Category Archives: James Careless

By @ 06/06/18 in CheckOut, Gay travel, James Careless, Toronto, Travel

Hotel X, Toronto in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazineThe brand-new, stylistically-striking Hotel X Toronto in Toronto, Canada is anything but yet another cookie-cutter urban luxury hotel crammed into a downtown lot. Hotel X Toronto is a very short taxi/Uber/Lyft ride from everything that Toronto has to offer; making it an ideal headquarters for enjoying Pride Toronto or any other event in Canada’s largest city. Story by ManAboutWorld correspondent, James Careless.

Amenities

Worth noting: The 404-room, 30-storey Hotel X Toronto is likely correct in claiming that it offers “a wealth of amenities unrivalled by any downtown hotel, including four indoor tennis courts, a full-service spa, two year-round heated swimming pools and TEN X TORONTO—a 90,000 square foot athletic centre with its own children’s area.” In addition to its restaurants (with options for vegetarian, gluten free, and vegan diets), Hotel X Toronto has an art gallery, beer garden, stadium-style movie theaters, event spaces, historical exhibits, and the three-storey rooftop SkyBar with – again – unparalleled views of downtown Toronto and the lake. The multi-story ‘living wall’ at the Front Desk – literally a vertical surface of plants rising high above one’s head – is impressive in its own right.

Rates

Hotel X Toronto is currently in what is known as a ‘soft opening’ until the end of July 2018, when it will officially open. This means that the hotel is still in the process of getting everything running – and giving guests price breaks as a result of it. (Note: Everything I experienced while there gave me the feeling that the hotel was fully operational.)

The good news: “During the soft opening period of Hotel X Toronto, you will find rates reduced as much as 30%,” said Celso Thompson, the hotel’s director of Sales and Marketing. “At any time, the hotel offers a prepaid, non-refundable option which clearly is the best deal if you are certain about your travel plans. Rates start at $350 for the entry level rooms.”

The bad news: You’ll have to go through Hotel X Toronto’s booking sites to get actual prices. Still, 30% is 30% off – and that is on top of the US dollar being worth about $1.20-$1.25 Canadian.

Hotel X, Toronto in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazine

Location

Located at spacious Exhibition Place (home of the Canadian National Exhibition – CNE — every summer, and various Class A events and conventions year-round), Hotel X Toronto is right on the shore of Lake Ontario. It is far enough from the downtown core to have a clear, unobstructed view of the lake, the nearby Toronto Island with its parks and airport, and Toronto’s major buildings; plus the lakeshore’s Ontario Place and the 1840s-era stone Stanley Barracks at Fort York.

Having grown in Toronto and spent many summers at the CNE in all its gaudy midway glory, I could never have imagined a true luxury hotel being located on the fair grounds. But much has changed at Exhibition Place. New convention/display buildings have been added (like the Enercare Centre) and older spaces renovated, while the rundown Exhibition Place grandstand has been replaced by the modern BMO Field (home of the Toronto FC pro soccer team). The historic Stanley Barracks next door has been restored and softened with the addition of gardens.

Add the fact that Hotel X Toronto is right on Lake Ontario, yet so close to the downtown hub (transit is available, in addition to taxis and walking), and this hotel combines the best of open waterfront breeziness with downtown urban access. It is a welcome alternative to the very best downtown cor hotels that are crammed together, through no fault of their own. (Runners will particularly like the quick access to the lakeshore and its open spaces, rather than being confined to car-packed downtown sidewalks.)

Room/Bathroom

I was fortunate to stay in a corner suite, on the 18th floor of Hotel X Toronto. I walked into an entrance hallway that angled left to the spacious modern bathroom (including a glass-walled shower with space for more than one), then turned right into a truly roomy bedroom with floor-to-ceiling full glass windows on two side.

The view alone from this suite justifies the price of admission. It is one of the best that I have seen in Toronto’s many downtown hotels. But the quality of Hotel X Toronto’s modern furniture and appointments is also worth mentioning: The wood, metal, leather and fabric far are above the usual hotel fare. They and the room’s fabric walls make you feel like you are staying in someone’s elegantly-decorated high-end condo; rather than yet another unsuccessfully pretentious hotel.

I was also struck by the bathroom’s elegant fittings, and the little details that were tended to; such as having two bathrobes and slippers available rather than just one. The room service was also a treat: What a luxury to have smoked salmon Eggs Benedict delivered to one’s room for breakfast!

Hotel X, Toronto in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazine

Gay Factor

If ‘Gay Factor’ translates into superb modern design with no false flash, elegance and quality in all things, and the sense that staying here somehow raises one’s game and sense of self, Hotel X Toronto has tremendous Gay Factor. That said, what I have just said applies to anyone, regardless of gender or orientation – as long as they have class, style, and a sense of how to comport themselves in public.

