Most hotel restaurants get a bad wrap. Seriously, I’m not referring to the rap sheet of disappointing eating experiences, but a soggy wrap — the best thing on the late night menu at a hotel restaurant. From a burnt up plate of food resembling lasagna in Bologna to a microwavable stir-fry in Quebec City, I’ve eaten some awful hotel food. Then I moved to Toronto.
In the past few years, some pretty great restaurants have (re)opened in hotels; good enough to change my mind about hotel eateries. The “inn” thing to do in Toronto is have a cool restaurant at the hotel — in fact, several of my go-to spots are in hotels! From The Drake’s Sky Yard retro refit to The Thompson Hotel’s Colette Grand Cafe interior design, there are fantastic options for an out of towner (or a staycationer) to get a taste of the eclectically fabulous Toronto food scene without ever leaving the hotel.
The Four Seasons Hotel
Celebrity chef Daniel Boulud’s Toronto offshoot wouldn’t have made this list a few years ago. After a multi-million dollar renovation, the space is gorgeously elegant burnt orange banquet seating and gold accents transporting both local and transient diners to a chic French brasserie. The menu got a great revamp, now featuring classic Lyonnais dishes like salade nicoise, beef tartare and rotisserie chicken with melt-in-your-mouth potatoes.
The sexy underbelly of this unassuming hotel on Richmond Street has made a splash amongst TIFF glitterati. With an eclectic cocktail menu, the lounge has a hip vibe that pairs well with the Italian and Mediterranean dishes like octopus salad, cervelo and horse carpaccio.
The Drake Hotel
The Drake Hotel’s rooftop patio is probably the most popular in the city — and it’s open year round. Its recent 1920s style renovation features curated art and a Palm Springs vibe. Frequented by cool Queen Street locals, suburbanites and tourists alike, you’ll be hard pressed to get a table here, but if you do, the cocktails alone are worth it.
The Hazelton Hotel
Situated in ritzy Yorkville, the patio is great for people-watching and enjoying a Waygu cheeseburger, tuna sashimi or lamb cavatelli. This restaurant is part of the Mark McEwan empire, and at a boutique hotel where you can take a swim in the saltwater lap pool, you know the food has got to be good.
Walking through a gorgeous archway from the Thompson, you’ll feel as though you’re walking into an elegant Parisian eatery. The modern French menu features a trio of foie gras here, a little tuna maurice over there, and don’t forget about the frog legs. The hotel also has a diner open 24-hours serving up one of the best mac-and-cheese in the city.
The Ritz-Carlton Toronto
Two words for you: Cheese cave. This Italian restaurant serves elegant pasta dishes to the Bay Street business crowd on the regular along with luxe out-of-towners. They also have an epic Sunday brunch, complete with an all-you-can-drink Mimosa bar and a seafood station with lobster.
While not officially affiliated with the Shangri-La (their in-house lounge does a fantastic afternoon tea). The David Chang empire adjacent to the Shangri-La hotel is defined by the beautiful sculpture outside and three different restaurants. The Noodle Bar is a great spot for lunch or dinner with mouth watering pork buns and flavourful ramen.