Finding my zen at the Cosmopolitan
A guest suite at the Cosmopolitan, Toronto. (Image courtesy Skyline International Development, Inc.)
TORONTO - Unlike larger chain hotels, no two boutique properties are the same.
Each is a unique character that transforms seemingly simple details - whether a particular light fixture or the style of wood flooring under your feet - into a web of originality and individual personality, complete with attentive service and, often, an in-house bar and restaurant.
It's no wonder boutique hotels, known for being intimate, quirky, and especially luxurious, are becoming increasingly popular in North America and the United Kingdom.
Still, many tourists shy away from boutique hotels, scared off by price or lack of knowledge about accommodations without household names attached. I had never stayed at a boutique hotel either, until a visit to Toronto's Cosmopolitan Hotel made me a firm believer in the benefits of feng shui and properties with a sense of individualism.
Owned by the Skyline company, which includes Toronto's Pantages Hotel and Horseshoe Resort in its portfolio, the Cosmopolitan is one of North America's healthiest hotels. There are no carpets in the suites, air purifiers circulate oxygen through the rooms, and yoga mats are tucked into each closet.
Calming incense - I opted for the Ocean Wind scent at turn down, - zen stones, floor-to-ceiling windows, white linens, and wheat-coloured hardwood floors escalate the Cosmo to a level where it truly achieves its ethos of "Zen in the City."
Add to this the convenience of a full kitchen, complete with dishwasher, and in-room washer and dryer, plus the privacy of only five suites per floor, and one's appreciation for boutique properties begins to solidify.
And, because I wasn't quite relaxed enough laying on my suite's chaise lounge with a fountain bubbling softly just across the room, the Shizen Spa, which has locations in both the Cosmo and Pantages, hosted me for a signature rose petal massage. Fragrant oil and a bed of roses were my only companions, aside from the Shizen's capable massage therapist, as I reached my own personal level of zen.
Shizen deserves its five-star rating. The lounge area is opulent, with a large, candle-surrounded Jacuzzi churning in the middle, oversized chairs waiting to accept the weary bodies of those waiting for spa treatments, and high windows that let the sun filter softly in.
My stay was capped with a complimentary dinner at Eight Wine Bar and Restaurant, a cozy spot in the Cosmo's lobby where wine is king. On Friday nights, experience the local and international tastes Eight offers with $1 per ounce samples of vino.
A one-night stay in a basic Cosmopolitan room starts at $150, while rates rise to $1,500 for a night in the two-level penthouse.
Combine the benefits of all Skyline's properties - the Cosmopolitan and Pantages, Horseshoe Resort, and Georgian Bay's Port McNicoll resort town - with a SkyLife Club membership. It's the first luxury club in North America that allows you to get a massage in Toronto, go yachting in Georgian Bay, and golf at Horseshoe Resort, all the while staying in and eating at luxury accommodations.
The cost for a couple's membership is $18,750, plus monthly fees of $3,600. Visit skylifeclub.com for more information.
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