I once visited a hotel in Tel Aviv and was given a tour of the suite that Madonna uses when in town. Twice the size of my apartment, it was certainly luxurious, with a great view, massive bathtub, and adjoining rooms for her entourage. Still, it was a hotel room, and like every hotel room, consisted primarily of a bed, a bathroom, and an overpriced snack bar. The best thing about staying in the celebrity hotels below is realizing these heralded media titans are just like us, looking for a clean bathroom and a comfortable place to rest. Here are some popular celebrity hotels in Canada.
During my speaking tour, I was upgraded to the Prime Minister’s Suite at the iconic Fairmont Chateau Laurier, overlooking the Rideau Canal and Parliament Buildings in Ottawa. Previous guests have included world leaders, movie stars, and musicians like Paul McCartney. The suite itself had a large lounge/meeting room, elegant dining room, kitchen, and adjoining rooms for entourage. None of which impressed my 7-month year old daughter, who refused to sleep more than two hours. Still, I could lie awake and imagine having high-level meetings, deciding the future of trade and politics.
The regal Hotel Le St. James, a landmark in Old Montreal, has long been a celebrity favourite. Each of the 60 guest rooms is different, designed like a luxury apartment with original art, marble bathrooms and goose-down comforters. Celebrities who have stayed at the St James, include Chris Martin from Coldplay, Johnny Depp and The Rolling Stones. Other celebrity favourites in Montreal include the Hotel Vogue (George Clooney, Brad Pitt), Hotel Le St Germain (Bryan Adams) and Hotel St Paul (Cate Blanchett).
Built in 1913, the grand Fort Garry Hotel has seen its fair share of celebrities over the years, including Louis Armstrong, Liberace, and Lawrence Olivier. Particularly loyal is Winnipeg songstress Chantal Kreviazuk, who once worked at the hotel and can sometimes be heard playing its grand piano. The Fairmont Winnipeg sees a steady flow of celebrities, hosting many rock stars who perform at the nearby MTS Centre. Staff are trained to be extra discrete at shepherding guests like Justin Bieber in and out the hotel with as little fuss as possible.
The Toronto International Film Festival has become an A-lister magnet, and with the red carpets and swanky cocktail parties come the hotels to accommodate them. A longtime celeb favourite is Yorkville’s Hazelton. It’s spacious 77 rooms include catered private dining, TV’s in the bathroom, and a state-of-the-art private screening room for industry execs. Past guests include Bill Murray, Madonna Jon Hamm and Bono. Another celebrity hotspot is the Thompson Hotel on Wellington and Bathurst, with its nightclub-like lobby and scenic rooftop bar. Other hotels popular with visiting celebrities are the Windsor Arms, the Ritz Carlton, and the sexy SoHo Metropolitan.
North America’s biggest ski resort attracts the biggest stars, who beeline for the best hotels in the village. Previous guests at Fairmont’s Chateau Whistler include Pierce Brosnan, Justin Timberlake, Susan Sarandon, and Halle Berry. Just up the road, the fabulous Four Seasons has hosted Aussie superstars Hugh Jackman and Eric Bana, Cameron Diaz, Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn. Both hotels offer first class service, dining, spas, and easy access to the gondolas. Best of all, with all their ski gear, celebrities can enjoy the mountain largely unnoticed.
Ron Joyce, a co-founder of Tim Hortons, had a dream to revitalize the Northumberland coast with a lavish, exclusive luxury golf resort. Fox Harb’r Golf Resort and Spa has 12 manor-style guesthouses overlooking a spectacular Graham Cooke-designed 18-hole course that has seen the likes of Bill Clinton, Charles Barkley, and Tiger Woods swing down the fairways. Fine dining, a decadent spa, summer marine, full service runway and five star guest amenities has helped Joyce realize his dream.
Banff National Park
For many visitors to Canada, the Albertan Rockies have long been the star attraction. The two iconic hotels in the region, Fairmont’s Banff Springs and Chateau Lake Louise, have seen their fair share of celebrities, royalty and heads of state. From silent film stars like Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks to Alec Baldwin, Catherine Zeta Jones, Michael Douglas, Vince Vaughn and Jim Carrey, these grand mountain fortresses are landmarks in themselves. I always love visiting. For a turn of pace, there’s Lake Louise Resort’s rustic Skoki Lodge, where Prince William and Kate spent a night during their first visit to Canada. But of course, you already knew that from reading my book!
With its booming film industry, Vancouverites have become accustomed to seeing celebrities. Their choice of abode ranges from the more formal Four Seasons Hotel, to The Opus, a trendy Yaletown boutique hotel that has hosted the likes of Cher, Al Pacino, REM and Reese Witherspoon. A longtime celebrity favourite is the Sutton Place Hotel, where celebrities can often be seen nursing a cocktail with an agent in the dark-lit Gerard Lounge. The hotel offers one and two bedroom apartments with fully equipped kitchens so celebrities, like Robert Pattinson, Ben Affleck and Arnold Schwarzenegger, can literally make themselves at home.
St John’s NL
Built during the same two-year period as the Titanic, the 5-star Ryan Mansion recalls that grand era where no expense was spared in the pursuit of opulence. Heated marble floors, flat screen TV’s at the foot of the large cast-iron soaker tubs, designer furnishings, fireplaces and original art, even the grand staircase Located in the historic heart of downtown St John’s, this 11-room luxury hotel hosted the 2009 Royal Visit, along with visiting celebs and dignitaries. No word if they ordered the Titanic-themed menu, based on the actual last meal served on the doomed voyage.
The capital of the Northwest Territories might seem isolated, but it still attracts its fair share of celebrities and dignitaries, as both a provincial capital, base for filming shows (like the smash hit Ice Pilots NWT) and a launch pad to luxury remote fishing lodges. The city’s premiere hotel is the Explorer Hotel, which has hosted the likes of Leonard Nimoy, Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickenson, Rick Mercer, Brian Mulroney, and Royal visits from Prince William and Kate and even the Queen herself.
Vancouverite Ryan Reynolds caused waves when he held his high profile wedding to Scarlett Johansson at the luxurious yet distinctly West Coast Clayoquot Wilderness Resort. Only accessible by floatplane or boat, the resort’s privacy, and romantic beauty attracts celebrities and high profile guests. Unfortunately the Reynolds/Johannson union lasted just two years. Tofino’s award-winning Wickanninish Inn is another celebrity favourite, located on Chesterman beach, with five-star dining at The Pointe Restaurant, and panoramic views of the Pacific. The King Pacific Lodge, featured in my book, has attracted guests like Kevin Costner, renowned violinist Eugenia Choi and various NHL stars. Unfortunately, they filed for bankruptcy in 2013.