Fodor's Expert Review Windsor Arms
18 St. Thomas St., at Bloor St. W, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 3E7, Canada See on Map
Built to blend into the University of Toronto's neo-Gothic style, the Windsor Arms lives up to its grand stone portico, monogrammed awnings, distinctive crests and stained glass windows. With a guest-to-staff ratio of 5:1, the hotel places high importance on personalized service. Witness the 24-hour butler. Lavish suites have handmade mahogany furnishings, luxurious duvets and linens, state-of-the-art sound systems, and a different musical instrument in each room. Painstakingly restored to add comfort to old-world charm, the Windsor Arms is a stately retreat with reason to be proud of its luxurious purple tea room.
Film people should know, there's a private screening room with big comfy seats for up to 15 people. Also, a hot buffet breakfast is included with room rates, as is Wi-Fi.
Ahem, m'lady, the butler is at your service. The hotel offers all guests 24-hour butler service and it's easy to get used to all the attention. The traditional suites--and they're all suites--have custom mahogany furnishings, Nespresso makers, free Wi-Fi, desks, posh bedding and lots of closet space. What they lack is libido. This isn't the hotel room to get your freak on. But you will get a good night's sleep.
There is a butler's pantry to maintain full privacy for things like room service and shoe shines. Plus, rooms come with harps, guitars or pianos.
Like the bedrooms, the bathrooms don't inspire erotic trysts. However, they have everything else going for them, including Molton Brown products, walk-in showers, soaker tubs, big mirrors and excellent lighting.
An attentive and friendly doorman guides you inside, ushering you under the grand stone portico. The lobby's sight lines are great, with views of the Living Room restaurant, the bar, and the tea room.
Recently upgraded, the pool now has salt water, fresh white tiles, greenery and an adjacent shower area. The original 1927 fireplace was restored, creating a warm vibe. You can find the pool on the fourth floor, one floor below the spa.
Carve out some time to sit in the salt cave, which is believed to improve respiratory ailments. It's the crown jewel in the spa's more typical offerings: sauna, steam room, beauty treatments, massage and personal training.
Compact and clean, the gym has a mirror wall and all the fitness gear you'd expect. Private training is available and some cardio machines can be brought to your room for $60 per two-hour interval.
The Living Room is a friendly place to have a meal, surrounded by vintage prints, sofas and leopard-print foot stools. The kitchen is open until 2 a.m., a revelation in Toronto. There are gourmet Kosher options, too. Locals come for the "chef's table", located in the kitchen ($150 per person), for a five-course treat or custom-cooked meal. High tea is another signature event, served in a majestic room painted deep purple. Ask to sit near the restored fireplace.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Sunday brunch in the Courtyard Cafe has short hours, served between 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., so you won't have time to read much of the Sunday New York Times while nibbling a croissant.
The bar has wrap-around studded leather seats that keep you snug while you sip a glass of vino from the award-winning wine list. There are over 40 local craft beer options and a hearty bar menu. We loved the vegan burger--seriously, we did.
The bar menu is available until 1 a.m. In Toronto, that's late!
Don't rent a car at the airport because you won't use it. Note that the valet service is $45 per night, with in and out privileges. Taxis are the best way to cross town. Alternately, The Bay Street subway is a five-minute walk.
STK is where to get an exceptionally good steak, served with modern sides in an energizing atmosphere. Cue the D.J. (7-minute walk). For something lighter, try the Japanese seafood at Kasa Moto in Yorkville (10-minute walk).
For a Prohibition-themed watering hole, visit CC Lounge & Whiskey Bar in the St. Lawrence Market area (15-minute taxi ride). Or indulge in a "tasting flight" at Pravda Vodka House, where there's a chilled cellar and caviar sides (15-minutes by taxi).
WHY WE LIKE IT
Where else are you encouraged to wear a fancy hat to high tea? The Windsor Arms is all about refinement, reminiscent of a social club in London, circa 1920. Yet, hiding behind the neo-Gothic facade is contemporary comfort and updated decor in the public rooms. Leather-studded chairs abound, but so do quirky prints and wall coverings. We love the therapeutic salt cave and steam room, as well as the butler service and pet package ($50 one-time fee). This hotel has than its aspirations to peerage; it's quiet and close to museums, high-end boutiques and the Bloor subway line.
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