Toronto’s live theatre scene is on a par with London & New York. The city is home to the world-renown Toronto International Film Festival and its iconic TIFF building.  International travelers are attracted to the high end shopping, outstanding restaurants and art galleries. Sports enthusiasts can enjoy the five professional sports teams:  baseball, hockey, basketball, soccer and rugby, and visit the Hockey Hall of Fame. Toronto locations of businesses that cater to affluent travelers and local residents are thriving.

Luxury in Toronto

Guests meet in The Kimpton Saint George elegant living room for the Manager’s Cocktail

Our “Luxury Toronto” experience began at the recently opened Kimpton Saint George, the newest addition to the San Francisco-based Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants. The hotel has already received excellent reviews on Trip Advisor, and a recent J.D. Power survey of customer satisfaction ranks Kimpton Hotels #2 in Upper Upscale Hotels, just behind the Ritz Carlton chain.

Kimpton began 37 years ago in San Francisco, and the Saint George is the first Kimpton in Toronto and newest in Canada. The hotel continues with the company’s concept of unique, locally designed boutique hotels, and a policy of supporting local designers, artists and artisans. Bertrand Mangeot, the Hotel Director, proudly told us that the Saint George “reflects today’s Toronto” with its casual feel amid contemporary elegance.

Luxury in Toronto

A deluxe king room at the Kimpton Saint George

Situated at 280 Bloor St. West, between Huron and St George Streets, guests are within walking distance to The Annex, Yorkville, and luxury shopping on Bloor. The hotel faces the U of T campus, Varsity Stadium, the ROM, and the Bata Shoe Museum (a small gem worth a visit).

The Saint George offers distinctive design features – warm earth tones throughout; wide arched hallways; locally crafted furnishings and artwork. The Reception space flows into the Living Room style lobby –providing comfortable sitting areas, hand crafted vases and floral arrangements, a fireplace; and large windows facing Bloor for people watching.  Coffee, tea and ice water are always available, and the area hosts a complementary 5pm to 6pm daily wine social with the Hotel Manager.

Luxury in Toronto

Bicycles and helmets are available without charge for guests at the Kimpton Saint George

The Saint George’s 188 modern guest rooms (including 20 suites and a Presidential Suite) provide a quiet and comfortable sanctuary for the traveler. Each room houses unique pieces of art, custom made furniture and personal yoga mats. The suites are equipped with TEAC turntable systems, and vinyls from the nearby Sonic Room Records store.

“Forgot it? We’ve got It?” is a menu of travel and vacation essentials available by calling the Front Desk: another signature offering of Kimpton hotels. Atelier Bloem Bath amenities are in all rooms. An old fashioned alarm clock is found on one table; a blue tube radio on another; and tech access is available in every room. The hotel has a fitness centre, and events space for meetings.

Complementary custom designed PUBLIC bikes and helmets are available for guests to take a ride through the Annex neighbourhood, or the quiet of the U of T campus.

And just like home, the Saint George is pet-friendly – with NO additional fee or deposit.

The Fortunate Fox gastro-pub is accessible from the hotel.  This attractive restaurant offers very good selection of meals, reasonable prices, and provides room service to the Saint George clientele.

If You’re a Shopper

Luxury in Toronto

Hermes is another must visit Mink Mile
luxury retailer

Turn left from the Saint George and head for “Mink Mile” on Bloor Street – home to top luxury brands such as Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Cartier, Burberry, Prada, Tiffany and Dolce Gabbana.  Indulge yourself at Harry Rosen and Holt Renfrew’s flagship stores for both men and women.

Luxury in Toronto

Holt Renfrew’s flagship location on Bloor is one of many high-end stores

Go north a block from Bloor to Cumberland and Yorkville Streets, much changed from the 60’s hippie era, where you’ll now find high end designer boutiques, and world renowned shops like Channel and Christian Louboutin.

