If the fictional TV bar Cheers were a hotel, it would be Toronto’s Chelsea at Yonge and Gerrard. While Sam Malone may not be grinning at me when I walk in, the smile and greeting at the 1865 check-in desk for Langham loyalty members (below) are just as welcoming.
That feeling is reinforced when the server at Express|o coffee has my morning cappuccino at the cash before I even get there – and that started after I had been at the hotel only a few times. Because I’m away from home about 40 nights a year, that simple acknowledgement means a lot – as do my conversations with the evening staff, one of whom gives me regular updates about her daughter’s progress in medical school. And when I saw one of the cooks creating a mouth-watering stir-fry not on the menu for his colleague one evening – “He makes it almost as good as my grandmother!” explains the recipient – I had the chicken, rice and bean concoction the next night.
The two-storey living wall (above), while great as a backdrop for selfies, is actually a hydroponic biofilter that cleans the air and improves the building’s performance. The technology, I discovered, was developed by the Nedlaw Group – in Breslau, Ont., the birthplace of Barney, my standard poodle!
The Chelsea prides itself on its family-friendliness, with a kids-only check-in, a kids centre featuring resident bunnies, Marbles and Thumper (above), who are always keen for a tickle behind the ears, the city’s only indoor water slide and regularly scheduled “Movies Under the Stairs” where rows of pint-sized chairs for the rug rats are lined up beneath the big screen in the stairwell. For me, there’s an adults-only indoor pool on the rooftop (below) and the Chelsea’s pet-friendly aspect that’s more up my alley. Every visit sees me get my dog fix with canines of all shapes and sizes checking into the Chelsea – but just try explaining to your 10-year-old poodle why you’ve come home yet again with the scent of puppy.
The Chelsea is the first Canadian hotel managed by the luxury Langham Hospitality Group, which operates more than 20 properties internationally. At 1,590 rooms, the Chelsea may be the largest hotel in Canada, yet it seems that here, like at Cheers, everybody knows your name.