Whenever I get the chance to look at the Toronto skyline it becomes ever so apparent to me how much this city is changing. In the last 15-20 years, Toronto has seen a massive boom in new buildings and the truth is the demand for more is still going strong. With the influx of new residents and businesses comes more work opportunities, neighbourhood gentrification and development, and my favourite, more options for cuisine! Toronto has never been a more popular travel destination than it is now. And not just for fellow Canadians, but for international visitors, students, and businesses. In the past three years, Toronto has seen at least a half a dozen hotel openings or redesigns (Broadview, Andore, Bisha, Saint James, and Le Germain all come to mind), but none have been more highly anticipated than the newest and first Canadian Library Hotel Collection property, Hotel X Toronto.
Why was it so highly anticipated you may ask? Well because of the service of course! The Library Hotel Collection group is known for raking in the awards on TripAdvisor – a customer ranked awards system! That means that they are the clear leader in customer ratings for consumer satisfaction, and service – no small feat! In 2017 alone they won 18 TripAdvisor awards including ‘Best Hotel IN THE WORLD’ – an outstanding achievement for their new property in Budapest, the Aria Hotel! So when I heard they were setting up their first Canadian location in Toronto, I had super high expectations.
As you can imagine, when Hotel X Toronto invited to host me for a staycation with my little puppacino and some girlfriends I had to say yes! One of the hardest things about going away for me is having to leave my beloved little fur baby, Ms. Sophie, behind. No matter where I go there isn’t a day that goes by where I am not looking at old photos of her on my phone or showing them to other people I meet. Since she’s a little squishy face French Bulldog I have always been scared to travel with her in the case she faces any breathing issues or heaven forbid becomes a victim to one of those horrific airline news stories *shutter*. Anyways, pushing those thoughts out of my mind, I was excited to have my first ‘away from home’ experience with Ms. Sophie and hang out with my girl gang to boot!
Upon our arrival to Hotel X Toronto (Krystle and I showed up together in a jam-packed car that must have made us look like we were a travelling caravan that was moving in! Haha!) and checking into our room, Sophie and I immediately noticed why Hotel X is already ranking so high in customer satisfaction. Travelling with your furry friend in tow, I quickly learned, can often be hard especially when it comes to them adjusting and becoming comfortable with their new surroundings. At first, I could tell that Sophie wasn’t sure about what was going on and stayed low to the floor, but both our large One Bedroom Suite and the friendly staff made her feel welcome. It didn’t take long for her to settle in and start running around, dodging furniture comfortably like she owned the place. I could really tell that Hotel X knew a happy fur baby makes for a happy mom and if I was going to enjoy my stay, they needed to make both Sophie’s and my stay as comfortable as possible. Their efforts definitely showed and they scored some much deserved brownie points from me for their addition of dog bowls, distilled bottles of water, and a lovely dog bed in our room.
Once Sophie was settled and I felt comfortable enough to leave her in the room alone, I went to check out the rest of the hotel. The hotel itself is located on seven acres of property right downtown within Exhibition Place. At first, I thought it was kind of a strange location, but it soon became apparent that it was actually quite well positioned. Being across from the Enercare Convention Centre, walking distance to Budweiser stage, BMO Field, Liberty Grande, Medieval Times, and a few minutes from Billy Bishop Airport, Union Station, Liberty Village, Toronto’s downtown core, the ACC (now Scotiabank Arena!), and the Rogers Centre (forever the SkyDome to me) make it a perfect location for people visiting the city. Also, if being close to all those things doesn’t sound convenient enough for you, Hotel X Toronto offers complimentary luxury car service to and from Billy Bishop Airport and Union Station, and outbound car service within a 5 km radius. Yup, you heard me right! That includes Billy Bishop Airport and Toronto Union Station! Did I mention it would be in a BMW X5? Double brownie points there!
After spending a total of two nights and three days at the hotel I feel like both Sophie and I really got to explore the hotel and take full advantage of the experience. Although there are many great things to say about the hotel including their friendly staff and impeccable service, here were some of my favourite features:
Massive Sports Complex - I am putting this feature first because I have never seen anything like it at any hotel I have ever stayed at IN THE WORLD! It was quite INSANE and to put it in any other way would be doing it an injustice. Ten X, Toronto’s newest sports complex is attached to Hotel X Toronto and is a huge feature if you are staying at the hotel. That is because guests are able to access this otherwise members-only facility. The complex itself is massive and houses:
- 4 indoor tennis courts
- 9 squash courts
- 4 fitness studios with classes daily (Technogym’s GroupCycle, Pilates, Group Fitness & Hot Yoga)
- 6,500 sq. ft. fitness centre with brand new state-of-the-art equipment
- 3,000 sq. ft. play centre for children
- pro shop with a juice bar
- members lounge and cafe
- junior sports lounge where you will find a pool table and an awesome basketball arcade game, which you know I had to play!
