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Where to Stay Toronto

Unlock the City: Your Hotel Concierge Can be Your Key to a Great Trip



Carolina Avaria photo by Nicholas Lachman

Carolina Avaria, photo by Nicholas Lachman

Carolina Avaria, chef concierge of the InterContinental Toronto Yorkville, says that concierges are “front line superlative service providers who are ready to assist with any request. Nothing (unless illegal or unethical) is unreachable for an experienced concierge.Although the most common requests she and her peers receive are for restaurant recommendations, purchasing tickets and returning forgotten teddy bears, your concierge is ready and willing to assist with any request no matter how big or small. Among some of the more wild requests she’s heard being fulfilled: filling tubs with champagne and even jelly beans for proposals, buying bespoke presents for pet parrots, shipping breast milk overnight, and organizing a bullet-proof limousine.

“We pride ourselves on making the impossible seamlessly be possible,” says Avaria, who is also the President of Les Clefs d’Or Canada, an elite group of concierges who are easily identifiable by the golden keys worn on their lapels.

This year, Les Clefs d’Or Canada celebrates its 40th anniversary as a valued chapter of Les Clefs d’Or UICH (Union Internationale des Concierges d’Hôtels). Worldwide there are more than 4,000 members representing Great Britain, Denmark, Hong Kong, Brazil, UAE and Israel among more than 40 other nations. In Canada there are 152 members, along with professional and corporate affiliates, which proudly includes Where Toronto.

To become a member of this prestigious organization doesn’t happen by chance; it requires commitment through a rigorous process that includes an invitation from an existing member along with at least five years of hotel experience. Potential candidates must then attend monthly meetings for a year, then go through a three-month long test, write a national exam and do a presentation in front of regional members who then vote on the member’s qualifications, with the final decision being made by the executive/national board.

The golden keys represent the organization’s global contacts, allowing them to reach out to fellow concierges around the world to assist local guests with whatever they might need. “We are your key to everything,” says Avaria. “Our motto ‘In service through friendship,’ ensures that our keys open doors for you.”

So how does a guest develop a relationship with their concierge? It can start even before you’ve left home according to Avaria, who suggests calling or emailing your concierge in advance, who can make recommendations depending on the nature of your trip, and even help with transportation from the airport. And be sure to let them know if you’re in town to celebrate a particular occasion—they might be able to provide a complimentary touch.

And once you’ve arrived, just visit the concierge desk. “You have a dedicated friend in the lobby,” says Avaria. “Even if you have researched the city, plan a five minute stop in the lobby on your first day with your concierge.” Expect them to ask you what you like to do, and from there they’ll be able to “lay out the city for you according to your preferences, layering in our local knowledge and not-to-be-missed gems.”

And finally, “Once our guest, always a guest,” says Avaria. If you’ve left something behind or visited a great restaurant that you wanted to recommend to your friends at home but can’t quite remember its name, your concierge is there to help.

To learn more about Les Clefs d’Or Canada, visit lesclefsdorcanada.org.

Peek Inside the Gladstone Hotel’s Bob Blumer-Designed Gourmet Guestroom


Bob Blumer in his Surreal Gourmet room at the Gladstone Hotel

Bob Blumer in his Surreal Gourmet room at the Gladstone Hotel

It’s sometimes hard to know where to look when you’re at the Gladstone Hotel. The boutique accommodation in Toronto’s west end is an eclectic arts hub, and has long been know for its collection of individually designed guestrooms. Stay here, and you’ll never lacking in visual stimulation. That’s especially true if you find yourself in the hotel’s newest lodging—its Surreal Gourmet room, designed by fun-loving TV foodie Bob Blumer.


HOTEL INSIDER: Langdon Hall – Cambridge, Ontario


Langdon Hall Country House Hotel & Spa

Langdon Hall Country House Hotel & Spa

This beautiful country house is hidden away in Cambridge, Ontario—about 100km from Toronto—and is surrounded by 75 acres of breathtaking gardens, rolling forests and manicured lawns. Named the best hotel in Canada by Conde Nast Traveller two years in a row, prestigious Langdon Hall offers luxury accommodations in quaint quarters. The hotel was originally used as the opulent summer house of the Wilks family, a history that is showcased by the authentic painted portraits that hang on the walls. After joining the internationally renowned Relais & Chateaux family of hotels, Langdon Hall was brought up to date while maintaining its old-world charm.

Start the tour of Langdon Hall »


The 7 Most Luxurious Hotels in Toronto


Toronto's Most Luxurious Hotels

A luxury hotel, Toronto style: the lobby of the Trump Tower (Photo: David Wittaker)

1. Trump International Hotel & Tower Toronto
The Donald’s sole Canadian property is worth $500 million, and exudes opulence extravagance from the penthouse straight down to the lobby, where guests are surrounded by black marble cladding and can admire the Swarovski crystal sculpture behind the front desk. At 65 storeys, the building holds the title for tallest Canadian residential building. There are 261 guest rooms and suites at this luxurious Toronto hotel, plus 118 condo units for residents. The luxury isn’t just for guests, though. Anyone with the funds can broker a deal at the aptly named Stock Restaurant Bar and Lounge, have a nightcap at Suits Lobby Lounge (where a stock market ticker can be found behind the bar) or get pampered at Quartz Crystal Spa, which is located on the 31st and 32nd floors and offers expansive views of the Toronto skyline. Guests are also invited to swim laps in the heated 65-foot-long infinity pool designed with Calacatta marble and to rest their heads on Italian Bellino linen. Looking for a place to host a luxurious event in Toronto hotel? There’s a 12,000 square-foot grand ballroom with ornate black chandeliers that will be sure to impress your invitees.
Trump International Hotel & Tower Toronto, 325 Bay St., 416-306-5800, trumphotelcollection.com/toronto, map and reviews

See the rest of our guide to the most luxurious hotels in Toronto »