Toronto, June 27, 2016 – There is no Los Angeles without Beverly Hills and there is no Toronto without Yorkville. The historic downtown neighbourhood gained notoriety in the late 1960s as a bohemian hippie enclave where artists like Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and Gordon Lightfoot performed at famous venues such as the Penny Farthing, Purple Onion and Riverboat Coffee House. That’s before my time, but I do remember Yorkville for all the celebrity watching during the Toronto International Film Festivals (TIFF). It was the film festival’s hub where most of the screenings and afterparties took place prior to their move to King Street West in 2010.
Today, Yorkville is an affluent neighbourhood made up of residential areas, office spaces, hotels, restaurants and luxury retailers. The Mink Mile stretches along Bloor Street between Avenue Road and Bay Street and is one of the most expensive streets in the world. Rent prices are around $300 per square foot with retailers pulling in between $1,500-$4,500 per square foot in sales. These upscale boutiques include the biggest names in international fashion – Burberry, Prada, Gucci, Hugo Boss, Chanel, Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Holt Renfrew, and Tiffany & Co.
Located on the southeast corner of Bay and Bloor and occupying up an entire city block are the 51-story Manulife Centre and the 44 Charles Street West residences. An oasis of affordability and convenience in the heart of Yorkville, 44 Charles offers reasonably priced furnished and unfurnished rental suites. Furnished suites designed by Yanic Simard of the Toronto Interior Design Group, are perfect for business travellers looking for a short-term rental. The units have modern furniture and all the home accessories you need for daily living.
We spent 44 hours in one of the guest suites at 44 Charles and had a chance to enjoy many of the building’s amenities and the neighbourhood offerings. Step out of the elevator of 44 Charles and you are connected to three floors of shopping, services, restaurants, public transit and a movie theatre. We kicked off the adventure with an all-you-can-eat Father’s Day buffet brunch at the Manulife Centre’s Bloor Street Diner. The restaurant has been around for over 25 years with casual bistro style dining and a two-level patio open from May to October. Great place to hit up on Bay Street if you’re hungry and want to people watch.
Brunch was followed by a walk down a red carpet lined Bloor Street West where we joined over 90,000 visitors at the 6th Annual Yorkville Exotic Car Show. Lamborghini, Ferrari, Lotus, Porsche and Aston Martin were all well represented with the Manulife Centre nice enough to give away free blueberry snow cones. Perfect on a scorching hot Father’s Day Sunday.
Sunday night was also Game 7 of the NBA finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors. We picked up a few game day essentials from the Bloor Street Market (food), Indigo Bay Bloor (decor) and the LCBO (drinks) for the big game. 44 Charles gave us access to the 31st floor lounge outfitted with a pool table, a big-screen TV, Bose surround-sound audio and very comfy couches. If you’re tall enough, you just may catch a glimpse of the beautiful skyline during sunset. Great game and happy LeBron and the Cavs won!
After all that eating and drinking the day before, Monday morning was dedicated to a little exercise. A trip to the 44 Charles gym was followed by a swim and outdoor tanning session on the 51st floor indoor pool and outdoor sundeck. The 31st floor gym has a descent selection of cardio, some resistance machines, dumbbells, stretching mats and two TVs.
Located on the 51st floor, the heated pool is an impressive size. It’s good for laps, aqua-fit or just taking a dip in an inflatable doughnut like I did. Unfortunately, access to the pool is exclusive to residents on floors 32- 50. The sundeck is remarkable with a surreal south-facing view of the city. It would be a shame to live in the building and not get to enjoy this.
One of the hottest restaurants in Yorkville, a short walk from 44 Charles, is Charles Khabouth’s French bistro La Societé. It’s an excellent lunch and dinner hotspot with a large patio and delicious food. A taste of Paris right on Bloor Street West. Keeping with the day’s patio theme, we took a quick stroll later that evening to the legendary Roof Lounge at the Park Hyatt. The 18-story view of the city from this hotel lounge is perfect for sipping cocktails. The Roof Lounge was very happening back in the Yorkville TIFF heyday when it served as the Nikki Beach pop-up. It’s still great for power lunches or afterwork drinks.
I can’t think of a more convenient way to wrap up the evening than by taking an elevator down from my guest suite to the Cineplex Varisty Theatre in the Manulife Centre for a late night movie. Talk about convenience. Though, you may want to wait for X-Men Apocalypse to come out on Netflix.
The final hours at 44 Charles began with a morning tour of their 2,685 square foot luxury suite The Charles. Can you imagine waking up every day to a magnificent panoramic view of the sunrise from the 48th floor? The three bedroom, three bathroom, plus den, open-plan rental can be yours for $15,000/month. Furniture extra. For more information, please visit their website.
Following the tour, I headed back down to the Manulife Centre to pick up some lunch from the Italian restaurant Scaccia. They have a great selection of classic Italian dishes and drinks with their own dinning area or you could use the food court. If you’re in a rush they’ll package everything up nicely so that you can take it to go like I did. Straight up the elevator to the sundeck again where I enjoyed my final bask in the sun before heading over to the Bata Shoe Museum. Just a short walk from 44 Charles, the Bata Shoe Museum is celebrating Italian Heritage Month with a special exhibition by artist Marco Sassone and his collection of new paintings. Inspired by his love of fashion and footwear, as well as the museum’s current exhibition on men’s heels, the works feature several pieces, each connected by the concept of departure and arrival, symbolic of the artist’s own journey.
The 44 Charles is a great affordable and convenient residence in a sea of smaller more expensive condo developments. I found it to be clean, quiet and full of friendly residents who love their upscale neighbourhood almost as much as their poodles. Cool spot worth looking into.
In association with our friends at Manulife Centre