The twinkling lights are up and the rush of the holiday season is here. But what’s the one thing many of us want? It’s time to spend with the ones we love the most. While we may not have the time or budget to get away on a jet plane (I mean, have you checked the prices over the holiday season?! Ridiculous!), we found the perfect winter holiday escape for families right here in the city starting with Hotel X Toronto by The Library Hotel Collection.
Situated near the waterfront on the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) grounds, Hotel X Toronto is just ever so slightly removed from the core — far enough away that will make you detach from the hustle and bustle of the city, but close enough to walk to explore what the city has to offer. At a recent stay, we had a chance to check out what’s happening.
Book yourself in for a stay over the holiday season and be treated to a fun-filled Improv Showdown! (included with your stay) with the comedic talents of Second City Toronto. Here you’ll find two teams of improvisers go head-to-head in a family-friendly face-off at the hotel’s very own 250-seat theatre. The audience of all ages is encouraged to participate in making each one hour-long show unique. The talented improv performers ask out questions like “where was the last place you visited?” and at our show, there were shout-outs to Mexico and Sudbury. Building the skits based on the answers were hilarious! Not to be missed!
Bundle up and walk across the bridge to experience the magical nights at the CNE’s Aurora Winter Festival. Located at the West Park Ontario Place walk through the mesmerizing light tunnel and enter through four “Mystical Worlds”. Walk through the Whimsical Forest where you will find Fairy Hollow and a Gnome Village. All eyes light up at the sight of larger than life creatures all made of lights throughout the grounds. Meet Father Christmas, a beautiful Ice Queen, and the Abominable Snowman. An outdoor skating rink is an opportunity to lace up your skates (rentals available) and enjoy hot chocolate and other goodies under the starry skies. Plenty of food trucks to fill your belly. A mini-holiday market is great for picking up a new tree ornament, retro posters, and even bubble tea (hot chocolate with torched marshmallows was a real crowd please when we visited). Enjoy rides and games of skill at the mini-midway carnival. Truly a beautiful experience for everyone. The Aurora Winter Festival runs until January 5, 2020.
If you were raised as a kid in Toronto you’ll want to revisit the iconic Ontario Place Cinesphere landmark dome movie theatre. This theatre was actually the world’s first permanent IMAX movie theatre. Today, the theatre continues to show all-time family favourite movies on the incredibly awe-inspiring screens including The Polar Express, E.T. and Gremlins. Check out the Holiday Packages here.
Want to connect with nature? Just across the road from Hotel X Toronto is the start of the William G. Davis Trail and Trillium Park. An easy path that offers a spectacular view of the lake and the city’s skyline. Explore the 7.5 acres of public green space. The 1.3 kilometre paved walking trail is surrounded by thousands of native trees, plants, boulders, and rocks. The gateway features beautiful stone walls with Moccasin Identifier engraved in the stone, a visual reminder and celebration of First Nations’ heritage and culture – developed in collaboration with the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation. Also, look for the marker trees. Indigenous People of the land historically used marker trees for navigation. There are three along the trail to learn about.
More outdoor skating can be found at The Bentway. About a 10-minute walk over to Strachan Avenue is the entranceway to this public space located under the Gardiner Expressway and near Fort York and Garrison Common. The skating rink offers rentals and even lessons at designated dates/times.
When it comes to food, you don’t really have to step outside of the hotel. Here you’ll find several options including Maxx’s Kitchen a sit-down casual restaurant for all meals. The Nespresso Cafe is perfect for your daily dose of caffeine and counter service quick snacks of pastries, sandwiches, and salads. Pétros 82 offers fine dining. Also, be sure to inquire about the Library Club Lounge with access to daily wine and cheese receptions and continental breakfast options.
If you’re looking to wind down the day head up to the Falcon Bar’s The Nest located on the 27th floor or The Perch located on the 28th floor that has epic views. Great night time vibe to enjoy (psst…book the little ones into the supervised on-site Kids Play Centre for a couple of hours). Of course, you can order in-room service and enjoy a movie night right in your pyjamas too! That’s been a favourite of ours when the kids were really young.
What else is there to do here? Don’t forget your swimwear to enjoy the pool located on the 28th floor. There are also holiday movies in the theatre, Guerlain Spa for the adults, a state of the art 10XTO Fitness Centre including group classes, cycle studio, yoga studio, a complete gym, tennis and squash courts and golf simulator. If relaxing with a book is what you want, there are TONS of books to borrow while you enjoy your stay. Also, check out the Kandy Gallery for stunning back-lit photography work.
If you cannot imagine leaving your pet at home, Hotel X Toronto is also pet friendly. There are designated suites for those who wish to bring their pets along. Your best furry friend doesn’t have to miss out on the family fun and will be pampered with their very own luxurious bed in the room. Bowls and water are provided. Lots of green space just outside of the hotel and Trillium Park is great for nature walks. You can also book a pet sitter with the hotel when needed. Stays are available for well-behaved pets under 25 lbs.
A variety of Family Holiday Packages are now available and worth exploring for your next escape within the city. Check out www.hotelxtoronto.com.