Meanwhile, Hotel X Toronto is a quick taxi/transit ride to everything in downtown Toronto; be it the city’s famous Gay Village, the Rogers Centre (home of the Toronto Blue Jays baseball club), the Theatre District, the business core, shopping, or the Toronto Island (accessible by an underground tunnel at the nearby Island Airport, or a short ferry ride across the harbor; well worth it).

About the Checkout

ManAboutWorld highlights properties we have recently and personally stayed at, and is editorial, not advertorial. Like virtually all travel publications, we sometimes accept discounted and sponsored travel, but ManAboutWorld is beholden to no one but you. Our recommendations are based solely on the experience and opinions of our editorial team and trusted network, putting our readers’ interests above all. If you ever have an issue with anything we recommend, please let us know. We always have your back, and your travel satisfaction in mind. Read our full disclosure here.

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By @ 11/07/17 in CheckOut, Gay travel, Hotels, James Careless, Toronto, Travel

One King West Hotel in Toronto and in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazineLocated at the southwest corner of King and Yonge Streets, One King West Hotel & Residence is an uber-cool, LGBTQ-friendly place to stay and eat. The hotel starts within the restored 100 year-plus former Dominion Bank headquarters’ 13-story building connecting to a super-thin (to fit within the available real estate) 51-story glass tower known as “The Sliver.” Elegantly modern suites are available in each, while the original banking hall is home to “Teller’s Bar & Lounge.” That’s right: Where one-half of today’s Toronto-Dominion Bank once drove debtors to drink, you can enjoy a chic cocktail.

Location

Frankly, you couldn’t get a better location for staying in downtown Toronto than One King West. Within walking distance:

  • Hockey Hall of Fame (Canada’s spiritual version of the Vatican, with equal if not more significance to Canadians);
  • CN Tower
  • Air Canada Centre for major league sports (the NBA’s Raptors/the NHL’s Maple Leafs) and popular music concerts
  • Rogers Centre for Blue Jays American League baseball, Roy Thomson Hall for classical music
  • Princess of Wales and Royal Alexandra Theatres for Broadway shows; the list goes on and on!

Add nightclubs, restaurants, shopping (including the Toronto Eaton Centre mega-mall), and much of what you want to see is close to One King West. And if it isn’t, then you can jump on the subway just outside the main door for other destinations.

Room/Bathroom

We love the 42nd floor one-bedroom suite/bathroom with floor-to-ceiling glass windows allowing views of the rest of the downtown area, the Toronto Islands, and Lake Ontario. Rooms are tastefully decorated in rich, low-key modern tones and hues. And since One King West’s suites are actually individually-owned condos that are rented and managed by the hotel, the room came with an efficiency kitchen.

The room itself had space for the elegant kitchen area, a sitting area in the sweeping curved windows of The Sliver’s skin, and a bed with high-quality linens. The bathroom comes with a glass-walled walk-in shower and long counter with sink.

One King West Hotel in Toronto and in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazine

Amenities

Amenities include a rooftop fitness center on top of the original banking tower, where you’ll find a selection of cardio machines, free weights, yoga mats and separate saunas for men and women. One King West also has full concierge services, a business center, valet and self-parking (the latter with three chargers for electric cars).

Gay Factor

Being that it is in the heart of all things cool in Toronto, One King West’s gay factor is undeniable. You can hop onto the TTC subway outside the main door and go four stops north to Wellesley station; putting you just steps west of the city’s Gay Village at Wellesley and Church Streets. But frankly, you’re in Canada, where gay marriage was embraced long before it was in the U.S.. So just Google “LGBTQ clubs Toronto” and you’ll find lots of action nearby, including Club 120  on 120 Church Street northeast of King.

Rates

The rates at One King West are not cheap. But they’re not too bad, either. At the economical end of the scale (by downtown Toronto terms) at C$189 plus 13% HST/night is a Historic Superior suite in the original 17-story tower, or a Tower Deluxe Suite in the 51-story Sliver. At the top end is the C$559+HST/night for The Pinnacle Suite: One King West’s only two-bedroom feature suite. It offers stunning balcony views, a spacious living room, sexy bathroom with a Jacuzzi tub, large-screen HDTV, and a kitchenette with fridge, microwave oven and dishwasher. You can fit four people in the Pinnacle, with comes with one king and one queen-sized bed.

One King West Hotel in Toronto and in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazine

About the Checkout

ManAboutWorld highlights properties we have recently and personally stayed at, and is editorial, not advertorial. Like virtually all travel publications, we sometimes accept discounted and sponsored travel, but ManAboutWorld is beholden to no one but you. Our recommendations are based solely on the experience and opinions of our editorial team and trusted network, putting our readers’ interests above all. If you ever have an issue with anything we recommend, please let us know. We always have your back, and your travel satisfaction in mind. Read our full disclosure https://www.manaboutworld.com/?page_id=87 here.

