Hotel Review: The St. Regis Toronto

From about 359 Canadian dollars, or about $272 at current exchange rates.

All hotel openings involve some drama, but the St. Regis Toronto — the brand’s first property in Canada — comes with an epic back story. Born in 2012 as the Trump International Hotel and Tower, the mixed-use project endured a litany of well-publicized problems, from flying glass building panels to political protests. After new owners deleted the Trump name last year, Marriott International took control of the property, temporarily rechristened it the Adelaide, and undertook a swift, stealthy St. Regis rebrand. The “new” St. Regis opened in late November. I was there in late December and, surprisingly, Trump-era décor hadn’t been updated in most guest rooms; instead, Marriott splurged on an extravagantly modernist lobby, a $5 million restaurant, and two splashy ultraluxury suites.

The hotel’s location, within the concrete canyons of the Financial District, makes up in convenience what it lacks in glamour. Attractions like St. Lawrence Market, Scotiabank Arena, and Bell Lightbox — a cultural center that is the home of the Toronto International Film Festival — are less than 15 minutes away on foot. The Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport downtown can take just a quarter-hour by cab; five minutes gets you to Union Station, Toronto’s grand rail hub. But this stretch of Bay Street can hollow out on evenings and weekends, and you’ll need a car or public transit to reach more intriguing neighborhoods — or for dining options sexier than nearby chains.

My rather cheerless 22nd-floor superior king room boasted beige wallpaper, an armchair in chocolate-brown damask, and a TV atop a functional-looking dresser of ash-gray veneer. There was no art on the walls; a monochromatic nature print above the headboard provided the sole decorative touch. Painted silver, a desk at the window offered some whimsy, until I noticed extensive peeling along its sides. An iHome docking clock radio sat on one nightstand. Panels on both sides of the bed allowed full control of lighting and drapes — a thoughtful touch. Cotton sateen Frette bed linens, crisp but soft, felt like heaven. The overall mood was mid-2000s corporate affluence; the front desk told me guest rooms are slated for minor tweaks, but not major upgrades.

With white-marble floors, double black-marble sinks, a soaking tub and a separate rain shower stall, the spacious bathroom proved the highlight of my stay. Frette also makes the plush, diamond-embossed towels exclusively for St. Regis. The toilet sits behind an actual door, lending some privacy, but its white plastic seat cover was so heavily scratched it appeared vandalized. A faux-leather garbage can under the double sink was peeling badly. A built-in television illuminates the bathroom mirror; if the volume is turned up while the guest room television is on, the sounds cancel each other out.

A content-free check-in — small talk, keys, “Enjoy your stay” — left me unaware of vaunted St. Regis amenities like butler service, which is included in the room rate and apparently includes packing/unpacking and “coffee or tea service upon arrival.” When I inquired, an attendant told me that only Starwood Preferred Guest members “with certain status levels” had access (a spokesman told me butler service has since been rolled out property wide). Likewise, a St. Regis-branded BMW, used to chauffeur guests around town, sat idle in the hotel driveway; “it’s for local trips on weekdays,” the front desk informed me. Canadian goodies — Naked Snacks nuts from Vancouver, Spudnik’s potato chips from Toronto — dominated the in-room minibar, along with soft drinks and top-shelf liquor like Bombay Sapphire gin and Grey Goose vodka. I found room-service menus in my room but no guides to hotel facilities. The compact 31st-floor fitness room requires two elevator rides and a saunter past smartly dressed throngs outside the hotel’s glam restaurant —- slightly awkward for me in a tank top and shorts. The worn-looking spa, called The Spa for now, is due for a face-lift this year, a receptionist told me.

Louix Louis, the St. Regis’s glossy, buzzy new restaurant, feels transplanted from another hotel. An Art-Nouveau-in-outer-space ambience, courtesy of Toronto-based DesignAgency, complements the chef Guillaume Robin’s precise, Canadian-accented creations, like cold-smoked BC scallops and seared Quebec duck breast, along with 320-dollar Osetra caviar and a 75-dollar whole chicken. Dinner felt too much like a scene for a solo diner, so I opted for breakfast, when the gold-and-rose-hued room felt like a bar after closing time. My trout avocado toast (18 dollars) included mottled avocado atop bright-orange fish, and its “tomato compote” resembled supermarket salsa. Coffee (5 dollars) was potent, at least. DesignAgency also transformed the southern end of the dowdy former Trump lobby into the Astor Lounge, a sleek, neutral-toned spot for light snacks and drinks.

The ghost of a Trump hotel lingers. Generically luxurious, the St. Regis still feels like a work in progress — not really acceptable at this price point. High-rolling Marriott/Starwood loyalists might enjoy some coddling; in the meantime, Toronto is now home to a plethora of luxury properties with stronger personalities.

The St. Regis Toronto; 325 Bay St.;

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