World-class museums, thoroughly charming neighborhoods and a restaurant selection even New Yorkers would envy – it’s no surprise that Toronto is tops. We turned to guests and staff of the 55-storey Four Seasons Hotel Toronto – the flagship property in the Four Seasons portfolio, not to mention the birthplace of the brand – for their most shareable memories, including what room service to order for breakfast and where to nab a cocktail in a 19th-century former speakeasy. Here, get a play-by-play rundown of Toronto’s most cinematic sights.
There’s no better place to catch the sunrise over Toronto’s tony Yorkville neighborhood than from your sumptuous bed, overlooking floor-to-ceiling windows that peep out on the city.
All 259 guest rooms feature down-swathed Signature Four Seasons beds – the ideal lounging spot for awaiting room service. “For a sunrise view, request a room facing east,” says Carolina Avaria, the Hotel’s Chef Concierge and Director of Communications for Les Clefs d’Or, an organization of the globe’s top hotel concierges. Her go-to room service breakfast orders? “The lemon ricotta pancakes are our trademark breakfast item if you’re looking for something sweet. For something savoury, the avocado toast and the Canadian breakfast never disappoint. And we also have healthy smoothies, including the Blueberry Antioxidant and the Power Green.”
Among the most beloved sites in Toronto, Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) – the largest museum in the country – provides a sophisticated start to your day. “It’s just a block away from our Hotel, which is phenomenal,” Avaria says of the 1914 museum, which sports a glass and aluminum façade by architect Daniel Libeskind called The Crystal. “They have the best rock collection in the world and the largest exhibition of Chinese artifacts outside of China. You can spend two hours to an entire day in there, and it’s only a seven-minute walk away.” Don’t leave without stopping by the 6,000-square-foot Institute for Contemporary Culture, where modern works (from street art to style star photography) take center stage.
If you’re feeling peckish after nonstop gaping at the museum, swing by family-owned Sorelle and Co. – one of Avaria’s favourite spots for a restorative afternoon coffee or tea and gluten-free, vegan sweets. “It’s adorable, with seriously perfect, Instagrammable decor,” she says. “Not only is it a great, cozy atmosphere, but it’s truly beautiful, with little roses on each round table. The walls are all glass, so you can see outside to Yorkville.” Order a Toronto-made Sloane tea (the vanilla bean rooibos is a classic) and a lemon brûlée tart for a bit of edible R & R.
“Bar Reyna is housed in an old row house built in the 1850s,” says Avaria, who has lived and worked in Yorkville for 16 years. “In the 1960s there was a massive hippie movement, and all of the Americans avoiding the draft came to Yorkville.” At Bar Reyna, a former speakeasy, Mediterranean-inspired dishes like baklava French toast in mulberry syrup lure – as does the leafy back patio. Avaria’s cocktail of choice? The Mezcal Smokeshow. “I love it because it’s rimmed with Hawaiian black salt, a unique ingredient I haven’t seen anywhere else.”
Take a leisurely walk back to the Hotel through the bustling Yorkville neighborhood, and then head to the ninth floor for a dip in the 13-metre-long pool, where floor-to-ceiling windows reveal the surrounding cityscape. “All Hotel and Spa guests have full access to the pool and adjacent whirlpool, which are ideal for either a relaxing soak or vigorous exercise,” Avaria says. “Guests love standing out on the Spa’s terrace to take in the view.” Upgrade your swim with a Spa treatment, such as a Himalayan Salt Stone Massage, during which you’ll be rubbed down with the 200-million-year-old mineral.
Among the dozens of truly exquisite restaurants in Toronto, the Hotel’s own French brasserie Café Boulud is touted as the best in the city. “It’s one of celebrity chef Daniel Boulud’s only two restaurants in all of Canada, with beautiful mid-century interior design by London-based Martin Brudnizki,” Avaria says. “The menu, designed in collaboration with Chef Boulud and Chef de Cuisine Sylvain Assié, is rooted in soulful French cuisine inspired by Lyonnaise classics and Boulud’s upbringing on a family farm in the small village of Saint-Pierre-de-Chandieu.” The most ordered dish? The rotisserie chicken, which is slowly cooked to perfection on what Avaria deems the Rolls-Royce of rotisseries, a Rotisol imported directly from France. “Another standout: the plateau de fruits de mer, a seafood tower including oysters, shrimp, crab, clams, mussels and half-lobster. For dessert, you must order the profiteroles, which are one of the most popular desserts in all of Toronto on Instagram.”
The preferred way to cap off a delicious day in Toronto is by sipping your favourite Champagne from your private soaking tub lofted over the city. “Every room in our Hotel has a bathtub, but book the Presidential or Royal suite to enjoy a soak by a window overlooking Yorkville,” Avaria says. Custom-made body products tailored specifically for the Hotel by Vicolo Fiori’s fragrance line with Etro Milano amplify this only-in-Toronto treat.
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