Royal York Hotel – The Sophisticated & Historic Landmark in Toronto

2020 - Fairmont Royal York Hotel
2020 – Fairmont Royal York Hotel

The Fairmont Royal York Hotel is located at ‪100 Front St W‬ (between Bay and York Sts) in the Financial District of downtown Toronto.

The Land Prior to the Royal York

In 1798, the land the hotel stands on was granted to William Drummer Powell. He built a log cabin on the property in 1812. In 1844, Captain Thomas Dick purchased the site and built four brick homes which would later become Sword’s Hotel. In 1862, the hotel was renamed Queen’s Hotel. While it was enlarged a number of times, Queen’s Hotel was later demolished in 1927 to make way for the Royal York.

Architecture & Amenities of the Towering Gem

1930 - Royal York Hotel on Front St W, looking west
1930 – Royal York Hotel on Front St W, looking west

Completed in 1929, the opulent Chateau style building was designed by architect firms Sproatt & Rolph (Toronto) and Ross & Macdonald (Montreal). It opened as the Royal York Hotel and was the crown jewel of hotels owned by the Canadian Pacific Railway. The exterior features Indiana limestone and a copper chateau roof.

The grand hotel had over 1000 rooms, 28 floors, 10 elevators, 50-ton pipe organ, hand-painted ceilings, crystal chandeliers, travertine pillars, a 12-bed hospital, glass-enclosed rooftop garden, 12,000 book library, bank, silversmith, a massive kitchen, a 35-operator switchboard and an underground tunnel connecting to Union Station. There was even a broadcasting suite on the top floor called the CPR Radio Room. According to a CNE program, rooms started at $4.00 per day.

While today the Fairmont Royal York Hotel is dwarfed by the skyscrapers surrounding it, for a few years, it was the tallest building in Canada and the largest hotel in the British Empire. The landmark was also a part of Toronto’s skyline. It stood like a beacon also welcoming those coming in from the harbour.

Restoration of the Storied Hotel

2021 - Fairmont Royal York Hotel, Union Station and CN Tower on Front St W, looking west
2021 – Fairmont Royal York Hotel, Union Station and CN Tower on Front St W, looking west

In the late 1950s, an east wing with 400 rooms was added. In the early 1970s, not only did the luxury hotel undergo a major renovation but it also received heritage status. Then in 1988, a 5-year restoration began. In 2001, the property was renamed Fairmont Royal York Hotel and it has gone through a few ownership changes. In 2019, the hotel completed a major renovation.

Haunted Tales

There have been stories of the historic hotel being haunted. Guests have reported hearing children laughing and playing in the halls only find no one there when they open their doors. Others have mentioned seeing the ghost of a grey-haired man wearing a maroon smoking jacket wandering the hallway of the hotel’s 8th floor. Click for more haunted tales.

Host to Notable Guests and Film Shoots

Throughout the years, this beautiful hotel has hosted royalty, Prime Ministers from around the globe, presidents, celebrities and more. It has also been host to movie and TV shoots including RED, Warehouse 13, Miss Sloane and Grey Gardens to name a few.

