Windsor Arms Hotel Toronto: the perfect base for flashpackers to explore the city
For my first time travelling to Canada, I was lucky enough to stay at one of the best boutique hotels in the city, the Windsor Arms Hotel Toronto.
This five-star semi-hidden gem is ideal for flashpackers wanting to catch a bit of boutique luxury while also enjoying the sights of Toronto. A ‘delicate balance of old world charm and decadence’ greets you upon entering this striking building.
Dating back to 1927, the hotelier William Arthur Price, wanted to create a hotel that matched the University of Toronto’s neo-Gothic style architecture of the time. Years later in the 1960s, the hotel entered the culinary scene. First came the Three Small Rooms restaurant, followed by the Courtyard Café.
The hotel shut down in 1991 after years of neglect, and with no signs of re-opening. That is until developer George Friedmann entered the picture with his vision of resurrecting the building. Restoring the hotel to the standard of luxury condominiums, Windsor Arms Hotel Toronto re-opened in May 1999 to rave reviews.
If you’re looking for somewhere to stay for your next trip in Toronto, I’d highly recommend the Windsor Arms. There’s so many good reasons to stay here, and lucky for you, I can tell you all of them!
The flashpacker choice for Toronto: Windsor Arms Hotel
Windsor Arms Hotel Toronto is conveniently located within a short walking distance from 2 subway stations. Bay Street, and one of my favourite stations, Museum, are very close by. From both stations, it’s around a 4-minute walk, depending on your walking speed!
You can find the hotel on 18 St Thomas Street. It’s a short, yet quiet street that sits in the bustling upmarket area of Yorkville. Many shops, restaurants and coffee shops are within easy reach of the hotel, but you can always be sure to return to a peaceful accommodation.
Top tip 1: Aroma Espresso Bar is about a 2-minute walk from the hotel. They serve up a good cappuccino, plus other healthy breakfast treats, to start your day.
Top tip 2: Only purchase a TTC Metropass if you know you’ll be making more than 4 trips. The pass allows you to use unlimited use of the trains, buses and streetcars till 5am the next morning. From Windsor Arms, I walked nearly everywhere given its excellent location, meaning there was no need to buy a ticket.
Weary, tired and ready to relieve my feet and legs from a full day of walking, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I entered the room.
Unbeknownst to me, I’d been given the magnificent corner suite in the hotel, and my jaw just dropped. The space is larger than anything I’d expected, and slowly, yet excitedly, I began to explore the room like a kid in a toy shop.
The suite is classically decorated, with hardwood flooring, and tones of soft creams and browns filtering its way throughout the space. Furniture matches the décor, with a king-sized bed in the bedroom, and 2 good sized plump sofas in the living area.
The bathroom is every woman’s dream come true. There’s a generous bathtub with jacuzzi facilities, a vanity area complete with dreamy Molton Brown products, and a separate rainforest style shower.
Suffice it to say, I slept very well that night, but not before enjoying the biscotti and other treats that were left on the table, along with a welcoming personalised letter.
One thing I really love about staying in a boutique/luxury hotel is the brilliant turn-down service in the evenings. For me, it adds that extra touch of old school charm, not to mention, the room’s all ready for you to sleep!
“Many shops, restaurants and coffee shops are within easy reach of the hotel, but you can always be sure to return to a peaceful accommodation.”
FOLLOWING THE RIVERA
Windsor Arms Hotel Toronto has a spa unlike any other I’ve visited before. It’s open for 24 hours, meaning you can really take that midnight dip in the pool if you fancy. That, plus they also have their own salt cave.
From something that looks like a Santa’s Grotto from the outside, bar the sign saying, ‘Healing Salt Cave’, inside is something altogether unique. The healing salt cave is based on a Himalayan version, which helps with the respiratory system while also rejuvenating the skin.
You definitely feel a drop in temperature once you enter – which is normal – but fear not, you won’t freeze! The staff provide blankets and extra towels to keep you cosy and comfortable throughout the 45-minute treatment. Finely grinded salt is blown through holes in the wall for clients to inhale. You can book this treatment at the spa reception.
Guests can also take advantage of the spacious patio area, where you can request a massage outside as well as room service. They do require a minimum of 30 minutes notice to prepare your order, so do this ahead of time.
If you can, I’d certainly recommend taking a dip in the pool. I found it to be relatively quiet, and enjoyed the calm ambience and warm waters. The pool area is also sound proof, so all you should be hearing is the gentle music playing and the sound of you swimming.
I can’t stress how welcoming, friendly, and not to mention helpful, the staff were at Windsor Arms Hotel Toronto.
No question or request was too big (within reason of course), and everyone was polite and accommodating. If you’re reading this and thinking, ‘well, that’s normal’, then you’re wrong. I’ve stayed at other high-profile hotels and didn’t receive the same level of good service.
If you’re feeling lazy to go out and fancy a good glass of wine in the evening, head to the hotel bar on the ground floor. The vivacious and lively bartender suggested I try the house red, which actually comes from Windsor Arms Hotel’s own winery.
The house red’s a Cabernet Merlot from its Private Reserve, and I can confirm that a large glass is very drinkable! It was certainly another bonus to add to my Windsor Arms stay.
A traditional high tea wouldn’t be the same without the setting of a traditional styled tearoom, and this is exactly what you get at Windsor Arms Hotel Toronto. Whet your appetite and come hungry, as this is one tea where you won’t leave hungry!
Along with a choice of loose-leaf teas, the menu also includes traditional English scones with homemade preserves and cream, freshly made sandwiches and delectable petit fours. The staff were friendly and the attentive service definitely made me feel special.
“The house red’s a Cabernet Merlot from its Private Reserve, and I can confirm that a large glass is very drinkable! ”
FOLLOWING THE RIVERA
The high tea also offers a fantastic and, not to mention, delicious selection of vegan chocolate truffles that I couldn’t get enough of. I cannot say enough about the high tea, and I highly recommend you try it for yourself! For the most up-to-date prices and availability, check the website for more information.
Disclaimer: Even though I was invited by Windsor Arms Hotel, all views are my own and based on my own experience.
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