By Keith Tomasek, December 7, 2018
Living close to the GTA means that a weekend Christmas shopping trip to Toronto is a breeze.
With so much to see and do, the most important choice you’ll make is picking the right hotel.
Suzie, Cole and I enjoyed a weekend at the iconic Fairmont Royal York and took advantage of their Toronto Christmas Market package.
- One night accommodation for two in Fairmont Luxury Room.
- Two VIP Market Passes (only required on weekends for entry).
- Two Ferris Wheel Passes.
- Two Hot Chocolate Vouchers (to be redeemed at the Market).
- Buffet Breakfast for Two served in Piper’s Pub.
- Complimentary WiFi to share your #RYHFestive moments on social media.
The Fairmont Royal York is a premium 4-star property with the best location for shoppers. If you fly into Toronto’s Pearson airport, take the UP Express Train, which is cheaper and faster than a cab. Whether you arrive by plane or by Via Rail, the hotel is right across the street.
If you drive to the Fairmont, their valet parking service (with in-and-out privileges) is the best option. Upon our arrival, the attentive staff unloaded our luggage and when we were leaving they helped pack the car with our gifts.
The Toronto Christmas Market package includes a luxury room which was part of Fairmont’s multi-million dollar revitalization. The beds were super comfy with 300 thread count, luxurious linens. The bathroom, complete with tub, was all shiny and new.
Cole couldn’t resist testing the bed, and the cozy bathrobe, in the manner befitting a young boy – by donning the robe, jumping on the bed and pulling a karate pose.
The hotel is filled with colorful decorations that truly add magic to the holiday season.
The holiday magic extends to the street where every night between 5-9PM the Fairmont runs its colorful Miracle on Front Street projections. The historic property literally lights up with Christmas magic in one of the largest projection experiences Toronto has ever seen. While you’re outside don’t miss the festive window decorations along the property’s Front Street windows.
Back in our luxury suite I was pleased by the fast and reliable Wifi, and The Fairmont Royal York’s TV package includes Chromecast so we could watch our favourite shows right from our phone – a nice touch.
But we weren’t there to watch TV, we had Christmas shopping to do!
The Toronto Christmas Market is a short drive from the hotel. Consider using Lyft (this link goes to the App), which I find more reliable and slightly cheaper than Uber these days. The ride from the hotel to the market was $11.00. If you drive, parking will cost anywhere from $5.00 to $30.00 (for a spot you can reserve in advance).
At the Market you’ll find a selection of unique gifts sure to please everyone on your list. There is gorgeous artwork, stylish clothing, artisanal skincare lotions and an endless supply of handicrafts, and the merchants are all in good spirits, willing to help you find whatever you need – even if it’s not in their store!
Bring your camera because, as well as all the gift items, you’ll discover a neverending series of Instagramable photo backdrops like this big heart.
I loved this sculpture, below, at The Sport Gallery by Patrick Amiot, a celebrated sculptor originally from Montreal who now resides in Sebastopol, California.
Located on the cobblestone streets of Toronto’s historic Distillery District, which dates back to the 1860’s Gooderham & Worts whiskey company, the Toronto Christmas Market was inspired by the communal shopping experiences that are common in Europe.
Suzie, Cole and I loved the personal touch that simply doesn’t happen in shopping malls inhabited by multinational franchise stores.
“The history of the European markets and the reason they still exist there is to have people in cities and towns across Europe come together to celebrate the holiday season with their community, their family and their friends. That’s exactly what we wanted to do here,” says Matthew Rosenblatt, who along with investors, purchased the Market property in 2001.
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One of the highlights of our trip was the food and fun!
The Fairmont Royal York Toronto Christmas Market package includes hot chocolate vouchers and tickets for the Ferris Wheel.
The Ferris Wheel was a blast, and the hot chocolate was excellent. There are also lots of unique treats to sample.
One of our favourites was the dark chocolate Chimney Cake made with premium fine cocoa and organic coconut milk, making it suitable for vegans. Originating in Hungary in the 14th century, chimney cakes are natively known as kürts kalács and can now be found on street corners throughout the world.
Below, Cole and Suzie are loving the Tornado Potatoes, a popular street food from South Korea that come in a variety of flavours. We liked BBQ and sour cream and onion flavours the best.
Be sure to check out the 50-foot tree, decorated with over 40,000 lights and two kilometres of gold ribbon. Designed by Beth Edney, an award-winning floral and landscape designer, it rivals the tree at Rockefeller Center.
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Also be sure to see one of the more than 400 free performances on stage next to the tree. Each day has a different music theme: it’s jazz night on Fridays and pop on Saturdays. Santa’s elves offer a fun singalong every day and the brass bands and cultural dancers are fun too!
Back at the hotel, I hit the health club for a workout. The varied selection of cardio machines and weights means that you’ll work up a sweat – if that’s your thing.
As well as a pool and hot tub, the health club includes a relaxing, well-appointed locker room. I’m a big fan of steam rooms, and the Fairmont Royal York definitely has the best steam room in the downtown core. The health club offers massages too.
If you are need of a haircut for all the Christmas photos, be sure to visit the Men’s Salon downstairs in the concourse. It’s thrived for over 40 years because they offer unparalleled, old-world European style barbershop charm. The hot lather shave, with a mask and head massage, is the perfect way to revitalize your spirits.
When we returned to our room we were delighted to find Coconut Macaroons patiently waiting for us. These melt-in-your-mouth delicacies are made from the finest ingredients with a recipe that dates back to 1929!
If you’re back from shopping in the afternoon, consider the Fairmont’s afternoon tea at the Library Bar, home of Toronto’s best martini as awarded by NOW Magazine. The menu offers a refreshing selection which includes Steelhead Trout Rillettes, Charred Aubergine & Garbanzo paste, and the tantalizing Smoked Duck breast on Sourdough bread with dried cherry chutney!
Breakfast at Piper’s Pub is also included in the package. The omelettes are made to order and are served alongside a buffet that offers an impressive array of choices including fresh fruit, fine pastries, delicious chicken apple sausages, baked beans, waffles and more!
Cole opted for the big breakfast with waffles, bacon, scrambled eggs and other items from the buffet.
Suzie and I had the fresh fruit followed by an omelette.
It’s the small touches that distinguish a fine hotel’s breakfast like the pure, Ontario wildflower honey from Rosewood Estates Winery in nearby Beamsville, and the first-rate coffee and tea which hit the spot, making breakfast at Piper’s the perfect start to your day. Naturally, the service was fast and efficient.
The Fairmont Royal York is at 100 Front Street W. Toronto
Click here for details on the Toronto Christmas Market package.
Call at front desk at (416)-368-2511
The Toronto Christmas Market runs until Dec. 23. It is open Tuesday to Sunday from noon (except Saturdays and Sundays — it starts early from 10 a.m.) until 9 p.m. (except on Friday and Saturday when it closes at 10 p.m.)