Discover Toronto, known as Hollywood of the North. It's a glittering destination for a weekend of living like, and perhaps even seeing, a celebrity.
Though its streets and soundstages are used as backdrops for numerous films and TV series, Toronto deserves a spotlight for an action-packed, glam weekend. It glitters every September, when the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) draws movie power brokers like a magnet. Here's the script for your own close-up in Hollywood North, or, as music fans call it, The 6ix ("the six" from the 416 area code, popularized by Toronto's famous son, rapper Drake).
Stay Like a Star
"Hotels have long served as the living sound stages for celebrities," says Toronto Star columnist and longtime celebrity-watching journalist Shinan Govani. "The Royal York, which is no stranger to boldface [names], has seen 'em all over its decades," he says.
Fairmont Royal York opened in 1929, and has since hosted dozens of film sets: from Jackie Chan's The Tuxedo to Katie Holmes as Jackie O in The Kennedys. Script your stay with Fairmont Gold: a gleaming, new 18th-floor lounge and grand spaces for meetings. It’s ideal for finishing a spot of work or relaxing with a drink or snack during your glam getaway.
The nexus of film and celebrity started to move downtown from uptown Toronto's Yorkville, according to Govani, when TIFF Bell Lightbox opened on King Street West in 2010, near Fairmont Royal York. "[The hotel] is cooking again, in part because of the re-opening of its iconic Library Bar. A classic!" Govani says. The Art Deco-inflected lounge has its own bespoke Quill gin and vodka, and a Birdbath Martini as elegant as superspy James Bond's classic order.
Fairmont Royal York's lobby clock is the city's most cinematic meeting spot. Gather at Clockwork Champagne & Cocktails and order a Meet Me at the Clock (a Champagne cocktail with a heart of frosée ice) while you watch lobby scenes unfold.
Play Like a Star
Fairmont Royal York as your glam home base puts you in the heart of Toronto’s Entertainment District. Broadway-style shows, chic eateries and lounges make this the choice of celebs. Check the marquee of the TIFF Bell Lightbox for current screenings of Hollywood and indie films. Its shop has a serious library of movie-themed books, and delightful gifts and merchandise.
You can visit Toronto's most popular film locations by strolling the revitalized historic Distillery District (Chicago, X-Men, Cinderella Man filmed there, to name a few) and exploring Nathan Phillips Square in front of Toronto City Hall (famously featured in Handmaid's Tale). Bay Street, the spine of Toronto's Financial District, is worth a visit. It’s where many of American Psycho's exteriors featured famous towers, including the Toronto-Dominion Centre tower by star-chitect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.
A tour of Casa Loma and its beautifully landscaped grounds in the city's northwest will show you to live in style. North America's most opulent private home when it was built circa 1911, its castle-like exterior was chosen for Wayne Manor in the Titans TV series.
Canada's national capital, Ottawa, isn't just home to political stars. Fairmont Château Laurier (often called "Parliament’s Third Chamber") has hosted everyone from Hilary Swank, Danny Glover, Liam Hemsworth, Paul McCartney and Emma Watson to Canadian icon William Shatner. Photographer-to-the-stars Yousof Karsh lived at the hotel for nearly two decades. You can see a selection of his black and white portraits in the Reading Lounge leading to Zoe's, or book the opulent Karsh Suite, which houses more of his star-studded work.
Charlene Rooke is a Canadian journalist who lived in Toronto for many years, during which she met Colin Firth, Clive Owen and other celebrities who were filming in and visiting the city during its famous film festival.