Opposite Union Station, the Fairmont Royal York is unquestionably Toronto’s most conveniently situated address for out of town guests. And for staycation guests arriving on bicycles, I recommend the valet service. No sooner had I handed over my helmet and Raleigh to the bellhop I was stepping inside a gold embossed express elevator to the private Fairmont Gold lounge on the 18th floor. This is where my luxury “hotel within a hotel” experience begins. I was greeted at the reception area and shown to my Fairmont Gold one-bedroom suite, a sleek and spacious 540-square-foot residence with separate living area, personal bar with Nespresso machine, a four-piece spa bathroom with all-natural essential oil aromatherapy shower pods by SkinJay, and not one, but two 55-inch LCD HDTV screens.
The boutique Fairmont Gold suites, encompassing floors 12 through 18, and the lounge (formerly the Upper Canada Room ballroom) were remodelled by superstar Toronto designer Alexandra Champalimaud. It’s part of a larger redesign project at the landmark Royal York, that celebrated its 90th anniversary in June with the reveal of the main lobby transformation, accented by two new signature dining venues, Clockwork cocktail lounge and Reign Restaurant, and the hotel’s third rendition of its showpiece clock meet-up spot. This January they’re rolling out the Legacy Suite collection, larger suites in the Gold Floor collection. And just in time for Christmas is the holiday pop-up, The Thirsty Elf, a cozy intimate bar on the mezzanine level. It’s the ideal spot to share some festive signature cocktails. I recommend the Christmoose Vacation, a creamy eggnog-inspired treat. (until December 21)
The grandness of this Chateauesque-style hotel cannot be understated. Its handsome limestone exterior and unique sea-foam hued copper roof structure frames the Toronto skyline and offers an inviting reflection on our city’s past and present. In its heyday, this Canadian Pacific Railway hotel was the tallest hotel in the British Commonwealth at 28 stories. The glamorous redesign infuses a modern polish, while staying true to the hotel’s original 1920s Art Deco aesthetic.
Fairmont Gold guests are assigned a personal concierge to curate their stay. If you want a turn down service that includes chocolate on your pillow, no problem. I used the pool and steam room amenities and soaked up the atmosphere in the lounge. I enjoyed getting my hands on the vintage Jane Austen book collection in the lounge’s library, and there’s always tea and coffee available.
The lounge offers four generous dining experiences daily in the open gourmet kitchen, which overlooks the hotel’s rooftop herb garden and apiary. There’s the deluxe continental breakfast, including smoothies and organic cold-pressed Green Glow juice, an afternoon dessert presentation with a selection of scones and cookies, and Hors d’oeuvres from 5:00pm to 7:00pm. During my stay the chef prepared salmon tartare in person. The night before they served oysters. Dessert is available from 8:00pm to 10:00pm. Tonight it was a decadent Tiramisu. An industrial Art Deco inspired Nespresso machine, fully stocked beverage fridge, and honour bar round out the service. Try Dillon’s 14th In Line Gin, made with botanicals grown in the herb garden.
Between lolling in the lounge and trips to the Health Club, I explored the “city within a city”, an expression that once described the palatial hotel, and it still holds. To think, it had its own CPR radio station on the top floor; No doubt broadcasting live into the glittering ballrooms and concert hall for lavish weddings and special events. From one golden era to the next, inside these walls it’s easy to be treated like gold.
For an easy way to explore the city try the Toronto CityPASS. See Toronto’s top attractions, handpicked and packaged together at a significant savings.
by Cherie DeLory