Originally posted January 16, 2023
Especially in these winter months, sometimes you crave a little time off from your usual routine. There’s meal preparation, cleaning chores, and (in our household’s case) the dog walk schedule and teens/tweens playing video games or flipping through TikTok all weekend. A quick staycation can give families a chance to spend quality time together. Plus, unlike a long journey, it isn’t a huge time commitment so it’s easy to get back to regular life. Our recent visit as guests of the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel was just what we needed: a fun mini-vacation to stave off the winter blues, reconnect with each other and rediscover our beautiful city.
With only one night of packing required, we each threw a change of clothes and a few incidentals into our backpacks and jumped on the streetcar heading downtown. One of the best reasons to stay at the Sheraton Centre Toronto is its excellent location, not only close to City Hall and the business district, but also near the Entertainment District and the Eaton Centre. Before check-in, we decided to make a bit of a detour to hit some of our favourite stores in Chinatown, then strolled and shopped our way along Queen West.
Once we had been checked in by the courteous desk staff, we made our way up to our guest suite with a connected living room. Time to relax!
It turns out that when we staycation, we really stay. In fact, we didn’t need to leave the hotel at all in order to have a vacation. After settling into the room for a bit, we got into our swimsuits and headed down to the pool. Instead of the same small and windowless indoor pool you would usually find in the middle of winter, what an exciting experience to jump into an outdoor pool in the downtown core, and to swim in subzero temperatures, no less! This was absolutely our daughter’s favourite part of the whole weekend.
In the summer, the hotel completely opens the exterior wall between the indoor and outdoor sections. But now in the winter, they keep it closed to hold off the cold winds that can whip through the tall buildings. Instead, to get to the outdoor area of the pool, you need to open (and swim under) plastic flaps, and we found this to be a very different and even cooler experience. It was especially neat to see steam rising from the outdoor pool’s surface since the air was colder than the water. Thankfully, we also found where the warm water came in from jets in the wall and hung out in front of them, like our own personal hot tub.
We were told that the whole pool area has been recently renovated, and there’s also a well-equipped gym directly beside the pool and saunas in the changing rooms for that full Scandinavian spa vibe. But we didn’t have time for all that — we had lots of delicious food to eat!
Next, we went all the way up to the 43rd floor. With access to the Club Lounge, located on the penthouse level, we relaxed with pre-dinner hors d’oeuvres. The spread included charcuterie trays full of sliced meats and cheese, plus hot options like BBQ pork bao buns (my favourite).
Even with views towards Lake Ontario and the CN Tower, we were mesmerized by the northern view instead. Every year, Nathan Phillips Square becomes a winter hotspot where both tourists and local families skate under the lit arches and in front of the iconic Toronto sign. As we nibbled on our appetizers, we had fun taking videos in fast-forward of the buildings and billboards, traffic and skaters spinning around the rink. It looked like a disco party!
Even though there is a plethora of dining options within walking distance of the hotel (including the connected PATH underground walkways all through the business district), we were perfectly content to eat and drink at the casual restaurant Dual Citizen and cocktail bar 43 Down.
Our kids enjoyed wandering through the open-concept lobby which, along with the Club Lounge and other public spaces, was renovated last year for the Sheraton Centre Toronto’s 50th anniversary. The styling is upscale and contemporary but certainly not stuffy. (I was especially obsessed with all the light fixtures and floor tiles!) Among the enhancements are new soundproof booths and studios, which our kids couldn’t help but try out, pretending to be business people on an important phone call.
At dinner, the jovial wait staff helped us come up with a game plan for our daughter’s meal. (Tip for parents of tweens: double-portion kids dinners!) After a few too many appetizers, I needed help finishing my huge bowl of pasta, which my husband and son were happy to oblige.
Then the kids headed back up to the room to watch TV, which accepts steaming services and later clears your personal information – what a great idea! Us parents stayed on for an extra drink at the new mixology lounge, 43 Down, where my husband sipped on a single malt scotch in a gorgeous classic rocks glass. I was also pleased to see how many local craft breweries were on the menu, including one just down the road from our house.
A Short and Sweet Visit
After a good night’s sleep, we had just enough time to sneak in one last trip to the pool and grab a shower, featuring deliciously scented Gilchrist and Soames toiletries. Plus, we took in one more trip to the Club Lounge. We languished over large helpings of breakfast and, gazing out at the skyline, we fell in love with our city yet again.
Thanks to the excellent customer service at the restaurants, pool and club lounge, we thoroughly appreciated our little mini-break at the Sheraton Centre Toronto, and we hope to make it an annual tradition.
Looking for more Day Trip ideas? Check them out here!