I felt like the luckiest girl in the world to be able to celebrate my first birthday in Toronto at the iconic Fairmont Royal York. It’s no secret that I love the group (putting “Fairmont” into the search bar on APOE brings up about fifteen different blog posts), so I was over the moon when I received the invitation to experience yet another of Canada’s grand railway hotels in their portfolio.
I hope you enjoy this post, as I take you through a truly special birthday weekend that I will remember forever thanks to Fairmont Royal York.
First thing’s first, meet my friends!
Rebeca Zavaleta Ulch – wishboneandclover.com
Born in El Salvador, but living in Toronto for 18 (ish) years now, Rebeca is a social media star who shines not only in front of the camera, but also behind the scenes with her very own media and content creation agency. She’s kind of the Toronto Beyoncé and everyone loves hearing her loud laugh. You can find her by the pool wearing a boho kaftan and lots of gold jewelry.
Chloe Sugar – double-tees.com
We joke that Chloe is our daughter, but she’s the coolest 21 year old you ever did see. She acts like a tough kid, but she has a heart of gold that’s filled with love. When she isn’t working on her monochromatic personal fashion blog, you can find her styling the dreamiest photoshoots all over the continent. Look out for those long nails, all black ensembles and spunky attitude.
Carleton Eckhardt – carletoneckhardt.com
This girl can wear anything and make it look good. With the dreamiest hair and girl next door vibes, she’s someone we can all semi-relate to, but still totally look up to. She’s as fun as it gets, so everyone around town loves her. Spot her fiery red hair around Toronto paired with a minimally chic tunic dress, or casual jeans and block heels.
Now, let’s talk about this space!
The Fairmont Royal York is another incredible example of Canada’s great Chateau style railway hotels. When it was built in 1929 by the Canadian Pacific Railway it was the tallest building in the British Commonwealth and dominated the Toronto skyline. It was so vast that it became known as a city within a city, and as you walk through the doors into the foyer, you still have the same sense of grandeur that celebrities from all over the world would have had back in the ’30s. The Fairmont Royal York sits across the street from Union Station (which was designed by the same architectural firm), and the two of them together are jaw-droopingly beautiful. Although buildings have gone up around the hotel, it has remained an iconic feature of the city for almost a century. The spiral staircase, classic clock, marble pillars and beautiful chandeliers leave me with awestruck at the rich history of the hotel and people who have walked within it. Although the hotel has changed hands a few times over the years, Fairmont has done an incredible job preserving the original aesthetic, and honestly, as you can see, it’s got to be one of the best photo spots in Toronto.
I even got a birthday cake!
Upon checking in (more on the amazing hotel room later), I found the cutest strawberry shortcake/cheesecake that the Fairmont team had made for me because they knew that my friends like calling me strawberry shortcake. I almost cried it was so cute!!! After taking about five billion photos, I started eating it only to realize that is was SO GOOD. I was literally eating it again in bed the next morning. Happiest girl in the world eating cake in a cloud-like Fairmont bed!
I case you like taking outfit photos…
I was buzzing with excitement while exploring the various corners of the hotel seeking out dreamy places to shoot outfit photos. The furniture, carpets and walls are everything. Bring a flash and get ready to have fun because my outfit photos have never looked cooler than they did posing in and around Fairmont Royal York. To make it even better, that staff gets into it too! Just when I’d expect housekeeping to get all weirded out seeing me draped across the furniture, they would start posing with me. Love it!
Library Bar AKA my heart in the form of a place.
Before I even moved to Toronto I had people telling me that I would love Library Bar. It is the kind of aesthetic I dream about: leopard print couches, contrasting rugs. black top tables and dim lighting had me feeling like the coolest form of me. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, the bartenders made me one the best French 75s I’ve ever had (my favourite cocktail) and our server was so nice that I wanted to hug her goodbye. It was a pre-birthday dinner round of drinks that will be very hard to beat. I will be heading back there often.
One of the best dinners I’ve ever had (and not just because it was my birthday)!
A highlight of the weekend was undoubtedly a memorably delicious birthday dinner at Restaurant EPIC in the hotel. The decor and feel of the space is all about juxtaposition between old and new, without feeling forced. It’s modern and chic, but with a beautiful old world feel that I love.
