Four Seasons founder Isadore Sharp opened his first-ever hotel in Toronto back in 1961, with a focus on providing a more personal level of service. The luxury Canadian brand unveiled its new flagship in Toronto’s upmarket Yorkville district in October 2012, becoming the 90th in the world for the brand’s portfolio.
At the time, the hotel’s general manager Dimitrios Zarikos said: “The new Four Seasons Hotel Toronto is who we are today and what we represent as we move forward over the next 50 years – the world’s best luxury travel experience and a modern centre of the city’s social and business life.”
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
The gleaming 55-storey tower has a mix of 259 hotel rooms and 210 apartments. Taxis do drop-offs and pick-ups at a forecourt around the back, where smart doormen help with luggage and open doors. Reception is around the corner to the right as you come in – above the desk is a beautiful art installation of floating dandelion puffs. Service is highly polished and cordial.
The high-ceilinged interiors, designed by Yabu Pushelberg, are tasteful, modern and elegant, with stunning floral displays and expensive fixtures and fittings. Full-height windows provide sweeping views of the city from the upper floors.
WHERE IS IT?
On Yorkville Avenue, in the affluent neighbourhood of Yorkville. It’s 37km from Toronto Pearson International airport, and a short walk from Bloor Street and the Royal Ontario Museum.
There are 11 categories of rooms and suites – Superior, Deluxe and Premier rooms, followed by one-bedroom Corner suites, Deluxe one-bedroom Corner suites, Premier one-bedroom Corner suites, Yorkville, Cumberland, Bellair, Presidential and Royal suites. Rooms are located on floors four to eight, and ten to 21. Entry-level Superior rooms are generous in size at 46.5 sqm, while suites start from 62 sqm.
I was immediately impressed by the serene, luxurious interiors that felt bright and relaxed. Whereas some hotel rooms aren’t suited for anything more than sleeping and showering, you actually want to spend time in the ones at the Four Seasons, which are conducive to working or catching up on reading or movies. The views help, of course, as do the inviting curved couches. Twice-daily housekeeping and evening turndown service meaning your environment is always neat and tidy.
All bedrooms come with good-sized granite bathrooms with separate free-standing tubs and walk-in, glass-walled showers, expansive vanity counters with plenty of space for your washkit and TVs embedded in the mirrors. The living areas have writing desks by the windows with built-in charging points (US and USB), minibars, closets, 55-inch Ultra HD Smart TVs, wonderfully comfortable beds, Nespresso machines and free wifi. Suites come with separate lounges where you can host small meetings and guest washrooms.
One of my favourite features are the easy-to-use iPad hubs that display a personal welcome on-screen, the weather and your room number, as well as a menu of options that include hotel information, concierge services, spa treatment listings, the daily papers and room service. I ordered breakfast one morning and found it to be an intuitive and uncomplicated process. What’s more, the quality and presentation of the food delivered was some of the best I have ever had in-room. Everything was incredibly fresh and delicious.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS
Street-facing D Bar is great for a coffee meeting in the day. In the evenings it is transformed into a showy bar with pumping music and cocktail swilling in the evenings (especially busy at weekends). It’s very popular with businesspeople and local socialites, which means the hotel is more than a stop-off point for travellers, it’s actually part of the community.
Craft beer, wine, champagne and light bites (including a signature “firehouse” burger) are served from 11am to roughly midnight (drinks are flowing until 2am Thursday to Saturday). There is indoor seating for 120 people, and 50 chairs outdoors on the terrace (weather permitting).
Upstairs is chic Café Boulud, a modern French brasserie with 120 seats and an eight-person dining counter, designed by Martin Brudnizki (the green leather banquettes, amber lighting and dark wood tables look great together). It’s headed up by Michelin-star chef Daniel Boulud, who also has restaurants at the Mandarin Oriental in London and the Ritz-Carlton in Montreal, among other locations. This is one semi-private dining room for eight people.
I had a superb dinner here one evening and would recommend anyone visiting Toronto, whether a guest at the hotel or not, book ahead for a meal. (It serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus brunch on Sundays.) The menu features French classics such as onion soup topped with croutons and gruyere cheese (CA$18), escargot with garlic, mushrooms, parsley butter and almonds (CA$19), foie gras with grape jelly and toasted brioche (CA$24), and Parisian steak tartare prepared at the table (CA$19/29).
I began with a rich, smooth, cream of celery soup topped with confit apple and chives, which was comforting and moreish. I followed this with the quenelle de brochet, which was not a dish I had tried before. The “Lyon-style northern pike quenelle” was essentially a delicate, fluffy, fish sausage (something between an omelette and dumpling), poached, and then plated in a pool of decadent lobster cognac sauce. It was flavoursome and accomplished but perhaps wasn’t the best follow-up to the creamy soup (I’d recommend the 8oz flat iron steak frites instead, for example, or the rotisserie chicken, for contrast).
If you can handle the calories, dessert includes an outrageous molten chocolate cake, but a basket of freshly baked madeleines and a good espresso might be all you need. There is also a Canadian cheese selection (three for CA$18). Café Boulud is an excellent place to meet business acquaintances or have a solo supper at the counter. Staff are highly attentive and there is a good buzz.
In total there is 4,359 sqm of high-spec, thick-carpeted event space – the largest venue being the 629 sqm Aria ballroom for up to 600 delegates theatre-style – spread across levels three and six. For smaller conferences there is Westwind and Jasper, which can each seat 24 people in a boardroom set-up, while Vinci can accommodate 250 guests cabaret-style.
All these rooms have natural light but for those who don’t require it, there is Laurentian One, Two and Three for up to 30 people seated in each (the spaces can also be combined). Northland (One and Two) and Tamarack (One and Two) are suited to meetings of 16 attendees in each.
One of the largest spas in Toronto at 2,787 sqm, the Four Seasons has 17 treatment rooms, a yoga studio, a salon, mani/pedi stations, a panoramic outdoor deck with loungers, a tranquil, skylit indoor swimming pool, whirlpool bath, steam rooms and saunas. There is also a 325 sqm state-of-the-art Matrix gym on the eighth floor, again offering views for when you’re on the treadmill (much nicer than staring at a wall). It is open 24 hours a day.
Four Seasons have done themselves proud with this flagship property, which leads the way in terms of luxury in Toronto. It’s not cheap but you won’t feel short-changed if you do decide to book a stay. A fantastic five-star hotel.
HOW MANY ROOMS? 259 rooms including 42 suites.
HIGHLIGHTS Café Boulud, sweeping city views, stellar service and in-room iPad control hubs.
PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in May started from CA$748 (£427) for a Deluxe room.
CONTACT Four Seasons Toronto, 60 Yorkville Avenue; tel +1 416 964 0411; fourseasons.com