When world renowned architect Moshe Safdie designs a hotel, you know it's going to get attention. The Pantages opened in 2003, and hasn't stopped attracting long-stay clients, entertainers and business folk. Its clean lines, gleaming hardwood flooring, and brushed-steel accents exude contemporary cool. As befits a hotel named after the legendary Pantages Theatre (now the Canon Theatre), there's a sense of drama in the lobby, with both hotel guests and condominium residents coming and going.
YOU SHOULD KNOW The Deluxe Studio has an odd layout, with the oven and galley kitchen at the foot of the bed.
Oversized mirrors dominate the small bathrooms, where counter space is at a premium. Most rooms have tubs and walk-in glass showers. There are rainfall shower heads, a decadent number of towels and high-end toiletries by Nest.
Prepare yourself for some visual drama in the lobby, starting with the long corridor leading to reception. It's spot lit with huge hanging lamps. A set of glowing stairs lead to the condos owned by residents, but elevators to the guest suites are behind reception. It's all a bit dark and mysterious.
Admittedly, there isn't a full spa, but the hotel gets credit for their tranquility hot tub, sauna and rain forest relaxation room--right near the gym. There's a Buddha statue and candles, plus sunlight from floor-to-ceiling windows.
Giving you the psychological advantage, the gym has wallpaper with motivational words and inspiring pictures of athletes. It works. The fitness equipment, recently updated, is clean and comprehensive for all your workout needs. You'll find it on the fifth floor.
Stages Restaurant & Lounge has a small menu of pub staples that adheres to the philosophy, "stick with what you know". The steak frites is a favourite, as is the wedge Caesar salad and the house burger. Breakfast buffet is spread along the bar every morning, but guests can also order hot egg dishes from the menu.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Stages isn't a high-end place to entertain new clients or schmooze on a first date.
Hand-crafted martinis are what locals order at the Pantages--so you should, too. The bar is hopping before "curtain" at the Canon Theatre. There are a limited number of comfy orange bar stools, so grab one and stay put. There's another lounge section, with gas fireplace and tub chairs, for bigger groups and more privacy.
While there is no valet service and no parking lots on site, there are four public lots nearby. Not to worry, you won't need the car. The hotel is right in the heart of downtown Toronto, near the subway lines, streetcars and taxis. However, you will be able to walk to most entertainment venues and business destinations.
Ethiopiques Restaurant (5-minute walk) is where to get cha cha, kifto, shiro and more delicacies--stews, mostly--from outside the North American playbook. For an upscale treat, you must make a reservation to eat at George (7-minute walk), helmed buy award-winning Chef Lorenzo Loseto. His tasting menus are works of art.
Carbon Bar (7-minute walk) has authentic southern BBQ, artsy decor and great booths for small parties. Pogue Mahone Pub and Kitchen (7-minute drive) serves Irish and British beer, Irish breakfast and pub grub in a casual setting. In the summer, the patio is a prime spot for after-work ale.
WHY WE LIKE IT
Tickled by the idea of staying at a hotel by Moshe Safdie, we love the high design, stark lines and theatrical lighting. We also love the location, directly across the street from St. Michaels hospital, steps away from performing arts venus, top shopping destinations, Canada’s longest street (Yonge Street) and the financial district. Elegant and cool, the Pantages is a destination in itself, or the perfect warm up for a night at the theatre.