Get Your Holiday On

Still searching for a place to stage this year’s festive celebrations? Never fear. The Grinch has not stolen the Christmas party yet!

There are lots of options out there, especially if you’re willing to work with a location’s off-peak availability. For example, a luncheon instead of an evening gathering, which is easier on the catering budget, too. Check out the potential for a private booking on a venue’s dark days. Or ask about group-hosting in a private room, semi-private area or as a time-set take-over before the venue opens to public reservations.

Here are a few spaces that offer terrific hosting backdrops – holiday or otherwise:

LobbyLobbyTropical Oasis

Where: Lobby, 1032 Queen St. W

Vibe: Lush. Mysteriously exotic. Upscale cocktails.

The Space: A jungle-embraced Mexican beach-resort town on the Mayan Riviera is the design inspiration for this new lounge. Latin-American influences show up on the small plates menu, too. A stunning ceiling canopy of verdant ferns and leafy palm fronds grace the large open space, instantly dissolving any thoughts of winter. Plush booths rim the perimeter, and arched mirrors back the long bar. Walls are awash in a melange of subtle sunset-sky hues, and in-house lighting is programmable to many colours. A back-of-house mezzanine is perfect for group hosting or a VIP area.

Perfect Because: How cool is it to send a holiday invite that says “Welcome to the jungle?” Lobby is also offering a free prosecco toast to all new events that book during the holiday season.

Capacity: Total capacity, 130 reception-style; Mezzanine, 40 people

Igloo-dining-at-InterContinental-Toronto-YorkvilleInterContinental Toronto Yorkville

Patio Option

Where: InterContinental Toronto Yorkville, 220 Bloor St. W

Vibe: Unique winter experience. Outdoor immersive. One-of-a-kind dining space.

The Space: Igloos are back on the hotel’s Proof patio, Nov. 21, 2019 to March 31, 2020. Gather in one of three heated, cozily furnished, transparent domes for uniquely intimate hosting. At night, the igloos glow in warm colours, surrounded by the patio’s fairy lights. Snow makes it all absolutely magical! Pair up an indoor reception in the Proof bar, or a sit-down in Signatures restaurant, a bright, light room with plush booths, large group dining tables and a private dining room. There are also nine meeting and event spaces on the hotel’s mezzanine level with windows overlooking Bloor Street.

Perfect Because: You can sip cocktails in downtown Toronto, in the middle of winter, outside, in an igloo! Located on the city’s Mink Mile, the festive lights and holiday displays of the neighbourhood set the mood at the door.

Capacity: Igloos, two seating 6 guests, one seating 4; Proof bar, 130 and Proof summer patio, 150; Signatures, 80 with a 6-seat private dining room; Various meeting-event rooms, seating 150 guests to 8

Reign-Restaurant-and-Bar-at-the-Fairmount-Royal-YorkReign at Fairmount Royal York

 Hotel Icon

Where: Fairmount Royal York, 100 Front St. W

Vibe: Timeless elegance. VIP sophistication. Nostalgic heritage.

The Space: This five-star Grand Dame celebrates its 90-year history of hosting royalty and Hollywood-in-Canada parties and all-star fundraisers with fresh new event options. Reign is the hotel’s new signature restaurant and lounge-bar. Deep walnut wood accents, grand piano and a curated art collection give the space an upscale English manor ambience. The lavish main dining room partitions easily, plus there are two private dining spaces. Enjoy pre-reception drinks in Clockwork, the new lobby bar, where the aesthetic is a nod to the hotel’s role in the golden-age of rail travel. Champagne and swank cocktails are on the menu. Four new meeting-event spaces just opened on the hotel’s lobby level. Ranging in square footage from just over 1,000 to about 1,300, all are named after famous Canadian rivers.

Festive Allure: Not only does the hotel deck the halls with gorgeous décor, but festive is top-of-mind on menus, including a special holiday high tea in the esteemed Library Bar, seasonal cocktails, and several holiday perks for guests and event planners.

Capacity: Reign, 100 in main dining room, 50 in the lounge, and two private dining rooms seating 10-12; A wide assortment of meeting-event spaces accommodating from over 1,000 guests to 20, reception style


Culturally Immersive

Where: Dasha, 620 King St. W

Vibe: Upscale Shanghai. Extraordinary cocktails. Awesome karaoke.

The Space: Sprawling at 9,000-sq.-ft., this two-story tribute to Chinese cuisine from Michelin Star Chef Akira Back is exquisite. Décor is stunning, with a unique spiral staircase dividing the dining room over two floors. Neon signage, art, furnishings and accents recreate an elevated street scene from Hong Kong or Shanghai. Different seating styles accommodate various party sizes and great open-kitchen views. A private dining area overlooks the main floor. Special events can take over Judy’s, a Chinese speakeasy-style space, which has its own bar, private entrance and sound system. The second floor is also home to five themed karaoke rooms, serving shareable snacks presented in Chinese take-out boxes.

Perfect Because: It’s one of the hottest restos in town. Holiday party RSVPs will skyrocket! And, let’s not get started on the siren call of karaoke.

Capacity: Main dining room, 140; Judy’s, 70; Karaoke rooms, 5 accommodating 10 people in each


A Favourite Re-invented

Where: Xango, 461 King St. W

Vibe: Spacious. Eclectic. Exposed brick and wood-and-beam beauty.

The Space: The dynamic duo of Chef Claudio Aprile and Liberty Entertainment Group have transformed the fab event-hosting space of what was Brassai with a full makeover and a Nikkei-inspired menu fusing Japanese-Peruvian ingredients and flavours. The result is vibrant with a playful, natural raw beauty, colourful artwork and custom fixtures, including lighting. Arcane, the main dining room, is impressive. The lounge features its own bar and banquette booths. A 14-ft. live-edge table graces the private dining space.

Perfect Because: The aesthetic and food is on-point. It offers buy-out, group dining to private hosting options. Arcane’s dining room also boasts a 4K screen backdrop spanning 30 feet that’s content customizable.

Capacity: Arcane main dining room, 200 reception-style; Lounge, 140-reception style; Private dining room, 20 seated

Simon-Says-nightclubSimon Says

Stylish Club

Where: Simon Says, 550 Queen St. W

Vibe: South-beach glamour. Design-centric. Chill DJs.

The Space: It starts with an unmarked street entrance, up a few stairs and into an elongated room with banquette booths. Black and white is the mainstay palette, including floor tiles, for an art deco touch. A mix of vintage and modern furnishings make an eclectic combo. There are nine banquettes throughout. Striking are colour pops of pink accents, house lighting, and panels of leafy-patterned Versace wallpaper interspersed with foliage walls throughout the venue. Two other areas offer semi-private and private group hosting. The semi-private’s floor-to-ceiling windows deliver a one-way peek onto the streetscape.

Perfect Because: A holiday-themed game of “Simon Says” may be in order as a fun ice-breaker. Also, a millennials-and-younger guest list will be eager to check out the latest on the nightclub scene.

Capacity: Total capacity, 175; Main lounge, 120; Side area and private room, 55


Karen Orme

Editor at TSEvents

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