King Edward Hotel – One of Toronto’s Beautiful Architectural Gems

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2021 - The King Edward Hotel at King St E & Victoria St, looking southeast
2021 – The King Edward Hotel at King St E & Victoria St, looking southeast

The Omni King Edward Hotel is located at ‪37 King St E (between Victoria St and Leader Ln) in the St Lawrence neighbourhood of Toronto.

The Architecture of The King Eddy

Toronto was growing, and the city needed a grand hotel. George Gooderham’s Toronto Hotel Company hired leading architects E.J. Lennox of Toronto and Henry Ives Cobb of Chicago to design the historic hotel. In order to compete with major European and American cities, the most palatial hotels were studied. King Edward improved on the best those luxury hotels had to offer.

Completed in 1903 at the cost of $3 million, the Edwardian Baroque/Late Victorian style landmark was advertised as “absolutely fireproof.” Constructed of steel pillars and supports, there’s concrete between each floor. The hotel also had the most modern ventilation system of the time period, providing lots of fresh air. At the front entrance of the historic hotel, there was once an iron porte-cochère to welcome guests.

Elegance and Luxury at Every Turn

2010's - The lobby of the King Edward Hotel (Omni Hotels)
2010’s – The lobby of the King Edward Hotel (Omni Hotels)

King Eddy, as it’s affectionately known, was an eight-storey luxury palace. The hotel originally had 400 rooms, 300 of those with baths, a long-distance telephone in each room, luxury furnished rooms on the upper floors with views of the bay and lake, an incredible art collection, parlours where gentlemen enjoyed port with cigars and lounges where ladies sipped tea. The hotel also featured a Ladies’ Booking Room where they could receive mail, telegrams and callers. Guests could choose between a European plan, which included a room only, or an American plan, which included a room with three meals.

The hotel and guestrooms were very tastefully decorated. The vast Rotunda featured marble Corinthian pillars, intricate plasterwork and mosaic floors, while the opulent Grand Ball Room featured a beautiful vaulted ceiling. The European dining room was decorated in colours of ivory and gold, while the American dining room had paintings with lavish red furnishings. There was also the Louis XV room which “met every requirement” for banquets and special occasions.

1913 - The "King Edward Bus" with 4 horses and carriage in front of the King Edward Hotel (Toronto Public Library s-r-657)
1913 – The “King Edward Bus” with 4 horses and carriage in front of the King Edward Hotel (Toronto Public Library r-657)

King Edward was a “complete” hotel with a bank, telegraph office, railroad ticket office, barbershop, manicure parlour, valet service for men, maid service for women, drug store and an “unusually attractive” buffet. The centrally located hotel was conveniently close to trains, steamers, shops and theatres. Fashioned after the Paris Opera Buses, the hotel had its own buses (which at that time were horses and a carriage) that met guests at the trains and steamers.

Quotes from the Hotel’s First Brochure

  • The old notion that Canada was uninteresting has been effectually sidetracked…
  • While there may not be the air and dash of London or New York in the Toronto of today it will surprise some people how very metropolitan it is.
  • One could build a bonfire in any apartment, and it could be completely isolated.
  • No pains or expense have been spared to ensure the guests have the fullest measure of comfort and satisfaction…

The Addition of the Tower

1919 - King Edward Hotel at 37 King St E, between Victoria St & Leader Ln on the south side – now Omni King Edward Hotel
1919 – King Edward Hotel at 37 King St E, between Victoria St & Leader Ln on the south side – now Omni King Edward Hotel (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231, Item 1129)

In 1921, the 18-storey tower was added to the King Edward Hotel. It was designed by architects Watt & Blackwell and Esenwein & Johnson. With the addition, the hotel now had 1,000 rooms “with bath” and was under the direction of the United Hotels Company of America. Guests had a choice of four restaurants. Occupying the top two floors of the tower is the lavish Crystal Ballroom. It was where Toronto’s high society celebrated weddings and had elegant balls.

Saving the Iconic Hotel

In the 1970s, Toronto’s first luxury hotel was in danger of being demolished; however, the Grande Dame was saved. The iconic hotel received heritage status in 1973 and was renovated in the early 1980s.

The King Edward Hotel Today

2021 - The main entrance of King Edward Hotel on King St E
2021 – The main entrance of King Edward Hotel on King St E

In 2015, the Omni King Edward Hotel was re-launched after a 2-year, $40 million renovation. In 2017, the grand Crystal Ballroom was unveiled after undergoing a $6.5 million renovation. It had not been in use for 38 years. Today, it’s one of the City’s architectural gems.