Story by ManAboutWorld global correspondent James Careless.



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By @ 06/28/16 in Gay pride, Gay travel, James Careless, ManAboutWorld, Toronto, Travel

Omni King Edward hotel for gay pride TorontoLooking for a hotel for Gay Pride Toronto? Look no further! ManAboutWorld Correspondent James Careless recently visited and provides this report on the Omni King Edward Hotel. James recently wrote about another fabulous Toronto hotel, the Windsor Arm Hotel.

Top/bottom line: Originally built as Toronto’s premier luxury hotel in 1903, the ‘King Eddy’ (as Torontoians have long called it) has just undergone a $40 million renovation/restoration – and it shows. Located just east of Yonge Street on King Street, the Omni King Edward is deep in the heart of downtown and close to the theater district, high-end shopping, the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, the Distillery District, and Toronto’s renowned Gay Village (Church and Wellesley). It features 301 over-sized rooms that seamlessly mix old-fashioned Edwardian class and spaciousness with modern style, appointments, and amenities. The result is a sense of airy elegance.

Rates: There are all sizes and kinds of rooms available at the King Edward; including the Luxury Executive (800 square feet) suites that include sitting rooms with 180 degree curved walls on one side and multiple windows. Not surprisingly, the King Edward’s combination of location, quality interiors, two excellent dining rooms (the Consort Bar is full service; Victoria’s Restaurant is exclusively for Afternoon Tea, which has been a tradition since 1903) is not cheap. But compared to other cookie-cutter luxury hotels that charge comparable rates, the King Eddy is worth it. Prices start at $215 (C$269.10) for a 350 square foot Deluxe Room, to $323 (C$404.10) for the Luxury Executive suite. If you are feeling particularly grand, the 1,800 square foot Royal Suite is available; you’ll have to call for prices. This one-of-a-kind, two-story hotel-within-a-hotel comes with a sunken living area, a formal dining area for eight people, a work area, two fireplaces, and full kitchen with butler’s entrance. Personally, I have stayed in most of Canada’s grand old hotels over the years; including the Chateau Lake Louise and Toronto’s Royal York. But the renovated King Edward is the only one I have ever visited that is traditional without being stuffy or dated – and the redecorated rooms (I toured all of the options) are superb.

Omni King Edward hotel for gay pride Toronto

Location: One reason I love downtown hotels is that they tend to be close to the action; whatever the action may be. On the classy side, the King Eddy is within walking distance of top restaurants, theaters, and clubs. At the same time, it is a short subway ride to the Gay Village in all of its textures; from LGBT entertainment venues to steamrooms and beyond. (I like to cover the waterfront.) A must-see destination that is close to the King Eddy is Club 120; two blocks’ north at 120 Church Street. Club 120 is a legendary Toronto LGBT restaurant and diner, and is home to Mandy Goodhandy; Toronto’s witty transgender comedienne. Club 120 also hosts LGBT dances, live music, and stand-up comedy nights.(Check www.club120.ca for the latest events.)

Room/Bathroom: The King Edward’s rooms are all very individual, from the Deluxe to the Royal Suite. You’ll find stylish, comfortable furniture; big firm beds, and bold interior decorations; including the signature scarlet wall behind each bed with its monogrammed King Edward pillows. The bathrooms have also been completely updated; many of which have seen their tubs removed in favor of large walk-in showers with glass walls. Everything is fresh and well-appointed; as are the understated restaurants and the big two-story lobby with its giant chess pieces! If you can afford it, go for the Luxury Executive suite with its curved walled sitting room. It is literally a good walk to go from the bedroom past the bathroom, in order to get to the sitting room. You will feel like royalty!

Gay Factor: Staying at a one-of-a-kind, tastefully-decorated grand hotel is a definite ‘gay factor’ perq. You won’t cringe here as you might at a pretentious ‘McClassy’ chain hotel with its knock-off modern art and mass-produced mock-designer furniture. That said, the King Eddy’s gay factor is definitely one of swanky style, not glitzy flash. Meanwhile, the location of this hotel is perfect for any LGBT guest; everything you need or want (or both) is within reach! Frankly, one stay at the King Edward, and chances are that this will be your gay HQ anytime you stay in Toronto. (And if you want to impress someone you’ve just met, this is the place.)

About the Checkout: ManAboutWorld highlights properties we have recently and personally stayed at, and is editorial, not advertorial. Like virtually all travel publications, we sometimes accept discounted and sponsored travel, but ManAboutWorld is beholden to no one but you. Our recommendations are based solely on the experience and opinions of our editorial team and trusted network, putting our readers’ interests above all. If you ever have an issue with anything we recommend, please let us know. We always have your back, and your travel satisfaction in mind. Read our full disclosure here.

