A stylish hotel draws stylish guests. The Le Germain Hotel Toronto in downtown Toronto is no exception. It oozes sophistication, from the smartly attired front desk staff to its Tesla charging stations, from its beautiful restaurant and roof-top putting green and Lexus courtesy car. Though there’s no shortage of coolness, the reception and feel of this property are downright warm and inviting.
It was the first one of Groupe Germain Hotels, a company that launched with great success initially in Quebec City, to open in Toronto in 2003. A equally luxurious sister property followed seven years later– the lovely and sporty Le Germain Hotel Maple Leaf Square, close to the Air Canada Centre where the city’s professional hockey and basketball teams play. Additional properties are in the works for Canada. In 2018 alone, there will be will three new properties opening in Ottawa, Calgary and Saskatoon. Clearly, a winning formula is in place.
With the property rolling past the more than a decade-old mark, it was time for a revamp. While the 123-room Le Germain Hotel Mercer Street was somewhat lonely when it came to competition in the boutique hotel category in Toronto, the last decade has seen many open, vying for a bigger slice of the city’s robust tourism and conference pie. Staying current and fresh is crucial to discerning travellers.
Its renovations of the guest rooms were placed in the capable hands of Quebec-based Lemay Michaud Architecture Design to give them some French flair. In this case, it means streamlined, minimalistic furnishings in dark wood, soft earth tones and texture carpets. Not surprisingly, tech figures prominently with recessed lighting, charging stations next to the bed, BOSE sound systems and televisions complete with HDMI ports for computer link ups.
Many guests, including me, leave raving about the beds and the linens. The mattresses are custom made for the hotel, but if you are smitten with them, you can buy one, along with the exquisite sheets, from Simons retailers across Canada. My only disappointment in the linen department was in the bathroom. I prefer large bath sheets to wrap myself up post-shower. The ones offered by the hotel were on the diminutive side. Go big or go home, I say. But I forget all about that when I saw the boxed chocolate-covered caramels left bedside as a turndown service amenity.
Further renovations happened in the lobby and restaurant areas. I hadn’t been to the hotel for more than eight years so I was happy to see upon arrival that the walls had come tumbling down to open up the hotel much more. A stylish bar, perfect for lounging and Internet surfing, before hitting one of the nearby theatres, comedy clubs or attractions close by, including the SkyDome, a live entertainment and sports complex, right next to the famed CN Tower.
The restaurant named Victor is as a nod to company co-founder Victor Huguette. It, too, received an extreme makeover, not just in the décor department, but with in its menu, too. Updated tavern classics are served against a sexy contemporary background with steel blue leather banquettes, old style tile floors, and an open, breezy atmosphere.
My dining companion and I started off with cocktails, including a couple of options available on tap. We moved to appetizers quickly as hunger dictated – a large crab cake and tempura-style calamari. Both were winners, but we scraped up every crumb of the crab cake that let the crab flavor shine through without being overshadowed by cheap fillers, like bread crumbs or potato, like I’ve experienced elsewhere.
Mains hit the spot, too. I opted for the braised lamb shank served with lentils, plus an order of sautéed mushrooms on the side. The meat could be pulled with a fork easily from the bone and I could taste the wine that must have been used in braising. Hearty and delicious! My friend opted for the pesto crusted halibut. I didn’t try it, but she was happy. I could see that the skin of the fish was seared properly and had a good crust.
Well-prepared food makes me happy, too. Before we concluded our dining experience at Victor, I had to order the cheesecake. It’s a good test of a kitchen’s ability. So often, it’s the basics that trip up restaurants – crème brûlée that have a crunchy top, scallops with a wimpy, colourless sear and limp French fries. Those things irritate me to no end. The cheesecake was perfection – light, cheesy, a graham-cracker crust – similar and nearly as good as the one I make at home.
It was tough to get out of bed in the morning, but I really wanted to try the continental breakfast, also served at Victor. There was no rush to leave my luscious bed because breakfast was available until noon. So civilized! Also important to note is that there is no check out time (subject to availability) when you book your stay online or directly with the hotel on the phone. Linger as you like…
Breakfast definitely was a cut above so many others I’ve had at other hotels. It was well stocked with charcuterie favourites, plus oatmeal, boiled eggs, homemade granola, beans, bagels, pastries (great croissants), fruit, cereal and the like. It is definitely good value for the money. What a nice way to wrap up a luxury stay that was truly magnifique.
Michele stayed as a guest of Le Germain Hotel Toronto. As always, her thoughts and opinions are her own. Photos courtesy of Michele Sponagle and the hotel.