In a world class city, world class accommodations are not only needed, but indeed, expected. Such is the case in Toronto, a city said to have the highest number of high rise buildings under construction, anywhere in North America. It may not be Dubai, but it’s keeping crane operators busy. So it’s no surprise that a number of luxury hotels have popped up recently in the downtown core.
As with all major cities, Toronto’s landscape is evolving and growing. Neighborhoods once decrepit and run down, are now chic and trendy. While North American real estate markets tanked during the most recent financial crisis, Toronto’s market not only held its value, it increased. Real estate boomed across the city and with it, prices. The demand for high end housing and accommodations remained high.
Along came developers who merged hotel rooms with condominium suites. Hotel guests below. Home owners above. Condo owners enjoy posh privileges like room service. They share amenities such as pools and gyms, while also having access to the hotels’ high-end retail and restaurant components. The private residences make the hotel feasible. Together it’s a marriage that works.
Certainly Toronto was not without luxury brand hotels. The elegant Fairmont Royal York and the Windsor Arms have been opulent institutions in the city for decades, but Toronto was in need of a few more options. It seems a convergence occurred as most builders broke ground around the same time, and some opened their doors within months of each other. However it happened, Toronto is now home to top brand 5-Star hotel accommodations. Here are the most recently opened luxury brand hotels making headlines across the city.
5 The Hazelton Hotel: $550 per night
The Hazelton was famous long before Justin Bieber fans started camping out here. Located in one of the most prestigious corners of the city, this Yorkville hotel set the bar high in the grandeur department. The interior, designed by Yabu Pushelberg, is intended to create a feel of a large manor home, while at the same time, evoke images of 1940s Hollywood glamour. Indeed many Hollywood stars, like Ben Affleck have been rumored to stay here (confidentially prevents confirmation). This is particularly true during the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) which is, without a doubt, Toronto’s most star-studded event. The Hazelton offers 15 exceptionally appointed suites and 62 opulent rooms, each averaging 600 square feet.
For fine dining, The Hazelton has teamed up with Canadian celebrity chef, Mark McEwen, to bring guests, and non-guests alike, the dining experience expected of a 5-star hotel. Along with running the restaurant, ONE, which serves French and Italian flavors, McEwen and his team are also responsible for the 24-hour room service. Private catering is also available to both hotel guests and the 16 private residence owners. Bed and Breakfast at the Hazelton starts at $550 this spring.
4 The Shangri-la Hotel: $660 per night
Although new to the North American market, Hong Kong-based Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, is Asia Pacific’s leading luxury hotel group, with over 70 hotels and resorts throughout Asia Pacific, North America, the Middle East, and Europe. This property is the first Asian luxury hotel brand in Toronto and only the second hotel in North America for Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts. It joins sister hotel, Shangri-La Hotel, Vancouver. The first 17 floors of this 66-story glass tower makes up the hotel, which is located across the street from the Canadian Opera Company and the National Ballet of Canada. The city’s live theatre district and the Toronto International Film Festival headquarters are nearby. The remaining floors are private condominium suites.
Enter through its University Avenue doors, and you will find yourself in the 90-seat Lobby Lounge where, reportedly, Terrance Howard gave an impromptu performance last September. A large double-sided fireplace makes you feel all warm and cozy on a cold Toronto winter’s day, and a light-oak Fazioli piano with the lyrics of Canadian singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell’s My Old Man carved into its lid, adds to the intimate feel of the lounge. Afternoon Tea service is a daily highlight of the Lobby Lounge experience. The Shangri-la is home to NYC based, Momufuku and where more than one celebrity has been spotted at its noodle bar. One night in a one-bedroom luxury suite this spring is $660.
