Review: Hotel X Toronto

Sunset from pool deck at Hotel X Toronto (photo Ron Bernthal)

By Ron Bernthal

In the middle of January, 2017, as a biting wind off Lake Ontario blew across the 30th-story rooftop of the not-yet-completed Hotel X Toronto, the property’s director of sales at the time, Celso Thompson, and I were bundled up in winter coats, hard-hats and gloves, buffeted by the freezing gusts.

It was a clear day and as I surveyed the 360-degree rooftop view, which included downtown Toronto’s gleaming skyscrapers and the cold, gray expanse of Lake Ontario, I realized that because of the hotel’s location along the lakefront, two miles west of downtown, it was the tallest structure in the area, and only the observation deck on the top of CN Tower could offer such a spectacular panoramic view. It was even possible to see the distant water plume of Niagara Falls at the edge of the lake’s horizon, 36 nautical miles away. Less than a mile from the property, below the hotel’s roofline, the small  jets from Porter Airlines looked like toys as they took off and landed at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport.

Guestroom view showing downtown Chicago, CN Tower (left side), Lake Ontario, and Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (right side) (photo Ron Bernthal)

In early summer, 2019, I returned to the new 400-room Hotel X Toronto as an overnight guest, to see if the completed project, including the promises of a rooftop sky club and swimming pool, and an adjacent four-story athletic center, had been fulfilled.

On the five-minute drive from the arrival terminal at Billy Bishop Airport to the front entrance of the hotel, I could see shimmering glass façade of the structure towering over the lake and the adjacent group of meetings and exposition buildings at  Toronto’s Exhibition Place.

Check-in desk from 2nd floor stairway leading down to lobby. (photo Ron Bernthal)

Check-in at the front desk was efficient and I am in my room within a few minutes, the floor-to-ceiling windows filling the room with natural light. Large glass barn doors separate the bedroom from the bathroom’s glass shower stall and tub. A smaller bathroom is part of the sitting area, along with a work desk, two leather chairs, a coffee table and a blue velvet couch that could be opened into a double bed.

The view from the bedroom windows was of downtown Chicago, Lake Ontario, and the runway and terminal at Billy Bishop Airport. All rooms have wonderful views, and all windows are soundproof. The room fridge in every room is stocked with a few bottles of complimentary in-room water bottles, and a Nespresso machine is a convenient amenity. Complimentary WiFi is available throughout the property.

The hotel’s “Library Club Lounge” on the 3rd floor contains books to borrow, but it’s main purpose is as an extra amenity for guests with Library Club Lounge access, offering an extensive breakfast buffet, snacks during the day, hors d’ourves from 5 pm – 7 pm. with wine and spirits, and comfortable indoor and outdoor terrace seating, all complimentary. Other great venues within the hotel include the tri-level, rooftop Falcon SkyBar with its great views, bar and 50-foot, heated outdoor pool. As there are no tall buildings to block 360 degree views of the downtown business district, the lake and downtown views of the city of Toronto open up. Every room and suite offer spectacular views in all directions. Several large ballrooms, 11 multi-function meeting rooms, and a private business center with printers and computers are available for meeting participants, and business or leisure guests. Another unique feature of the property includes the complimentary movies shown at its 250-seat Cinema or in the 56-seat Screening Room.

View of Library Lounge Club, a venue providing access to VLC members for breakfast, and pre-dinner hors d’ouerves, wines and spirits. (photo Ron Bernthal)

The hotel is part of the Library Hotel Collection brand of deluxe properties, joining other hotels in New York City (Library Hotel, Hotel Giraffe, Hotel Elysée and Casablanca Hotel), Prague (Aria) and Budapest (Aria). “We had a very big challenge when we confronted the Hotel X Toronto large footprint, how to translate the operating style of the Library Collection to a hotel that was as immense as this one is,” said Stephen B. Jacobs, design architect on the project. “Our approach was to break it down into smaller components.”

In order to infuse the large lobby with intimacy and warmth, Jacobs and Andi Pepper, interior designer on the project, used eclectic elements to generate excitement within the space. The hotel’s neutral color palette is splashed with vibrant pops of royal blue and magenta throughout the property, and laser-cut Moroccan-style metal discs are suspended from the ceiling next to a modern marble staircase.

Over 800 landscape images by Neil Dankoff, a Canadian photographer, can be found throughout the hotel, including a strikingly large piece in the lobby, and the hotel’s Kandy Gallery exclusively showcases more of Dankoff’s work.

In addition the artwork, the main focal point of the lobby is the green wall, which houses over 2,500 individual plants located behind the reception desk. “The purpose of the green wall is the key to the narrative of all of the live plants that have been brought into the interior,” said Jacobs. “This whole project started with putting a hotel in a garden, so we brought the garden inside. We’re using live plants throughout the hotel, which is an iconic element of what a Library Collection hotel is.”

Ten X Toronto is the name used for the hotel’s 90,000 square-foot, four-story sports and fitness center, a free-standing building that is physically connected to the hotel via a short hallway. Here are four hard-core tennis courts, nine, glass back squash courts, a basketball court and several racquetball courts. There are also several rooms offering Pilates, Group Cycle, Hot Yoga and other group activities, along with a fully equipped fitness center with 50 Technogym machines. The Guerlain Spa offers seven treatment rooms, with pre- and post-treatment lounges with lake views, as well as sauna and steam rooms.

The TEN X TORONTO sports center is a separate, four-story building with sports courts, fitness centers and other recreational venues. (photo TEN X TORONTO)

For F&B services, Maxx’s Social Kitchen provides all-day dining overlooking the lake, while Pétros82 restaurant and bar, featuring upscale Mediterranean food, overlooks Stanley Gardens. is the perfect setting in which to enjoy an upscale meal, fine wine, and fantastic views. For breakfast on-the-go, or a quick healthy lunch, the Nespresso Café offers chef-prepared sandwiches, gourmet paninis, fresh salads, yogurt parfait, homemade pastries, and desserts. food and drinks are also offered from mid-day to late evening at the Falcon SkyBar, which occupies various levels of the 27th, 28th, and 29th floors. A Starbucks outlet is also available next to the Ten X Toronto sports complex.

Although the property is somewhat walkable (30 minutes) to downtown Toronto, it is best to take Uber or taxi or reserve a ride in one of the hotel’s comfortable black SUV’s. The cars are generally used to shuttle guests to/from nearby Billy Bishop Airport for Porter Airlines flights, and to the city’s downtown Union Train Station, but the cars are also available for other close proximity rides. The interesting parts of King and Queen Streets West are close to the hotel, as are several eclectic neighborhoods, like Kensington, that offer art galleries, boutiques and small cafes and restaurants. Several of the city’s bike rental docking stations are also nearby, with flat, lakeside bike paths a few minutes away. Within a few minutes walk from the property is BMO Arena, home of Toronto FC (Major League Soccer) and the Toronto Argonauts (Canadian Football League), as well as the major conference and trade show venues at Exhibition Place.

Night view of Exhibition Place area from 28th floor swimming pool deck. In picture is BMO Field home of Toronto FC and Toronto Argonauts. (photo HOTEL X TORONTO)

The Hotel X Toronto does not levy a resort fee, although there is a charge to use the tennis courts.