Canada’s most historic hotel retains its position as Fairmont’s flagship property

Fairmont Royal York

Fairmont Royal York is conveniently located to nearby Rogers Stadium for Blue Jays games and Scotiabank Arena for Raptors and Maple Leaf games

The Fairmont Royal York Hotel completed a years’ long renovation program in 2019 that has given this historic property a renewed and contemporary elegance. With 1,300+ guest rooms and suites, immense convention facilities and ballrooms – it’s the biggest transformation in the Fairmont hotel group. Walking through the main floor lobby, we were caught up by the bustling energy of the activity, especially in the main lobby Clockwork lounge bar. The designers have struck gold with their remodeled lobby – the Royal York is once again the cool place in downtown Toronto; a place to see and be seen; just as it was the centre of Toronto’s high society generations ago.

During our tour of the hotel, I commented that; “This is not your grandfather’s Royal York”.  That said, management wants grandpa and grandma to feel comfortable at The Royal York. The renovation updated the decor and at the same time preserved the grandeur and elegance that is the hallmark of the Royal York.

Fairmont Gold Lounge

Fairmont Gold guests have their own 18th floor check in and lounge – with twin fireplaces

The re-imagining of the guest rooms and suites was done with the objective to recognize and preserve the heritage of the hotel, and at the same time include an updated decor and amenities that are the hallmark of current first-class accommodations. All the boxes have been checked with the Royal York’s transformation. From the moment you enter, the grandeur of the main lobby has not only been retained – it has been enhanced. In fact, everything in the Royal York is on a grand scale – including the yards wide hallways and elevator banks.

The hand-painted lobby ceilings and beams are still there. The motifs are inspired by the Renaissance art of Northern Italy, plus the national symbols of Scotland, Ireland, the United Kingdom and France. The ‘clock’ has been replaced by a huge modern clock that serves as a backdrop for the Clockwork bar. Led by talented mixologists Clockwork offers a return to the glory days of the cocktail. The signature cocktail is fittingly named Meet Me At The Clock and begins with an absinthe-misted class, and a mixture of Hendricks gin, Moet & Chandon, lemon, a dash of bitters and cooled with a rosé ice ball. In a nod the days of transcontinental train travel from nearby Union Station, the comfortable chairs and sofas in Clockwork are reminiscent of the seating on those elegant Pullman coaches. Hostesses equipped with iPads that monitor available seating ensure that you are seated quickly and served promptly.

Fairmont Gold suite parlour

Fairmont Gold suite parlour, with the entry and
bar at the left

A well equipped bar and coffee station in a Fairmont Gold suite

A well equipped bar and coffee station in a Fairmont Gold suite

Guests booked into Fairmont Gold have their own check-in on the 18th Floor. The Fairmont Gold accommodations have been expanded to occupy floors 12 through 18; anchored by an exquisite Fairmont Gold lounge/lobby that features enormous contemporary gas fireplaces, expansive seating areas and panoramic views of the city. “Gold” guests are offered complimentary full breakfasts, early evening hors d’œuvres and an honour bar. Barista-style coffee and tea are available throughout the day. Individual work stations are equipped to accommodate your electronic devices. A comfortable library is located at one end of this lounge.

luxurious Fairmont Gold suite bathroom

The luxurious Fairmont Gold suite bathroom comes with an aromatherapy feature

The accommodations and personal amenities are everything you’d expect in a first class hotel – and even more. The rooms have elegant pearl grey walls with white trim. Mottled grey and white carpets complete the contemporary and relaxing colour scheme. All the rooms are equipped with Nespresso coffee/tea makers, a good selection of glassware and a well-stocked minibar. High speed Wi-Fi is complimentary for Gold guests. The bathrooms are decidedly next generation, with an aromatherapy option for the shower. Using pod technology similar to a coffee maker, guests have a choice of several scents that are released with the shower water. A great way to re-set before heading out to a show or dinner after a busy day or sightseeing or work.

Fairmont’s Royal York Hotel – REIGN

REIGN is reminiscent of an English manor house

REIGN Restaurant is the new signature restaurant located just off the lobby. Forest green walls offset with walnut wood panels provide an English country estate inspired dining environment. Seating is arranged to provide a good separation between tables. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, REIGN has already earned solid revues on Trip Advisor. The dining has been divided into five rooms, including two private dining rooms.

We enjoyed a superb dinner in REIGN. The menu is inspired by French cuisine, and honours Oceanwise Certification, and purchases produce and meats from farmers and producers within a 100 km radius of Toronto. I enjoyed an outstanding beef tenderloin that was melt-in-your mouth tender. Other menu items include lobster thermidor, escargots, oysters, lamb tartar, butter roasted BC sablefish, brown butter scallops, and wild boar chop. By now you can see that dining in REIGN is a gastronomic treat. The full menu is available on the hotel website.

REIGN Bakery

REIGN Bakery – all baked goods are now made in-house

The Royal York now bakes all of its own bread and pastries in-house, and the REIGN Bakery is adjacent to the restaurant and REIGN Bar. On our way into dinner there was a lively crowd enjoying live music in the piano bar. They were still having a good time singing along with the pianist and singer when we left the dining room a couple of hours later.

Royal York’s pool

Even the Royal York’s pool is elegant
with lots of natural light

This urban resort has a good-sized fitness centre equipped with state of the art equipment and the ever-popular free weights. The main attraction is the pool; large enough for swimming lengths or having fun with the children. There are two good-sized hot tubs on the pool deck.

The always popular Library Bar is still located just a few steps up from the main lobby and it remains a popular meeting place for guests and local citizens. We have friends who – when visiting Toronto – let their friends know that they will be ‘hosting’ at the Library Bar from 2 until 5 pm. Works every time!

Talented Clockwork mixologists prepare signature cocktails

Talented Clockwork mixologists prepare
signature cocktails

If you have business or social events to host in Toronto, you’ll want to consider the meeting rooms and ballrooms. Their transformations are spectacular, and the elegance of their decor has surpassed their original glory days. The Canadian Room can accommodate 1,670 guests for a reception. The Italian inspired decor of the Ballroom was previously restored, including the repair and restoration of the ceiling painting: Venus on her swan chariot. It’s magnificent.

Whether traveling to Toronto for business or pleasure, I’m sure that you’ll find the re-imagined Royal York will meet and even surpass your expectations. Fairmont’s flagship hotel in Canada is not resting on its laurels, but rather is forging full speed into its second century of service. Enjoy!