are worth it to you -- certainly, a stay at one of these vintage beauties will be a highlight of any stay in Canada (some Fairmont hotels are modern, though of equally high quality).

Many hotel chains familiar from the U.S. and Europe are also found in Canada, including Hilton, Radisson, Hyatt, Ramada, and Westin. An excellent Canadian-based chain of upscale business hotels is Delta Hotels and Resorts (tel. 888/890-3222; www.deltahotels.com). Delta hotels (not related to the airline) are very high quality and are frequently among the top hotels in major Canadian cities and resort towns. A smaller chain of hotels in western Canada is Coast Hotels & Resorts (tel. 800/716-6199; www.coasthotels.com), which also keeps very high standards. As in other parts of North America, the Best Western chain (tel. 800/780-7234; www.bestwestern.com) is well represented in Canada and offers a guarantee of good, midlevel quality.

Canada is also known for its small inns and bed-and-breakfasts. There are many more high-quality B&B inns available than this guide could possibly cover. However, the text usually offers the phone number and website information to contact local B&B organizations. A good Canada-wide clearinghouse for B&Bs is the website www.bbcanada.com.

Another Canadian specialty is its backcountry lodges and country inns. These are sometimes located in remote regions, at the end of a long and bumpy road, or accessible only on foot. However, the lodges found in this guide are rustic in spirit only and offer high-quality lodging and dining in beautiful and remote areas.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.