Iconic Toronto hotel The Fairmont Royal York celebrates anniversary with fresh new design

by | Sep 3, 2019 | Design

The Fairmont Royal York, forever a Toronto landmark and a reminder of the railroad’s golden days.

The Fairmont Royal York, a Toronto institution, celebrates its 90th year by unveiling the results of extensive renovation works.

Toronto’s most famous hotel has been transformed into a new icon, but with the same old-world glamour it has always been known for.

From upgrades to its common areas and event spaces to a total revamp of its guest rooms, the unveiling of the contemporary yet classic Fairmont Royal York has everyone in Toronto talking.

We find out more.

A hotel with an iconic history

Some hotels have reputations that precede them, and The Royal York in Toronto, Canada, is one such property.

This iconic hotel stands opposite the main train station and was erected on this site to greet visitors upon arrival to this great Canadian city.

That was part of an initiative by the Canadian railroad to build epic hotels along its route, and such was not just a hotel, but also a landmark and a symbol of the city.

The Royal York opened in the summer of 1929 and was built in the era’s timeless Art Deco style and executed in Indiana limestone to create an imposing facade.

Not only was the building’s facade something to take notice of, but also the size and scale of the hotel, which boasted an incredible 1373 guest rooms and suites, as well as meeting facilities which can cater for up to 1600 people and a boardroom so extravagant that it is often used as a film set.

It soared 28 storeys high and was billed on every ad campaign as “the largest building in the British Commonwealth.”

Ringing in 90 years in style

However, time took its toll on the property, and it no longer lived up to its glamorous 5-star reputation.

Five years ago, a massive restoration project began, the aim of which was to do two things simultaneously – restore the hotel to the grandeur of its golden days, while at the same time bringing it in line with contemporary hotel standards.

At times, these two missions were at odds with each other, as every designer knows the difficulty of retaining the character of a historic building yet making it modern enough that it feels like it’s of the current time.

The most pressing of these restorations has recently been completed, just in time for the hotel’s 90th birthday celebrations.

The rest is a work in progress, and once everything is done, the rebirth of The Royal York will be complete.

Changes old and new

Some of the hotel’s changes are mostly cosmetic, but some are conceptual, such as the removal of the clock and the staircase in the main lobby and the placement of a clocktower which doubles as a cocktail bar.

The guest rooms have been completely transformed from stuffy, ageing quarters into fresh, airy suites.

The hotel’s manager, Edwin Frizzell, spoke of the new restorations, saying, “The best compliment I’m hearing is not just that it looks good or looks modern. It’s that the hotel should always have felt this way.”

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