5 Great Reasons to Visit Toronto
Five reasons to visit, and ten things you can do in Toronto on a fun long weekend trip.
Stay at the Windsor Arms Hotel
All great vacations start with great accommodations. And one of our favorite hotels in North America is Toronto’s Windsor Arms Hotel. Located in Toronto’s posh Yorkville area (think: Madison Avenue), with great shopping and restaurants nearby, this 28-room boutique hotel is no more than a 15 minute cab ride to any downtown attraction.
Upon check-in, we were greeted by the jovial Kevin, who gave us our room key in a super-soft crest-embossed leather wallet (which I now use to hold business cards); it became clear that every detail had been considered.
The decor at The Windsor Arms reminds us of a cross between the opulent luxury of Washington DC’s The Jefferson Hotel (especially the suites), and the dark decadence of NYC’s Gramercy Park Hotel (the hallways in the Windsor Arms are dark and feature edgy photography). Everything about the room and the hotel seems well thought out and modern, with old-world luxurious charm. Even the elevators have gorgeous glass-covered faux-bookcases in them.
Imagine your own suite with a classically luxurious European ambiance, an extra-large bathroom, a living room, and luxurious furnishings. Every room in the hotel has a butler’s pantry, where you can stuff your laundry, shoes to get shined or service trays so the hotel staff can take them without entering your suite. How droll! With an in-ceiling multi-room stereo system set on classical, we didn’t even end up using the iPod docking station, but we appreciated that it was there. We were, however, tempted to use the guitar in our room, but thought better of it, lest it annoy any of our neighbors.
Truth be told, if we could’ve afforded the time, we probably wouldn’t have left our suite all week. Eat, lounge, bubble bath, naps, repeat (sigh). Oh, and for those of us with fur babies, it’s worth noting that The Windsor Arms is also pet-friendly, so we can bring along Fifi and Fido.
One of the things that make the Windsor Arms special is their uber-cozy restaurant, The Living Room, which is open from 7am to 2am. I especially enjoyed having my Sunday brunch there. My favorite picks? Quinoa with root vegetables, chickpea puree, and cornflake crusted challah french toast with caramel banana and apples. I also had a lot of their green zing juice, which is made of kale, cucumber, celery, green apple and lemon.
The Windsor Arms’ other restaurant, Courtyard Cafe, offers a fancier ($65 per person) Sunday brunch in their well-lit and striking room that has two-story-tall vaulted ceilings, velvet drapery and plush booths.
If you’re in the mood for a drink, The Living Room features over 60 local craft drafts and beers, and a premium international wine selection which is the proud recipient of the Award of Excellence by Wine Spectator for five consecutive years. If you want to learn, the chef hosts interactive “clean cooking” classes, and the hotel offers health and wellness seminars. If you’re kosher, they even have a special 100% kosher room for you. Like I said, they’ve thought of everything.
Checked in? Spend an afternoon chilling in the spa!
After a hearty breakfast, we recommend you check out the spa, which is located on the 4th and 5th floors. Their pool is heated to a comfortably warm temperature, and because they use bromine salt instead of chlorine, the water feels deliciously silky.
Do some laps, then grab your robe and dry off on their rooftop outdoor terrace before taking some time to relax in the sauna. While traditional saunas aren’t as beneficial as IR saunas, it’s still a great place to relax and open up your pores before your session in the Healing Salt Cave, which uses the same pink salt found in Poland and the Himalayan mountains.
The first salt cave was set up 150 years ago after Dr Feliks Boczkowski, a Polish physician, noted that local salt miners didn’t suffer from lung diseases. A natural grotto was carved out within the Wieliczka mines themselves, 400 feet underground. It became popular with those suffering respiratory disease, and is still in use today.
There is a hypnotic sound of gently trickling water coming from a wall covered in salt rocks and branches, with salty water running down it. A good six feet high, it features an artfully-arranged fan of salt-encrusted twigs inside a giant wooden display case. Salt room owners say salt can help skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema and a range of respiratory ailments, including colds, asthma, allergies and bronchitis — but I’ll let you be the judge.
After relaxing in the Salt Cave for 45-minutes, why not follow it with a salt scrub? Their Aromatherapy Salt Glow treatment combines a luxurious blend of sea salts, organic grape seed oil and essential oils, and leaves your body nourished and smooth. You could also follow that with their “sculpted” spray-tan treatment, which will make you look tan and in shape. Just make sure to do the treatments in this order, as you’ll have to wait 6-8 hours before showering after getting the spray tan.
Follow it up with a delicious spa snack on the terrace (but make sure to put your order in about 45 minutes in advance), before meeting your friends for tea downstairs in one of the tea rooms. Now that’s what I call a perfect afternoon!
Tea at the Windsor Arms is a true delight
Each of the four decadent tea rooms has their own feel, from glam purple and white, to an eclectic red, blue and gold room, to a pristine all-cream room, and an English study theme.
Teas come with the typical high-end high-tea spread of delicious mini sandwiches, scones, and desserts. My favorite tea is the “Once Upon a Time” tea, which tastes like mint chocolate. How awesome is that?
Once you’re settled, here’s where to go next: