Toronto is a fairly reasonable city to get around in. The subway system continues to be extended. Ride-sharing apps are available to pick you up almost immediately after you press a button on your cell phone. That said, all hell breaks loose when the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) begins. TIFF not only brings in innumerable tourists, which sells out hotels, but also closes down streets in the downtown core, with tons of fans heading in and out.
When a friend reached out offering to host me for one night at The St. Regis Toronto hotel, I immediately accepted her generosity. I was also invited to host a few friends for a champagne reception at the Moet pop-up in the hotel’s lobby, a great way to kick off my staycation – and TIFF season – in style.
Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for The Hollywood Reporter
TIFF is my busiest week of the year. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been covering the TIFF party beat, which takes me to party after party every night until 4 a.m. Since I live in the suburbs, getting around town is not only exhausting but time-consuming.
7 days. 5 hotels. I've worn endless pairs of slippers and spent many mornings in a white, plush robe while working from an in-room desk with views of the city as my backdrop. I can now say I’ve done a tour of Toronto’s most luxurious hotels.
I spent TIFF being wined, dined, delighted and surprised at the hospitality of The St. Regis Toronto, and catching endless A-list star sightings. This is lucrative for my job, given that being in the heart of the city was exactly where I needed to be.
So how did I select which spots to hit up? I simply wanted places that could tend to that same level of luxury and hospitality, in close proximity to the parties I was set to attend.
My next stop was The Hazelton Hotel in Bloor-Yorkville on Saturday night. Though I had a ton of parties, I knew my night would wrap up there. I had the annual HFPA bash at Four Seasons Toronto, followed by the premiere after party for J-Lo’s buzzworthy film Hustlers, at Sofia – my favourite restaurant to frequent in the city.
A staff member came up to my room when, right before leaving, I had a wardrobe malfunction. I was impressed with how speedy and discreet she was. Unfortunately, the gown I was meant to wear had something wrong with it. But she helped me problem-solve which was good for my escalating levels of anxiety.
Photo courtesy of The Hazleton Hotel
My next stop was the Four Seasons Toronto, which of all the hotels, feels the most like home. Not only is this spot located in the stomping grounds for some of TIFF's hottest movie stars, but it also hosts the season's best parties. One of these includes HFPA star-studded bash, a luncheon with fashion icon Anna Wintour and a dinner honouring Toronto’s very own, Barry Avrich.
To top it off, the décor – just like last year – both inside and outside the hotel was decked out in photography from the notorious George Pimentel.
Photo by Ryan Emberley
Hotel X Toronto was the spot that dazzled me the the most, largely because it was the most unexpected. I chose this hotel because I was attending an event that L’Oreal Paris with iconic actress Jane Fonda that day. As well, I was attending a concert across the street that evening. I was given a corner room on the 23rd floor where I had the most remarkable views of the lake. It was serene and slowed me down from the rush of TIFF. I’d been coming and going every day while living out of a suitcase and garment bags all week.
I had run into two close girlfriends at the ‘In conversation with Jane Fonda and Marilyn Denis' and invited them to join me on the rooftop to sit poolside and sip bubbly on the 28th floor. The patio was packed and it felt like we were at a beach club, thanks to the orange polo tees and white shorts worn by staff.
I wish I had more time to actually enjoy each of these hot spots and all of their respective amenities and services. These hotels provided me with some of the best sleeps I’ve had for a while. I’m dumbfounded and in awe of those who are in the hospitality industry. Staff and managers really took the time to go above and beyond.
I ended up my tour de force, if you will, at the Ritz-Carton Toronto. By the time I made it there, TIFF was coming to an end and there was the inevitable drop of dopamine in my system. My beautiful room in a 19th floor suite came with access to the 20th floor Club Lounge. The Club Lounge had an open bar, attentive staff, and tons of complimentary food and drinks. But a sadness hit me while hanging out there.
Photo by the Ritz-Carlton
Last night was the last night of TIFF party coverage. Though I’ve been spoiled, tended to, eaten well and my life has been way more convenient, I feel like I’ve gained more hours in my day thanks to not sitting in the back of a car to get around. I am looking forward to going back home to being surrounded by my books and my things. Sure, my reality may not be as chic as that at a hotel. But I wouldn’t want it any other way.