Louix Louis, the St Regis’s new restaurant, specialises in food with a Canadian accent. The New York Times

The Basics

All hotel openings involve some drama, but the St Regis Toronto - the brand’s first property in Canada - comes with an epic backstory. Born in 2012 as the Trump International Hotel and Tower, the mixed-use project endured well-publicised problems, from flying glass building panels to political protests. 

After new owners deleted the Trump name last year, Marriott International took control, temporarily rechristened it the Adelaide, and undertook a swift, stealthy St. Regis rebrand.

The “new” St Regis opened in November. I was there in December and, surprisingly, Trump-era décor hadn’t been updated in most guest rooms; instead, Marriott splurged on an extravagantly modernist lobby, a $5 million (R72m) restaurant, and two splashy ultraluxury suites.

The Location

The hotel’s location, within the concrete canyons of the Financial District, makes up in convenience what it lacks in glamour. Attractions like St Lawrence Market, Scotiabank Arena, and Bell Lightbox - a cultural centre that is the home of the Toronto International Film Festival - are less than 15 minutes away on foot. 

The Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport can take just a quarter-hour by taxi; five minutes gets you to Union Station, Toronto’s rail hub.You’ll need a car or public transit to reach more intriguing neighbourhoods.

The Room

My cheerless 22nd-floor superior king room boasted beige wallpaper, an armchair in chocolate-brown damask, and a TV on a functional-looking dresser of ash-grey veneer. There was no art on the walls; a monochromatic nature print above the headboard provided the sole decorative touch. 

Painted silver, a desk at the window offered some whimsy, until I noticed extensive peeling along its sides. An iHome docking clock radio sat on one nightstand. Panels on both sides of the bed allowed control of lighting and drapes. Cotton sateen Frette bed linens, crisp but soft, felt like heaven.

The Bathroom

With white-marble floors, double black-marble sinks, a soaking tub and a rain shower stall, the spacious bathroom proved the highlight of my stay. Frette also makes the plush, diamond-embossed towels exclusively for St Regis. The toilet sits behind a door, lending some privacy, but its white plastic seat cover was so heavily scratched it appeared vandalised.

Amenities

A content-free check-in - small talk, keys, “Enjoy your stay” - left me unaware of vaunted St Regis amenities like a butler service, which is included in the room rate and apparently includes packing/unpacking and “coffee or tea service upon arrival”. Likewise, a St Regis-branded BMW, used to chauffeur guests, sat idle in the hotel driveway. I found room-service menus in my room but no guides to hotel facilities. The compact 31st-floor fitness room requires two lift rides. The worn-looking spa, called The Spa for now, is due for a face-lift this year, a receptionist said.

Dining

Louix Louis, the St Regis’s glossy, buzzy new restaurant, feels transplanted from another hotel. An Art-Nouveau-in-outer-space ambience, courtesy of Toronto DesignAgency, complements the chef Guillaume Robin’s precise, Canadian-accented creations, like cold-smoked BC scallops and seared Quebec duck breast, along with Canadian $320 Osetra caviar and a $75-whole chicken.

Dinner felt too much like a scene for a solo diner, so I opted for breakfast, when the gold-and-rose-hued room felt like a bar after closing time. My trout avocado toast ($18) included mottled avocado on bright-orange fish, and its “tomato compote” resembled supermarket salsa.

Rates

From $272 (about R3 910) per night.

The Bottom Line

The ghost of a Trump hotel lingers. Generically luxurious, it feels like a work in progress - not acceptable at this price point. 

New York Times