Once again part of Toronto’s luxury hotel lineup, the elegant 121-year-old landmark boasts 301 guestrooms, meeting rooms, restaurants, a spa, a salon, a fitness centre and a historic wedding venue.

Did You Know?

  • King St was one of the first roads in the Town of York. The street is named after King George III (1738-1820), who was the reigning monarch when the street was laid out.
  • The hotel was named after King Edward VII (1841-1910).
  • The King Edward Hotel opened without fanfare on May 11, 1903, while the formal opening was on May 22, 1903.
  • On the southwest corner of King St E and Leader Lane, where the King Edward Hotel tower stands today, it was once the site of the Town of York’s (Toronto) first jail with a “hanging yard.”

King Edward Hotel Photos

1909 - A postcard of the King Edward Hotel (Toronto Public Library pc358)
1909 – A postcard of the King Edward Hotel (Toronto Public Library pc358)
1919 - King Edward Hotel at 37 King St E, between Victoria St & Leader Ln on the south side – now Omni King Edward Hotel
1919 – King Edward Hotel at 37 King St E, between Victoria St & Leader Ln on the south side – now Omni King Edward Hotel (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231, Item 1129)
2019 - The King Edward Hotel on King St E & Victoria St, looking southeast
2019 – The King Edward Hotel on King St E & Victoria St, looking southeast
1915 - A postcard of the King Edward Hotel (Toronto Public Library pc356)
1915 – A postcard of the King Edward Hotel (Toronto Public Library pc356)
2024 - The Omni King Edward Hotel is located at 37 King St E in Toronto's St Lawrence neighbourhood. Built in 1903 at the cost of $3 million, George Gooderham commissioned architects EJ Lennox and Henry Ives Cobb to design the hotel
2024 – The Omni King Edward Hotel is located at 37 King St E in Toronto’s St Lawrence neighbourhood. Built in 1903 at the cost of $3 million, George Gooderham commissioned architects EJ Lennox and Henry Ives Cobb to design the hotel
2021 - The main entrance and facade of King Edward Hotel on King St E
2021 – The main entrance and facade of King Edward Hotel on King St E
2021 - The main entrance of the King Edward Hotel on King St E
2021 – The main entrance of the King Edward Hotel on King St E
2010s - The King Edward Hotel at King St E & Victoria St, looking southeast (Omni Hotels)
2010s – The King Edward Hotel at King St E & Victoria St, looking southeast (Omni Hotels)
2010s - The main entrance of the King Edward Hotel on King St E (Omni Hotels)
2010s – The main entrance of the King Edward Hotel on King St E (Omni Hotels)
2010s - The lobby of the King Edward Hotel (Omni Hotels)
2010s – The lobby of the King Edward Hotel (Omni Hotels)
2017 - The Crystal Ballroom at the King Edward Hotel (Omni Hotels)
2017 – The Crystal Ballroom at the King Edward Hotel (Omni Hotels)
2010s - A guestroom at the King Edward Hotel (Omni Hotels)
2010s – A guestroom at the King Edward Hotel (Omni Hotels)
2021 - The King Edward Hotel at King St E & Victoria St, looking southeast
2021 – The King Edward Hotel at King St E & Victoria St, looking southeast
1980 - The Victoria St entrance of the King Edward Hotel during renovations
1980 – The Victoria St entrance of the King Edward Hotel during renovations (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 49, Item 56)
1979 - The main entrance of the King Edward Hotel on King St E
1979 – The main entrance of the King Edward Hotel on King St E (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 49, Item 38)
1979 - The main entrance of King Edward Hotel on King St E
1979 – The main entrance of King Edward Hotel on King St E (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 49, Item 37)
1979 - The King Edward Hotel and Scotiabank at King St E & Victoria St, looking southeast
1979 – The King Edward Hotel and Scotiabank at King St E & Victoria St, looking southeast (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 49, Item 42)
1979 - The King Edward Hotel and the Pickwick Room on Leader Lane & Colborne St, looking north
1979 – The King Edward Hotel and the Pickwick Room on Leader Lane & Colborne St, looking north (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 49, Item 29)
1975 - A view of the King Edward Hotel, the Cathedral of St James and area, looking northeast
1975 – A view of the King Edward Hotel, the Cathedral of St James and area, looking northeast (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 63, Item 53)
1973 - A view of the Bank of Montreal (today's Hockey Hall of Fame), the King Edward Hotel and the Cathedral of St James from Front & Yonge Sts, looking northeast