I suggest a lunch at Sassafraz (100 Cumberland) in the heart of Yorkville. You have the option to sit on the terrace to watch a people and car parade.  Or for a more restful break, dine inside Sassafraz and enjoy an exceptional menu while relaxing beside a living wall and waterfall. Sassafraz serves French-inspired Canadian cuisine.

Luxury in Toronto

Sassafraz in Yorkville is a fine place to people-watch while enjoying fine dining

If you’re up for a completely different shopping experience, turn left from the Saint George and explore The Annex for bohemian boutiques and local coffee shops. And a five minute taxi south from the Saint George will find you on Queen Street’s “cool hood” – home to trendy local designers, vintage shops, art galleries, and coffee havens.

Luxury in Toronto

The Four Seasons Spa in Yorkville has recently been renovated

Need help with style and colour, Suzanne Colmer, “Toronto’s style & image consulting queen” and owner of Your Shop Girl, will escort you on a shopping tour anywhere in Toronto – perhaps find you one of the coats Mehgan Markle so loves to wear in London.

For a true break from the bustle of shopping, schedule a visit at The Spa at the Four Seasons (60 Yorkville Ave.) This newly renovated spa and beauty boutique takes up the entire 9th floor of the hotel/residence complex. It offers “more spa treatments than any other Four Seasons in the world” boasts Victoria Nickle, Spa Director for the Americas.  Several international beauty product lines are only available at this location. I opted for a Himalayan Pink Salt Stone Massage – a totally relaxing experience to nourish, rejuvenate and detox the body. “Wonderful!”

If you’re a Foodie

Luxury in Toronto

BarChef takes the cocktail to a whole new level, pictured here is a Smoked Manhattan

Toronto has become internationally famous for gourmet wining and dining. (No longer the city our parents once dissed in comparison to Montreal’s restaurant scene.)

BarChef (472 Queen Street) is a unique watering hole for flashy cocktails. A Smoked Manhattan will set you back $50; or ask for a drink on a floral bed, and use a watering can to create an effect that will delight all five senses. (Regular drinks at regular prices are of course available, but the playfulness and show of the specialty cocktails is worth the indulgence.)

Luxury in Toronto

Celebrity restaurateur Chef Susur Lee with his
signature Singapore Style Slaw

Just down the street, LEE is a Toronto culinary destination. Chef Susur Lee has devised a delectable palette of sharing-style dishes, balancing epicurean traditions with the classical techniques of French cuisine. The signature Singapore Style Slaw is a 19 ingredient work of art, tossed tableside, and tastes so crunchy and delicious that everyone will want a second helping.

Chef Lee, and sommelier David Ouelette (another Montrealer who went down the road) strongly promote Ontario market produce, and Ontario wines. They are both often at LEE, and will happily pause at your table for comments and to provide recommendations.

Luxury in Toronto

We enjoyed brunch at the unique rooftop Chez Lavelle – lots of fun and great views

Internationally known TV chef, and currently judge on Food Network Canada’s Chopped Canada, Susur Lee oversees five Toronto restaurants:  LEE, Fring’s, Luckee, Lee Kitchen, and the newest Kid Lee – located in the financial district for foodies who want a fast gourmet lunch or take out. When not in Toronto, Chef Lee may be found in his prestigious TungLok Heen restaurant in Singapore’s Hotel Michael – maybe a destination for your next Luxury Trip.

And there are numerous “foodie tours”.  Check out possibilities at the Toronto Food Tours and take a culinary adventure to visit many diverse neighbourhoods. (www.tofoodtours.com )

If you love Museums, Theatre & Culture

The ROM (Royal Ontario Museum) and the Bata Shoe Museum are located across the street from The Kimpton St George. The Bata Shoe Museum is currently hosting a retrospective on the work of Manolo Blahnik, “The Art of Shoes” – the only North American stop on this world wide tour.

