How well do you know your Canadian history?
In 1903, Toronto’s first luxury hotel was built. Touted as fire-proof, the 17-storey hotel (an 18th storey would be added in 1922) was originally set to be named after Queen Victoria but, after her death, it was officially christened the King Edward Hotel.
Over the years, countless famous and infamous figures have walked its halls. “America’s Sweetheart,” Mary Pickford, stayed here with husband Douglas Fairbanks; Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton got engaged in the Sovereign Ballroom; John Lennon and Yoko Ono staged a brief bed-in for peace; and rumour has it that somewhere, hidden now under years of redecoration, there is a message scrawled on the walls by Leonard Cohen.
One of the highlights of the Omni King Edward Hotel is its traditional afternoon tea, served in the Sovereign Ballroom. Guests are served their tea–chosen from a menu which includes many favourites as well as a custom King Edward blend–along with mouth-watering finger sandwiches and an assortment of sweets. Refined and delectable, it will likely make you long for the days when the world stopped for a 2pm tea time.
Of course, the restaurant is also top-notch. At Victoria’s Restaurant, the chef, Daniel Schick, creates culinary delights from local ingredients. In the restaurant, guests are treated to a hint of the Omni King Edward Hotel’s extensive art collection.
Moving with the changing times, recent renovations have seen the rooms expanded, as well as the creation of condo units on unused floors of the building.
Coming in the near future: the reopening of the Crystal Ballroom. Located on the top floor of the hotel, it features breathtaking views of the city, as well as the crystal chandeliers that gave it its name . Once the site of weddings and other formal gatherings, as well as the 1955 announcement of the results of the polio vaccine, it was closed to the public in the 1950s. By 2015, however, visitors will be able to once again marvel at this magnificent hall.
Recently, the Omni King Edward Hotel celebrated its 110th anniversary. Once its renovations are complete, it will stand as an example of luxury living, as well as a great bit of Canadian history.