Toronto is booming! We can see this cultural renaissance throughout the city via the cranes in the sky building a record number of condos for the eager beavers looking to invest and move themselves in. With money comes spending power and locals are keen to eat out at the always evolving dining scene where every other day a new eatery is opening its doors. Lovers of the arts rejoice as notable architects have erected stunning spaces at The Art Gallery of Ontario, Royal Ontario Museum, TIFF Bell Lightbox and Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. Perhaps the most obvious evidence of T.O’s razzle dazzle is the quick growth of offerings in the luxury hotel space.
So I’ve set myself out on a mission: To experience Toronto’s Top Hotel Suites. These are the creme de la creme of hotel rooms offering unique luxury and boutique experiences fit for a King. I’ll be updating this list over time as I have an opportunity to visit the cities plethora of properties: from our favourite international brands to the quirkiest petite boutique offerings.
The Fairmont Royal York is Toronto’s most iconic hotel. It was once the tallest and grandest building in the city, a hallmark to an ambitious skyline. The history is rich here as the property was an original Canadian Pacific Railway fixture. Located directly across from Union Station it happily hosted the who’s who stopping in the Big Smoke while enjoying an epic adventure from coast to coast.
In the summer of 2015, just days before the Pan Am Games swept across the city, the hotel celebrated the unveiling of a long awaited facelift. For several years construction around the hotel (an ambitious reconstruction of Union Station) caused traffic mayhem in the heart of the city. Today peace has been restored and walking along Front Street between two of Toronto’s most iconic historical architectural gems (Union Station to the south and the Fairmont Royal York to the north) is a real joy!
While all the commotion was going on outside, the hotel was busy undertaking a multi-million dollar renovation to its interior. Guests can now enjoy all of the amenities of a modern “home away from home,” while enjoying an inspiring stay steeped in history. The Luxury One Bedroom Suites offer 750 sq ft of space featuring separate bedroom area with plush king sized bed, two full bathrooms and large living room area. Treat yourself to breakfast in bed by ordering a hot pot of coffee, pile of buttermilk pancakes and duo of classic hollandaise slathered Eggs Benedict with your sweetie.
Last Fall the city celebrated the opening of its newest hotel, the Delta Toronto which opened at Lower Simcoe Street and Bremner Boulevard. Perfectly situated in the heart of downtown, she sits a stones throw from some of my favourite Toronto attractions such as Steam Whistle Brewery, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, the CN Tower and the Air Canada Centre. The hotel is in fact an attraction in itself featuring soaring architectural exterior design and striking art within by accomplished Canadian artists, which include Adrian Forrow, Glenn Michael and Rob Baytor.
Enjoy fantastic views overlooking the city and Lake Ontario via one of the hotel’s Corner Mode Deluxe Suites. Delta’s ModeRoom concept is inspired by the Canadian landscape, utilizing a fresh and modern colour palette with a focus on maximizing natural light. The room also features a fully wired SmartDesk for the tech savvy traveler, flat-screen HDTV, plush sanctuary bed, large bathroom vanity featuring beauty products by Apothia Verde and a huge sink tub offering jaw dropping views of the Toronto Islands.
One of Canada’s homegrown chefs is making his mark at the hotel’s SOCO Kitchen + Bar. Recipient of the BC Chef of the Year award in 2014, Chef Dan Craig’s culinary creations highlight his global experiences and passion for good food. Enjoy a memorable and intimate feast with a view from the comfort of your room while sipping on locally produced Steam Whistle Pils and bottle of Tawse Winery Chardonnay from Niagara on the Lake. From the comfort of your bed scoop up peppery Hand-Cut Bison Tartar, nibble on perfectly crispy Rotisserie Chicken slathered in rich jus and tear apart addictive Alsatian Flammekueche adorned with smoked bacon, crème fraiche, sweet onions and emmenthal.
The Drake Hotel is a cultural, entertainment and hospitality landmark located in Toronto’s Queen West Art and Design District. Ever since they opened their doors on Valentine’s Day 2004, Drake has come to be known as an energetic hub for visual + performance art as well as dining and hospitality. What’s funny to me is that every Torontonian has been to The Drake at some point or another, likely for their iconic brunch, sips on the rooftop Sky Yard or late night dancing at the Underground. I think a lot of locals forget that The Drake is in fact a hotel where tourists come to play. I wondered, “how many Torontonians have ever stepped foot in one of the Drakes Hotel rooms?” Curious myself I made a point of exploring their signature suite (room two oh two), big enough to host a pre-drink party, with its own mid-century inspired living area outfitted with a plump Italian daybed. Every room is outfitted with a contemporary glass shower, original artwork, custom millwork, hardwood floors, tasty treats, Malin + Goetz toiletries, complimentary tech library and handmade doll.
