The ultimate relaxation getaway with the Elmwood Spa

December 22, 2016

What is one gift idea that is the most luxurious? Ideal for a loved one, a friend or even yourself? Perfect for ultimate relaxation? A full day at a spa, of course.

Earlier this year, in advance of the holiday season, we decided to explore the Elmwood Spa. A star attraction for both Toronto residents and visitors from around the world, this is Canada’s largest spa. One of its unique qualities is that it features multiple options for pampering, as well as two on-site restaurants, making it easy to spend an entire day at the location for a maximum relaxation experience.

Situated in a historic building in downtown Toronto, the spa is a complete wellness destination. The building was designed by Gordon & Helliwell Architects and built by Edward James Lennox – the same architects who designed three of Toronto’s key landmarks: Old City Hall, St. Paul’s Anglican Church and Casa Loma.

A lovely Thai restaurant, Bangkok Garden, is located in the same building and both the spa and the restaurant are owned by Canadian spa aficionado, Sherry Brydson.


Bangkok Garden.

The spa’s subtle Thai theme begins with a large carved image in the entryway and continues throughout the 34 treatment rooms. It is also strongly reflected in many of the lounge areas through the use of Thai silk and various other art works.  A contemporary lobby features a retail boutique for after spa care, showcasing ElmLine, the spa’s own Canadian-made range of skincare products.

This is a multi-level location, a home away from home. The woman’s changing room features wooden lockers and a whirlpool in bright blue mosaic tile, while the men’s changing room features a lounge area with a flat screen TV.

The whirlpool in women's changing room.

The whirlpool in women’s changing room.

With a full floor of manicure and pedicure stations, a hair salon, and water therapies (a full-sized swimming pool, steam rooms and whirlpool) on the third floor, Elmwood Spa guests can be refreshed and rejuvenated from head-to-toe. Water therapies are complimentary with all massages, facials, body treatments, alternative therapies and spa retreats.

The spa also has several rooms for couples that allow them to experience treatments for two, and on the fourth floor of the spa, there are two unique couples’ suites, the Royal and Sapphire Suite, which are complete with a fireplace and a shower. The beamed ceilings and cozy niches that were part of Elmwood Spa’s unique architectural heritage have been retained in these rooms. The Midnight Meditation Room at the top of the spa is a cathedral-like space of natural light; an ideal place for reflection and repose.

The spa’s licensed second restaurant – Terrace Restaurant – is located on the fourth floor and is a popular spot for lunch. Guests can enjoy a three-course luncheon (appetizer, entree, dessert) and relax with a glass of wine in the restaurant before or after spa services. When weather permits, guests can dine outside on the covered Terrace patio. In addition, the spa’s juice bar offers healthy choices in-between spa appointments, or works well as a light lunch option.

it’s important to note that the Elmwood Spa is also a founding member of Premier Spas of Ontario and Leading Spas of Canada. The spa uses a medical-grade autoclave system to disinfect tools in the manicure/pedicure area. Samples from the tools are also sent on a monthly basis to an independent lab for a microbionics assessment.

In addition to its work, the spa and its owner are strongly involved in supporting their community. The spa regularly donates products and services to a wide range of local and national organizations. Over the years, this has included: YWCA, Fashion Cares, Canadian Cancer Society, Mount Sinai Hospital, Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, United Way, Make A Wish Foundation and many others.

To experience the Elmwood Spa, FAJO’s Editor-in-Chief Hannah Yakobi and Social Media Editor Lacey Ward headed to Elmwood for half a day. They tried various services and dined at the Bangkok Garden. Here is what they thought.


This was my first visit to the Elmwood Spa and I was really looking forward to it.

The space is huge and very inviting. The heritage décor outside nicely contrasts with the modern décor of the interior.

Lacey and I spent about half an hour at the pool, chatting and catching up. It was a nice way to relax before our spa treatments.

I haven’t had a paraffin treatment for a long time, and I always remember how relaxing it is and how it perfectly rejuvenates my skin – be it summer or winter. I had a hand and foot paraffin treatment – as always, my skin was silky smooth afterwards.

Following my treatments, I also had a lovely manicure, which my nail technician applied in the most meticulous and professional manner.

Refreshed, rejuvenated and fully pampered, we headed to the Bangkok Garden for dinner. Their menu was very impressive, the portions were quite large and the food was absolutely delicious. We really enjoyed the vibe of the restaurant too. There were several large groups of people who were having a business dinner and had come to the restaurant directly. Then there were several couples on date nights. And there were also several groups of women who, like us, had clearly spent the afternoon at the spa and were now having chit chats over dinner and drinks.

Our server Mushar was extremely professional, attentive, quick and very accommodating to my food allergies. We had a great evening and spent a couple of hours at the restaurant, enjoying several meal courses and wrapping up our day of relaxation with delicious desserts!



This was my first time visiting the Elmwood Spa, although since it has been around for over 30 years, I had heard a lot about it.

We started our spa experience with the water therapies, which was recommended as a time to relax before your treatments, and included a pool, hot tub, steam room and relaxation lounge.

Afterwards, we headed to the newly renovated manicure/pedicure room, where we began our deluxe manicure treatments. In my typical indecisive fashion, I couldn’t decide between two colours; that was until my nail technician suggested doing the nude I wanted with a metallic accent nail, which was the best of both worlds!

During the manicure, she was very meticulous and knowledgeable, informing me about nail/cuticle care and the recent spa renovations. As part of the deluxe manicure, a paraffin treatment was also included. Not only was this my first time to the Elmwood, but this was also my first-ever paraffin treatment, which I loved! It felt like a warm wax that your hands were soaked into; it was very calming and left my hands softer than they have ever been.

To conclude our Elmwood treatments, we had a dinner at the Bangkok Garden. To my surprise, this restaurant was much larger than I had originally thought. The full menu had plenty of options, and I could have been there all night deciding. I had the spring rolls with peanut sauce, pad Thai with green curry and a chocolate mousse for dessert. The food was delicious and the service was great. All around, the Elmwood Spa was a lovely experience!


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By Hannah Yakobi & Lacey Ward
Photography by Hannah Yakobi, Lacey Ward & courtesy of the Elmwood Spa

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