Once a city with a noticeable dearth of spa culture, Toronto pamper hounds will be pleased at the arrival of the Miraj Hammam Spa by Caudalie Paris at the new Shangri-La Hotel Toronto. A serene oasis on the fifth floor of the much-buzzed hotel, Miraj Hammam is a shrine to submissive relaxation. One hardly lifts a finger here; the spa attendant even offers to comb out the tangles in my wet hair, likely horrified by my machete-like hack job. If you wish to kiss your cares goodbye, take a lesson from Caudalie, a global leader in vinothérapie – think intoxicating treatments like the signature crushed cabernet scrub, honey and wine body wrap, the premier cru facial treatment.
Oenophiles rejoice! With a lineup that reads like a Bacchanalian feast, this spa touts the humble grape pip as an effective agent in repairing skin damage caused by sun exposure, chemicals and pollution. Many treatments here boast extracts to "refine" and "slim," so all you have to do is lie still, no biggie. You can't beat this place for pure, unashamed sloth.
On learning that the new Shangri-La would not be bringing its signature Chi spa brand to Toronto, I must admit I was gutted. Not even news of Momofuku could salve the sting. Now having enjoyed an afternoon at Miraj Hammam, the collective talents of the staff won me over. Prim attendants in smart Merlot-hued waistcoats and ever higher hair buns run the venue like a well-oiled machine. Ever mindful ladies magically appear with platters of mint tea and pistachio honey cakes – a big hit with spagoers tired of the same old bowl of banana chips. While service is top notch, style points fall short. The Moroccan decor goes for a sultan's boudoir vibe – but it's by way of a SkyMall catalogue. Disappointing, especially when compared to the coherent aesthetic of Shangri-La's Chi spas worldwide. Or it could just be the lighting. In a design arena where soothing ambience is key, halogen pot lighting is not your friend.
The new Shangri-La Toronto, in all its gilded, raw-silk glory, is a game changer in the city's luxury category, attracting the likes of Halle Berry, Tom Hanks, Ben Affleck and Susan Sarandon. Offering an urban sensuality and romance unseen at any other downtown player, the spa hosts the city's best couples treatments. The interior design in the couples' suite is bang on and spectacular. Make it a weekend of hedonism: Check in for the cheekily dubbed Destination Casablanca treatment, chase it with dinner at Bosk (the hotel's main restaurant) then collapse in sweet contentment in the most sublime bed linens in town.
Shangri-La Hotel Toronto, 188 University Ave., Toronto, Ont., 647-788-8888, shangri-la.com/toronto