After a long weekend of partying in the West End its best to order up The Drake’s infamous brunch to enjoy in your comfy queen sized bed before checking out and hitting the road. Be sure to sip through a frothy latte before digging in to The Drake’s signature Chicken & Waffles topped with creamy creme fraiche and tart Niagara cherry jam. For those looking to refresh on the healthy the Rancheros are your best bet: two poached eggs,, black bean stew, arugula, queso fresco and crispy tostadas.
At the Windsor Arms, historic and new-millennium amenities are fused together to create a delicate balance of old-world charm and modern decadence. Located in Toronto’s fancy-pants Yorkville neighbourhood, the building dates back to 1927 when the University of Toronto, with its neo-Gothic buildings and distinctive piers, porches, and crests were architectural marvels of the burgeoning metropolis. Back in the 30s the original idea was to create a hotel residence to blend in with the university’s signature, Victorian buildings.
Nowadays, the Windsor Arms Hotel plays home to visiting A-listers, big-ticket musicians and prestigious jet-setters. Did you know Elizabeth Taylor once got engaged to Richard Burton here? Other notable past guests include Sandra Bullock, Johnny Depp, Edward Norton, Demi Moore, Clint Eastwood, Jessica Lange and Sean Penn.
The hotel features 28 perfectly appointed suits all of which were designed by the hotels owner George Friedmann. I enjoyed a much needed staycation in the hotels 700 sq ft Deluxe Suite which features unique butler’s pantry, oversized bathroom with limestone floors, comfy living room, state of the art sound system, Nespresso maker and Molton Brown amenities. Most recently each suite has had a musical instrument added for guests to enjoy and include baby grand piano, harp and guitar.
Guests who can’t get enough of their comfy king sized bed should do themselves a favour and enjoy breakfast in bed. Wrap yourself in a plush white robe and start by sipping a frothy cappuccino. Health nuts will love the smoothie and fresh pressed juice menu. For a nice early morning boost be sure to grab a Green Zing featuring kale, cucumber, celery, green apple and lemon. Your mug will be smug after feasting through classic Eggs Benedict and Brioche French Toast slathered in orange marmalade, drenched in maple syrup.
The Hazelton Hotel was Canada’s first true luxury hotel, setting a standard in style, detail and service when it first opened its doors in Yorkville seven years ago. Sexy, dramatic interiors by internationally renowned designer Yabu Pushelberg make the hotel a cultural catalyst in the heart of Toronto’s razzle dazzle neighbourhood. The Hazelton offers its sophisticated guests a unique mix of stunning rooms, a sensational Canadian art collection, private screening room and world-class cuisine at restaurant ONE by Mark McEwan.
Tour through the properties fab Hazelton Suite on the second floor and you’ll find a spacious 1,236 sq ft of luxury. The VIP space features 80 sq ft dressing room made of zebrawood, with floor to ceiling mirrors, laptop recharging safe, spacious 450 foot windowed seating area, Juliette balconies looking out over Yorkville Ave, plush king sized bed, 47″ LG HD Plasma TV’s, Nespresso maker and powder room. The ensuite bathroom is done entirely in galaxy green granite and comes outfitted with heated floors, a deep soak tub, separate rainfall shower, LCD TV built into the mirror and his + hers sinks.
The spaciousness of the suite makes ordering lunch up from Chef Mark McEwan’s ONE a sensible decision if looking to host an intimate meal. Start by sipping the bartenders signature Hazelton cocktail (madame butterfly infused tanqueray gin, rosemary lemonade, basil ginger syrup) and enjoy fancy fresh butter chicken tacos and pear and walnut praline adorned endive salad.
The SoHo Metropolitan is a 92-room ultra-luxury hotel located on Wellington Street in Toronto’s vibrant Entertainment District. Situated in a lavish condominium complex, the SoHo Met features panoramic views of downtown via floor-to-ceiling windows; a sleek contemporary lobby graced by Chihuly art; chic luxury suites and a state-of-the-art gym. Spacious rooms average 600 sq ft with separate dressing area, oversized closets and windows that open to encourage a fresh breeze. Features include Frette linens and towels, Molton Brown bath amenities, European natural duvets and heated bathroom floors. During my stay I loitered in luxury at the hotels double-decker Library Penthouse.The first floor of the suite includes petite bathroom and living room area featuring vintage bookshelf, open concept bar and jaw dropping views of the CN Tower, CBC Building and Hotel Le Germain. A quick prance up the stairs and you’ll find a plush king sized bed, wee work station and glitzy bathroom where oversized tub (with a TV for shame!) and windowed shower offer a quiet calm from the hustle and bustle of the city.
