Christmas can often be a stressful time – running around trying to find that special gift, arranging meals, getting the kids to school concerts and expecting guests…sometimes you just need to get away. Whether it’s a present for someone or a short getaway for yourself over the holidays, Toronto promises a visit packed with art exhibits, theatre and exciting culinary discoveries. Or just relaxing in a hotel that has excellent dining, a pool, a place for the kids (if you must take them) and a staff that will bend over backwards to serve you.

That’s the Eaton Chelsea on College Street.  I have been going there for years now and always delight in the blend of elegance and comfort I find.  It’s a favourite for families, too, especially with the Corkscrew slide for kids, big and little. It’s accessibility to the subway is also good to factor in when looking for a hotel. And it’s near the Eaton Centre for that oh, so very important shopping.

Recently renovated, the hotel, the largest in Canada, is a wonderful blend of contemporary design with good old-fashioned service. The rooms are comfortable and spacious and the very attentive staff can arrange those theatre or museum bookings if you wish to leave the comfort of the hotel.

It also has some pretty exciting places to eat: Bb 33 for elegant dining in a relaxed setting. For lunch, T/Bar, where I discovered the best Indian Curry buffet in town. (You also get a pretty mean Caesar there!) Or the Market Garden, where you can pick and choose whatever you want, buffet style. There’s also the pub grub at Monarchs...with some exciting nightlife!  In other words, there’s something for every appetite at the Eaton Chelsea. The hotel also features a pool, the Club 33 Teen Lounge for young adults and the Kid Centre. You really don’t need to leave the premises for food or fun! It’s all right there at your fingertips!

On now, right in time for the holidays and all that shopping you have to do, The Eaton Chelsea is featuring a holiday special ‘Shop ‘n Stay‘ from $129 per night with discounted parking. You simply can’t go wrong!

Photo courtesy of Mirvish Productions

Photo courtesy of Mirvish Productions

If you do wish to venture out…There’s plenty to do in Toronto. (When you’re not shopping!) Especially Theatre – Set to open on Broadway in the New Year, Les Miserables has been recreated in Toronto for the 50th anniversary of the show. It was produced, once again, by Cameron MacIntosh (producer of the three longest running musicals in history – Phantom of the Opera, Cats and Les Miserables).

Those who saw Les Miserables ‘way back when’ are in for a theatrical revelation. This new production is the most moving two hours and fifty minutes I have ever spent watching a musical. It is an emotional experience that will have your ears and eyes riveted to the stage whether you have seen it before or not.  It will live with you long after the show ends. It is a must see, especially if you have seen it before, because it will take you to new heights in scenic creativity and staging. It also features an excellent cast. Les Miz is on at The Princess of Wales Theatre until February 2, then moves on to Broadway.

What better way to cap off your evening than with an intimate dinner. Grace is a small treasure nestled on College St., simply decorated and very comfortable. It offers up a choice of “contemporary styled menus mixed with traditional flavours”. There was little ‘traditional’ about the Savoy Cabbage appetizer I experienced. It was divine…with sunchokes, walnuts, quince and gorgonzola, followed by Late Harvest Canneloni with daikon, fennel, arugula, caramelized mushrooms, and radish top pesto. Grace is truly Amazing – a treat for the gourmet or gourmand.


Courtesy Grace

Courtesy Grace

Continuing on in an Arts&Culture mode, a new exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario is The Great Upheaval: Masterpieces from the Guggenheim Collection, 1910-1918. It is a truly exciting collection of works showcasing art produced in Europe prior to and during the First World War.  All the pieces are from the collection of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, featuring Marc Chagall, Marcel Duchamp, Henri Matisse, and Pablo Picasso to name but a few. The exhibit focuses on the tumultuous years that featured new movements of expressionism, futurism and cubism. A must for historians and art lovers alike. On until March 2, 2014.

Something a little different, but touches us all. The Gardiner Museum is featuring a ceramic exhibit called Animal Stories. Don’t be misguided by the name of the exhibit – it is geared to adults who would relish being taken on a delightful journey back to their childhood. Relish it I did! It becomes very clear how much animals, one way or another, affect our lives with the affectionate relationships we develop with them over the years. The exhibit covers the 17th century to the present day, featuring Japanese and Chinese porcelain, English and European ceramics and the work of many present day artists. On until January 12, 2014.

One last mention must be to Second City Holiday – with no miracles promised! For those who love a giggle and laugh and need to shake off some holiday stress, this is an irreverent evening of sketches and improvisation that will give you a satirical look at the holidays. Much stuff and nonsense will be provided with “twinkling lights and spinning dreidels”. On until January 1, 2014.







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