Located in downtown Toronto, the Fairmont Royal York is a five-star luxury hotel that has been around since 1929 making it one of the oldest hotels in the city. Featuring an extraordinary façade, the property itself was once considered the tallest building not just in Toronto but throughout the country. It goes without saying that the Fairmont Royal York is one of city’s most prized landmarks and definitely one of the hotels to think about when considering an experiential stay in the capital of Ontario.
There’s always something intriguing when a 90-year old building – and hotel for that matter – undergoes an extensive renovation. One becomes curious and imaginative, for example what style and theme do you go for when you’re faced with re-designing the interiors of a hotel with such significance? Will the spirit of this grand abode be taken over by something more modern? Will returning customers feel the same if not more inspired when witnessing and experiencing these new changes? We certainly hope so because as first-timers to the Fairmont Royal York, what we can say is that you truly feel the contrast between the old and the new. By old, we mean the sort of antiquated yet curious charm as you enter the revolving doors (you can tell they’re old as they take a bit of muscle to push through). Enter check-in on the ground floor, the feeling seems rather mundane until an epiphany hits and you’re standing in one of the cities greatest landmarks of all time. That they’ve been running as a hospitality destination since the late 20’s is testament to a hotel with an enduring spirit. There is ultimately a reason for this hotel’s existence and there is also a reason for investing its heart and soul into keeping up with the times.
After getting a feel of the ground floor/check-in area – which always sets the tone and mood for ones upcoming stay – we were told to take one of the many elevators and to head up onto the 18th floor. As soon as the elevator doors opened it brought to mind a certain flashback from some sort of film where you’ve been transported to an entirely different place. A place so bright and delightful, so expansive and rich that it puts a smile on your face. This was certainly all brand spanking new and yet the smell of luxury and calm retained. We soon understood that the 18th floor was the newly renovated Fairmont Gold – a unique luxury/lifestyle experience where guests can choose to indulge in a little more luxury via the Gold Lounge. This is also where guests can check-in and expect truly personalized service, attention to detail and discretion. A complete contrast to the main check-in desk located on the ground floor level.
Gold rooms are located from the 12th to 18th floors where each has been carefully renovated and designed with the modern lifestyle traveler in mind – travelers that appreciate finer details and the aesthetic touch. The hotel chose to commission Champalimaud Design to reimagine all 106 guest-rooms, taking inspiration from the hotel’s original 1920’s Art Deco geometrics. What you have is a truly residential feel so much so that it almost feels like your own little art-deco luxury apartment. Think gold and marble tones, geometric shapes, grey-washed walls containing beautiful wall trims and moldings making for an exceptionally comfortable yet stylistic stay. In terms of in-room amenities you’ve got complimentary use of their state-of-the-art Nespresso machine and waters (the minibar is not complimentary). What we loved the most were the personalized Le Labo toiletries that had your name printed on the label, something we’ve not encountered thus far. We appreciated that extra touch as it really made you feel noticed and welcomed. A pillow menu was on offer too although we didn’t feel the need to make use of this since the bedding was to our comfort.
Another great aspect about the Gold Room is the marble bathroom with a luxury walk-in shower that comes with a little surprise. The showers offer an aromatherapy experience using a brand called Skinjay, essential oil shower capsules that you can insert into your shower for a full-on soothing aroma session (this is specific to the Gold Room showers and only if you have this type of shower function). As soon as you insert the capsules, a waft of the essential oils will start to permeate, and it is some kind of paradise. Of course, we didn’t want to go on a wastage water spree, so this aromatherapy session was great for a couple of minutes and good for another round.
In terms of what to expect as a Gold Room guest, you of course have exclusive access to the Gold Lounge for complimentary breakfast, evening canapés and a dessert presentation. You can also request for a butler, city concierge or assistance with any special occasions you might have. We found ourselves spending the most time at the Gold Lounge not just because we had access to it but because it really did feel private, residential and quite peaceful. There aren’t too many guests at one go leaving you to peruse at your own pace. Speaking of which, breakfast becomes a leisurely and delicious experience at the Gold Lounge since food is prepared by its own appointed chef whetting appetites via a few stations of home-cooked delights atop the marble countertop. The experience is akin to someone else’s kitchen only you can take as you please. Rather than the boring pastries you normally get at hotel buffet’s, the Gold Lounge delivers quality ingredients. This is the great aspect of Fairmont Gold – catering to a niche clientele that wants the best for their stay. From dedicated cold pressed juices bottled especially for Fairmont Gold, the most delicious raspberry-custard filled crispy croissants to a lovingly prepared home-cooked Shakshuka, how could this not set the tone for the day ahead? Coffee is also via their state-of-the-art automated Nespresso machine where you can freely fill one up for takeaway, so you’ve got it on the go. After the meal, sitting by the fireplace or by the window taking in Toronto’s skyline seemed like the legitimate thing to do. Grabbing a book from their library was the next thing – all hand-selected for its guests.
This is the Fairmont Gold experience – a level up in quality and comfort. With exceptional service and the friendliest of staff, one is well taken care of here. It is definitely a place we would like to return to. Though it may cost slightly more, we do feel that the Gold experience is worth that extra bit. The combined luxury and comfort as well as the level of quality you can expect is just what is needed on a busy traveling schedule . This is a hotel that wants to stick to its beginnings, to its long-lasting spirit of thoughtfulness, fine hospitality and presence. The renovation has been done with the home-away-from-home feeling in mind so that you’re not lost in some vast soulless rooms with expensive furniture but rather an attentive setting that wants to welcome you in.