The hotel is getting plenty of buzz for its two new restaurant concepts. Hollywood stud Mark Wahlberg announced his family’s Boston based Wahlburgers concept would be launching in 2014 during a lavish party at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival while this Spring local celebrity Chef Susur Lee launched his take on Nouvelle Chinoise via Luckee Restaurant and Bar. Guests keen to sleep in while they sip and nibble their way through breakfast from the comfort of their room can order off the petite Senses Cafe menu. Plop yourself on the couch in the library and start your morning with a hearty plate of eggs over easy, roasted potatoes, toast and crispy bacon while sipping on a frothy latte. Those with a craving for sweets will meet their match via fluffy pancakes topped with caramelized banana, strawberries, berry compote and thick maple syrup.
The Shangri-La at University Avenue and Adelaide is an urban oasis. The hotel’s premier “room with a view” is The Fazioli Suite which measures 630 sq ft and is filled with piano-centric decor that pays tribute to its name. The stunning room features two bathrooms covered in white marble, heated floors, Bvlgari pampering products, stunning views overlooking University Avenue via floor to ceiling windows, walk in closet, spacious lounge, deep soaking tub with comfort jets and two LCD flatscreen televisions.
Guest rooms are outfitted with iPad’s which make ordering In-Room-Dining a breeze. The hotel’s Bosk kitchen offers plump ricotta and leek agnoletti which pairs nicely with a glass of Blue Mountain bubbly from British Columbia. At the Shangri-La Hotel Toronto, guests have an opportunity to experience classic Asian hospitality while sipping and nibbling their way through a locally inspired food and drink program.
The Hotel Le Germain located south of King Street at John is a much adored luxury boutique property in the heart of the city. Their Apartment Suite certainly wows with its 1350 sq ft, two story layout and spacious patio with views of the CN Tower above and Second City below. The Germain Apartment Suite is the perfect spot to celebrate a special occasion or host a party as guests have ample room on the main floor to sit by the fire, nibble at the dining table or tan on the terrace. A fully equipped kitchen makes catering a breeze. The bathroom is outfitted with Aveda pampering products and double vanity with separate bathtub and shower.
In room dining is offered up by the culinary team at the hotels fine dining concept, Victor. The Toronto Tasting Menu offers a playful edible adventure through the cities ethnic neighbourhoods. During my visit I sampled Little India butter chicken pate with yellow chutney and a Kensington Market Moroccan Lamb with chickpeas and chermoula.
The Ritz Carlton is located in the heart of Toronto’s Entertainment District literally a hop, skip and a jump from Roy Thompson Hall, TIFF Bell Lightbox and the iconic CN Tower. A tour of the Ritz Carlton Suite most certainly forces ones jaw to drop. This 2,415 sq ft room with a view features a king sized bed, wood flooring with area rugs, rich African anigre wood millwork, floor to ceiling windows, dining room with adjacent pantry and full service kitchen, relaxing work study, fitness area, 42 inch LCD flat panel HDTV, handcrafted 400 thread count Frette bed linen, Bose 3.2.1 entertainment surround system, walk in closet, expansive luxury bathroom with stand alone soaker tub and Portuguese Estremoz marble and of course, heated stone floors.
Guests keen to sip and nibble from the comfort of their suite can easily adventure through the culinary creations from the hotel’s Toca kitchen. The In-Room-Dining menu offers a thoughtful offering to please every palate. Children (or grownups looking for a comfort fix) can snack on lux Mac and Cheese, the health conscious rejoice while savouring a fresh salad selection and mezze platter while those looking to indulge can cozy up to a beastly burger while finishing their feast with The Ritz Signature Chocolate Cake.
The Intercontinental Toronto Centre is located smack dab in the centre of town a quick hop, skip and a jump from Union Station. The Intercon is known for offering affordable luxury and jaw dropping views of The CN Tower, Rogers Centre and Lake Ontario. The boutique design team at Chapi Chapo have been hard at work developing a new signature style for the hotels signature suites. These new intimately urban “rooms with a view” offer plush luxury bedding, a 42″ flat screen tv duo, pampering products by Agraria San Francisco, Herringbone patterned fabrics, extended octagon lavender glass desk tops, ergonomic mesh back desk chair with roaming chrome legs and a glamorous lavender taupe velour-backed chaise which sits in front of floor to ceiling windows offering guests a perfect spot to sit back and relax while watching the Toronto skyline take on a new life.
Guests keen to sleep in while they sip and nibble their way through breakfast from the comfort of their suite can order from Azure’s top notch early bird offerings. There really is nothing better than pulling back the curtains to watch the sun rise over the Toronto Islands while sitting in a comfy white bathrobe and sipping on a foamy latte and freshly squeezed OJ mimosa. Highlights from Azure’s breakfast offerings include Wellington County Fillet Mignon topped with grilled portobello mushroom, classic eggs benedict and maple syrup drenched cinnamon bun french toast.