What is luxury travel? To me, more importantly than travelling like I’d just won the national lottery, luxury travel is all about the moments of beauty and indulgence. With this in mind, I set out on a mission to discover Toronto’s luxury side. What I found was a city in the midst of a modern day renaissance, with amazing architecture and a lively culinary, fashion and arts scene. It was soon clear to me that Toronto has a lot to offer to discerning travellers. In just three days, I explored the streets of downtown Toronto, shopped at some of the city’s swanky neighbourhoods like Yorkville, visited a string of museums and art galleries, and in between, wined and dined at some of the best restaurants and allowed myself to be spoiled silly by my wonderful hosts at Shangri-La Hotel Toronto! So, did I find my moments of luxury in Toronto? I sure did! I was delighted to discover that Toronto has many luxury experiences tucked up its sleeves.
Moments of beauty
The night was crystal clear. We could not have chosen a better moment for cocktails and dinner at the 360 Restaurant atop CN Tower, Toronto’s most iconic landmark. Below us, the city stretched endlessly into the horizon, sparkling bright against the dark sky. The revolving restaurant offered us fabulous views all around – we could see as far as Rochester (USA) on the other side of Lake Ontario – right from our table.
A quiet moment in the park
It was a stunning autumn day in Toronto and I went for a stroll through the park behind the Art Gallery of Ontario. I sat on a bench and smelled the gorgeous scents of autumn, catching hints of burnt leaves, cinnamon and apples. Around me, little bushy-tailed squirrels pranced excitedly, stopping only momentarily to inspect bits of bark and twigs. A soothing moment amidst the hustle and bustle of downtown Toronto.
Art Gallery of Ontario
I stood up, turned around and looked up. The striking blue façade of Frank Gehry’s Art Gallery of Ontario merged naturally with the clear sky. It was a wondrous sight that stopped me in my tracks.
Downtown Toronto is a jumble of impressive skyscrapers and stately historic buildings. Everywhere I walked, I saw the city mirrored on the vast glassy surfaces. On this bright day, the sun and glass towers coalesced to create a dazzling show of light and illusion. As I strolled along King Street West, I noticed the shiny exterior of the TIFF Lightbox reflecting off the historic buildings across the road. Passing traffic added motion to this spectacle, making the reflections move in a wave-like manner. The old buildings seemed to sway to the beat of the city – a mesmerising sight!
Moments of indulgence
When it comes to indulgence, nothing speaks more to me than the presence of food that tastes as good as it looks. The tuna sashimi at Nota Bene is a perfect example: tender tuna with the freshest flavours on a bed of crispy seaweed salad and a sprinkling of coriander. Sublime!
I’m a big fan of seafood so this seafood platter at Luma got my mouth watering the second it arrived. The chef made us feel truly welcome by creating this special platter for us. It looked almost too good to eat! After feasting my eyes on the delightful presentation, I gingerly lifted a slice of tuna into my mouth, followed by a scallop. The subtle flavours and mix of textures were simply gorgeous.
More scallops? Yes, more scallops! The seared scallops at BOSK are the stuff of foodie dreams. These mollusks, seared to perfection, were beautifully paired with hon-shimiji mushrooms, avocado, crispy rice and a light ginger-sesame dressing.
I experienced yet another moment of delightful indulgence at the SOMA chocolate factory. The rich scent of chocolate envelops you the second you step inside. Grab a bag or a slab of some of Toronto’s finest chocolates but don’t leave without feasting your senses on the sinfully good Mayan hot chocolate – rich and spicy, exactly the way I like it!
Miraj Hammam Spa
After all that exploring, it was time for a relaxing session at the Miraj Hammam Spa. The supremely professional staff at this Moroccan-inspired spa made me feel more than welcome. After the hammam treatment, I felt rejuvenated and ready to roll.
Luxury travel – Velvet Escape style – is about the sheer joy we derive from moments of beauty and indulgence. My mission was to find such moments in Toronto and as you can see… I found them!
Note: My trip to Toronto was a collaboration between iambassador, the Canadian Tourism Commission and Tourism Toronto. As always, opinions expressed above are my own.