3 The Four Seasons: $895 per night
The Four Seasons is the internationally recognized iconic Canadian brand, so it’s fitting that this Toronto hotel is the brands global flagship property. It too is located in the city’s posh Yorkville neighborhood, a short walk to chic shops, restaurants, galleries and Bloor Street shopping, also known as the Mink Mile. With 259 guest rooms, the hotel tower rises 55 stories above the area’s Victorian architecture. It’s a glass tower that mixes modern, with welcoming warmth. Enter through its main doors, and be welcomed into a large foyer complete with over-stuffed sofas. Have a seat or keep walking through it to find the guest registration desk. Along the way, walk past large (I mean LARGE) vases brimming with fresh-cut flowers. Over the guest registration desk, large dried dandelion sculptures are suspended mid-air, as if waiting for a waft of wind to float them along. They are one of the 1,700 original works of art commissioned by the Four Seasons specifically for this hotel.
A Premier one-bedroom suite this spring starts at $895. With it, enjoy the 30,000 square foot luxury spa, the world’s largest city center spa, along with two signature restaurants by international restaurateur and Chef Daniel Boulud. The private residence tower is 26 stories with 210 residential suites. In May, 2011, its 9,038 square foot penthouse suite sold for $28-million. At the time, it was the highest priced condo on the Canadian market. The buyer was from out of the country and made the company sign a non-disclosure agreement, so no confirmation of who actually purchased it could be gotten.
In January of 2014, The Four Seasons, Toronto became the first ever hotel in Canada to achieve both the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star rating and AAA Five Diamond recognition. Well done!
2 Trump Hotel: $900 per night
Opened in January, 2012, Trump Hotel is right smack in the middle of Toronto’s financial and entertainment district, and within easy walk to the Bell Lighthouse Theater, which hosts TIFF. In other words, Trump is in the heart of big money action, with bankers on one side and celebrities on the other. Trump Toronto, includes 261 luxuriously appointed rooms and 118 private residences. Residents (confidentially again, prevents names from being named, but you’d recognize some), access their suites through private elevators and of course, they have full access to the luxurious five-star amenities offered by the hotel.
The color theme throughout the hotel is champagne and caviar (light and dark). Black chandeliers twinkle from crisp white ceilings. A touch of pink shimmers here and there. A grand staircase leads to an elegant ballroom. It’s all very glamorous and opulent, and indeed very Hollywood.
On the 31st floor is STOCK, the hotel’s fine dining restaurant. During TIFF 2013, Glenn Close, Keanu Reeves and Pierce Brosnan were a few of the celebrities spotted dining here. And why not. Stock received the CAA/AAA Four Diamond Rating and the hotel made the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star rating list (2014). Trump Toronto, is the city’s number-one rated hotel, as recognized by Trip Advisor (2014). And have I mentioned there’s a chocolate lab on the property? Spring Romance Packages start at $900.
1 The Ritz-Carlton: $1,500 per night
Rows of fresh flowers, iconic maple leafs in the floor and original artwork await you in the main lobby. All 263 elegantly appointed guest rooms and hotel suites overlook Lake Ontario and the downtown Toronto skyline. Along with its legendary service and luxury amenities, this downtown Toronto hotel also features a 23,000 square foot Urban Sanctuary and Spa, a spacious outdoor terrace at DEQ Lounge, the signature Ritz-Carlton Club Level service (with complimentary culinary offerings and alcoholic beverages) and the impeccably Canadian dining experience of TOCA restaurant.
The Ritz-Carlton is also situated in the heart of downtown Toronto, where the city’s performing arts, sports, entertainment and financial districts call home. The hotel is directly connected to the PATH, Toronto's dizzying but wonderful downtown underworld, which links 27 kilometers of underground shopping, services and entertainment, along with Toronto's public transportation system.
With its close proximity to the heart of the entertainment district, it’s no surprise celebrities’ call this home when in the city. Josh Brolin is one such movie-star who wined, dined and slumbered at The Ritz-Carlton during TIFF 2013. The Simcoe Suite in April, can be had for $1500. While here, book the cheese cave for your very own private wine and cheese event. That’s right. They have one.