As a six year resident of Toronto, it’s been a bit strange adjusting to the idea of living outside of the city.
Luckily, I still have the option of staying in the city, because Toronto is full of some pretty awesome hotels. I’ve stayed at countless hotels in Toronto, including four different ones over the past two weeks.
After a night at an average hotel in downtown Toronto, I was really looking forward to checking in at the Gladstone Hotel. I had been to the hotel before, but never as a guest.
With a quick streetcar ride down Queen West, we arrived at the Gladstone. We left our bags with the friendly front desk manager, and headed out for a quick lunch before our check-in time.
Eventually, we headed back to the hotel, grabbed our room keys, and made for the stairs. Only–we didn’t have to take the stairs, we boarded a fully restored hand-operated Victorian elevator from 1904, (one of the last in Toronto!) that took us to the top floor.
Then–I finally got to see the room. Immediately upon opening the door, my eyes met a tall stack of antique suitcases that rested in the far corner of the room.
My eyes widened. “Oh my god!” I yelled, “all the suitcases!”
There weren’t only suitcases in the room, it was an entire travel-lovers dream world.
The curtains and the lampshades were decorated with maps and old postage stamp prints. I wished that I could take all of the decor and mimic it in my own bedroom at home.
In the bathroom, a stack of hand written post cards dangled on a long chain. Each one had a different message on it, and came from different locations.
Inside one of the bedside tables, was an antique radio that played audio postcards of old guests of the hotel.
Just as I thought that the room couldn’t get any cooler, I found out that the suitcases served as more than a decorative corner piece.
The bottom case swung open to reveal a TV, and one of the smaller cases on top popped down to show a DVD player.
Not only was it the best themed room I had ever been in, but it was comfortable and multifunctional.
The Gladstone houses 37 unique art designed rooms. I would highly recommend not only the Gladstone Hotel, but this particular room to any traveler coming to Toronto.
After taking the elevator to the sixth floor, I was blown away upon walking into the front hallway of the room. Yes–front hallway. The room was big enough that it was actually separated into different sections.
Through the hallway was a large, bright bathroom to the left, and a seating area to the front. Walking into the seating area, the entire room opened up into a “U” shaped layout.
The seating area lead to another table, that lead to a desk, that lead to a bedroom area.
The walls were adorned in an intricate wallpaper, along with patterned curtains and high end furniture.
Awaiting us on the table, was a lovely spread of cheeses, crackers, other snacks, and a bottle of wine with glasses. We ended up enjoying these later on, and it was a great night.
The bed itself was tall and wide; it was enormous. It was well lit, and had walls on three sides.
Sitting on the bed with the covers on was a bit deceiving. It felt like any other bed. Once the covers were pulled down and I crawled inside, it suddenly became the most comfortable bed I had ever slept in.
I had a hard time waking up the next morning.
Moments later, there was a knock at the door. It was a delivery; a small jar of honey.
Before I even had a chance to wonder where the honey had come from, we were suddenly on our way up to the roof of the hotel to find out.
Up the elevator, a few flights of stairs, through a large storage room, and finally another small step up to the final door.
I stepped out into the bright sunlight that beamed down from above, as well as reflecting off a neighbouring skyscraper.
The CN Tower poked up between the condos and businesses of the Toronto waterfront.
To my right, was a wide herb garden, in full bloom. Box after box of healthy vegetables lined the walkways, each labelled with a specific plant or variety.
To the left, was what we had come up to the roof for; the bees. Several bee hives stood in the far corner, stacked side by side in the hot sun. As I got closer, I could see dozens of bees buzzing around the exterior, hard at work.
Each hive had its own queen, which had been marked with its “annual colour”. Every time a new queen is brought it, it is marked with a special felt pen, with the years corresponding colour. The colour for 2012 is yellow (fitting, no?), and 2011 was white.
This is done to differentiate the queens from year to year. New queens get shipped in via Fedex, in a special container that is placed into the hive, that the drones then eat their way out of over a period of a couple of weeks. It is a meticulous process, but all the while, quite fascinating.
The honey produced by the bees, and herbs grown in the garden are all used in different hotel recipes in the kitchen. The next time that you enjoy a meal at the Fairmont, you could very well be consuming produce from right above your head!
After some time observing the bees, we returned to the main floor of the hotel. It was hot on the roof, so we headed over to the Library Bar for a drink.
Feeling a bit under-dressed, we took a table in the back corner. I was wearing flip-flops, but most of the people around me were wearing suits and dresses. I chose to ignore it, and ordered a Singapore Sling.
Waiting for the drinks, I ate some bar snacks, and looked around the room. Classic books lined the walls and shelves, and table formations mirrored an upscale study.
I’ve stayed at a lot of hotels.. I mean–A LOT. After my stays at the Gladstone Hotel and the Fairmont Royal York, it was easy to decide that not only were they my favourite hotels in Toronto, but they were the coolest and nicest hotels that I had ever stayed at.. in the world.
I look forward to returning to these hotels myself, and would highly recommend them to any traveler heading through the Toronto area.