There are a lot of beautiful hotels in Toronto. What sets the Royal York apart?
After a long journey and arduous travel, there is nothing like a beautiful hotel to greet you at the end of the day. There’s something so soothing about having your needs anticipated and indulging yourself in a special retreat. This is exactly what I had in mind when we splurged on a stay at the Fairmont Royal York in the heart of Toronto. I’m a huge believer that you can find great value at all points of the price spectrum and, even though the Fairmont is a well-known luxury hotel, I wanted to examine it for value. After all, in the heart of Toronto, there are many beautiful hotels – what makes the Royal York worth the splurge?
First and foremost, there was overwhelming convenience. The Royal York is located directly across the street from the Via Rail and subway station. To get off the train and simply walk across (or under!) the road was such a treat – no navigating public transit, no hailing a cab, no concerns about rush hour traffic. I believe time is as valuable as money and, with only a day to spend in Toronto for business and pleasure, it was fantastic to take transportation time and costs entirely out of the equation. Our happiness with the convenient location was tripled the next morning as we had a very early train departure that we could easily make by waking up just 30 minutes before departure.
The second thing I loved about the Royal York was the incredible architectural details and grandiose beauty of the lobby and public spaces – so much so that I’m planning a follow up photo essay on some of these features. When you walk through the lobby you feel like you are stepping back in time to a much more glamorous era and feel like you are a part of a classic experience. This is a hotel of royalty and of legends. When you are splurging on a nice hotel, it should FEEL like a splurge and be an indulgent experience in every way. The public areas of the Royal York certainly contribute to that feeling.
Of course, none of this matters if you don’t get a great night’s sleep. We stayed in a lovely one bedroom suite with a king sized bed and, yes, the sleep was solid! Despite the nearby construction on Front Street, we never heard a sound. My favourite features about the room were the old fashioned details, cut glass door knobs in the bathroom doors, and brass door plates with keyholes. These small details might be lost on someone for whom luxury means a sleek and minimalist décor, but I found them charming and attractive. Curiously, in our room the closet was very large (walk in sized) and the bathroom was on the small sized compared to other proportions of the room but this simply might be a quirk of the hotel’s layout and in no way affected our stay.
Like all Fairmont hotels, there is a daily charge for wi-fi unless you are members of their frequent guest program, the Fairmont President's Club, which we are. The wi-fi connection was fast and consistent. As coffee lovers, we were thrilled to see the room come equipped with a Keurig coffee maker and coffee pods with different roasts. Less thrilling was the minibar and counter top snack display attached to sensors. Even moving an item to look at it would result in a room charge. I can imagine that there are many busy families and business travelers who could very easily miss an incorrect charge and therefore this is one area to be very careful about. Those with small and curious children should think ahead and ask to have the minibar and snack items removed from the room before arrival.
I would highly recommend the Fairmont Royal York for anyone with a limited amount of time in downtown Toronto, for whom the central location really matters, as well as for any traveler looking for a relaxing, well-appointed splurge. It would also be a great choice for those interested in history, architecture, or design. Finally, it would be a great choice for those with an interest in urban gardening, nature, and local food – the Royal York features a roof top, produce growing garden, as well as bee hives! I think this is the final detail that won me over. Beautiful hotel rooms might come and go, but heirloom vegetables and bees are a honey of a deal!
As always, I welcome and encourage your comments. Do you have a favourite hotel you turn to when you want to treat yourself?
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My hotel room was provided at a reduced media rate. This did not affect my review and all opinions remain my own.