Staycation

The Epitome of Luxury at the Shiny St. Regis Toronto

The John Jacob Astor Suite bathroom at the St. Regis looking out at the city.

Our ‘Staycation’ series highlights spots in your home city perfect for a night (or a week) away. Here’s what you need to know about the shiny new do-over of what was once the Trump Hotel.

Written by Karolyne Ellacott

It’s hard to define luxury without having spent a night at the St. Regis. Every day at 5 o’clock in the evening, a champagne sabrage takes place in the lobby-level Astor Lounge. A timeless tradition? Yes. Bourgeois? Indeed. Impressive? Always. But it’s hard not to get wrapped up in the celebratory mood of the new hotel, in part because it eradicates the presence of Trump in downtown Toronto, but more so because there’s plenty to cheers to.

The sole Canadian outpost of the storied hotel chain is also the 45th installment of the St. Regis worldwide. It reaches 65-storeys above the cityscape; rooms totaling 258 with a cool 124 of them counting as suites.

THE HISTORY

The original St. Regis New York was erected back in 1904. One John Jacob Astor IV founded the hotel, gunning for it to be a place where he could best surround himself with the crème de la crème of Manhattan. There, it was glamour from the get-go; after all, he was the son of ‘The’ Mrs. Caroline Astor, lover of champagne soaked shindigs and queen of New York high society.

It only makes sense that luxury would be woven into the fabric of the hotel. In addition to the daily sabrage, other traditions include afternoon tea come the weekend, the Bloody Mary (they do a Canuck take) and exclusive midnight suppers.

A dining nook.

The suppers recall Mrs. Astor’s proclivity for hosting lavish fêtes for those who made her ‘Caroline’s Four Hundred List,’ pubbed in the New York Times yearly; her butlers would gather the most thrilling 40 guests and escort them to a private room where they’d all dine on spaghetti and meatballs.

Additionally, there’s a butler service, with butlers ready to pack and unpack guests’ bags, steam dinner attire, prepare drinks and generally make VIP life easier.

THE DESIGN

The redesigned lobby.

With the bones already in place, the hotel has gotten a post-Trump facelift. The lobby’s Astor Lounge and Louix Louis bar and restaurant have both been done-over by DesignAgency, the former getting a touch of Canadiana thanks to touches of dark wood and leather, with a noteworthy ceiling feature. There’s nary a moose to be found — well unless you’re a pint-sized VIP guest, and then an adorable stuffed version dressed in a logo’d tee can be procured through the aforementioned butler service.

Meanwhile, Chapi Chapo Design was enlisted to reno the hotel’s top two penthouse suites — the John Jacob Astor Suite and Caroline Astor Suite. Now, the suites are shod in shades of grey, playing with differing textures for a soothing effect that also quietly nods to Canada’s rugged landscapes. The Caroline Astor boasts a master and secondary bedroom, a trio of bathrooms (one complete with footed tub offering a bird’s eye view of the town), sprawling living quarters and a kitchenette, should one be so inclined to cook.

The Caroline Astor suite.

On-site hotel amenities include a kind-on-the-skin saltwater pool, fitness center and a spa, with treatments such as massages and facials available for those keen to truly pamper themselves.

There’s also a signature scent — with notes of American Beauty roses, white lilies and cherry blossom — wafted around the entire hotel, adding a moneyed je ne sais quoi to the space. 

THE DINING

The new 31st floor hotspot, LOUIX LOUIS.

In addition to room service (remember, one’s butler can only serve beverages), the St. Regis is home to Louix Louis restaurant. Found on the 31 st floor, opulence pervades the DesignAgency room, which now channels the grand bars of New York and Paris with local artist Madison van Rijn playing Michelangelo on the room’s 60-foot ceiling. Inspired by a tumbler of Canadian whiskey, the ceiling mural flaunts purple and golden whorls, which are complemented by the sculptural light fixtures below. Gilded elevators arriving direct from the residences open up straight into the room, allowing for excellent people watching.

The dining room at LOUIX LOUIS.

Exec chef Guillaume Robin has put out a menu full of crowd-pleasing bistro fare with a lean towards the decadent. To start, a detailed cocktail list walks imbibers through the history of each tipple. Foodwise, there’s caviar (Acadian or Osetra) or platters brimming with seafood (reaching from oysters through king crab legs) to begin the meal on the right note. For sharing, go cold with tartare gussied with pickled mushrooms, or hot with octopus and baby artichoke and lemony yogurt.

Mains are also heavy on the meat and fish options. Striped bass arrives on a bed of wild rice with a minty pea puree but the truffle chicken is the piece de resistance. A whole bird has been roast in truffle butter for six hours, and arrives with charred baby leeks and truffle jus for good measure. After dinner, tea fanatics can order a $150 pot of Darjeeling to send them off properly into the night

The St. Regis Toronto, 325 Bay St., 416-306-5800