 

 

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By @ 06/14/16 in Gay pride, Gay travel, James Careless, ManAboutWorld, Toronto, Travel

Windsor Arms Hotel for Toronto Gay Pride, ManAboutWorld gay travel magazineLooking for a hotel for Gay Pride Toronto? Look no further! ManAboutWorld Correspondent James Careless recently visited and provides this report on the Windsor Arm Hotel.

Top/bottom line: This revitalized 1927 small four-story hotel is an utterly unique gem in downtown (Bay and Bloor streets) Toronto. Just minutes away from the city’s Gay Village (Church and Wellesley), the uber-elegant Windsor Arms is a five star hotel of just 28 suites; some of them even having multiple rooms. The insides and outsides have been lovingly restored and revived by new owner George Friedmann. Prominent guests include Barbra Streisand and Elizabeth Taylor; talk about gay culture cred. This is a host hotel for Toronto Gay Pride.

Rates: Given the Windsor Arms’ coterie of elegant suites, many fine restaurants and pampering facilities, and prime location (it is just off Bloor on the surprising quiet St. Thomas Street), prices here are not cheap. During this year’s Pride Toronto festival (it runs June 24-July 3, 2016), rates start at US$300 (C$395) and hit $1560 (C$2050) for the two bedroom Presidential suite. But think about it: This suite comes with two sofa beds and one king. Split between six people, you and your friends could have an super-luxurious and exclusive stay for just $260 each. That’s a bargain price for a small historic hotel so charming and different, you will love it as much as Babs and Liz did. It is worth noting that the Windsor Arms does not nickel-and dime its guests. The Wi-Fi is free, the in-room Nespresso coffee is quality, and the towels/dressing robes full and fluffy. Meanwhile, the hotel has been serving afternoon tea without fail since it opened in 1927; offering with delectable sandwiches, scones and pasties – and more fine teas than you ever knew even existed.

Location: Given that is close to fashionable Yorkville, still sinful Yonge Street, and Toronto’s Gay Village – plus steps from the city’s subway lines – the Windsor Arms hotel could not be better situated for gays of all flavours and levels of daring. Want access to Toronto’s very best, most exclusive shopping? It’s here. Want to visit the Gay Village and sample everything from its edgy restaurants and clubs to steamy bathhouses and other no-longer-forbidden fruits? It’s just a short walk away eastwards on Bloor to Church Street, and then south to Wellesley and beyond. Frankly, if you are of a mind to get naughty during Pride Toronto, the Windsor Arms is a logical base of operations; given that is close to everything that counts. This said, consider this elegant venue to be a refuge and place for recovery, rather than a site for bawdy revelry.

Room/Bathroom: As mentioned above, the Windsor Arms’ rooms are all individually and beautifully decorated/furnished. Windsor Arms Hotel for Toronto Gay Pride, ManAboutWorld gay travel magazineOne interesting point: Many of the rooms come with their own musical instrument for guests to play, from pianos in the largest suites to guitars and Celtic harps in the smaller ones. The bathrooms are also well-appointed with high-quality fixtures. For instance, the entry level, 550 square foot Junior suite features cream-colored walls with wooden accents (http://www.windsorarmshotel.com/suites/junior_suite//) , residence-quality furniture, deep soaker tub, separate standing shower, ands an acoustic guitar. Like the high-priced suites, it also comes with ‘Butler service’. This is a separate compartment beside the front door when food, towels, and other amenities can be discreetly delivered to without you having to interact with staff.

Gay Factor: Okay, so we’re talking about a very small, exclusive hotel in the heart of Toronto close to the Gay Village, with top-end decor, furnishings, amenities, food, drinks, and high tea; plus an indoor pool with fireplace and two floors of spa facilities? Plus Babs and Liz stayed here, and their photos adorn the walls. I mean, if you don’t get the gay factor here, I can’t help you. This is a perfect place for any gay or other LGBT couple, in a hotel with a reputation for welcoming gay guests with open arms. In fact, the only complaint I could find from a gay couple was that it was difficult to leave the Windsor Arms, because it is such a wonderful place to stay.

About the CheckOut (please add this to the bottom of your writeup): ManAboutWorld highlights properties we have recently and personally stayed at, and is editorial, not advertorial. Like virtually all travel publications, we sometimes accept discounted and sponsored travel, but ManAboutWorld is beholden to no one but you. Our recommendations are based solely on the experience and opinions of our editorial team and trusted network, putting our readers’ interests above all. If you ever have an issue with anything we recommend, please  let us know.  We always have your back, and your travel satisfaction in mind. Read our full disclosure here.

 

 

 

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