I’m convinced that the term “staycation” was coined in North America. Whenever I mention it to my friends in Europe, there is an inevitable blank stare and confusion on their faces. Partially, it’s because their holidays involve frequent travel, often due to proximity to other countries on the continent.
The first time I heard the word myself was when I moved to Canada. I’ve done a couple of “staycations” since, and they revolved around going somewhere, having good food and doing absolutely nothing. I truly treasure the latter, as I can probably count on one hand the number of days per year when I do this.
However, I recently chose to do a “business staycation.” When I mentioned it to my friends and colleagues, they gave me the same blank stare as my friends in Europe. “What is a business staycation?” they all asked. “It’s a term I made up,” I shamelessly announced. Not only did I make up this term, but I also thought it made perfect sense. To prove it, I decided to put it to the test, and here is how.
Picture any business owner. They often travel: Saturdays can be spent at an event, Sundays – at meetings. Inevitably, they also find time to slip away for a bit, go to a nice restaurant, maybe do some sightseeing. So what if we took that element and combined it with being in your own city, only at a beautiful hotel with a business vibe? What if we turned a “staycation,” into a blend of work and fun? That’s when my concept of a “business staycation” comes into picture.
I wanted to be in the heart of Toronto, at a hotel with a good reputation, and a nice view. No spa, because I would end up getting too lazy to work. And then I remembered a place where I stayed for a few days before moving to Toronto. It was on the intersection of King and Yonge streets – as central as it gets. Filled with businessmen, it had a fully equipped kitchen, a stunning view and a great service. It was One King West Hotel & Residence.
This was an easy decision and, a few weeks and e-mails later, I returned to the hotel.
The property is split into two parts: an older, vintage-looking section and a more-recently-added, modern-looking one. The building once served as the headquarters of The Dominion Bank. Constructed in 1914, it was designed by local architects Frank Darling and John A. Pearson, who were also responsible for the Royal Ontario Museum and the Parliament’s Centre Block. At the time of construction, it was one of the tallest buildings in the city (12 storeys). The vault located here has a circular door that is 4.5 feet thick and weighs over 40 tonnes. During construction, 19 horses had to haul it down Yonge Street. This older part of the building classifies as an Ontario Heritage Building – it celebrated its 100th anniversary on July 1. The 51-storey condo tower, that is now also part of the hotel, was designed by Stanford Downey Architects Inc. Nicknamed “The Silver”, it had the most slender height-to-width ratio in the world, at the time of construction. I was fascinated by this history, because Toronto is still a relatively “young” city.
The building is split up between a residence (you can actually do a long-term lease here) and hotel rooms. The latter have fully equipped kitchens – and by fully, I mean everything: dishwasher, stove, washing machine, microwave, cutlery, utensils and even pans. Guests can also enjoy the small on-site restaurant (Bistro on King), open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner; and lounge (Henri’s Bar & Lounge) that is located in the lobby and is open daily from noon to 2 a.m.
As a fashion journalist, I always have a mental list in my head of what I want and what – to me – classifies as an ideal hotel. When we arrived at the property and checked in, I walked around the space and went through the list in my head, “ticking off” everything I wanted to see. Here is that list:
- Outlets to charge my iPhone and iPad (they were everywhere I turned: installed right into the wall of the bedroom, all over the living room – it was fantastic)
- A full-length mirror (every fashion editor would approve of this)
- Lots of closet space (drawers, closets, hangers – this suite was made for people who wanted to dress up on the weekend or had multiple meetings that required multiple suits)
- Nearly a full 360° panoramic view, with floor-to-ceiling windows in the bathroom, bedroom and living room (perfect for absorbing the true downtown vibe)
- Bathtub and shower
- Magnifying mirror in the bathroom (so good to have your make-up done properly)
I spent some time working on a couple of stories, taking notes, doing research and mindlessly switching between my laptop, iPhone and iPad. Once I get into the “work zone,” I can be in that state for hours, completely losing track of time.
Writing an article, while looking at all the offices nearby was an added motivation to get the work done, as some people were clearly in their office over the weekend. Although I got distracted a few times: imagine being on the 41st floor in downtown…have you ever seen a streetcar from above? I hadn’t until then.
Drinking a glass of wine, while just sitting in silence and looking outside the window – be it during the day or at night – was very memorable. The traffic, the people, the buildings: everything in this part of the city was exciting.
Getting anywhere on the weekend was a piece of cake. The hotel is within walking distance to the Eaton Centre, where I haven’t been in ages, so we went there for fun. There were dozens of restaurants nearby, and we ended up having dinner at La Bettola Di Terroni, which was decent. We also walked around quite a lot and tried to absorb the downtown core on a weekend. It was fun, loud and busy. Everyone was partying: be it at the hotel, La Bettola or even the streets. Conclusion: being in downtown core is good if you are in the 25-45 range (which we are). If you are older, I wouldn’t recommend it, as it gets too loud.
Several weeks later, I’m missing my “business staycation.” It was a lovely break and I would like to do another one soon. One thing that I just can’t forget is the view from our hotel suite. It reminded me why I love Toronto so much.
Feature image courtesy of One King West Hotel & Residence.