Story by Adrian Brijbassi
TORONTO, ONTARIO — The Ritz-Carlton isn’t the brand people think about when bargain shopping. It’s a name synonymous with luxury, but it’s also one that provides immense value. In my previous experiences at the Ritz-Carlton Toronto I felt the value in the fine detail, flawless service, and gracefulness that was both polished and inviting. Guests enter anticipating the best and the Ritz beats their expectations.
In my most recent stay in May, however, the Ritz-Carlton Toronto demonstrated that it also provides value in the bottom-line, money-saving sense. After airfare and accommodations, the next biggest expenses for travellers are food and alcohol. If you purchase a room in the Club Level (the top four floors of the hotel), the Ritz provides guests with so much additional amenities that the program can truthfully be called generous.
Club Level guests have access to the following:
- Continuous food from early morning til 10 pm. And “continuous” means what it says — a never-ending rotation of savoury, sweet, filling and delicious food. A lot of it is healthy, too, like a chickpea and quinoa salad I enjoyed while working at one of the lounge’s comfortable tables. That’s not to say there aren’t plenty of sweet, unhealthy foods to indulge in. You’ll find pastries galore: blueberry tarts, macarons in multiple flavours, chocolate cakes and meringues. Plus, giant cookies in jars all over the place.
- A stocked liquor cabinet with some excellent Ontario wines and a standard spirit selection. Have a drink or two up here before you head out for the night — or instead of a nightcap in a pricey cocktail bar — and you’ll appreciate the value. Not only that, you’ll start to feel at home in the expansive Club Lounge.
- A cozy seating area within the lounge that features a big-screen TV and resembles a posh living room.
- Computer stations equipped with printers.
- Check-in and check-out services on the 20th floor that remove any wait times at the lobby-level front desk.
- A concierge who serves only Club Level guests, again ensuring you won’t have a wait for restaurant reservations, show tickets or guidance on mapping out your day.
- Garment pressing for up to two items a day — a service I found a real plus because I was on a business trip and needed dress shirts unwrinkled in a hurry.
- Shoe shine service.
What’s the cost for those extras?
Just $100 per room per night during the week; $150 on weekends, with an extra $50 for each additional guest. For a solo traveller, the $100 cost covers what meals and drinks would probably run you. Plus, you have the convenience and the quality of the food to savour. For a couple, the $150 is probably even more of a savings if you use the lounge and the garment services. Families have the convenience factor to covet. On my stay, two couples with young kids used the lounge and it was clear it was a major convenience because the kids could play board games, nibble on cookies, sleep on a couch and recharge for the next outing in the city.
With the Ritz located close to major attractions like the CN Tower, Ripley’s Aquarium, the Hockey Hall of Fame and the waterfront, guests can come in to catch a breather, grab some food, change clothes and head back out for another stop.
Given that the Ritz is in one of the best locations in Toronto, the amenities of the Club Level are all the more enticing because you’re likely to be in the vicinity of your room as you wander from one city attraction to the next. Club Level sounds elitist but take a close look at what you receive in the upgrade and you might actually come to realize it’s a value worth investing in.
3 Other Hotel Club Lounges in Canada to Explore
These are the Canadian hotels where I have found the Club Level service to be a worthwhile addition to the stay.
Fairmont Chateau Laurier, Ottawa: Similar to the Ritz, guests who sign up for the Gold Floor experience at this historic hotel have a designated area for their visit. Guests on the fourth floor of the Chateau Laurier have the benefit of staff, including a concierge, who attend to their needs. They also have the privilege of an honour bar, as well as unlimited coffee, tea, non-alcoholic drinks and a selection of canapés served from 5-7 pm daily, as well as a continental breakfast. The upgrade costs $120 per night.
Sheraton Cavalier, Saskatoon: For an additional charge of about $60 per night, Club Lounge guests receive breakfast, a nightly buffet from 5-8 pm, and unlimited coffee, tea and non-alcoholic beverages throughout the day. The food is good and the service on the eighth floor is terrific. This hotel is in an outstanding location, too, situated across from the Meewasin Trail with beautiful views of the South Saskatchewan River.
Sheraton Centre, Toronto: The views of downtown Toronto from the top floor of this hotel are incredible. You’re peering right down on Nathan Phillips Square and Queen Street. Club Level guests enjoy evening hors d’oeuvres served nightly from 5-8 pm as well as breakfast and snacks throughout the day.
MORE ABOUT THE RITZ-CARLTON TORONTO
Location: 181 Wellington Street West, Toronto, ON (see map below)
Nightly Room Rates: A recent search for a weekend night in August on the hotel’s website returned rates starting at $435 per night ($585 per night with the additional $150 weekend rate for Club Lounge access). On off-peak dates, rates can drop below $300 per night.
MORE RITZ-CARLTON TORONTO COVERAGE ON VACAY.CA