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Pantages Hotel & Spa

Posted by Catherine / Posted on October 27, 2009

Pantages Hotel TorontoThe Pantages Hotel in Toronto is right around the corner from Massey Hall, but passersby might not know that, since an extremely low-key north/south street presence blends it into the back alley streetscape at Victoria and Shuter (the sliding glass entrance doors remind more of nearby St. Michael's Hospital than a hotel). There is a prominent sign you can see if you approach the hotel from directly across the street, as pictured above, which is pretty much never going to happen.

The Pantages is a nice enough hotel, but it's full of inconsistencies. The Pantages & Cosmopolitan brand, with their high(er)-end Shizen spas, complimentary in-room yoga mats, and come-hither martini bars all speak to a desire to be trendy and swank. At the same time, our complimentary spa robes were nowhere to be found, and the bathroom's largest towels didn't do a full body wrap around. The toiletries were of nice quality, but there was just one little "facial" soap for the whole of the bathroom -- use it in the shower, return it to the sink. Repeat.

Pantages Hotel TorontoA dark-brown shag carpet added a bit of personality, but that was negated by a stain of indeterminate origin on our otherwise crisp white sheets (see gallery). There is a small vanity cutaway just inside the door, adjacent to the bathroom, but with one overhead light that didn't lend itself to actual vanity purposes. The ceiling was noticeably low (abutting the top of the door frames). You can try and sample the spa (I did), but they really meant it when they disclaimed "hours subject to change". The times printed in the hotel guide were off by an hour in each direction, meaning it was too late when I tried for an evening appointment (they closed at 7pm, not the listed 8pm), and check out was too early to catch them in the morning (11am on Saturday). Unfortunate.

Like so many Toronto hotels, wi-fi is available but "available" the way a rental car is -- you can have it if you pay for it. (Word to the wise -- if you're going to charge $12 for a day's worth of internet, know that you just look like a bit of a cash-grabber when there's an open wireless connection nearby.)

Pantages Hotel TorontoBoutique-styled hotels, Pantages included, seem to be on a full-size fridge kick. Which seems like a luxury item until you start to run through the logic. As in -- where is the closest place to Yonge & Elm I'd even begin to stock a full size fridge? I live in the city, and I couldn't even tell you the nearest Rabba or Hasty Market.

Pantages Hotel TorontoThe fridge would just be an unnecessary luxury until you factor in the geography of the room. In a small suite, you end up sleeping about 8 feet away from the fridge, and all its little fridge noises. Which feels not unlike sleeping in your kitchen. And the floor of my kitchen is not where I go to luxuriate.

Giant fridge aside, our room made excellent use of the available square footage. A console table can serve as a dining or work area (courtesy of two deeply squishy leather stools), or can be rolled over-top of the queen size bed for laptop or breakfast-in-bed action. A closet housed a stacking washer/dryer (dryer sheets and Bounce available in the "mini-bar" -- though the mini-bar price list was looking a little mank (again, see gallery)).

Pantages Hotel TorontoFor the most part the staff we dealt with were friendly enough, though everyone seemed tired. There were smiles, but they were wan. The exception was one very helpful and pleasant young man in the bar during (an empty) breakfast service -- who very helpfully and pleasantly explained that our room was one of the few that did not include continental breakfast, and might we like to try Fran's (see Dining).

Pantages Hotel TorontoPantages is about drinking more than dining. On a Friday night the Pantages Martini Bar (which, btw, does have a prominent street sign) was packed.

The hotel does have a room service menu, though they primarily direct guests to the adjacent 24hr Fran's. While I like me some diner action, and my guest was very happy to have Fran's burger + beer combo, the atmosphere grates against the Pantages/Shizen vibe. Where the Pantages is stylishly dark and under-lit, with splashy punches of neon, Fran's is viciously bright, and features meals like the "Party Havarti".

