Merrill House owner Jordan Paul Martin is an engaging combination of opposites that’s in keeping with his unique property.
Like the house, his appearance exudes an elegant, old-world charm. When he welcomed me to MH, he sported a dapper PG Wodehouse gent look: fine checked wool jacket, button-up vest, collared shirt, single-pleat trousers and perfectly polished lace-up Brogues.... oh, and it was about 35 degrees Celsius outside without the humidex.
But he, like the house, is anything but formal or stuffy. In fact, I’m not even sure it’s possible to be stuffy when you look like you’re just old enough to vote. Seriously, Jordan’s line-free face and clear sparkling eyes epitomize a youthful exuberance that’s in direct contrast to his sartorial style.
He is, then, the perfect analogy for the marvelous property: a traditional appearance that houses an undeniably contemporary spirit. When Belleville-born Jordan bought MH in 2018, it was anything but contemporary, style wise. But a crew of 14 strong, working seven days a week for five months changed all that.
Now guests can enjoy everything from local artwork, including the lounge’s graffiti-esque mural wall, to Jordan’s impressive collection of global artefacts judiciously sprinkled throughout the space and testament to his years of living and working in London and Africa.
And if I’m focusing on the proprietor a bit it’s for good reason as Jordan actually lives in Merrill House, though guests can experience his top floor suite for a nightly rate of $789.
Each of the 14 rooms is individually decorated. We were in the Klimt-inspired Viennese suite.
All of the bathrooms are new with classic white subway tiling (I love the contrasting dark grout) and rain shower heads. Built-in dispensers bearing the handsome house logo negate the use of individual plastic throwaway bottles.
While all rooms are different, The Viennese is especially so thanks to a deep jacuzzi tub hidden behind this beaded curtain. The vaulted ceiling above the tub is painted blue - a nice view while you’re soaking - and Jordan’s planning on embellishing it further with a night sky replica. Stay tuned!
The property features an outdoor gas fire and a super cool sauna.
The MH resto is located in the basement which has been given a full face lift that includes raised ceilings, poured concrete floors and white-oak framed wine cabinetry. The lighting here is genius at night - so soft and flattering - and when we had dinner the place was fully booked and buzzy.
The menu is old-school French (Jordan sent Chef Michael Smith to Burgundy for a two-week inspirational culinary tour) and the extensive wine lists offer the best of every wine region with a laser focus on The County. This scrummy Pinot was from the nearby Exultet Estates. And my beef tartare with quail’s egg was sublime.
Pretty shadows in our room where turn down included pillow scenting and a chocolate bar.
This cool new addition is located off of the dining room and offers a bar, as well as additional resto seating. It’s screened-in and three-season thanks to clear retractable coverings and heaters.
MH grows their own ponderosa lemons, as well as limes, which garnish the house cocktails.
Breakfast is included in all overnight stays and starts with fresh fruit, freshly squeezed OJ and warm croissants. There is also a full menu (included as well) with staples. I ordered the smoked salmon and scrambled eggs on an English muffin.
Merrill House is a special stay - there is nothing like it in The County - and its ambitious vision is to be applauded. Jordan has pulled out all the stops and it shows.
This gorgeous home was around the corner from MH and one of the countless charmers in Picton. Below is the “little Merrill House,” a smaller version of its namesake which is also located just round the corner.
There are so many great places to eat and drink in PEC. This time, we tried the Midtown Brewing Company and I highly recommend it. They dish up great simple classics (like shrimp rolls with potato chips and fish and chips), have the friendliest servers and some cool art.
You can’t go to the County and not visit The Old Third vineyard. The barn itself is beautiful but go for whatever is in stock and, if you’re really lucky, you might score some sparkling cider, which is made from hand-sorted golden russet apples using traditional Champagne methods (the second ferment is in the bottle). It is complex, delicious and perfect as an aperitif or with casual summer fare like burgers.
Prince Edward County is pretty hyped but I think for good reason. There are innovative places to stay, like The Merrill House, great wineries, distilleries and breweries, fab food from burgers to fine dining, rainbow flags, art, shopping, beaches… I could go on! Whether you go for a day, a night or the weekend, just go.