The Fairmont Royal York
Toronto, Ontario
As a member of the President's Club, I was given immunity from the elements within the comforts of my own temperature-controlled room. However dramatic this may sound, this hotel is an important part of Toronto's history and even the most poorly dressed of guests (I, for one, was in a t-shirt and jeans) will feel like a Head of State, even if "President's Club" is just the name of their loyalty program.
The Fairmont Royal York in Downtown Toronto, a historically significant hotel once part of the Canadian Pacific Railway, was built for passenger convenience. What once housed and welcomed guests from nearby Union Station is still in business today, which was probably why I had reserved a room on a Saturday that begged of convenience - with a concert to host on nearby Queen Street West.
Its strong points include the ease of access. From the underground level of Toronto's Union Station, it is very simple to enter the hotel complex and the city's PATH system (full of shops and services) without actually going outside. The hotel-managed portion of the PATH system is the first thing you'll see from here, but you can always try a more glamorous entrance by taking a taxi or valet to the main entrance above ground. It's hard to get lost knowing that Toronto's downtown core is centered around this area.
As we entered the lobby, the story of another era was shown prominently in the form of architecture, decor and general atmosphere. Although the unified staff had a modern look, I couldn't help but feel a nostalgia of decades past. Check-in was generally fast, although early check-in could not be done - I came an hour early - but the service was very efficient and friendly. The mezzanine level provides a good bird's eye view of the graceful, open lobby; it also doubles as a comfortable lounge with a built-in museum, showcasing photographs and other historical images.
Speaking of functionality, the hotel room was adequate. There was nothing too special to speak of in the hotel room I stayed in, apart from the large LCD TV, modern mini-bar (with key), and a view of the city. The shower in the bathroom was rather weak, but the historical wonder of this hotel was worth more than low water pressure in my opinion. There was proof of aging decor within the room itself, but in all, I was given a beautifully made bed. In fact, I slept longer than scheduled because of the comfortable bedding.
The hotel itself is full of wonder - with one of the largest hotel kitchens in the world, there is also the lingering fact that Her Majesty the Queen stays here whenever she visits this city. The atmosphere spoke elegantly without a pretentious tone, and check-out was very simple. I phoned in my departure as this was among the few creative options available - you can also check out of your room through e-mail or even with the television!
In general, The Fairmont Royal York was a beautiful place to stay - save for the weak shower - but it is a great getaway if you're in this area. Room rates vary widely, so do check for specials and other options.
There is obviously much more to this hotel than what I've mentioned here, so this is a wonder to discover during future stays.
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