Hubby and I recently went on a whirlwind trip to Toronto: we had just 72 hours to see, do, and eat as much as we could while doing some work too (keynote speeches for him and meetings for me).
In a city as big and bustling as Toronto there's no way to fit everything in, so this time we focused on downtown to make the most of our 72 hours. We made the Royal York Hotel our home base, got around on foot the whole time. We managed to do tons without feeling too busy, so here's our easy itinerary for your next trip to TO.
getting there: take the train
Via Rail is by far my favourite way to travel from Ottawa to Toronto. You can score amazing deals (hubby and I paid $40 each way), there's no battling traffic or searching for parking. When you arrive at Union Station you're in the heart of downtown, and if you need transit you're at the hub for the TTC, GO train/bus, and UP Express.
Most trains from Ottawa to Toronto take about 4 hours so it's similar to driving, and if you factor in the wasted time at airports, it's about the same as flying too.
where to stay: fairmont royal york
Ever since I was a kid, I've been charmed by the Fairmont Royal York. On school trips I'd walk by and wonder what this castle in the city looked like inside.
Just a few weeks ago I finally stayed for the first time, and it was even better than I imagined.
top 5 reasons to stay
1. Location: It's directly across the street from Union Station. Step off your train, cross the street, and you're there. Icky weather? No worries, the hotel is connected to Union Station via the underground PATH system so no rain/snow/wind for you.
2. Spectacular service: this isn't one of those hotels where the staff are too hip to smile. Every single employee was genuinely welcoming and friendly, from check-in, to room service, to housekeeping. The front desk even sent us a text to see if there was anything they could help with or send up to our room.
3. Heritage with modern updates: the hotel just completed an extensive renovation, and their guestrooms have nods to the past (heritage furniture, elegant carpet, Fairmont tea) and modern updates (plugs everywhere, fast wifi, huge rain shower, plush new robes).
4. In-room breakfast!! I *never* do room service because $$$ but hubby and I had a 6am start and decided it would save time. We used the door-hanger menu and hoped for the best. Sure enough, right at 6 there was a knock at the door and in rolled a fully set table complete with white linen, poached eggs (perfect medium!) with veggies, bacon, and roast potatoes, plus coffee, tea, fresh juice, rye toast, and ALL the tiny jams. I felt like I was in a movie. Shout-out to Bogdan for the impeccable service and for chatting about where to get the best pizza and fried chicken.
5. Le Labo: I'm OBSESSED with Le Labo. They craft beautiful products for skin/hair/body with scents you can't quite put your finger on. They supply the in-room toiletries for Fairmont Hotels around the world in that beautiful Rose 31 scent. Every time I'm at a Fairmont I load up on minis for my travel/gym/etc.
where to eat
For pastries: Nadège Patisserie
For wood-oven pizza: Pizzeria Libretto *4 locations, I always go to the one on University
For vegan eats: Planta Burger for faux crab burgers and cauliflower wings
For the best noodles: Momofuku Noodle Bar *reservations recommended
For Filipino food: Lamesa Modern Filipino Cuisine
For fried chicken: Union Chicken (inside Union Station, stop here before your train home!)
For foodies: Pusateri's Food Hall at Saks (hit the dessert counter for CXBO chocolates!)
where to shop
For luxury consignment deals: Consign Toronto
For the prettiest apothecary stuff: Aesop and Le Labo
For the best sneakers: Get Outside Shoes
For all the fancy stuff: Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom Eaton Centre
For anything you forgot: there are Winners/Marshalls EVERYWHERE, pop in for cheap toiletries
where to chilL
For a pedi, a blowout, and a cocktail: Her Majesty's Pleasure *reservations recommended
For beauty lovers: make your own lipstick at Bite Beauty Lip Lab *reservations recommended
For IG pics: pedestrian bridge at Eaton Centre, best selfie lighting at Winners (585 Queen)
For escaping Eaton Centre: Maman Café + Bakery inside First Canadian Place
For cocktails: Library Bar at Royal York, Boxcar Social *4 locations, I went to the one on Temperance
win a trip to the 6ix
Head over to my Instagram feed cuz I'm giving away a trip to Toronto!
- luxurious one-night stay at the iconic Fairmont Royal York
- an indulgent afternoon tea for two in their Library Bar
All you have to do is get yourself there! Click here to enter and best of luck!