1973 – A view of the Bank of Montreal (today’s Hockey Hall of Fame), the King Edward Hotel and the Cathedral of St James from Front & Yonge Sts, looking northeast (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 52, Item 4)
1973 - The King Edward Hotel from Scott St & Front St E, looking northeast
1973 – The King Edward Hotel from Scott St & Front St E, looking northeast (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 49, Item 1)
1936 - Servel-Electrolux gas refrigerator on display at the King Edward Hotel
1936 – Servel-Electrolux gas refrigerator on display at the King Edward Hotel (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1034, Item 176)
1930 - A billboard for the King Edward Hotel
1930 – A billboard for the King Edward Hotel (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1488, Series 1230, Item 3585)
1926 - Gas ranges and broilers in one of several kitchens at the King Edward Hotel
1926 – Gas ranges and broilers in one of several kitchens at the King Edward Hotel (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1034, Item 1011)
1924 - Hollywood stars Mary Pickford (from Toronto) and Douglas Fairbanks at the King Edward Hotel
1924 – Hollywood stars Mary Pickford (from Toronto) and Douglas Fairbanks at the King Edward Hotel (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1266, Item 2235)
1921 - King St E, looking east from Yonge St toward the King Edward Hotel
1921 – King St E, looking east from Yonge St toward the King Edward Hotel (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 2522)
1916 - Kitchen of the King Edward Hotel showing McClary Garland gas ranges
1916 – Kitchen of the King Edward Hotel showing McClary Garland gas ranges (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1034, Item 792)
1913 - The "King Edward Bus" with 4 horses and carriage in front of the King Edward Hotel (Toronto Public Library s-r-657)
1913 – The “King Edward Bus” with 4 horses and carriage in front of the King Edward Hotel (Toronto Public Library s-r-657)
1910 - King St E, looking east from Yonge St towards the King Edward Hotel
1910 – King St E, looking east from Yonge St towards the King Edward Hotel (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 7345)
1910 - A postcard of the parlor at the King Edward Hotel (Toronto Public Library pc376)
1910 – A postcard of the parlor at the King Edward Hotel (Toronto Public Library pc376)
1907 - A complimentary dinner tendered by Sir John Eaton at the King Edward Hotel
1907 – A complimentary dinner tendered by Sir John Eaton at the King Edward Hotel (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1568, Item 478)
1903 - The front cover of the King Edward Hotel brochure
1903 – The front cover of the King Edward Hotel brochure
1903 - Sketch of the Grand Ball Room from the King Edward Hotel brochure
1903 – Sketch of the Grand Ball Room from the King Edward Hotel brochure
1903 - Sketch of The Rotunda from the King Edward Hotel brochure
1903 – Sketch of The Rotunda from the King Edward Hotel brochure
1903 - Sketch of the Main Office from the King Edward Hotel brochure
1903 – Sketch of the Main Office from the King Edward Hotel brochure
1903 - Sketch of the Main Restaurant from the King Edward Hotel brochure
1903 – Sketch of the Main Restaurant from the King Edward Hotel brochure
1903 - Sketch of The Buffet room from the King Edward Hotel brochure
1903 – Sketch of The Buffet room from the King Edward Hotel brochure
1903 - Sketch of the News Stand from the King Edward Hotel brochure
1903 – Sketch of the News Stand from the King Edward Hotel brochure
1903 - Sketch of a King Edward Bus from the King Edward Hotel brochure
1903 – Sketch of a King Edward Bus from the King Edward Hotel brochure
1939 - The Toronto City Directory showing the address of the Omni King Edward Hotel and phone
1939 – The Toronto City Directory showing the address of the Omni King Edward Hotel and phone number (Toronto Public Library)
2021 - The King Edward Hotel heritage plaque
2021 – The King Edward Hotel heritage plaque
2019 - The site of York's first jail (1798 to mid-1820s) at King St E & Leader Lane, where the King Edward Hotel tower stands today
2019 – The site of York’s first jail (1798 to mid-1820s) at King St E & Leader Lane, where the King Edward Hotel tower stands today
2020 - York's First Jail plaque at King St E & Leader Lane, southwest corner
2020 – York’s First Jail plaque at King St E & Leader Lane, southwest corner
1800s - Sketch of the first jail in York once located on the south side of King St E between Victoria & Toronto Sts
1800s – Sketch of the first jail in York once located on the south side of King St E between Victoria & Toronto Sts (Landmarks of Toronto Volume 1 by J Ross Robertson)
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