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Toronto’s Swankiest Retreat, The Shangri-La Hotel

Toronto’s Swankiest Retreat, The Shangri-La Hotel

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By Joe Alexander.

The Shang

The Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts’ first outpost opened in Singapore in 1971, and it is now Asia’s leading luxury hotel group. Today, there are more than 90 Shang hotels stretching from the Asia Pacific to North America, the Middle East, and Europe. The Shangri-La Toronto is the newest addition to this collection, and exemplifies the brand’s hospitality, tranquility, and unique standards of service.

Once inside the lobby lounge, guests are greeted by four enormous Chinese calligraphy paintings by Wang Xu Yuan, depicting women from the Peking Opera.
The hallways leading to the 202 spacious and perfectly-appointed guestrooms are dotted with Japanese prints and objets d’art.

My corner suite had dramatic views from all windows, and the shades, lighting, and temperature were all linked to state-of-the-art control panels. The living room featured a cozy seating area, TV, desk, bar, and luxurious full bathroom. The massive master bath was a marvel of pale green marble counters and white marble floors and tiles. While shaving, I discovered a TV seamlessly hidden in the mirror, and the tub—which was big enough for two—had floor-to-ceiling windows on two sides. Soaking at night with all of Toronto twinkling beneath me was one of the highlights of my stay. The highest level of accommodations here is the $10,000/night Shangri-La Suite. At 2,000 square feet, it’s open and airy, with a moon gate entrance to the master bedroom. The subtle, oriental-themed décor not only sets the scene, but sets this hotel apart from all others in Canada. Throughout the property, guests in need of superior service and luxurious amenities—including private jet bookings—can access them on the in-room iPads

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A-List Stars & the Jet Set

George Clooney and Johnny Depp are among the stars who have been spotted in the Shangri-La when visiting Toronto. When Jessica Chastain wanted vegan food, she found it at this oasis of luxury with Asian accents. Here you’ll find CEOs, A-list stars, and movie moguls all co-mingling, especially during the Toronto International Film Festival held each fall. Guests have spotted Reese Witherspoon celebrating with the cast of Wild on the Hotel’s Garden Terrace. Applause filled the room when Terrence Howard did an impromptu performance of “My Girl” in the Shangri-La’s festive lobby lounge, which features live jazz every night.

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The lounge’s Fazioli piano is wittily inscribed with lyrics from Canadian singer Joni Mitchell. The expansive and romantically-illuminated lobby, with its cozy seating, would make a perfect setting for a James Bond film. I enjoyed small plates of delicious steamed dim sum, crunchy chicken, and beef sliders, all served around two chic, minimalist fireplaces. Don’t miss afternoon tea, which offers 68 choices from around the world. The hotel also boasts a 42-seat screening room and a 9,000 square-foot health and fitness area that offers everything from spin sessions to meditation classes.

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Bosk is the hotel’s critically-acclaimed signature restaurant. For a serious culinary treat, try Executive Chef Damon Campbell’s tasting menu, and be sure to have the wine pairings chosen by sommelier Mark Moffatt. Start with the Chefs Snacks, which include truffle custard and a caviar donut. When dining a la carte, I suggest the Pacific Sablefish or the Lamb Loin Duo with Tomato Fondue. Although the wine list has more than 700 international labels, it’s the lobby’s champagne wall that got my attention; it contains the finest selection of champagnes in the country, including the hotel’s house champagne, Perrier Jouet, and a rare Dom Perignon Jacquesson Cuvee 736. You can indulge in flights of different champagnes and buy them by the glass. I ordered the caviar, paté, and a selection of artisanal cheeses to go with my glasses of Dom and Cristal. This hotel experience truly is Shangri-La.
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