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Lights, Camera, Action: Experience Toronto's International Film Festival

Fairmont Royal York has always set the standard for spectacular stays in the heart of downtown Toronto. It is the ideal place to call home while you explore the capital of Ontario, Canada, situated along the shores of Lake Ontario. September is a bustling time in the city when Hollywood comes to town for the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).

Fairmont Royal York, on the edge of the entertainment district, puts you close to movie screenings and celebrity watching.

Toronto's Spectacular Skyline 

A Bright History and Brighter Future
Opened in 1929 by the Canadian Pacific Railway, The Royal York sits on the site once occupied by the city's beloved Queen's Hotel. When it opened, The Royal York was the largest hotel in the British Commonwealth with 28 floors and more than 1.5 acres of public rooms.

The original hotel boasted unrivaled amenities, with private showers, bathtubs and radios in each of the 1,048 rooms. The hotel featured a library, hospital, concert hall, bank, bakery and golf course.

Fairmont Royal York Lobby 

Today, Fairmont Royal York embraces its history with stunning painted ceilings and luxe furnishings, and welcomes the 21st century with updated amenities in the spectacularly renovated hotel. Enjoy Afternoon Tea at Library Bar during the summer months, and explore the rooftop garden and apiary on a complimentary tour with an experienced hotel chef.  See how fresh herbs are harvested for the kitchens and meet the bees that produce the hotel’s honey.

To sample that honey, head to one of seven food and beverage restaurants, including York Station on the hotel's mezzanine level. Bartender Alina has been crafting drinks for 35 years in Toronto's smallest bar. The Apiary Ale, made with honey from the rooftop apiary, is available exclusively onsite at the hotel’s outlets on draught.

If you want the perfect spot to watch for celebrities in town for TIFF festivities, the historic Library Bar is the place to be. Settle in and make a selection from the whiskey library or try the famous 3oz Birdbath Martini.  Indulge in one of the newly designed handcrafted cocktails, made with the world’s finest spirits, and the freshest local ingredients harvested seasonally from the hotel’s rooftop apiary. TIFF members receive a special discount during the film festival. 

Cocktail Anyone? 

Discover the New Look of Front Street
Front Street, one of Toronto's busiest and most important boulevards, is just outside the hotel's front door. Just across Front Street from the Royal York is Union Station, Canada's busiest transportation hub. This National Historic Site, an ornate 1927 Beaux-Arts building, has been completely revitalized inside and out. Be sure you keep your camera ready to capture its unique architectural elements.

As you wander down Front Street, make a note to stop for a photo at the Gooderham Building, better known as the Flatiron building. The 5-story wedge-shaped red brick structure, built in the early 1890s as office space, is now a National Historic Site. Locals flock to Firkin Pub in the basement. Before you join them for an après-film drink, make your way to the back of the building where Canadian artist Derek Besant’s mural depicts the building across the street using trompe l'oeil, or trick of the eye.

The Beautiful Gooderham Building

Further down Front Street, the St. Lawrence Market has been luring the people of Toronto for shopping for more than 200 years. The South Market Building, open Tuesday through Saturday, houses specialty vendors. The second floor is home to the Market Gallery, where you can enjoy and purchase works by local artists. If you're there on a weekend, Saturday transforms the North Market into a bustling Farmer's Market, and Sunday welcomes more than 80 antique dealers if you prefer your purchases have their own history.

Historic St Lawrence Market 

Toronto's Distillery Historic District is at the east end of Front Street, about a 15-minute drive from the Royal York. Once home to Gooderham & Worts Whiskey distillery, the old brick buildings now host the city's hippest boutiques, galleries and restaurants. Fairmont Royal York’s concierge can make dinner reservations for you or update you about the special events that take place in the area throughout the year. For daytime explorations further afield, members of the Fairmont President's Club can book the hotel's 2015 BMW 750xi, available from 7am - 7pm daily.

Exploring the Patchwork Quilt of Toronto
Those who love the city appreciate that Toronto is a patchwork quilt of cultures. The Fairmont Royal York concierge can arrange a private tour of the neighborhoods that make up this cosmopolitan city. Royal York historian Bruce Bell spins fascinating stories of Toronto's rich history as you explore the area.

Thanks to its diverse neighborhoods, you can take an around-the-world tour and never leave Toronto. Whether you choose a private tour of the city, or set out to explore on your own, no visit is complete without visiting Chinatown. After a busy morning of film screenings, you’ll be ready for more with a lunch break of authentic handmade dumplings at Dumpling House on Gerrard Street.

In between films, explore the spice merchants in Little India, pick up sweet baklava from Serano Bakery in Greektown or have the concierge help you rent a Vespa to explore Little Italy.

Fine Dining Among the Stars
During TIFF excitement, you can combine celebrity watching with Toronto's delectable cuisines. EPIC Restaurant, located in the Fairmont Royal York, serves a selection of seasonal, local, sustainable items sourced within 100 kilometers of the hotel. For the most romantic evening in the city, contact the concierge before your arrival to arrange for a candlelit dinner for two in the privacy of your suite. 

For a memorable evening on the town, book a table at 360 The Restaurant at The CN Tower. The evening will blend the city's finest dining with a 360-degree revolving view of Toronto. After dinner, take time to enjoy the view and city lights from the LookOut and GlassFloor levels of the tower before you return to the hotel. 

Are you ready for a memorable stay in Toronto? Contact the Fairmont Royal York concierge at 416-368-2511 for a bespoke visit to the city for the Toronto International Film Festival. 

Susan Lanier-Graham has been traveling the world and writing about food, wine and luxury destinations for 30 years. She loves filling her passport pages with stamps and visas and has visited every continent except Antarctica. Susan’s luxury travel articles, focusing on experiencing local cultures, have appeared in such publications as Luxe Beat Magazine, Modern Luxury and Montage. 

Photo Credits: 

The red-brick Gooderham Building by Napattra Sritawat

St Lawrence Market by mikeinlondon

Toronto Skyline at twilight by mdmworks




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