The Hazelton Hotel in Toronto is a sybarite’s paradise with very fine dining at Mark McEwan's restaurant, One, and supreme spoiling at the Swiss-inspired spa. Guests are pampered with signature spa treatments, a lap pool, spacious rooms with snooze-worthy pillow-top mattresses (clad in 300-thread-count linens) and huge, green-granite, L'Occitane en Provence-stocked ensuites.
Noon; earliest check-in, 3pm. However, both are flexible, subject to availability.
Double rooms from £321.16 (CA$546), including tax at 17 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional service charge of CA$12.00 per room per night on check-out and an additional local city tax of 1% per room per night on check-out.
Rates exclude breakfast (from CA$25).
The globetrotting and award-winning design studio of Yabu Pushelberg is behind the sleek, no-expenses-spared interior design, and there's a gallery's worth of original artwork by Canadian artists throughout the hotel.
At the hotel
Pool, spa, state-of-the-art gym, screening room, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: flatscreen TV, iPod dock, minibar, coffee and tea service, L'Occitane en Provence bath products.
Our favourite rooms
With massive private zebrawood dressing rooms and dining areas, the Hazelton and Avenue Suites are fit for a rock star. Although if you're a real entourage-brandishing superstar, the Bellaire Suite has additional lounge areas and is kitted out with glassware, cutlery and dishes for guests who have a longer stay in mind.
There’s a private lift to an eye-catching saltwater lap pool set in pretty marble and mosaic tiling. There’s no lounging poolside though, it’s all about the aqua waters.
Specialising in stress-soothing treatments all featuring the Swiss-based Valmont skin care line, the Spa at the Hazelton is a five-room sanctuary for all-out spoiling. Roll back the years with an Intensive Lift facial or recover baby-soft skin with a signature exfoliating scrub. Pampering options are very popular here, so be sure to book before you arrive.
The surrounding enclave is a shopaholics dream, so leave room in your luggage for your high-end hauls.
Smoking is not permitted anywhere in the hotel. The hotel has two Deluxe Rooms for mobility-impaired guests.
Somewhere so chichi isn’t ideally suited to tots, but so determined is the Hazelton to please its guests, if you do take a little one they even have child-size bathrobes; there is no extra charge for cribs.
Proving that eco and luxe can go hand-in-hand, Hazelton was one first hotels in the city to create a green roof to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and urban island heat effect. They have super-efficient recycling and low-voltage lighting in place, plus the restaurant uses organic, seasonal and locally-sourced ingredients whenever possible.
Definitely on the terrace if weather permits. Indoors, perhaps by the window.
Blend in with the well-heeled crowd here; pick up conversation pieces by head-turning Canadian labels such as Smythe and Ela.
Mark McEwan is Toronto’s answer to Gordon Ramsay, and you can sample the work of this superchef at breakfast through to supper at One restaurant. Smoked glass, striking cowhide and tiger's eye onyx create a setting ideal for his Mediterranean-leaning dishes with locally sourced ingredients: eggplant arrabiata with house-made ricotta, sea bass with tomatoes, capers and white anchovy and fresh pasta.
For a cocktail befitting of such a stylish scenario, order an earthy basil gimlet or a wildcat cider (a blend of Bulleit bourbon, Calvados and a splash of apple cider), and pair with veal and ricotta meatballs or creamy spinach dip off of the bar snacks menu.
Breakfast is available from 6.30–11.30am (10.30am on weekends and holidays). Lunch is served 11.30am–4.30pm on weekdays, brunch from 10.30am–4.30pm on weekends and holidays. Snag a table for dinner 4.30–11.30pm. The bar is open 6.30–11.30pm.
Satisfy cravings for a juicy cheeseburger or late-night pizza simply by ringing up room service, which is available around-the-clock.
The hotel is set conveniently in the centre of the tony Yorkville neighbourhood, making it an easy stroll to Toronto's most exclusive boutiques and restaurants.
Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) is just west of the city and is 30-minutes by car from the hotel. The airport has regular flights to most major US and international cities, and is the main hub for Air Canada (www.aircanada.com).
VIA Rail Canada runs swift services to Montreal, Quebec City and Ottawa. Most trains arrive into Union Station, where plenty of taxis will be waiting. To reach the hotel from here using the metro, travel to St George or Bloor-Yonga and change lines for the one stop to Bay station.
Toronto’s streets are laid out in an easily navigable grid pattern making them pedestrian friendly, and they have a well-connected subway system. For those reasons, you can do without wheels, however, there are several reliable car-hire desks at the airport. Valet parking is available at the hotel for CA$40 per day.
Worth getting out of bed for
Right here you're in one of the best shopping areas, only a stroll from Yorkville Village shopping centre and Holt Renfrewdepartment store. This is also a cultural hub as most of the major museums are within walking distance of the Hazelton Hotel; the Gehry-enhanced Art Gallery of Ontario is at 317 Dundas Street West; and Daniel Libeskind's crystal-augmented Royal Ontario Museum is at 100 Queen's Park. Try your hand a making pottery at Gardiner Museum, or leave it to the experts and simply tour the world-class ceramics collection. Footwear fetishists should hotfoot it to the Bata Shoe Museum at 327 Bloor St West.
