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Insider: Toronto

David Cicconi

Photo: David Cicconi

Toronto the good is no longer Toronto the boring. One of the fastest-growing cities in North America is transforming itself into a genuinely hot destination, by throwing off some of its British colonial reserve, extending its bar hours, and playing host to several annual International Arts Festivals—from photography to film to caribana. Toss in a weak Canadian dollar (and an empty suitcase for shopping) and Toronto might even be—dare we say it—fun, eh?

HOTELS
The Four Seasons Hotel (21 Avenue Rd.; 800/819-5053 or 416/964-0411, fax 416/963-6902; doubles from $285), prized for its world-class service, has had a lock on visiting celebrities, heads of state, and power brokers for almost 25 years. The luxury chain (which is headquartered in Toronto) has begun a $5.6 million renovation on this 380-room property. Despite the construction, the fine dining continues at the hotel's Truffles restaurant and Studio Café (home to the city's power brunches).


With butlers for all 28 suites, the Windsor Arms (18 St. Thomas St.; 877/999-2767 or 416/971-9666, fax 416/921-9121; doubles from $195) draws the famous — Elton John, Harrison Ford, Michael Douglas — who come for its elegant exclusivity. Other stars flock to Club 22, the hotel's chic lounge: Brooke Shields cut a rug at her birthday party there.


The Park Hyatt (4 Avenue Rd.; 888/591-1234 or 416/924-5471, fax 416/924-4933; doubles from $165), host hotel to the Toronto International Film Festival for the past three years, has the city's largest standard rooms (Jennifer Lopez recently took a suite). Its Stillwater Spa — an Egyptian-styled pool room for aquamassages, where private cabanas have flat-screen TV's to watch while your nails dry — is alone worth the stay.


The Metropolitan Hotel (108 Chestnut St.; 800/668-6600 or 416/977-5000, fax 416/597-6351; doubles from $110) is Chinatown's (and Hollywood's) best-kept secret. Favored by Disney execs, it's home to the sublime Lai Wah Heen restaurant.


The grande dame Fairmont Royal York (100 Front St. W.; 800/441-1414 or 416/368-2511, fax 416/368-9040; doubles from $145) is the choice of Andrea Bocelli and 'N Sync when they play the Air Canada Centre or the SkyDome.

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