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Fairmont Royal York

    Fairmont Royal York
 in TorontoHistory: 
    Fairmont Royal York
 in Toronto


The site of the Fairmont Royal York was originally owned by a respected lake-boat captain named Thomas Dick in 1843, who opened four brick houses called the Ontario Terrace. Knox Theological College quickly occupied the row houses and, in 1853, the building was renovated and its name was changed to Sword’s Hotel. Ownership changed yet again, and it became known as the Revere Hotel. Captain Dick repurchased the hotel by 1862 and revived it as Queen’s Hotel, a stately, integral part of the booming town. The Queen’s Hotel was then purchased by established hoteliers Thomas McGaw and Henry Winnett. McGaw died in 1901 and Winnett passed away in 1925, upon which his estate sold the Queen’s Hotel to the Canadian Pacific Railway.

The Canadian Pacific Railway announced it would demolish Queen’s Hotel and build the largest hotel in the Commonwealth, with construction beginning in 1927. It was situated across the street from Union Station and the Canadian Pacific Railway, an ideal location for any hotel. The new hotel, called the Royal York, opened on June 11, 1929, and quickly became known as a city within a city. It had 28 opulent floors, over 1,000 guestrooms, which featured radios and private baths. It also had a 12,000 book library, ten elevators, and 1.5 acres of public rooms that included a 12 bed hospital. There was also a concert hall with a full stage, including a giant Casavant Frères pipe organ that required five manuals and 107 stops to use. The glass-enclosed roof garden helped supply what had become the largest hotel kitchen in Canada. The kitchen was so well equipped, it produced over 15,000 French rolls in just one day. The hotel featured its own bank, 35 telephone operators manning a 66-foot-long switchboard, and a golf course. The cost of the new Royal York Hotel was an impressive $16 million. A grand gala with over 2,300 guests was held for the opening and Lord Willingdon, the Governor-General of Canada, was registered as the hotel’s first guest.

Following its opening, the Royal York became known for its opulence, grandiosity, and hospitality throughout the region. During 1956-1957, the East Wing was added to the hotel and increased the room numbers to 1,300. The years 1972-1973 saw a modernization renovation, done by architects Webb Zerafa Menkes Housden. This involved cutting a large hole in the main floor lobby for a spiral staircase, replacing rugs with carpet, adding modern wall lamps, installing a chandelier, and covering the marble columns with wood paneling. A $100 million renovation occurred from 1988-1993, which restored and refurbished the Royal York’s original elegance to the guestrooms, health club, sky-lit lap pool, and public spaces.

One of the major draws for the hotel over the years was the Imperial Room, a nightclub that attracted the likes of Marlene Dietrich, Tony Bennett, Ray Charles, Liberace, Peggy Lee, and Tina Turner. Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has visited the hotel, as have many others in the Royal Family, and the location has been used in several films. The Fairmont Royal York has welcomed over 40 million guests since its opening.

Fairmont Royal York, a member of Historic Hotels Worldwide since 2018, dates back to 1929.


International Numbers

Austria 08000706176
Belgium 080081830
France 805542721
Germany 8007241217
Ireland 1800995320
Italy 800979444
Netherlands 08000200956
Norway 80054304
Spain 900814719
Switzerland 0800001798
UK 8009179622
Book by Phone: +1 866 670 3764
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