Imagine if the Von Trapp family moved to Ontario instead of Vermont. The Old Mill is the only country inn within the city limits of Toronto. Nestled into the Humber Valley, the five-story Tudor hotel has manicured gardens, dormer windows, and an arched stone bridge flanking the 1914 building. Burnished mahogany and cherrywood tables, chairs, and beds grace guest traditional bedrooms. Most rooms have a view of the wooded banks of the river. Live jazz makes the bar a hot spot. It's a 15-minute drive or subway ride from downtown and about 25 minutes by car from the airport.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Some people find the traditional upholstery dated, while other's don't appreciate the summertime wedding receptions. There is a chapel on site, but no pool and no pets allowed. The main dining room is closed Monday and Tuesday nights.
Spacious and grand, the traditional-style bedrooms have carved sleigh beds, four-poster mahogany beds and wrought iron beds. Some beds even have curtains. Burnished mahogany and cherrywood tables and chairs give the rooms a stately feel. There is nightly turn-down service (with little chocolates on the pillows) as well as views of the Humber River.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Hipsters will not dig the vibe. Bedroom decor is more granny and Grammys, with flowery fabrics, old-school drapery and sad carpets. Fireplaces may be "faux", with only a bulb instead of a true gas fireplace.
In keeping with the property's 1914 build date, the bathrooms aren't enormous showpieces. But they're clean and serviceable, with all amenities available. An update is in order.
Baronial and grand, the lobby sets the tone. With flagstone floors and exposed stone walls, The Old Mill is a historic gem. Guests stop in their tracks to admire the dark wooden rafters, cathedral ceilings and dramatic black accent walls. Elevators are a bit old and slow, but somehow it's not a bother.
YOU SHOULD KNOW The reception desk itself is small, with only two computer stations, so give yourself plenty of time to check out.
Do you feel like aromatherapy, reflexology or reiki? The spa is many notches above the normal hotel offering, with osteopathic treatments, massage, facials and even halotherapy--salt therapy.
The gym will allow you to keep those New Year's resolutions. There are a few cardio machines, free weights, mats and more. It's clean and well supervised.
Exposed stone walls and a 50'-high solid fir cathedral ceiling define the manor-house restaurant, the Old Mill Dining Room. There's dinner and dancing six nights a week, plus luncheon buffets. There is also a convenient courtyard patio grill in the summer. But the continental breakfast is the unifying crowd-pleaser, featuring warm hard boiled eggs and hot maple brown sugar steel-cut oatmeal. Other buffet items include seasonal sliced Fruits, cold cereals, assorted cold cuts, yogurts, freshly baked pastries, gluten-free bread, bagels, with preserves and premium O.J. The dining room is closed on Monday and Tuesday nights.
Afternoon tea is legendary. Bring your fancy hat and sip Kyoto Sencha Cherry Rose tea while nibbling fingerling sandwiches and Battenburg cakes. The Devonshire cream is imported to go with the current and lemon scones. ($30.97 per person)
Clubby and warm, the in-house bar is a casual place to sample the ample list of whisky and bourbon. Signature cocktails abound, like the Apple Moscow Mule with ginger beer. The wine list is limited, but the bar menu makes everyone happy. Regulars rave about the battered fish and chips, and burgers served on a brioche bun.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Lively and fun, the Home Smith Bar is a platform for Toronto's best live jazz. Witness Gene Di Novi's show on the first Tuesday of every month, as well as other notable talents from Thursday to Saturday evenings.
How's this for clout--the Old Mill has its own subway station! It's on the Bloor line, at the west edge of town. But take the car because parking at the Old Mill is easy, with an open lot across the street. The parking fee is covered in your $12 hospitality fee. It's a 15-minute drive or subway ride from downtown and about 25 minutes by car from the airport.
To be surrounded in mod British style--cue the Union Jack sofa--head to The Swan (5-minute drive) for pub grub on their rooftop patio. Bloom Restaurant (5-minute drive) has life music and exotic "Nuevo Latino" cuisine, which is a blend of Latin and Spanish dishes.
Our best advice is to stay put and enjoy the hotel's lively Home Smith Bar, but if you must leave the property, Bryden's (15-minute walk) is a casual spot to sample craft beer, with 17 on tap and a rotating selection of seven featured labels.
WHY WE LIKE IT
Oh, to be in the English countryside--wait, you can be, at The Old Mill. This Tudor-style inn from 1914 offers a rural experience just steps from a subway stop. We love watching the salmon leaping upstream in the Humber River. Time slows down as guests take afternoon tea, attend a wedding in the chapel or watch a live jazz performance. It's handy to hike the nearby trails and explore local parks. The traditional upholstery doesn't appeal to everyone, but most appreciate the 50'-high cathedral ceilings made of fir and the exposed stone walls.