Luxury in Toronto

The always-popular Art Gallery Of Ontario

Around the corner on Avenue Road, you can walk to the Gardiner Museum. The AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario) is a short taxi ride away, or check out The Design Exchange Spadina Museum. Further afield the Toronto Science Centre and the Aga Khan Museum are both worth a visit. And a must for kids of all ages, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, is easily accessed nearby the CN Tower and the Rogers Stadium.

Toronto’s live theatre scene is on par with New York and London. The City is also home to the world class Toronto International Film Festival. The iconic TIFF building is open year round to view new films and documentaries, eat popcorn, or dine at LUMA – the TIFF building’s fine dining restaurant, featuring local and regional ingredients and wines. The TIFF is located in the “Theatre District” of Toronto (350 King West).

Luxury in Toronto

The immensely popular Come From Away has been
extended until well into 2019

I was thrilled to see Come From Away, currently back from Broadway and playing at the Royal Alexandra Theatre.  First developed at Sheridan College’s Canadian Music Theatre Project, the show has excelled beyond expectations. It tells the remarkable true story about the remote town of Gander, Newfoundland,  whose unusual residents’ rallied to help and care for hundreds of airline passengers diverted after the bombing of the World Trade Center, 9/11/2001. You leave the theatre feeling uplifted and “proud to be Canadian”.  Unexpected decency, generosity, and camaraderie transpired over five days, when folks from around the world were stranded on “The Rock”. The production is now extended at the Royal Alex until January 2019; then it moves around the block to the Elgin Theatre – both theatres exceptional historic venues for live theatre.

Currently, Wicked, The King And I, Phantom Of The Opera, and Mamma Mia are playing at downtown theatres. If you are planning to be in Toronto in October or November, Ain’t Too Proud, the story of The Temptations, is coming to town.

For a Luxury Tour of the City

Luxury in Toronto

Fantastic view of the Rogers Centre from the Toronto Heli Tour helicopter

I enjoyed a unique helicopter fly-over above the CN Tower, downtown skyscrapers, over Lake Ontario, the Canadian National Exhibition grounds to the west, the Don Valley to the east, and look north to realize what a lush and green expanse is this rich and complex city of Toronto. If you have the time, you can also helicopter to Niagara Falls, and spend the afternoon visiting Niagara on the Lake wineries before soaring your way back to Toronto Island. Operated by Toronto Heli Tours, this experience is worth every dollar and ideal if you have a teenager in your group.

If you don’t know Toronto, take a Hop on Hop off Bus Tour to familiarize yourself with distinct areas. Street signs in Toronto are often clearly designated by district – entertainment, financial, and so on.

How to Get There & How to Get Around

A luxury trip does not involve driving the long boring 401.

I took VIA Rail from Montreal/Dorval to Union Station in downtown Toronto. VIA Rail Canada is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year – and service and comfort is better than ever. Business class provides single or shared seating, WIFI, snacks, winning and dining.

Another option is to fly with Porter Airlines which offers a direct flight from Trudeau International Airport to Billy Bishop Airport on Toronto Island, avoiding the congestion at Pearson International and traffic into the city centre. A short shuttle service to downtown is provided, and taxis, subway, and bus service are readily available.

Travel Planner

Kimpton Saint George Hotel: www.kimptonsaintgeorge.com

Toronto Heli Tours: 1-416-203-3280 Facebook @TorontoHeliTours

Shopping with Suzanne Colmer: www.yourshopgirl.com

Sassafraz Restaurant: www.sassafraz.ca/restaurant.aspx

LEE Restaurant: www.leerestaurant.com

BarChef: www.barcheftoronto.com

The Spa at Four Seasons: www.fourseasons.com/toronto/spa/

Come From Away: www.mirvish.com/shows/come-from-away

LUMA: http://oliverbonacini.com/Luma.aspx

Lavelle roof top restaurant: www.chezlavelle.com

Tourism Toronto: www.seetorontonow.com

VIP Toronto Attractions Passport: www.citypass.com/Toronto

VIA RAIL:  www.viarail.ca/deals/Toronto

TTC PASS   www.ttc.ca