As mentioned, our breakfast wasn't included with our room. You have to wonder at hotels that do this -- it's not like you're shelling out for steak frites, so spare some melon and a croissant for everyone who stays the night and goodwill will follow. (Instead of dining at Fran's (again), we opted instead to hop the subway north to Lola's Commissary. It was a good call.)

Pantages Hotel TorontoWriting and gallery photographs by Catherine Hayday



MillerOut / December 6, 2009 at 10:57 am
I live in the condo section. The building sucks. My AC is constantly needing repairs, the hardwood floors are of the lowest quality i have ever seen, and the walls are so thin, I can hear my neighbors sneeze. And I have some women who lives above me that constantly walks around in high heels , I can hear her every annoying foot step. I won't be surprised if the management of the building is replaced. Theirs one male security guard who is a useless knob. He is a lazy fat slob who doesn't have a clue what he's doing. I do not recommend this building.
Locusgirl / December 6, 2009 at 11:17 am
Don't forget that frans doesn't have their own bathroom, so they swipe into Pantages to use the bathroom and then back to frans for their evening, so the amount of drunk ass kids stumblin into the place is quite high.
steph / December 6, 2009 at 11:41 am
theres a metro at church & gould or church & front, i believe it is. not that far.
Lame Reviewer / December 6, 2009 at 12:15 pm
The premise of this article was great, however the execution left something to be desired.

Consider what factors are really important in a hotel review. Are most people going to care whether you think the desk clerk had a "wan" smile or the mini bar price list was mank? What about the cleanliness of the room? Were you impressed by the view? Was your martini at the bar worth it the price? Was the location of the hotel convenient? Was parking available? What were your options for room service? How much was the room? How does that compare to other downtown Toronto hotels? Were the hotel staff helpful in making recommendations?

Be more decisive in your phrasing: "pretty much never", "nice enough", "a bit of", "looking a little", don't use word-of-the month slang, i.e. "mank" and consider why you're using em dashes and parentheses in every third sentence. If you can't say what you want to say without a dozen sidebars, maybe you're trying to say something else.

Do your research. There are plenty of grocery stores near the Pantages. There's a Sobey's on Yonge just north of Elm, a Rabba's on Jarvis, a couple grocery stores in the Village, St. Lawrence Market and a good Metro are on Front, a Kitchen Table in FCP, etc., etc., though I take your point about a full-size fridge in a hotel room.

I look forward to your next review, which I trust will be better.
Zach / December 6, 2009 at 10:00 pm
Whatever, I haven't seen any other Toronto hotels with a disco elevator.

Drake, until you get a disco elevator, expect to lose A LOT OF CUSTOMERS!!!

It's the little things that matter guys, disco elevator is AMAZING
Sandy / December 7, 2009 at 02:06 am
When I stayed there the bathtub had soap scum and the shower stall had thick black mildew and hair in the corners. The sink cabinets looked like they hadn't been installed properly (5 inches away from the back wall, we could see the pipes).
This place is nasty.
DS / December 7, 2009 at 07:39 am
Further to my previous comment which appears to have been deleted, why didn't you call down to reception to ask for more soap. Don't you think it was a bit disgusting to wash your bits and then expect your guest to wash their hands with the same bar?
hai / December 7, 2009 at 09:18 am
why is there a picture of bloody sheets in this review/ does the hotel have bedbugs?
Jack S. / December 7, 2009 at 10:34 am
"As in -- where is the closest place to Yonge & Elm I'd even begin to stock a full size fridge? I live in the city, and I couldn't even tell you the nearest Rabba or Hasty Market"

Well, the first issue is that the Pantages isn't at Yonge & Elm. As to living in the city, if you lived downtown you'd know that there's a full size Metro at Dalhousie & Gould, which is a 5 minute walk.
Ella / February 19, 2015 at 07:30 pm
I've stayed here multiple times and have never had any issues. Staff were friendly, rooms were clean. For the size room & AMAZING location you get for the money, it is a bargain! Only thing was that sometimes there are loud guests but its like that at almost any DT Toronto Hotel. I recommend this place all the time.

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