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Four Seasons Hotel Toronto review: feels shiny and new, plus free Wi-Fi purrs along

Hotel Wi-Fi is changing. What was once an add-on is increasingly viewed by guests as a utility – and like water or electricity, it is not something they want to see tacked on to their hotel bill.

In line with this trend, the Four Seasons hotel chain announced in late October that its hotels in most of the world would henceforth have free Wi-Fi from foyer to penthouse. While business travellers will be glad for one less expense, the question arises: is the free Wi-Fi good Wi-Fi?

Judging by a recent stay at the chain’s flagship, the Four Seasons Hotel Toronto, the answer is yes.

The Wi-Fi was fast and reliable all through a two-day stay. In late 2014 the Four Seasons flagship more than doubled its Wi-Fi speed to 1.5 megabytes per second throughout the building. The system is open (no password) and allows for multiple devices.

This gives the Four Seasons a competitive advantage over some, but not all, of its competitors in downtown Toronto. The Shangri-La likewise has free Wi-Fi, but the Hilton charges C$14.95 (Dh39) a day. At the Sheraton, it’s free if you book on the parent company’s website but C$14.95 if you book elsewhere.

The Four Seasons flagship, in the posh yet villagey Yorkville enclave, opened in October 2012. Its predecessor, only a block away, was getting long in the tooth. The new hotel was built from scratch and still feels shiny and new.

I stayed on the 18th floor in a 48-square-metre Premier Room that looked north over the city; rates start at C$565 (Dh1498). A Superior Room (same layout, lower floor) starts at C$485 (prices are before 13 per cent sales tax and 3 per cent marketing fee).

The room had a large bathroom with stand-alone tub, a desk with a power bar for multiple devices, and a crescent couch suitable for entertaining a guest or two. An in-room printer is available on request. Otherwise, you can ask the concierge to print your papers for you, or you can go to the 24-hour business centre on the second floor, with two cubicles.

The bed was excellent — firm mattress, fluffy pillows, fluffy duvet.

Q&A

How are the amenities at the Yorkville location?

The gym is pretty good – more than a dozen machines for cardio and about the same for weights, plus it has natural light. The business centre is simple but gets the job done (about 60 per cent of the location’s guests are business travellers). The gift shop had an C$80 tuque (knitted cap).

Restaurants?

The French brasserie, Café Boulud, is a highlight. Its rotisserie chicken is highly recommended – super moist. And the prices were reasonable (see top 5 list at left).

How was the hotel’s service?

It reflected the city – multi-ethnic and friendly. But it was different from the service one becomes accustomed to in the Middle East – it felt less like I was being served and more like a peer was providing a service to me, if that makes sense. Also, the number of staff on hand was not as plentiful as one would expect in the Middle East. Writ large, the Four Seasons conveyed its country’s egalitarian ideals.

What are the Four Seasons locations in the UAE?

The chain is growing here. It opened a Jumeirah Beach location in November 2014. Scheduled to open in 2016 are properties at DIFC and Abu Dhabi’s Al Maryah Island.

Oh, and where is the free Wi-Fi offer not valid?

In India and China, for regulatory reasons. And in some of the chain’s more exotic locations, for exotic-location reasons.

* The writer was a guest of Four Seasons.

rmckenzie@thenational.aeFollow The National’s Business section on Twitter

Updated: January 3, 2016 04:00 AM

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