The month of May was more than a little crazy. Apart from helping organize the Blogger Bazaar event, last month I also finished a quarter-end at work, filmed not one, but two Styled By Nelia videos, hosted an ALDO A-List party, participated in an Aveda photoshoot and photo exhibit, all the while preparing for yet another month-end. Don’t get me wrong, I had a lot of fun doing these things, but doing them on top of my 9-5 job made me feel more than a little stressed. Knowing that yet another month-end was staring me square in the face, I knew that a staycation was in order. So last Sunday, le bf and I packed our bags, and took the 15-minute Car2Go ride to Toronto’s Shangri-La hotel, where we had a room booked for one night of fun and relaxation.
Shangri-La is one of the most prestigious hotel brands in the world. Synonymous with paradise, Shangri-La is all about providing sophisticated luxury, transporting you to a place of deepest calm and relaxation. The moment we walked into our suite, we were wowed by the size and design of our room. With a spacious living room, two stunning bathrooms, welcoming bedroom, plush robes, marble and velvet finishes, two closets, and a Nespresso machine, our suite felt more like a sleek condo in the city than a hotel room. There were labelled buttons everywhere, to make turning on the lights, as well as opening and closing the sheers and drapes a breeze, a built-in TV in the master bathroom vanity, and an in-room iPad for our room-service ordering ease. In one word – impressive!
After checking out our room, we dropped off our things, and took the elevator down to the lobby for the first stop on our staycation itinerary! Shangri-La’s afternoon high tea!
Having heard great things about high tea at Shangri-La, our expectations were pretty high. When we arrived, our VAWK-clad hostess handed us a tea menu and asked us to choose our favourites from the 68 varieties on hand at the hotel. After taking our time to peruse the tea library (68 teas is no joke!), we settled on Sunrise Serenade flowering tea. While we waited for our tea service, we had a chance to fully take in our surroundings. While the high tea service is held in Shangri-La’s Lobby Lounge, nothing about it felt “lobby-like”. We were seated on a comfortable sofa overlooking a large fireplace, and while the lounge was full of people, our high-tea experience felt very intimate.
When the tower arrived, I didn’t hear a single thing our hostess told us about it (I asked her to repeat it for me later), because I was ready to dig in and everything looked amazing. We started at the bottom, and tucked into lobster and chive rolls, cucumber apple and cream cheese, roasted chicken with grain mustard, and egg and watercress sandwiches with crispy Serrano ham on top. De-li-cious! Next up, we spread some creamy Devonshire cream and jam on warm, flaky chamomile scones, and they were gone in a flash. I am not usually a fan of scones, but these were divine. We moved on to the much-anticipated dessert plate, which consisted of a chocolate ganache cake with raspberry compote, passion fruit ball, berries and citrus pastry, and a pineapple verrine. Once again, everything was delectable, bursting with flavours. Even half of each rich pastry was enough to satisfy me and my sweet tooth. Once the tower was polished off, we sat back, sipping our fragrant tea, more intense with each cup, looking at the fireplace, and enjoying the soft piano music playing in the background.
After our delightful high tea experience, we went back to our room, put on our bathing suits, and headed to the Miraj Hammam Spa by Caudalie Paris. Having visited the spa a few times before, I already knew what to expect – pure relaxation. We chose Hammam and Gommage for couples – 15 minutes in a high-intensity steam room to detox, followed by a full-body scrub. Hammam and Gommage is a great intimate treatment to share with a loved one, and I am really glad I finally brought le bf to experience it with me. The 15 minutes inside the steam room are very peaceful, and let you be alone together, breathing in and out, letting your pores open up, and rid your body of toxins. While the scrub treatment just feels incredibly nice, and can be as intense as you’d like.
Post-gommage, we marveled at our smooth, baby-soft skin, and relaxed some more in the little outdoor oasis on the patio of the spa, refreshed with some grapes, sweet Moroccan mint tea, and baklava. We probably could’ve stayed there all day, but we chose to pay a visit to the hotel pool instead. Private cabanas equipped with personal TVs, and stunning views of Toronto all around, made for a cool and refreshing post-spa visit – simply blissful.
More after the jump!
Remember that in-room iPad I mentioned? Well, instead of the traditional paper menus and information cards, Shangri-La’s suites are equipped with those handy gadgets to make your Shangri-Life easier. After our spa treatments, pool visit, and a much-needed catnap, we were getting pretty hungry. But since we were determined not to leave the hotel for any reason, in-room dining was our best bet. Slightly apprehensive about in-room dining food being cold, or of the burger and fries variety, we were pleasantly surprised by the selection that we could choose from. Dozens of dishes, from the 15-minute express menu, to healthy entrees, to kids menu, to breakfast…our options seemed endless!
After some mulling over, we went with two items from the healthy menu – Arctic Char, and Beef Strip Loin. When these were delivered, they looked impeccable, just like they would had we ordered them at bosk. Flawless presentation! And having split those entrees between the two of us, we were truly impressed with the quality of the food too – everything was delicious, and cooked perfectly. And we didn’t even have to leave our room!
We deliberately avoided ordering dessert, even though I am sure if would’ve been amazing, in order to pay a visit to Momofuku’s Milk Bar instead. Momofuku is actually connected to Shangri-La, Toronto, so after a quick elevator ride, we found ourselves shivering in Milk Bar’s walk-in freezer of deliciousness. We grabbed a slice of Crack Pie, a couple of packages of cake truffles, and happily returned to our Shangri-La suite. The rest of the night involved watching Bachelorette in our living room, while devouring the sweets we’d acquired from Momofuku. It was the perfect ending to our day of indulgence and relaxation.
In the morning, le bf and I woke up energized and ready to take on the week. After being crazy-busy and on-edge for weeks, we finally had a chance to get away from our daily chores, from our computers, our responsibilities, and just be together, enjoying each other’s company in the most relaxing and luxurious setting. It was exactly what we needed, and we got it without leaving the city. If you feel burnt out, but can’t go on that much-needed vacation, I can’t recommend a staycation (even if for one night) enough. The only downside – getting used to being pampered and missing it like crazy…and needing yet another staycation. I am already planning my next one!
*Services reviewed in this post were complimentary. Review and opinions are all mine.