How to TIFF like a celebrity…and where to spot them

The stars are coming! We may have been at home the past couple of years but hotels, restaurants, bars and other hotspots are getting ready to host some of the biggest celebrities and entertainment industry big wigs. From press junkets, to pre-parties, after parties, and in-studio interviews, the city will be buzzing once again! There are the go-to’s like Soho House, Clio, and the Storys Building that have been hosts to parties and coveted events.  And we’ve got the scoop on where you can spot a celebrity or two but why stop there? Okay, yes, the parties are highly exclusive but go other times and treat your fabulous self!  If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to do TIFF like a celebrity, here are a few places you may want check out.

Jake Gyllenhaal Red Carpet
Jake Gyllenhaal entering BISHA Hotel in Toronto – Photo by Joel Levy

HOTELS:

Four Seasons Hotel Toronto (60 Yorkville Avenue) located in Yorkville is a favourite amongst visiting celebrities all year round. It does more than check all the boxes with impeccable service and beautifully appointed rooms. The property is also home to celebrity chef Daniel Boulud’s restaurant, Cafe Boulud and the hotel also has of the best spas in the city located on the upper levels.

Park Hyatt  (4 Avenue Road) has reopened after an extensive renovation and is just steps from the well-heeled Yorkville shopping destination. With a grand entrance way, it’s no wonder a-listers enjoy being swept into this property quickly. Escape up to the iconic Writers Room Bar on the rooftop where you’ll love learning about its famed history. Creative types LOVE this space.  Take in a sweeping view of the cityscape from the bar’s epic patio. Get pampered in their refreshed Stillwater Spa where your mind and body will feel enlightened and rejuvenated.

The Ritz Carlton (181 Wellington Street West) is located mere steps away from TIFF central (TIFF Bell Lightbox, Roy Thompson Hall, Princess of Wales Theatre, Royal Alexandra Theatre) and an excellent choice for your Film Festival experience. Book a few nights stay, hang out at their cozy and secluded outdoor patio at EPOCH before or after a screening.

Bisha Hotel (80 Blue Jays Way) also a few steps away from TIFF central and is confirmed to be home to the Getty Images’ Portrait Studio with many A-list celebrities expected to stop by. but offers a glamorous and contemporary vibe to your film festival nights. Behind the curtains on the ground floor is where you’ll find Mister C — a luxe spot complete with velvet walls for cocktails and nibbles. Stars spotted in the past include Jake Gyllenhaal, Julianne Moore, Allison Janney and Greta Gerwig.

The SoHo Hotel (318 Wellington Street West) is always buzzing during often with film industry types calling this location homebase. Located also steps to TIFF central it’s also a big draw for its thoughtful details. An example? Each room has its own air circulation system.  Guests can also enjoy the hotel’s large indoor pool and workout room. Guests can even book their resident celebrity personal trainer, Dalton Brown, for a workout in room or in the gym studio. The property also recently unveiled a refresh to their popular penthouse suite. We’re pretty sure it’s booked already for TIFF but this one-of-a-kind, three-storey penthouse offers over 4,000 sq ft. of pure luxury living, with its own in-suite glass elevator and a  large rooftop terrace offering sweeping views of downtown Toronto is an unforgettable escape in the city. BTW we’ve spotted Mark Wahlberg and at the adjoining Wahlburgers!

Penthouse Suite at The SoHo Hotel, Toronto

1 Hotel Toronto (550 Wellington Street West) is already confirmed as a hot-spot for a few TIFF star-studded activities including the hub for The Hollywood Reporter TIFF studio and a Wellness lounge. Your likelihood of spotting a celebrity being quickly ushered in and out of their car services for interviews is pretty high. But check yourself into this oasis or enjoy pre-TIFF cocktails at the Flora Lounge with their selection of film inspired drinks or 1 Kitchen’s TIFF inspired menu.

Shangri-La Toronto Hotel (188 University Avenue) is the home of TIFF’s opening night party but throughout the Festival’s duration, the hotel will be offering an inspiring selection of food and drink aptly named after a few of this year’s festival films. There is also a special Afternoon Tea menu this month that’s fit for Hollywood icons! In the past, we’ve spotted Jake Gyllenhaal, Hugh Jackman, Terence Howard, and Alex Skarsgård.

“Amity Island” at Flora Lounge, 1 Hotel Toronto

RESTAURANTS & BARS:

KOST (Bisha Hotel): has one of the most stunning views of the city with a open-air patio that is a popular destination for TIFF after parties. It has a mediterranean coastal feel that unlike anywhere else in the city. Celebrities spotted in past include Halle Berry, Julia Roberts, Sienna Miller, and Geena Davis.

Sofia (Yorkville): is unassumingly tucked in a nook in the heart of Yorkville that offers Italian-inspired cuisine and amazing cocktails. It’s also home to one of Yorkville’s most secluded outdoor private patios and is a go-to for many celebrities for dining as well as TIFF parties. In fact, it hosted Jennifer Lopez for their Hustlers’ premiere party at TIFF 2019.

