A Guide to Getting Wet in Toronto Hotels - by Ninjalicious
The Basics of Hotel Exploration
TWO STAR **
Two star hotels offer relatively little to the urban explorer, except perhaps convenience and ease-of-access. Essentially, these are the hotels to use as back ups when you can't do any better.
Marriot Eaton Centre - 525 Bay St.
Town Inn - 620 Church St.
Westin Prince - 900 York Mills Rd.
THREE STAR ***
Three star hotels attempt to be classy, but some small forgotten detail always gives them away and shows them not to be true luxury hotels. Still, three star hotels offer the explorer at least three forms of year-round recreation, and generally provide towels.
Clarion Essex Park - 300 Jarvis St.
Metropolitan Chestnut Park - 108 Chestnut St.
Novotel - 45 The Esplanade
SkyDome Hotel - 1 Blue Jays Way
Toronto Colony - 89 Chestnut St.
FOUR STAR ****
Four star hotels are true luxury hotels. Though generally kept locked up and/or supervised, their recreation centres are always worth the effort. Four-star hotels go out of their way to pamper the urban explorer, providing many forms of year-round recreation, big fluffy towels, and usually even some light snacks.
Crowne Plaza - 225 Front St. W.
Royal York - 100 Front St. W.
Sheraton Centre - 123 Queen St. W.
Sheraton East - 2035 Kennedy Rd.
Westin Harbour Castle - 1 Harbour Sq.
FIVE STAR *****
These are the best of the best - they provide opulence, beauty and comfort, and a wide variety of pleasures. These places get repeat business.
Delta Chelsea - 33 Gerrard St. W.
Hotel Inter-Continental - 220 Bloor St. W.
For pure decadence, no other hotel in the city can touch the Four Seasons. Unfortunately, with opulence comes observation. There is plenty of surveillance here - a camera supervising every elevator bank, a camera guarding the entrance to the fitness area, and a pivoting camera sweeping its soulless gaze over the entire pool deck. There's no point in trying to avoid the cameras because it can't be done. In its own way, this overabundance of cameras is a good thing, for the hotel staff operate under the impression that the cameras will keep the unwanted away. In reality, the hotel and all its many treasures are wide open to anyone with enough bravery or acting talent to avoid flinching on camera.
The best tactic to take at the Four Seasons is to stash your backpack somewhere, borrow a hotel towel from a cleaning cart or a supply closet, and then brazenly walk past all the cameras and all the staff straight into the pool changeroom. If you're confident that you know exactly what you're doing, they will be too, and no-one will have a chance to shoot you a second look until you've already changed into your bathing suit and showered. Half-naked wet folk all look equally casual, so there is less chance of appearing out of place. Furthermore, wet people aren't very threatening, so there is a greater chance of simply being dismissed as harmless.
The Four Seasons facilities are absolutely five-star: a large indoor/outdoor pool, a deep whirlpool surrounded by mirrored walls, and segregated steam saunas in the changerooms. The changerooms are luxury itself, providing every variety of head condiment available, as well as fully-stocked individual shower stalls and an automatic shoe polisher. An automatic suit dryer is also provided, and a helpful staff member was even so kind as to offer me a plastic Four Seasons bag in which to carry my wet bathing suit (a wonderful credibility prop to use on my next visit).
Stuff You Shouldn't Take
A person without a conscience could truly live like a parasite off the rich. To list all the stuff that's free for the taking from Toronto-area hotels, I'd have to considerably enlarge this zine. On top of all the office supplies and small electronics lying around in the convention rooms, luxury hotels make it simple to pick up toiletry items, linens, bedding, comfortable hotel bathrobes, and an entire rainbow of fluffy towels. You won't even look suspicious walking out of the hotel carrying a couple of suitcases!
It's never difficult to find some basic drinks and snacks in a luxury hotel. Convention rooms and kitchens are left unlocked more often than not. Of course, the truly daring (and truly amoral) need not limit themselves to the hotel's leftovers. Most luxury hotels have at least one fancy restaurant that allows its customers to bill food to their room. To get the needed information, head up to the recreation centre and grab a victim's name and room number from the pool or exercise room sign-in book and then charge all sorts of goods and services in the victim's name. If an employee is suspicious enough to look up your name and room number on a hotel computer, he or she will immediately see that all is in order. Be aware, though, that customers who opt to pre-pay for their room are not allowed to bill anything to their rooms, and that if you choose the wrong name from the recreation centre logbook you may get stuck with the bill.
Hotels Not Covered
These hotels were playtested but their recreation facilities were found to be either non-existent or unworthy of our readership for one reason or another: Best Western Primrose Hotel, Bond Place Hotel, Cambridge Suites, Days Inn Downtown, Holiday Inn On King, Hotel Plaza II, Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel, King Edward Hotel, Park Plaza Hotel, Radisson Plaza Admiral.
These hotels remained terra incognita at press time: Best Western Roehampton, Camberley Club Hotel, Comfort Hotel Downtown, Hotel Selby, Quality Hotel, Sutton Place Hotel.
This article originally appeared in Infiltration 6 (October 1997), accompanied by further pictures, maps and sidebars, and an article on a three-day blitz of luxury leeching in Dallas, Texas.Ninjalicious.