Fairmont Royal York Hotel Photos

2020 - Fairmont Royal York Hotel
2020 – Fairmont Royal York Hotel
2021 - Fairmont Royal York Hotel, Union Station and CN Tower, looking west from Front St W
2021 – Fairmont Royal York Hotel, Union Station and CN Tower, looking west from Front St W
1972 - Royal York Hotel, looking northwest
1972 – Royal York Hotel, looking northwest
1986 - Aerial view of the Royal York Hotel, looking northwest
1986 – Aerial view of the Royal York Hotel, looking northwest
1981 - The Royal York Hotel from Toronto Harbour
1981 – The Royal York Hotel from Toronto Harbour
1972 - The Royal York Hotel at the corner of Front & York Sts, looking northeast
1972 – The Royal York Hotel at the corner of Front & York Sts, looking northeast
1954 - The Princess Lounge at the Royal York Hotel (Archives of Ontario I0004020)
1954 – The Princess Lounge at the Royal York Hotel (Archives of Ontario I0004020)
1930 - Royal York Hotel on Front St W, looking west
1930 – Royal York Hotel on Front St W, looking west
2020 - Fairmont Royal York Hotel
2020 – Fairmont Royal York Hotel
1950 - View of parking lot west of the Toronto Postal Delivery Building, looking northeast to the Royal York Hotel
1950 – View of parking lot west of the Toronto Postal Delivery Building, looking northeast to the Royal York Hotel
1949 - Royal York Hotel and Union Station on Front St W, looking east
1949 – Royal York Hotel and Union Station on Front St W, looking east
1939 - The Royal York Hotel decorated for the royal visit
1939 – The Royal York Hotel decorated for the royal visit
1937 - Billboard for the Royal York Hotel
1937 – Billboard for the Royal York Hotel
1931 - SS Cayuga approaching the docks with the Royal York Hotel in the background
1931 – SS Cayuga approaching the docks with the Royal York Hotel in the background
1930 - Royal York Hotel and Toronto's Waterfront, looking northeast
1930 – Royal York Hotel and Toronto’s Waterfront, looking northeast
1930 - The Chinese Suite at the Royal York Hotel (Toronto Public Library r-6746)
1930 – The Chinese Suite at the Royal York Hotel (Toronto Public Library r-6746)
1929 - Opening night party at the Royal York Hotel
1929 – Opening night party at the Royal York Hotel
2022 - A view of the Fairmont Royal York Hotel lobby from the mezzanine
2022 – A view of the Fairmont Royal York Hotel lobby from the mezzanine
1929 - Billboard installed in the mezzanine of the Royal York Hotel
1929 – Billboard installed in the mezzanine of the Royal York Hotel
1929 - Cooks showing gas appliances in the kitchen of the Royal York Hotel
1929 – Cooks showing gas appliances in the kitchen of the Royal York Hotel
1929 - Kitchen of the Royal York Hotel showing employee and electric dishwasher
1929 – Kitchen of the Royal York Hotel showing employee and electric dishwasher
1929 - An add for the Royal York Hotel in a CNE program (CNE Heritage)
1929 – An ad for the Royal York Hotel in a CNE program (CNE Heritage)
1928 - Royal York Hotel and York St Subway Station under construction, looking north from York St
1928 – Royal York Hotel and York St Subway Station under construction, looking north from York St
2020 - Entrance of the Fairmont Royal York Hotel
2020 – Entrance of the Fairmont Royal York Hotel
2022 - The elevator in the Fairmont Royal York Hotel lobby
2022 – The elevator in the Fairmont Royal York Hotel lobby
2021 - The Royal York Hotel heritage plaque
2021 – The Royal York Hotel heritage plaque
1915 - Queen's Hotel, looking northeast, the future site of Fairmont Royal York Hotel
1915 – Queen’s Hotel, looking northeast, the future site of Fairmont Royal York Hotel
1915 - Corridor of Queen's Hotel, the future site of Fairmont Royal York Hotel
1915 – Corridor of Queen’s Hotel, the future site of Fairmont Royal York Hotel
1909 - Cigar store and Toronto Railway waiting room at Front and York Sts, looking northeast - the future site of Royal York Hotel
1909 – Cigar store and Toronto Railway waiting room at Front and York Sts, looking northeast – the future site of Royal York Hotel
1867 - Queen's Hotel on Front St, the future site of Fairmont Royal York Hotel (Toronto Public Library r-6691)
1867 – Queen’s Hotel on Front St, the future site of Fairmont Royal York Hotel (Toronto Public Library r-6691)
1846 - Sketch of Swords Hotel, the future site of Fairmont Royal York Hotel (Archives of Ontario I0021810)
1846 – Sketch of Swords Hotel, the future site of Fairmont Royal York Hotel (Archives of Ontario I0021810)
2022 - The Royal York Hotel plaque
2022 – The Royal York Hotel plaque
2022 - Cornerstone at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel with the date A.D. 1928
2022 – Cornerstone at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel with the date A.D. 1928
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