Akira Back (Bisha Hotel): the golden staircase leads you to this sultry second floor restaurant by Michelin-starred Chef Akira Back — his first Canadian namesake restaurant. It features modern Japanese cuisine and authentic Korean flavours. Most recently, Arnold Schwarzenegger was spotted enjoy dinners with his son.

Tuna & Mushroom Pizza. Akira Back Toronto. Photo credit: Sonya Davidson

Byblos (Duncan Street): Stars love this restaurant for a taste of authentic Eastern Mediterranean flavours and it also plays host to a number of TIFF after parties over the years.Stars spotted in the past include Matt Damon, Michelle Williams, Gerard Butler, Dakota Johnson and Jason Segal.

Patria: another tucked away restaurant on King Street West is this Barcelona-inspired restaurant with its popular Spanish flavours. Also, home to numerous film festival parties. Stars spotted in the past include Daniel Craig, Ryan Gosling, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Joaquin Phoenix.

PAI Northern Thai Kitchen:  Chef Nuit’s dishes are crave-worthy and a big draw for visiting celebrities that are looking for a local favourite to dine in. Located in the entertainment district means is perfectly situated for low-key stars to hang out. Plus their hospitality is genuinely warm. Our favourites dishes here include a must have serving of the Thai Chicken Wings, Khao Soi (fresh egg noodles in a golden milk curry with beef, chicken, shrimp, or veggies), or Chef Nuit’s famous Pad Thai – add lobster because you’re a star that way). Spotted in the past (and not just during TIFF) Ronny Chieng, sports figures, and Toronto’s very own superhero, Simu Liu.

Chef Nuit Regular at Kiin. Photo credit: Sonya Davidson

Kiin: Fit for Thai royalty, this another beautiful cozy restaurant by the Queen of Thai cooking herself, Chef Nuit Regular! Her unique interpretation  of Royal Thai inspired cuisine will see the return of fan-favourites including Chor Ladda “flower” dumplings, Khao Yum rice salad, and the Boombai Short Rib Curry. Being steps away from TIFF central makes this a perfect hidden gem that is much loved.

1 Kitchen Toronto (1 Hotel Toronto): This restaurant is known to serve up fresh, local and sustainably sourced farm-to-table cuisine. Some of the ingredients come straight from the property’s Garden Pavilion. They are also a zero-waste operation which spotlights the team’s commitment to preserving the beauty and bounty of nature (also seen throughout the hotel!). We’ve learned that Chef De Cuisine, Roland Ducharme, has created 3 menu times inspired by a few favourite movies including Eat, Pray, Love, Pulp Fiction, and Ratatouille. We’re super curious about the “Royale with Cheese”.  All in keeping with the restaurants mission to eat mindfully and well.  (special menu available September 5 to 18)

Flora Lounge (1 Hotel Toronto): will experience it’s first TIFF season with Hollywood inspired cocktails: Sunset Blvd, Amity Island, Something You Said Last Night (TIFF 2022). If money is no object and you’re living like a super star order up the “5 Stars” cocktail for a whopping $1000. This jaw-dropping drink includes Botanist Gin infused with black truffle, Madagascar vanilla, Citron caviar simple syrup, Cristal champagne and edible gold glitter. But you may feel better knowing that part of the proceeds of this cocktail will be donated to charity.

MARBL: is home to the highly exclusive Jaguar Supper Club for the first weekend of TIFF hosting parties for this year’s films Baby Ruby, Butcher’s Crossing, Susie Searches, Carmen, Living, One Fine Morning, The Return of Tanya Tucker: Featuring Brandi Carlile, The Hunt Club, Wolf Mountain. It’s also home to the Collider Media Studio during the daytime — talent expected include Judd Apatow, Daniel Radcliffe, Michelle Monaghan, Joe Jonas, Anna Kendrick, Cate Blanchett, Glen Powell, Joe Alwyn, and Sir Ben Kingsley.

Nicolas Cage at Supper Club Toronto, TIFF

Hong Shing: away from all the frenzy is this Toronto favourite for Cantonese cuisine. Just in time for TIFF, they’ve opened up their freshly updated private dining room — did you know? There has been word of a few celebrities getting their Chinese food fix here in the past including Director X, Drake, and even Cardi B herself actually dined and showed her love on social.

Patois: is where Caribbean meets Asian to bring incredible dishes to satisfy every “soul food” lover. Each dish is a tasty merging of cultures and truly unforgettable. We heard that Michelle Yeoh has dined here in the past. Maybe we’ll spot her again this year? A must-order is Chef Craig Wong’s Jerk Chicken Chow Mein.

Bar Chica: considered the “little sister” to Patria is a new late night hang out that’s just a short walk from TIFF. Featuring elevated tapas, craft cocktails in an intimate setting we’re placing our bets that this will become one of this year’s new hidden gems.

 

 

 

 

 

About Sonya Davidson 858 Articles
Covering events, openings and all the deliciousness in Toronto. Staff reporter for the Toronto International Film Festival. Follow @theculturepearl on Instagram and Twitter. Reach her at sonya@torontoguardian.com