Every once in a while, it helps to see your city with a fresh pair of eyes. This always happens to me after I return home from a trip abroad. Even better is when you choose to see your city as if you were a traveler from somewhere else. I recently got the chance to do this with a pretty amazing combination of very shiny new and old Toronto landmarks: UP Express and the Fairmont Royal York Hotel. Should you be visiting or even staycationing in Hogtown, my hometown (I say this with much affection), here's why I strongly suggest you give them a try.
My journey started at Toronto Pearson International Airport, or YYZ as we weather specialist types like to refer to it. It was easy to find the boarding area for UP Express (Union Pearson Express, of course) at Terminal 1, at the area now known as Pearson Station. The trains run every 15 minutes, with the travel time from Pearson to Union Station (or vice versa) being a speedy 25 minutes. There are outlets to charge your phone, tablet, or laptop. The trains are very clean, and the fares are super reasonable with a ton of options like one way, family passes, and long layover tickets. So to the people that are in any way opposed to UP Express......staaaahhhhhp your complaining, seriously! This fast rail link to our major airport is exactly what we need here in Toronto. Do you want to lug your suitcase on the bus from Kipling? Didn't think so.I am 100% positive that I would take it again. (If you don't find me convincing, watch this super cute video.)
So, off I went, ever so happily to Union Station, where I arrived to see a mini Drake General Store....the most Torontoish of things. A quick walk through to Front Street, and I arrived at my very, very luxurious destination for the night: the Fairmont Royal York Hotel.
The building that is the Fairmont Royal York has an incredible hertiage and a name that is synonymous with luxury and five star service. With a history stretching back into the mid 1800s, the building officially became the Royal York in 1929, and has recently undergone rather fantastic renovations. After an incredibly easy and helpful check-in experience, I arrived in my suite to find some rather delicious treats had been sent to my room. (How did they know how much I like smoked gouda? Magic.) This made unwinding and relaxing before dinner even better than I had expected. Of course, a trip to the Fairmont Royal York wouldn't be complete without a visit to the famous Library Bar for an afternoon cocktail. So, naturally, that was my other pre-dinner destination.
After that, on to Epic Restaurant. Chef de Cuisine Josh Dyer crafted a memorable Wild Ontario dinner that showcased many sustainable, local ingredients - some sourced from as close as the hotel's own rooftop herb garden and apiary! All paired, of course, with sommelier-selected wines. Favourite courses from the meal for me were the incredible cheese and charcuterie platter, honey-accented pork belly, and our main of venison tenderloin, wild blueberries, raisin puree, Brussels sprout and duck prosciutto hash. Tender, flavourful, wonderful.
Very appropriately, after this thoroughly delicious meal, I was ready for a sleep in that dreamy bed back in my suite. Follow that with a morning trip to the gym and buffet breakfast once again back at Epic, courtesy Executive Chef Robert Mills. One of the things that struck me the most during my stay was the incredible attention to detail and level of service that I encountered everywhere at Fairmont Royal York, and how proud all the staff are to be a part of this Toronto landmark. It made my stay there a memorable one, even if it was just a brief overnight stay. I plan to experience my own city with a little wanderlust in my heart again soon - especially if it means living like this.