Glide through the stately doors and into the soaring atrium of the Windsor Arms Hotel, and you’ll be infused with the timeless energy of almost a century of luxurious opulence. Just steps from the designer boutiques, contemporary art galleries, and sparkly baubles of Toronto’s Mink Mile, it offers the perfect merger of history, sumptuous comfort, and location.
Tempting as it might be to retreat immediately to your suite, make time to explore the surrounding Yorkville neighbourhood. As you stroll the wide sidewalks past glossy window displays filled with big-name, big-ticket wares, it’s easy to imagine that this high-end retail zone is all about shopping. Sure, this is Toronto’s most ultra-deluxe ‘hood, but there’s a Mink Mile makeover underway, and the Bloor Street corridor is fast transforming into a diverse mecca of culture. At the corner of Avenue Road, you need to whip out your designer shades to shield your peepers as you walk beneath the glittering Crystal of the Royal Ontario Museum, an iconic piece of architecture that is home to blockbuster exhibits like Pompeii: In the Shadow of the Volcano. Step inside this recreation of the fated city, where a rumbling Mount Vesuvius spewing ash and lava is so realistic, you feel like running for cover.
After a full day of culture (and, admit it, plenty of zipping into designer shops), you breathe a sigh of relief when you return to the Windsor Arms Hotel. Its Neo-Gothic architecture, mahogany woodwork, gleaming chandeliers, and stained-glass windows radiate hospitality and evoke the spirit of the Roaring ’20s, when Toronto was a burgeoning metropolis. It still oozes the elegance of yesteryear, but tasteful contemporary upgrades have brought it firmly into the here and now. Pop into the lobby’s Treasure Chest, a Pandora’s box of vintage finds such as beaded flapper dresses, satin day dresses, and oriental kimonos. This unique shop’s collection channels Great Gatsby glam and Edwardian innocence, with something to suit a fashion-lover’s every mood.
Need to work off some big city stress? Continue your Windsor Arms experience with a pampering treatment in the soothing spa, where the salt water pool, blue tiles, and airy setting make you feel as though you’ve stumbled into a jewel-toned oasis. Next up, an indulgent classic afternoon tea is in order. As you break open your freshly baked scone and slather its steaming soft interior with rich velvety cream and sweet jam, you appreciate that everything has been hand-crafted in-house. When you close your eyes and listen to the faint clink of fine porcelain teacups and silver spoons, it’s easy to imagine you’re in the parlour of a wealthy relative in turn-of-the-century Britain.
Later, retreat to your plush suite, where you can shut out the world in elegant comfort. Home to just 28 suites, the boutique-sized Windsor Arms is both intimate and worldly. Surrounded by light jazz music streaming from the state-of-the-art sound system, warm limestone floors, and a butler pantry even Howard Hughes would have approved of, you revel in the many perks of staying at this spectacular property.
Hopefully you’ve saved room for dinner, as you’ll dine like royalty at the Living Room restaurant, where you can sink into an overstuffed Chesterfield and explore one of Toronto’s best wine lists. Complementing the sound of tinkling champagne glasses, the dinner menu tantalizes with indulgences such as oysters, caviar, and fork-tender beef tenderloin with fragrant morel sauce. And what better accompaniment is there for gorgeous surroundings and exquisite comfort than a Grand Marnier soufflé?