Dramatic exterior stairs sweep up to the entryway, leading to a dated but spacious lobby. Relax in the indoor pool, surrounded by neoclassical murals, or browse through the hotel's 24-hour gift shop. There's a rooftop patio garden with gazebo and heated whirlpools on the rooftop terrace with views of Lake Ontario. Two-room suites have spacious living rooms separated from the bedroom by French doors while oversized ambassador suites are one- or two-stories with two bathrooms and a full kitchen. It's time to refresh the lobby and room decor, but the helpful staff make up for any style deficiencies.
Free breakfast is served in the Citrus Room. Ask to sit on the glassed-in terrace during warmer months.
Spacious and decorated in shades of coffee and dark brown, the suites and rooms have a staid dignity--plus free Wi-Fi, two TVs, new wood floors, granite kitchens (although some kitchens are dated), bathrobes, large safes and duvet comforters. Minor quibbles: the art is timid and small, for the scale of the walls, and the hallways are out of style, with cheesy carpet and wall-mounted brass lanterns. There are not enough connectivity plugs, especially near the bed.
Budget permitting, upgrade to one of the twenty-four unique Ambassador Suites, including two-story suites with soaring 18-foot windows and a rawhide area rug in the living room.
Marble, as far as the eye can see. The bathrooms at the Grand are all radically different, but you can count on the marble, fluffy tiles, upscale toiletries and decent floor space. What you can't always count on is enough counter space.
Once your ascend the exterior staircase--often carpeted red in warmer weather--and enter the Grand, all eyes go upward to the round, recessed, coffered ceiling feature. From it, hangs a round, baronial light fixture. Reception desk is a traditional and dated.
YOU SHOULD KNOW While once it was certainly "grand", the spacious lobby looks dated and boring. Furnishings need refreshing, and a designer needs to drag the decor away from the 1990s.
Roman bath, anyone? Relax in the grand, indoor pool surrounded by hand-painted, neoclassical-style murals. There's a second-story gallery for onlookers, luxury chairs and overhead stain-glass light panels. The pool is in the basement, but you'd never know it.
Tucked into the second floor fitness club on the second floor, the Grand Spa is where to go for a hot stone massage, organic spray tans, shellac nails, makeovers and waxing.
Head up to the roof for hot tubs and film screenings!
At 5,000 square feet, the fitness club is serious. It's fully stocked with clean, new fitness gear--all the cardio machines, weights, and core training gizmos.
YOU SHOULD KNOW While the gym has a new coat of paint, mirrors and it's clean, there aren't any windows. You'll have to dig deep for your motivation.
Citrus Restaurant and Lounge is just off the right-hand side, through the front door. That's where the free buffet breakfast is served, amid recently-renovated surroundings. The style is "transitional"--not quite modern, but not too frumpy. The warm mushroom salad is a surprise hit, while regulars love the lamb meatballs.
There's a late-night menu of standard pub grub available until midnight. Also, ask to see their selection of Sloan fine teas. In spring and summer, eat on the delightful terrace. It's glassed-in, has wrought-iron chairs and a showstopper round fountain.
The bar menu is fun (kale salads, empanadas, cheese plates and a surprising amount of sushi), and the drinks are classic--from imported ales to minor mixology. Recently renovated, the clubby square chairs and leather bar stools are a hit. The wrought iron stair rail, painted with gold accents, is the highlight.
At $32 plus tax per night, the valet parking is decent, as is the self park option, at $22 plus tax per night. Centrally located, the hotel is steps from the Bloor subway line, and buses on Yonge Street. Alternately, just walk. You're close to shopping and sites.
JOEY Eaton Centre (10-minute walk) is an upscale, quirky place for inventive Canadian cuisine, or savor casual but authentic French food at Batifole (9-minute drive), which has a 300-label wine list.
Stout Irish Pub (5-minute drive) is a reliable place for local beer tasting, board games and trivia nights. Or, Shark Club Toronto (8-minute walk) has communal tables made for mingling, great designer cocktails, beer on tap and TVs on the wall.
WHY WE LIKE IT
Close to the Blood subway line and Yonge Street, the Grand may not be super grand anymore, but it's still convenient, stately and well appointed. The pool has an upstairs viewing gallery and neoclassical pillars and murals. There are two heated hot tubs on the roof, where films are screened in the summer. We love the free breakfast at Citrus Restaurant, right off the lobby. The friendly staff doubles as concierges.