Turning Moments into Memories: Fairmont Royal York Celebrates 90 Years
For almost a century, Toronto’s Fairmont Royal York has welcomed illustrious guests from across the world, from British royalty to kings and queens of the silver screen. Queen Elizabeth II, the Dalai Lama, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Jennifer Aniston and Leonardo DiCaprio have all stayed at this renowned hotel. An iconic landmark of Toronto, Fairmont Royal York offers guests grandeur, elegance, sophistication and the chance to make special memories. Celebrating its 90th anniversary in 2019, the hotel has a lot in store for guests visiting Toronto and taking part in this historic celebration.
Revel in a Legendary Past
Opened on June 11, 1929, the Fairmont Royal York was the tallest building in the British Commonwealth at the time. However, size wasn’t all it offered. Often referred to as a “city within a city,” the hotel had its own hospital, library, bank, concert hall and golf course. A glass-covered garden on the roof supplied fresh produce to what was then the largest hotel kitchen in Canada. The hotel’s bakery produced more than 15,000 French rolls each day.
During its history, Fairmont Royal York has signified opulence and architectural magnificence. An integral element of the Toronto skyline, and located directly across from Union Station, the hotel was built by the Canadian Pacific Railway Company.
The hotel has undergone several transformations in its lifetime, many of which guests enjoy to this day. In 1957, the East Wing was built, increasing the number of rooms from 1,000 to 1,300. From 1988 to 1993, the hotel underwent a $100 million renovation which restored the guestrooms, health club, and public spaces to their original splendour.
History fans can take a self-guided tour of publicly accessible spaces. In honour of the 90th anniversary, the hotel has released a brochure to guide guests through the stately building, pointing out key architectural features and works of art. Along the way, guests can learn more about the construction and grand opening of the hotel and each major renovation.
Experience the Thoughtful Transformation
Fairmont Royal York has been transformed once again, this time for its 90th birthday. Honouring its history and looking to the future, the multi-year renovation has captured the essence of the hotel’s storied past and marries it seamlessly with modern opulence.
When guests enter the main lobby, they are greeted with a design inspired by the early 1920s with today’s modeninity.. Working harmoniously with the hotel’s Canadian Pacific Railway roots, check-in stations are reminiscent of train ticketing counters. The materials and details throughout the lobby are an elegant nod to train cars and railroads.
For travelers seeking a personalized, curated experience, Fairmont Gold offers upscale design coupled with boutique service. Take in the skyline view of the city from the 18th-floor lounge, while relaxing in pocket seating areas or enjoying the warmth of a central fireplace. Residential rooms recall the Golden Age of the British Empire intertwined with French Art Deco. Being the first hotel in North America to exclusively offer SkinJay, the Paris-based aromatherapy shower experience and beautiful design details, unique bar area, these guest rooms offer an unparalleled experience.
The Convention Floor ballroom update reflects the building’s unique architectural features highlighted by modern style. The location for the Canadian Arts & Fashion Awards and the gala reception for Canada’s Walk of Fame, the Fairmont Royal York is the go-to choice for prestigious events in Toronto.
Tantalize your Taste Buds
Since its inception, the hotel has been synonymous with exquisite food and drink. While the hotel kitchen no longer produces 15,000 French rolls daily, it still focuses on delighting guests with memorable dining experiences. In 2008, the hotel added three beehives on the 14th floor, supplying honey to its restaurants. In 2014, a pollinator bee hotel and three additional beehives were added, which provide the hotel with 450 pounds of honey annually. Today, the hotel has seven hives and a herb and vegetable garden tended to by the culinary team. Guests can enjoy a taste of the honey in its Apiary Ale brewed in partnership with Millstreet or they can taste the essence of the garden’s botanicals it its 14th In Line Gin, distilled in collaboration with Dillion’s.
In celebration of its noteworthy anniversary, Fairmont Royal York has opened two new dining spaces evoking the hotel’s history. REIGN Restaurant + Bar + Bakery is named in honor of the hotel’s royal past. World-class chefs use local Canadian farm-to-table ingredients to create a modern version of traditional French fare. Enjoy specialties such as Newfoundland cod and sticky toffee pudding.
Take part in an ode to the hotel’s 90-year history at CLOCKWORK Champagne & Cocktails. A large, two-sided clock tower greets diners, ensuring future generations of Torontonians and travelers continue to use the iconic phrase “meet me at the clock.” The mixologists handcraft classic recipes and transform them with fresh ingredients and techniques to create one-of-a-kind cocktails and aperitifs.
Make Memories in Toronto
After marveling at the striking transformation of Fairmont Royal York, take time to wander through the bustling streets of Toronto. Visit the nearby historic St. Lawrence Market to sample delectable home-grown and culturally diverse fare. Visit the Royal Ontario Museum to enjoy traveling exhibitions and its mainstay galleries.
While Toronto is a lively metropolitan city, the serene sounds of nature and rolling waves can be enjoyed just a few minutes outside the city. In summer months, head south to Queens Quay West and take a short ferry ride to the Toronto Islands. Rent a canoe or kayak, or bike around the island and enjoy the peaceful setting. With an amusement park, petting farm, volleyball courts and a baseball diamond, the area offers plenty to do.
Plan your stay at Fairmont Royal York to bask in the memories of the past 90 years and to create new ones. With historic architecture, delectable dining and a vibrant city at your fingertips, you have the makings of an unforgettable stay.
Anam Ahmed is an avid traveler, writer and editor. Her journeys have taken her everywhere from the jungles of Cambodia to the canals of Venice and back home to the markets of Toronto. Her travel writing has appeared in USA Today, and she has also written extensively for online mapping software.