Built in 1927, the neo-Gothic structure of the Windsor Arms was intended to resemble the buildings of the University of Toronto. (The hotel is near Victoria College at the university.) The entrance feels like stepping into a castle, the Windsor Arms logo perched neatly beside the portico, doorman at the ready. The hotel was purchased by developer George Friedmann in 1995 and resurrected with modern touches for a fresh debut in 1999. The hotel is birthplace to the idea of the now-famous Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). It continues to attract celebrities who want a boutique feel, and though TIFF has shifted its headquarters south, the Windsor Arms will always be a refuge for those who want Old World charm and exclusive service. The streetside patio is perfect for people watching during the lively month of September. And in the hotel’s hallways, you can “stargaze” at the portraits of celebrities, from Robert Redford to Barbra Streisand.
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Located in tony Yorkville and around the corner from Mink Mile (Toronto’s answer to Fifth Avenue), the Windsor Arms is a great base for visitors who want to shop and experience culture. Marvel at the architecture and explore history at the Royal Ontario Museum. Across the street are the quirky Gardiner ceramic and Bata Shoe museums, and down the street is concert venue Koerner Hall. Adjacent to both Koerner Hall and the ROM, the Philosopher’s Walk offers a leafy, quiet stroll through the back of University of Toronto’s storied campus. Vaticano Restaurant and OPUS are favorite restaurants of Windsor Arms guests. Scaramouche is known for its coconut cream pie. We love the Museum Tavern for post-museum cocktails and bites. Just north of Yorkville, Playa Cabana is a clandestine restaurant for casual Mexican and margaritas. Anthony Rose of Rose & Sons has quickly built an empire on Dupont with his cluster of restaurants on the strip (including Big Crow for the best barbecue with a Canadiana vibe). For shopping, the best decor items and flowers are at Teatro Verde. The Roof and the One Eighty (formerly Panorama) are ideal for drinks with a view.
Need to Know
Rooms: 28 suites, 2 executive suites. From $395. Check-in: 3 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: Breakfast, Sunday brunch, lunch, snacks, and dinner are all available in-room or in the Courtyard. A prix-fixe kosher menu is available Tuesday to Thursday. There’s also the option of a private chef’s table beside the kitchen. The Living Room is a British-inspired space for more casual dining and drinks, including a variety of domestic and international drafts. The hotel is most famous for its afternoon tea, a tradition since 1927, offered in three different rooms (the crimson Russian Room is our favorite). More than 30 choices of tea are offered alongside a set menu, including delectable scones and homemade Devonshire cream. Spa and gym details: The 24-hour gym offers Matrix equipment and the option for personal training. Yoga mats and blocks are available in the St. Thomas room on the second floor; private yoga instruction is available upon request. The indoor saltwater pool features a fireplace and is an ideal place to rejuvenate after a workout, as is the outdoor terrace, with its sweeping city views. Unique in Toronto, the salt cave promises restorative therapy for joint conditions. And the signature cryotherapy treatment exposes the body to low temperatures to improve blood flow. Other spa services, such as couples massages, are available. You can even have your afternoon tea service while getting a manicure.
Who's it for: Celebrities, CEOs, and VPs frequent here, as well as couples celebrating a special occasion or just wanting Old World romance in the heart of Yorkville. Our favorite rooms: Room 301, a Windsor suite, features a bathroom with a fireplace. Corner suites, such as rooms 404 or 408, offer the most natural sunlight; great for families, the two sofas convert into a real double bed in the living room. Each room features a musical instrument—a guitar, harp, or piano. You’ll find a baby grand in Windsor suite 401. Good to know: The Windsor Arms is the only hotel in the city to offer butler service. Private shopping can be arranged, and the hotel has exclusive partnerships with many of Yorkville’s boutiques including Max Mara, Hermès, and Prada. The hotel also has its own boutique, the Treasure Chest, a project of the hotel owner’s daughter Samantha Michelle. You’ll find rare European vintage here, in addition to designer names. The Treasure Chest is also the only store in Canada that carries shoes from star cobbler Terry de Havilland.