Shangri-La Toronto lobby

Shangri-La Toronto
Toronto, Canada


With a fun mix of arts, culture and great food, married with admirable diversity and unrivalled friendliness, Toronto proves that city life doesn’t always have to feel rushed or hectic. And embodying the charm of the Ontarian capital is its stylish luxury property, ‘designed in the fabric of the city’, the Shangri-La Toronto.

There’s something about Toronto. Wherever you go, people are super friendly and the pace of life is unhurried. Yet this is a big North American city. From bakers giving us a quick wave as we cupped our hands against their window to look in their shop, to folks on the ferry nudging up tighter so we could get a better view, Toronto is an unexpected city that welcomes all and sundry.

This should surprise no one. According to the recent Census, over half of Toronto’s residents were born outside Canada and there are over 200 ethnic origins in the city speaking 160 languages, alongside English. Half of the population, of over three million people, is made up of newcomers (or they remember being one not too long ago). So, embracing visitors is every Torontonian’s thing. With long-established multiple Chinatowns, Little Italy, Little India, Greektown, Koreatown, Little Tokyo, Little Jamaica, Little Portugal, Little Malta, Roncesvalles (Polish) and Bloor West Village (Ukrainian) Toronto is the beacon of multicultural coexistence that we’d love to see more of.

Shangri-La Toronto is brilliantly placed on University Avenue. On arrival, we headed straight to the terrace which wraps around the hotel and has views of the busy city streets. Over a glass or three of Veuve Clicquot champagne, we pulled out maps, circled our must-see sites and hatched a plan to make the best of our time here. The location of the hotel was within a ten to twenty-minute walk from all the attractions on our list: the beautiful harbour front to catch the ferry to Toronto Islands; the iconic CN Tower for panoramic views of the city; TIFF Lightbox for taking in a matinee; the Rogers Centre: Home of the Toronto Blue Jays to witness the team’s thunderous victory over Houston Astros.

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While you’re Out There
Just a ten-minute walk away, St. Lawrence Market is a mecca for Toronto’s complex food heritage. Culinary Adventure Company is an LGBTQ-owned food tour company that offers a brilliant two-and-a-half-hour walking tour through the market. As St. Lawrence has over 120 vendors, navigating it solo feels overwhelming, especially if your time in the city is limited. The Culinary Adventure Company tour offers 15+ tastings from hand-picked sellers starting with great coffee followed by oysters and salmon, cheese and charcuterie and seasonal berries with a good dose of history of both the market building and vendors. Be sure to pick something from the huge range of food souvenirs, from artisan chocolate to traditional Canadian mustard.

In addition, simply walking around Downtown Toronto is a joy. It’s a pretty city and a safe one at that. And at every corner, coffee shops, breweries and bakeries are busy making things fresh and serving them in small batches. Residential streets are easy to spot from their three-story redbrick houses and local gems such as the 19th-century Distillery District and the indoor-outdoor Toronto Railway Museum, where vintage train carriages stand against skyscrapers, bowled us over.

And at the end of the packed day of discovering the city, it’s lovely to come back to Shangri-La Toronto’s luxurious space. An enormous metal sculpture by Chinese artist Zhang Huan leads to the entrance of the hotel, which opens up to a jaw-dropping lobby. A double-sided fireplace stands centre stage and at the time of our visit, Rihanna’s 2015 Met Gala dress, designed by Guo Pei, was exhibited above it. The lobby at Shangri-La Toronto is widely referred to as the city’s living room. Everyone comes to chill here and the clientele is undoubtedly distinguished.

Throughout our stay, we spotted couples on dates cosying up over cocktails from the Lobby Lounge, friends enjoying the outstanding afternoon tea service, groups of colleagues having after-work drinks and locals simply enjoying the live entertainment. As Shangri-La Toronto is one of the hotel partners of the Toronto International Film Festival (and with Toronto known as the ‘Los Angeles of the North’ when it comes to the Canadian entertainment industry), you might even spot a celebrity in the lobby.

Despite all the fervour of Toronto on the hotel’s doorstep, we found ourselves lingering in our suite: a stunning 76sqm / 818sqft of space. In our (biased) opinion, the best view of the city’s iconic landmark, the CN Tower, was easily from our marble-clad bath for two.

All 202 rooms and suites of Shangri-La Toronto are spread over 15 floors. The decor throughout leans towards, muted, calm and earthy tones. The aesthetic of dark mahogany panels against soft white sheets was just the right tone for all the natural light that flowed through our enormous windows. The mahogany provided a sense of grounding within the city scenery and the sheets an aura of serenity and calm. Lest to say we had many good nights of sleep!

Dining options at the Shangri-La include a light menu that’s available all day from the Lobby Lounge (which, by the way, also offers an outstanding afternoon tea). Bosk is the hotel’s signature restaurant, open daily for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. The cuisine is Northern Italian, and in keeping with Shangri-La’s ethos of supporting local growers and farms, the ingredients are supplied by Canadian suppliers.

The fifth-floor gym and 20m / 65ft pool, which shimmers under a glass roof skylight, are great for an energising start to the day or for shedding travel fatigue at the end of it. The gym is kitted-out with Technogym equipment. Heading to the steam room to detoxify while taking in the panoramic scenery is an experience that is a feast for all the senses.

Photography courtesy of Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts

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