Travel

Toronto city guide: How to spend a weekend in Meghan Markle’s second home

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Sarah Biddlecombe
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Fancy a visit to Canada’s largest city, which was also Meghan Markle’s home for nearly seven years? stylist.co.uk checks in to discover the places with an (unofficial) Markle seal of approval

Toronto is undoubtedly a special city for Meghan Markle. As her adopted second home, it played host to the rise of her acting career, as well as her growing romance with Prince Harry. It was also the place where the soon-to-be royal couple made their first (and much hyped) public engagement, when they broke royal protocol by heading hand-in-hand to the Invictus Games in September last year.

Markle, who was born in LA, first moved to Toronto in 2011 when she was given the role of Rachel Zane in legal drama Suits. The show propelled her from a relatively unknown actress to a household name, and she filmed in the city for seven seasons, living in rental properties for nine months of every year. When she first moved to Toronto, Suits wasn’t even airing in the city, and she said she spent her first few years there going to “Moksha [yoga studio] downtown and trolling for girlfriends”.

As the show grew in popularity and eventually snagged a deal with Netflix, Markle said she had to “get used to being famous so far from my support and comfort systems” – an experience that will undoubtedly hold her in good stead now she has moved across the pond to start a new, and highly public, life as a member of the royal family.

Meghan Markle as Rachel Zane in Suits

Even though she has now left Suits and moved out of her most recent rental property in Toronto, the city will always be linked to Markle – as will the shops, parks, restaurants and fitness studios that she frequented during her time there. After all, Markle regularly showcased her favourite Toronto hot spots on both her Instagram account (since shut down as members of the royal family are famously banned from social media) and much-loved lifestyle blog, The Tig (also shut down), making them must-visit locations for anyone planning a trip to Canada’s largest city.

To celebrate the royal wedding, stylist.co.uk headed to Toronto to check out the aforementioned spots and offer you an edit of some of the best locations to visit on a trip to the city – all with an (unofficial) Meghan Markle seal of approval.

Stay at The Fairmont Royal York Hotel

The Fairmont Royal York

This luxurious hotel is the ultimate place to stay in Toronto. Located downtown, it is on the doorstep of some of the city’s best attractions, including the famous CN Tower, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, the Air Canada Centre and the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts.

Having just undergone a cool multi-million pound guestroom renovation project, the hotel now offers a clutch of luxury and signature rooms spread across 11 floors, marrying contemporary touches such as brand new HDTVs in every room with the traditionally regal elegance the historical location is known for. As part of the project, the hotel’s pool and exercise suite were also upgraded, with the shiny new health club offering state-of-the-art exercise equipment as well as steam and sauna facilities and – of course – a whole range of massage services for those who need to unwind.

The fully renovated pool area

The hotel also has impressive links with the royal family, and has played host to various members of the monarchy, including Queen Elizabeth II, since 1930. It was Prince Harry’s hotel of choice when he visited Toronto for the Invictus Games and his first public appearance with Meghan, and she also filmed numerous scenes for Suits in various rooms and locations around the hotel.

One of the hotel’s gorgeous suites

Plus, for the month of May, the hotel will also be pulling out all the stops to celebrate the royal wedding, from a sumptuous Royal Romance Afternoon Tea featuring a carefully selected menu, to an incredible floral display in the hotel lobby and fascinating celebratory front street windows, telling the story of the hotel and explaining its links to the royals.

If it’s good enough for the royal family…

Prices start from $409 per night for a signature guest bedroom. Book here

Breakfast at Blackbird Baking Co.

Blackbird Baking Co. is an unassuming spot in Toronto’s famed Kensington Market, renowned for selling cool vintage clothes and homewares. Grab a coffee and freshly baked pastry in this tiny store or treat yourself to one of Markle’s favourite loaves – the red fife and sourdough. 

Owner Simon Blackwell told Vogue that Markle loves the bread because it is “100% organic, flavourful, healthy and digestion-friendly”. Try it for yourself and see - she’s also reportedly a fan of the bread’s delicious aroma, something we certainly enjoyed when we visited the bakery ourselves.

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Hang out at Terroni Queen

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Terroni is a hugely popular series of Southern Italian restaurants and food emporiums, with six locations across Toronto and two bases in LA. Visitors can pop in for a sweet treat, such a freshly baked Nutella donut, or grab an authentic thin-crust pizza. You can also browse the range of homewares and cooking accessories, including excellent homemade pasta sauces.

One of the establishment’s main attractions is its red chillies in oil (pepperoncini piccanti) which were praised by Markle in Vogue. Try them in a dish à la Ms Markle herself: she has said she loves them in “a massive plate of pasta with a gorgeous ragù and a noodle you can twirl, like pappardelle.”

If you can’t get to Toronto to sample a taste of them yourself, you can order a jar online here. You’re welcome.

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Lunch at Fika Cafe

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Hygge-style décor meets Scandinavian food in this unique little café in Kensington Market, which was known for being one of Markle’s favourite hangout spots. If its sunny, grab an iced coffee and relax on the outdoor patio, or order one of the delicate and beautifully presented salads or sandwiches, freshly prepared in-house. And of course, whatever you order, polish off your meal with a traditional Swedish cinnamon bun.

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Walk through Bellwoods Park

Markle was frequently spotted walking her rescue dogs, Bogart and Guy, through this large park, located in the trendy West Queens West art and design district of Toronto. It’s also famed for its white squirrels – if you have time, grab a drink from the appropriately named White Squirrel Coffee Shop on the park’s perimeter.

Dinner at The Drake Hotel restaurant

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The Drake Hotel’s restaurant and bar is undoubtedly one of Toronto’s coolest hangouts, serving everything from wildly popular brunches by day to contemporary cocktails by night. Visitors can browse the hotel’s ever-changing art exhibitions and soak in the eclectic vibes offered by the locally commissioned décor.

The establishment is rumoured to be visited by many a famous face, but management puts an emphasis on privacy, meaning pap shots of A-listers going in and out of its doors are practically non-existent. While there is therefore no proof that Meghan visited the hotel during her time there, she was spotted shopping in The Drake General Store across from the hotel, and frequently visited its smaller-scale restaurant and bar, the Drake One Fifty, located in the financial district.

See more information here

Images: Dan Newman, Getty