The Omni King Edward Hotel is located at 37 King St E (between Victoria St and Leader Ln) in downtown 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 a 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
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.
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 their own buses (which at that time was 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 to-day 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 insure the guests have the fullest measure of comfort and satisfaction…
The Addition of the Tower
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
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 118-year-old landmark boasts 301 guestrooms, meeting rooms, restaurants, spa, salon, fitness centre and 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 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
- City of Toronto Heritage Register: 37 King St E
- Ontario Heritage Trust: 37 King St E
- Ontario Heritage Trust
- Omni Hotels: The Grande Dame the Omni King Edward Hotel Reveals…
- ERA Architects: Crystal Ballroom – King Edward Hotel
- Toronto Public Library: Remembering the King Edward Hotel…
- Toronto Public Library: King Edward Hotel 1903 Brochure
- Landmarks of Toronto: Volume 1 by J Ross Robertson
- Bruce Bell History Project 2005
- Vintage Photos: City of Toronto Archives, Toronto Public Library & Landmarks of Toronto: Volume 1 by J Ross Robertson
- Interior Photos: Omni Hotels