A Toronto Story: "I ate this lunch sitting 1,000 feet in the air."
My iPhone alarm went off for the third time, which meant that I had to actually get out of bed - despite the remarkable strength of my bed’s gravitational pull.
I rubbed my eyes and rolled out of bed. I opened the blinds, but I didn’t see the modestly sized suburban backyard that I'm used to seeing at home. Instead, I was greeted with a 39th floor view of downtown Toronto. The city's architecture is sleek, distinct, and beautiful. Buildings curve gently, angle sharply, and make their own mark.
It was the second day of my three day stay in Canada's biggest city, and I was fortunate enough to be staying at the Delta Hotel by Marriott Toronto, which is located only blocks from key landmarks such as the CN Tower, Rogers Centre, and Ripley's Aquarium of Canada.
I had packed some of my cleanest fits - because who goes on an international flight without channeling their inner GQ trendsetter? I threw on an outfit that made me feel fly enough to co-star in a Rihanna video and headed down to breakfast.
The hotel felt more like an art gallery than a hotel - high ceilings, beautiful paintings, holiday decorations, and ornate gold accents were some of the features that caught my attention. I made my way to the breakfast bar, and joined my colleagues at a table with plenty of bacon on my plate. Bacon is a necessity.
We had all met less than 24 hours ago, but we had so many different things to discuss from our first day in the city that conversation flowed effortlessly. Here are some of my personal highlights from the first day I spent in Toronto.
Day 1: Welcome To The North
I landed in Toronto Pearson International Airport, made it through customs, and immediately started to look around anxiously to see how different everything would look. As anyone with common sense would expect, the airport didn't appear dramatically different than any of the American airports that I had been to. I made my way to the Delta Hotel, excited at the prospect of beginning to explore the city.
Art Gallery of Ontario
The first attraction I explored upon arriving in Toronto on Thursday afternoon? The Art Gallery of Toronto, which featured floor after floor of Instagram Story-worth exhibits. Each floor felt like a portal into a different universe, except I kept running into the same kids, all of whom seemed to be better dressed and more mature than me.
Do you got WiFi?
After an hour of exploring, we hopped back in an Uber and made our way back to the hotel to get a full tour of the facility. Between the spacious suites, heated pool, and expansive fitness center, I was ready to move in within an hour of when the tour started.
Whether you were looking at a penthouse suite or a regular room, every room featured humongous glass windows that allowed you to take full advantage of the hotel's prime location. The rooms felt more warm and home-like than other hotel s,, and the Wi-Fi was quick enough to satisfy the needs of the most impatient digital socialite.
Never forget about the "why."
After our hotel tour, we reassembled to meet for the most formal part of our entire trip. Enjoying the city and the hotel was truly incredible, but hearing more about Delta Hotel's "WHY" made the trip even more satisfying to me.
We heard from several key members of the Delta Hotels team before they introduced one of their partner companies, a mission-based personal care company called SoapBox. SoapBox's founder, David Simnick, gave a powerful talk on brand authenticity, before passing the mic to Erin Zaikis, the founder of a sustainable movement called The Sundara Fund.
The Sundara Fund is a non-profit that spearheads soap recycling initiatives and hygiene education programs. They employ women in communities around the region, and provide safe, high quality, recycled soap products to underserved populations in India and Myanmar.
In the very near future, The Sundara Fund will officially begin its partnership with Delta Hotels and SoapBox. For every single guest that stays at Delta Hotels, soap will be donated to the Sundara Fund, which will then recycle and distribute the soap to people who need it the most.
Realizing how much of a positive effect this initiative will have in India and Myanmar makes me even more inclined to stay at Delta Hotels in the future. To top it off, Soapbox products are just plain good.
I've never been a huge fan of hotel toiletries, because they're generally not the best for my skin or hair. I was already impressed by the "why" behind Soapbox, but once I saw that their body lotion had argan oil in it, I knew that I was in the right place. I'll definitely be using their products in the future as a year round defense against ashy body parts.
If you would have asked me my plans for the weekend four days earlier, I probably wouldn’t have told you anything close to “sampling some of Canada’s finest whisky inside of one of Toronto’s most gorgeous hotels with the help of an Irish bartender.”
That’s exactly how I spent the first hour of my Friday night, though. Char No. 5 whisky bar's staff proved to be both knowledgeable and passionate, and the whisky put a little bit of hair on my chest in the process. By the time I finished the tasting, I had a newfound appreciation for the history of Canadian whisky, and the role that it played in the international spirit industry.
Dinner. So much dinner.
I am a "foodie" in every sense of the word. Generally speaking, if I'm not eating a meal I'm probably snacking. If I'm not snacking, I'm probably asleep. SOCO Kitchen + Bar's cuisine hit my tastebuds and my stomach in all the right places - especially after all that whisky.
Colorful, crisp seasonal salads. Meatballs stuffed with parmesan. Pizza with delicious toppings that I had never even seen before. I washed everything down with an Old Fashioned at the bar. I was happy, full, and ready for bed before I knew it.
Day 2: Can We Get Much Higher?
Another morning, another opportunity to take full advantage of the hotel's brunch buffet. I loaded my plate up like the hungry man that I am in preparation for another busy, beautiful day. Our first stop? The biggest museum in all of Canada.
Royal Museum of Ontario
For the duration of my time inside the ROM, I was the annoying person asking everyone to take a picture of me, and I wasn't ashamed. The museum was beautiful. The Christian Dior exhibit might have been a personal favorite. The ROM features over six million different artifacts, but even the building itself felt like one humongous, intricate exhibit.
"I ate this lunch sitting 1,000 feet in the air."
I’ll be honest: the first time I thought about taking a picture in the CN Tower was when I saw the artwork for Drake's infamous Views album, which depicted him perched atop one of the tower's highest points. I didn’t have my Views album cover moment when I visited - mostly because I’m scared of heights and would have cried like a small infant if I had attempted such a feat.
That being said, I'll take my experience over a Drake picture any day. The elevator ride to the top of the tower was longer than expected. I underestimated how high up in the air we were going. The CN Tower Restaurant sits about 1,151 feet in the air. That elevator ride would have given you enough time to aggressively side eye every coworker who's ever gotten on your nerves.
We didn't have to go far to enjoy an incredible view - the restaurant is a giant glass sphere that slowly spins around. Every half hour or so, we made a full revolution around the building's axis, which allowed us to see the ocean, different parts of the city, and nearby islands.
Brewery? Yes, please.
I've never been one to turn down a good beer or three. The Steam Whistle Brewery, which is known for producing Canada's premium pilsner, did not disappoint. I made sure to take full advantage of the different samples we were given throughout the tour.
The Christmas Market
It was only December 1st, but the Toronto Christmas Market was so full of holiday cheer, it made me actually think about buying my parents their Christmas gifts before Christmas Eve. I’m definitely still going to wait until the night of the 23rd to even think about buying someone a gift, because that’s what procrastinators do, but it’s the thought that counts - right?
The market was the perfect way to bring the formal part of my time in Toronto to a close. By the time we arrived, the sun had already set. The lights, decorations, and attractions made me feel like I was experiencing the afterparty in Whoville after everyone convinced the Grinch to give Christmas back.
Day 3: Do I have to leave?
The next day, I woke up in time to enjoy the hotel's breakfast buffet one more time before I got on my flight to (reluctantly) head back home. I'll definitely be back soon, and you already know where I'm going to stay.
This post is sponsored by Delta Hotels. All opinions, colorful sweaters, and itis-induced naps are my own.