Story and photography by Melanie Votaw
18 St. Thomas St.
Toronto, Ontario Canada M5S 3E7
The Windsor Arms Hotel could easily be in the dictionary next to the word “luxury”, but at the same time, it manages to be cozy. My 700-square foot suite became an oasis for me during a Toronto snowstorm - the perfect warm place from which to watch the weather and stay dry.
From the butler’s pantry, I retrieved a newspaper in the morning and sent my shoes down for a complimentary shine. The pantry also serves as a place to dispose of service trays and laundry so that you don’t have to wait for someone to pick them up. It means you don’t have to deal with everyone’s trays on the floor in the hallway either. Press a button, and the pantry floor moves up and down for delivery to the butler or back to you.
The property’s 28 suites all have the amenities you want - complimentary Wi-Fi, an iPod docking station, bedside control panels, a desk, a suit valet, a convertible sofa in the living area, and a Nespresso maker. The unique amenity that you won’t find in any other hotel I know about is a musical instrument. One of the larger suites contains a baby grand piano, while mine had a guitar hanging on the wall. Other suites include a harp.
The breakfast buffet is small but complimentary in The Living Room restaurant, where I enjoyed a steak at dinner. This newly redesigned restaurant is deliciously funky with a mix of animal prints, leathers, and vintage art from Britain. It reminded me a great deal of L’Hotel in Paris - a combination of elegant and offbeat. The hotel knew they would get this aesthetic when they hired British designer Jacques Dinel for the job.
My meal at the restaurant was well prepared, and I couldn’t have been more comfortable in my cushioned chair. It’s a great atmosphere for a business meeting exactly because it doesn’t look like a place where you’d talk business. I suspect it would disarm the parties and allow everyone to relax more than usual.
The Living Room’s menu is classic with steaks, chicken, salmon, surf and turf, kale salad, and crème brulée. But it also includes a few surprises like avocado and heart of palm frites, Vietnamese lettuce rolls, and vegan petit fours. If you’re vegan or Kosher, you’ll have no problems there.
The restaurant has 60 local craft drafts and beers besides an extensive wine list. Wine Spectator has acknowledged the restaurant with an award of excellence for five years. It’s also open from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. and provides 24-hour room service.
Even though the Windsor Arms is a small boutique property, it has its own spa on the fourth and fifth floors that includes a large terrace with panoramic views of Toronto. It also has a salt water pool with a fireplace on the deck and a couples’ massage room. For meetings, the hotel maintains a banquet hall, a private screening room, and three small meeting rooms.
Located in a historic building, the Windsor Arms has been serving Afternoon Tea since 1927, and the original fireplace is still intact in one of the tea rooms. There is a selection of fancy hats that you can wear during tea for a $5 donation that benefits Look Good Feel Better, an organization that provides cosmetic and hair alternatives workshops for women with cancer.
The hotel is situated on a side street off the main shopping area on Bloor Street West, making my suite surprisingly quiet. Still, I was just steps away from the city’s beloved ROM - the Royal Ontario Museum - and the Bata Shoe Museum.
Of course, the service at the Windsor Arms is also what you’d expect of a five-star property. The staff to guest radio is five to one.
After having traveled the world and stayed at some of the best properties on the planet, I consider the Windsor Arms in my top ten luxury hotels.
© June 2014 LuxuryWeb Magazine. All rights reserved.