Housed in a mod James K.M. Cheng-designed glass cube is the Canadian outpost of New York-based chef David Chang’s Momofuku eatery empire in the downtown Toronto (190 University Avenue). The ground-floor Noodle Bar is a spin-off of Chang’s original East Village spot with slurpy ramen, smoked chicken wings and an assortment of the savoury buns that made him famous. The second-floor Nikai is a mid-century drinks den, making it a chic place to sip sake or local beer while you wait for your table downstairs. Crowning the top floor are two very distinct restaurants: Daishō and Shōtō. Bring a group to Daishō for family-style fried chicken and 65-day dry-aged beef rib-eye feasts paired with gallon growlers of beer and giant sakes, in keeping with the large-format theme. And, for an intimate evening of culinary theatrics, don’t miss the 10-course Shōtō tasting menu, served around a sleek, granite horseshoe-shaped bar that faces the kitchen, so diners don’t miss any of the magic.
Toronto? I was one of many who travel to Canada’s busy and booming financial and cultural capital in pursuit of deals, film projects, customers, investors, partners, ideas, or a fee of one kind or another, but I used to go there alone. Mrs Smith avidly volunteered to accompany on business trips to San Francisco, Auckland, or Cape Town, but an invitation to Toronto? Somehow, the idea suggested the time away from the cats would seem unusually long.
In fact, it didn’t, though I can’t speak for the cats. Indeed, the stay was so fine, we’re going back. The first bargained pre-condition had been for a night at the stunning new opera house built for the Canadian Opera Company whose elephant-free production of Aida offered a quality of performance that would have had even Giuseppe Verdi himself on his feet shouting ‘Bravi!’ as the final curtain came down.
But the clincher was a hotel room it was hard to leave for anything except Aida. The spacious bedrooms are undoubtedly Toronto’s most chic. Indeed this is a sybarite’s paradise – a world where green-granite Bulgari-stocked ensuites are astonishingly sprawling and pillow-top mattresses are clad in 300 thread count linen. I’ve seen the very plush room Verdi lived in for more than 20 years at the Grand Hotel et de Milan and I dare presume the Maestro himself would have cherished a stay at the Hazelton Hotel in Toronto.
Start with location. If Toronto has a centre, it’s at the Hazelton’s door. The hotel’s neighbourhood is where galleries, fashion, and food converge. We’d been greeted by the friendly, young, and professional staff who swept us into the lobby whose cool contemporary angles and some stunning art and installations brought us to an admiring halt. 12-foot high flowering bamboo stalks faced a film set light deflector meant no doubt as an emblem reminder of the status of Toronto’s International Film Festival, when the Hazelton is favoured by such as Anthony Hopkins, Jennifer Garner, Ben Affleck and Mickey Rourke indoors, and a platoon of paparazzi outdoors.
Introduced to a very large room on the third of four floors whose bed definitely beckoned after our pre-dawn departure and trans-continental flight, we chose instead to redeem our legs with a short neighbourhood stroll that turned into a full afternoon’s reward of art and international fashion, books, and first-class sushi.
Back in our new home, we opted for a workout revival, Mrs Smith heading for the mosaic-tiled lap pool that would be the prize feature of any dream house. As for me, while I haven’t seen the much publicized personal gym of Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, I’ll wager it’s no better than the Hazelton’s.
Once again, the easy next step would have been to linger in the bath, possibly with an eye to the TV screen implanted in the sizeable mirror, before falling into that inviting bed. The rooms are restful, noiseless, totally loaded electronically for entertainment apps. The city’s bustle stays on the outer side of high curtains Mrs Smith knew from designers were the best of the best, as are all the Hazelton’s design features. The tones are greys, creams, some black, and browns. It is definitely restful. A vast chair sits in the corner, inviting a reader or film-watcher to sink down to a dreamless state of total leisure.
But we carried on, saving that chair and then probably the world’s best bed for last.
Going out again was not going to be on that first night, but friends joined us for dinner in One, the upmarket and ambitious restaurant created by local kitchen wizard Mark McEwen. Judging from the amount of Russian heard at the bar, and the Ferraris and Lamborghinis outside, Prokhorov might have been right at home in this stylish and see-and-be-seen main Toronto draw. In summer time, the terrace is said to be a real treat, but in late autumn, the spacious room with a client on every seat was treat enough, if only for the irresistible experience of breaking a new price ceiling for a hamburger, $29, with fries another $7 – hard to say if any burger can be that good, but it was damned good. So were Mrs Smith’s tagliatelli. Walls have panels of what is clearly fur; soft, grey, and very calming. Whose fur? I was surprised to learn they were ponies’. Yikes. But they do offer a great look.
At last, that bed. What a bed! The linens have a threadcount that must also be a new record. The pillows actually have an embrace, and if we had wanted something suited best to our contours, or sore necks, or even proclivity to snore, the Pillow Menu had a lot of specially designated alternatives.
The street, unbelievably, is only a few floors below, but there were no sirens, squeals of Ferrari tires, or, God forbid – screams – that would be able to penetrate the thickness of those curtains. Of course, there are few screams to be heard in this fine neighbourhood of what is a very friendly town on one of the world’s Great Lakes.
Morning did break. Becalmed in that room and that bed, we weren’t witnesses to its start, but we were able to catch up with the day in time for a few Sunday-morning croissants with our lattés that would have won a blind tasting in Lyon. The next few days went by happily in Toronto. We walked the ethnic neighbourhoods hunting the perfect dim sum and pho, strolled through the leafy university, and explored Toronto’s abundant museums, before the great treat of the so-fine opera. But we always had the smiles of a very happy couple who were going back to the world’s perfect bed.