Yes, it’s as insane as it sounds and since you are a guest of the hotel and are likely travelling from a different city or country you don’t need to worry about lugging your tennis racket or sports equipment with you because they have all of it available to rent at your convenience!
Large Garden and Outdoor Area - Most of the time I wouldn’t think of this as being an important feature, but since I was travelling with my pup having a safe place for her to run around, play, and do her business was important to me. When we are at home Sophie and I often go for at least one long walk a day and at least ten minutes of that she’s off leash (I want her to gain some independence). I wanted to make sure she was happy and comfortable so having a large outdoor area right on the property made it easy for both of us to step out for fresh air, run around, and enjoy ourselves. Since the area was on hotel grounds it was also well lit at night, gated, clean and felt very safe. I never had to worry about Sophie if she was wandering around off-leash, which I truly appreciated.
‘The Pond’ Rooftop Pool - A huge feature of the hotel is their rooftop pool and although many similar pools have recently opened up in Toronto this one has become quite the hot spot for both hotel guests and resident Torontonians alike. Getting a chair by the pool was sometimes tough especially towards the afternoon, but while the girls and I were staying at the hotel we made sure to get up early and reserve our chairs to ensure we had somewhere to sit. I’m not going to lie we spent most of our staycation hanging poolside both during the day and at night because it was the perfect spot to beat the heat and enjoy a sunset cocktail.
Library Club Lounge - Depending on your booking at Hotel X Toronto, certain rooms like the Library Club Guestroom or a Suite, include access to the Library Club Lounge on the 3rd Floor. During our stay, the girls and I spent a lot of time at the Library Club Lounge because unlike the pool it was dog friendly. Also given how much time we spent there and how much free wine and food we consumed, it definitely would have been worth the extra charge. The girls and I would find ourselves there first thing in the morning for the Continental Breakfast (6:30-10:30 AM) and then again for complimentary Wine & Hors d'oeuvres hour (4:30-7:30 PM) every day with our little fur babies in tow. There is a large patio space (the dogs are not actually allowed inside) with comfortable couches and tables making it a super convenient place to hang out, drink, eat, and get work done if you so choose.
Two Cinemas - That’s right! TWO! One is a smaller (60 person) screening room for a more intimate setting and the other is a full-blown 11,000 sq. ft. cinema (the same as you would find at a major movie theatre)! I was so impressed and blown away by this feature! Imagine being able to watch a movie in the screening room without even having to leave your hotel! Complimentary! See what’s playing at Hotel X Toronto this month -> HERE!
A Nespresso Cafe and a Starbucks - So as you probably already know I love my morning coffee. Having two high-end coffee shops to choose from was the icing on the cake for me. Every morning I would get up, grab a quality coffee and head out with Ms. Sophie for our morning walk around the garden. Not only are there two coffee shops to choose from but each room has a Nespresso machine making it even easier to get your caffeine fix without having to leave the room. Well played Hotel X, well played!
A Photography Gallery - A lot of the photography art you see around the hotel is actually by a Canadian photographer named Neil Dankoff, whose work consists of mainly beautiful landscapes from all over the world. In fact, he was specifically commissioned by Library Hotel Collection to travel the world and create over 800 pieces to be put on display and scattered around the hotel. The best part about this collaboration is that if you see a piece that you like around the hotel you can head down to Kandy Gallery, a 2,200 sq. ft. art gallery showcasing more of Neil Dankoff’s work, and purchase a piece right on the spot!
If I have one bad thing to say about the hotel it’s that they don’t have any fine dining options… YET. Most of the food we had was in the Library Club Lounge, which was simple buffet style food, at Falcon Bar, which was more bar-bites, and some in-room dining, which in my experience is never that exceptional and I have low expectations for anyways. Since Library Hotel Collection is a well revered hotel group, somewhat comparable to service standards you would expect at The Four Seasons, you would expect to be able to find an elevated dining experience in the hotel. The good news is that the hotel’s lobby bar and restaurant Petros 82 (a Mediterranean style restaurant) is scheduled to open in late 2018 and I have no doubt it will fill my need for elevated cuisine. I expect nothing more than a mouthwatering Mediterranean menu that will delight my senses, and I can’t wait to come back once it opens with a full report!