Toronto is booming. Over the past five years, Canada’s largest city has experienced a cultural renaissance and transformation. Locals and tourists alike can find new inspiration at the ballet or opera via the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, take a moment to ponder the painterly at Frank Gehry’s refreshed Art Gallery of Ontario, or adventure under ancient dinosaur bones inside the Crystal at the Royal Ontario Museum.
As Toronto’s cultural offerings bloom, tourists with a keen eye for the good life are met with a potpourri of five-star sleeps. The city is now proud home to a handful of luxury hotels that offer the bar scene crème de la crème, showcasing creative cocktails and irresistible bar bites.
The Four Seasons in Yorkville opened this past fall as the international hotel brand’s flagship property. The hotel’s dBar offers a space filled with natural light and a menu from French culinary champion chef Daniel Boulud.
Must-Try Cocktail: Neo Negroni (Bombay Sapphire gin, Campari, green chartreuse, dry vermouth, lemon twist)—a classic cocktail that dBar serves up in an exclusive glass designed to perfectly showcase the ice sphere, which spins slowly to keep your gin and Campari cool.
Best Bar Bites: dBar’s menu offers iconic Boulud signatures, with a distinct flare showcasing his Lyonnaise roots. Satisfy yourself with savoury bites by digging in to the plump and juicy Beaujolaise Sausage (pork, mushroom, onion, bacon and red wine link, lentils du puy).
The Hazelton Hotel has been the place to see and be seen, especially during the Toronto International Film Festival, when celebrities descend upon the city. ONE Bar tips its hat to the Hazelton’s fame culture with portraits of celebs such as Lady Gaga and Penelope Cruz hanging throughout the space.
Must-Try Cocktail: The Headless Horseman (Bacardi Oakheart, orange pumpkin cinnamon purée, smoked syrup, Perrier, dehydrated orange) offers the perfect combination of spice, smoke and citrus.
Best Bar Bites: Chef Mark McEwan’s comfort-food menu most impresses guests with its sweet finish. ONE’s Salted Caramel Sundae (salted caramel ice cream, caramel corn, orange, chocolate crunch) forces a jaw drop and satisfies the strongest sugar cravings.
Located on the 31st floor of the Trump Hotel, Stock Bar offers stunning views of Toronto’s glowing financial district. The space features comfy couches, bar-side stools, a resident DJ and one of the city’s most charming patios in the sky.
Must-Try Cocktail: I Smoked My Sidecar (Hennessy infused with Mombacho cigar and cedar, Grand Marnier cuvée du centenaire) is a unique creation perfect for cigar enthusiasts and fans of the forest.
Best Bar Bites: Stock Bar offers an excellent selection of hearty meat options, including a fantastic Veal Osso Buco with Potato Gnocchi (picholine olives, white wine, marjoram).
Directly across from the Four Seasons Centre at University and Queen, the Shangri-La Hotel opened this past September just in time for TIFF. The hotel’s romantic Lobby Lounge and Bar offer a distinct Asian-inspired design—with a creative menu to boot!
Must-Try Cocktail: Toronto’s most unique bar menu is offered up in a wee colour-coded bookcase for guests to adventure through. Be sure to order the Gin Basil Smash (beefeater gin, fresh basil, lemon juice, simple syrup)—a perfectly herbaceous thirst quencher.
Best Bar Bites: The Shangri-La celebrates its Hong Kong roots with a bamboo steamer filled with addictive Dim Sum (pork, shrimp, mushroom) and paired with hot sauce and sweet soya.
The Lobby Bar at the Thompson Hotel, located just south of King Street on Bathurst, offers a perfect space to chillax with a snack in the afternoon, or to strap on your heels and join cocktail-clasping nighthawks for a twirl on the dance floor.
Must-Try Cocktail: Thompson bartenders succeed with a duo of thirst-quenching fruit-forward concoctions: the Elderflower (Belvedere, elderflower liqueur, raspberry, ice imperial Moët) and Basil Lemonade (Belvedere, basil syrup, lemon juice, soda water).
Best Bar Bites: The Lobby Bar menu features a selection of comfort foods from the Thompson Diner and refined Italian dishes straight from the Scarpetta kitchen. Creamy Polenta with fricassee of truffle mushrooms and Agnolotti filled with short ribs and bone marrow hit the spot.