While Toronto is Canada’s largest city, it does have a shortage of SPG hotels in the city centre ever since the Le Meridien’s hotel management contract is gone. Thus there is only 2 worthy properties in the city centre – the Sheraton Centre and the Westin Harbour Castle. Both hotels had very expensive rates for the first night I was due to stay in. Thus I picked the cheaper Westin Prince which is located in suburban Toronto, north of the city. As I still had my rental car, it was not a long distance from city centre, probably a 15-20 minute drive away. Moreover, the Westin Prince has a cheap self-parking facility in the hotel compound at $12 per day, compared to $48 which the Sheraton Centre asks for valet parking. It was easy enough to find the Westin Prince using the GPS and after parking my car, I proceeded to check-in.
The Westin Prince is easy to spot from the road, being one of the tallest building in the area and is located in a large compound around suburban office complexes. I believe this hotel caters mainly to business people with meetings to attend to in the nearby offices. The lobby is large and comfortable though when I checked in, they provided me a smaller room to begin with. Compared to my other 2 stays in the Greater Toronto Area, this one did not really recognize SPG’s Platinum status, and initially provided me with a room facing the commercial estate in the north. However from the hotel’s website, I know the south-facing rooms have the best views and as SPG Platinum I am entitled to the best room available. Thus I called up the front desk to be moved to another room with the south-facing view that overlooks the skyline of Toronto.
The second room I was provided was still unsatisfactory as the balcony door was inoperable and it was still one of the smaller rooms on a lower floor. It was only after I pursued the matter further that I was moved to a room on the higher floors. As I understand it, the hotel has a wedding during the weekend I was there and wanted to hold the rooms for the guests of the family or something. But then again, one of my motivations to stay here was the skyline view that the hotel has from the higher floors. Anyway I am glad I managed to get the room I wanted.
The bedroom has the usual King bed, though it was a bit soft compared to the usual Westin Heavenly bed. There is also a comfortable lounger and ottoman at the end and a large oval work desk beside the balcony. Though my favourite part of the room has got to be the bathroom which has both a separate walk-in shower and a bathtub. This is quite rare in North American properties thus I was glad this hotel has both, meaning it is very spacious indeed. As I mentioned, the hotel has a balcony though the age of the hotel means the sliding door is not very easy to operate and gets jammed easily. Another issue is that there might be bugs or other insects outside the balcony that could get into the room.
As a hotel in the suburb the hotel has a pretty small swimming pool which was crowded during the summer month and the gym is also pretty small for such a large hotel. Instead the hotel creates a walking trail out of its large gardens. It is quite disappointing actually. While the hotel has a couple of on-site restaurants, I did not have my meals in any of them. Though guests of the hotel can also head opposite to the suburban malls for fast food and other cheaper choices for breakfast if needed. Since I wanted to take a look at the city while I still had the rental car, I chose to drive out to the city centre.
For the first night in Toronto, I had dinner at The Saint Tavern along Ossington Avenue and this place is recommended for some good steaks! But another reason to head down here is for their bone marrow which I ordered as my appetizer. As mentioned earlier, I picked on a nice steak for my main course. While their prices are not cheap, they were really great for the quality and the steak was grilled to perfection.
The bone marrow was also very generous portion for one person with lots of toast on the sides accompanies with a small jar of sea salt. As expected it was rich and very oily, but with the toast it was amazing! The portion would be good for two person I guess, but since I am such a huge fan of this dish, I finished it all by myself. During the night I was there, the restaurant was pretty empty though I suggest a reservation if coming here to dine over the weekend.
For the first day in Toronto, I have to say my meal at The Saint Tavern overshadowed my expectations of the Westin Prince Toronto. With the property being quite old, add to the fact they do not recognize SPG Platinum status very well, I would have to say this is not one hotel I would like to head back to anytime soon.