The Ivy at Verity
The Ivy at Verity is a well hidden 1850's chocolate factory re-imagined into a sumptuous, utterly luxurious boutique hotel located on Queen Street, just east of Church. I must have passed this place hundreds of times, but never really took notice. There's no signage announcing the hotel - it's sandwiched in between Sweetgrass Spa and George Restaurant.
The hotel is the very definition of boutique. With only four rooms in total, nothing is left to chance. Each room is well equipped, individually decorated and gloriously spacious. Throw in a fridge and stove, and you could easily move in. The bathrooms are nothing short of immaculate. Deep soaker tubs lure you in and the thoughtful scented bath salts and Bulgari toiletries ensure a relaxing sojourn.
With heated floors, Hästens hand crafted beds, walk out terraces for each room overlooking a private courtyard this is like nothing else Toronto has to offer, and at a time when giant corporations like Trump and Thompson are taking over our skyline, it's comforting to know there's other more personal options for urban overnights. You will have to pay, though. With rooms starting at $329, the Ivy is anything but a budget option.
Located on the hotel floor is a generous 'maxi-bar' in which guests of the hotel can help themselves to premium bar spirits and Mill Street Organic beers at the communal honour bar sitting atop a beautiful 19th century French marble pastry table. Complimentary continental breakfast is also served here.
The staff are welcoming and friendly without being intrusive, which is pretty important when you're dealing with only four rooms. Needs are met without a mention; each staff member shows tremendous initiative in every aspect, from the concierge to the housekeepers. Things just had a way of falling into place.
Featuring a full service women's only spa and with the reputable George Restaurant providing gourmet room service one could easily check in and stay put. For the business set, there are six efficient meeting rooms and three private dining rooms. Lucky for the ladies, the spa is a serene and impressive space that also features a flower shop that doubles as bar during happy hour for their 'Martinis and Manicures' promotion. If sweating is more your thing, the well-appointed fitness centre can help you blow off some steam, although only for female hotel guests or members.
The spa venture includes a spinoff membership called Verity. Membership is for women only; think of it as a professional development club. After an initiation fee, and the annual fee, ladies with limited time for leisure can join the club and make use of the meeting rooms, special member's nights, fitness club and extensive classes all under one roof. Speaking with Spa Director Monique Joustra, she tells me the club was created to provide professional women a chance to socialize, network and engage with other like-minded women in a dynamic environment. With clubs for men being around for what seems like forever, this unique approach aims to help women (only) achieve their career goals.
The spa and surrounding lounges are dripping with stereotypical femininity. Fresh cut flowers on all the tables, jewels dripping from almost every chandelier and chaise loungers in pretty pink motifs dot the colourful space. The adjacent manicure and pedicure room host several stations, so taking a couple friends can be easily accommodated. Your hands are in good, er, hands with the ubiquitous OPI line and highly skilled manicurists.
Certainly the only thing this property is missing is the actual chocolate. I mean, as a former chocolate factory it would be neat to see a bit of a nod to the heritage of the building. Also parking is at your own adventure — a small price to pay for the rest of the package.
Writing and photos by Libby Roach