If my time in Toronto were likened to a horoscope, it’d be a Libra. Two hotels on either side of the scale, putting both my inner fashion flamingo and culture vulture into balance.
First, I fuel the former with a stay at the stylish Thompson Toronto. Not long after check-in, I head straight for the rooftop bar where drinks are stiff, the view staggering and patrons well-turned-out. There’s two smartly-garbed and gorgeous gals seated next to me; one’s a doctor, the other a psychologist. Of course they are. The next day Vogue India will be shooting an editorial there. It’s just that kind of place.
A Mojito and margarita later I return to my mod-ly made up room, chow down on the chocolate left on my pillow, kill all the lights (via handy bedside panel) and doze off, easily, thanks to a cloud-like bed. When I wake, I need only head outside and round the corner for bold brew at Thor Espresso Bar. The six-month-old coffee spot named for the hammer-holding god of strong things turns out a good, strong cup. A latte made with real vanilla bean syrup made in-house paired with a pear and Camembert pastry proved friendly to the palate.
From there, I recommend wandering a few blocks up to Queen Street West, heading west along it to get to the best of this celebrated strip’s smaller shops, whether it be local label Comrags or an independent record store. Browsing makes me peckish, so I duck into Terroni, a casual Italian joint where the mozzarella di bufala looks as good as the barmen. And that’s not just the glass of prosecco talking (I’m hoping).
A light, late Italian lunch at Terroni on Queen Street West.
Staying on the topic of stylish, my second morning was spent a little further up on Dundas Street having brunch at The Palmerston Café. The French toast was delicious, and frankly, the surroundings were practically Parisian too.
Tucked away on quiet, mini Mercer Street, I make Hôtel Le Germain my next hotel away from home to feed the culture carnivore.
There’s enough within the property to entertain, like a well-priced selection of wine in-room, complimentary breakfast spread for corporate and Kiwi Collection guests, terrace putting green, Victor Restaurant and a latte lounge with stacks of art books. Not to mention the tray of nighttime nibbles laid out for me, including a “G” cookie, a sweet touch that hit the spot.
But being smack dab in the bustling entertainment district, where a Second City show or Broadway caliber musical is a short stroll away, means there’s endless options. I opt for film and head to the new TIFF Bell Lightbox, one street up on King Street West. The beautiful new building is the hub of the film festival come September and in between continues to screen classics and arty independent fare. Making the cinema more conversational is restaurant and bar, Luma. No quickie popcorn dinners when you can have a pre-show cocktail and Arctic Char within the building’s four walls. Their branded Blackberry Bar also lets you charge up your smartphone with a view of the CN Tower to boot.
Drive or cycle—bike borrowing system BIXI recently started operating—to the Royal Ontario Museum for four floors of history from Jurassic to just happened. I revisit my fondness for fashion by taking in the exhibit “Riotous Colour, Daring Patterns: Fashions + Textiles 18th to 21st Centuries.” I spy a circa 1967 TIME Magazine Valentine’s Day advertising stunt that sent out a logo-printed paper dress in sizes “too big and “too small” to readers and my trip comes full circle. Now if only I had more time….