We were all settled and enjoying a glass of wine when Chef Graeme Little came out to tell us about the food. For Canada’s 150th anniversary, EPIC had gone down into the hotel archives to rediscover recipes for dishes that would have been typically served at the hotel when it opened in 1929 (alongside the dreamy glamour and opulence).
First up was our amuse bouche, Oyster Rockefeller, and it was so good that half the table had eaten it already before we realized that we should be shooting photos (ooopsies). Then our first course came which was Dandelion Greens and Pea Tendrils with just enough ricotta cheese to make me fall in love with it. Next up was Fogo Island Cod (yes that’s the super instagrammy island in Newfoundland). The fish was served in an onion broth which was good enough to be eaten on its own. The main course was Beef Wellington which was a fashionable preparation of filet mignon in the early 20th century, complete with a coating of pâté and pastry. Those of you who know me know I’m not a big meat eater, but I was obsessed with this dish! Just when I thought I couldn’t eat another bite the dessert arrived, and I had to call Chef Graeme to describe it again because the way he said it in the restaurant was too good: Peach Melba Coup, villa panacotta with raspberry pearls and roasted peaches. Wishing I had a bit more to eat now as I write this.
In addition to the food, there was incredible service.Our waiter, George, has been serving these tables for over forty years, and the Fairmont Royal York is the only job he’s ever had (talk about a great workplace to be employing someone that long)! He spoke beamingly about the hotel, the restaurant and the love he has for his job. He was that little extra touch and already wonderful meal needed to make it one of the best ever.
After dinner we emerged from the restaurant half expecting to see 1920’s Hollywood starlets and socialite poets dancing to jazz and drinking champagne. What an experience!
Then we had silk pajama party sleepover, obviously.
Our hotel room was everything. The Royal York underwent a set of renovations to the 7th and 8th floors in 2014 to introduce a set of 229 Fairmont Luxury Rooms which in my opinion, strike the perfect balance between modern refinement and the hotel’s historical past. Our suite was several rooms connected (you could enter through three different doors!!!) with two full bedrooms, walk-in closets, bathrooms and an entire living/dining room making it the perfect place for a group of girls to stay (apart from a visit by our fabulous favourite, Myles Sexton).
We spend the evening “luxuriating” in ÉLISE silk pajamas, shooting photos, sipping wine and laughing more than I’ve laughed in a very long time. I literally couldn’t imagine a better space to have a sleepover!
Did I mention that we were surprised with custom bathrobes?!
We may have screamed a bit too much when we opened the hall closet to find these plush bathrobes lined up with our names on them. Talk about epic! We felt like rockstars and later learned that Fairmont will customize robes for guests upon request. Fairmont robes are the best, so I suggest you put in the special request! I’ve been wearing mine daily since check-out.
And then we had breakfast in bed.
Waking up in this beautiful space (and cloud like bed) felt like heaven, even if we had stayed up a bit too late the night before. We sipped coffee and ate the remains of my birthday cake while we waited for in-room dining to arrive. Taking advantage of the airy morning light through the windows, we took our time to eat (best pancakes ever) and giggled about all the funny memories from the day before.
Just when the weekend couldn’t get any better, there was Afternoon Tea.
We all know I love to drink tea, but add in scones, sweets and champagne and I go into overload mode experiencing my favourite things. Put all of these things in Library Bar and I am seriously living in a dreamland. We dubbed the experience “Elise in Wonderland” which was a pretty accurate description. Once again the Library Bar team provided us with service that made us feel like friends and I can’t wait to visit them all again. To top it off, the Fairmont Afternoon Tea service provides patrons access to the hotel’s rooftop (one of their best kept secrets)!
What a weekend it was.
Thank you to everyone at Fairmont Royal York for such a memorable stay. I am so excited to be sharing this century-old Toronto institution with all of you, my readers. Every aspect of the weekend was so thoughtfully planned and curated, I hope some of you have the chance to visit Fairmont Royal York too!
Many thanks to Therese for the photos (not all photos are by her, but the really good ones are lol).