'Handmaid's Tale' Star Breaks Down Her Insider Guide to Toronto
Actress Amanda Brugel reveals her favorite spots to eat, drink, shop and unwind: "It’s such a place of community, inclusion and acceptance."
Amanda Brugel loves Toronto. The Canadian-born actress — best known for her work on Hulu's Emmy-winning drama series The Handmaid's Tale — is pretty much an expert on the city, having lived, worked, studied and filmed her hit Hulu series in the Ontario capital. "You can walk for 10 minutes and see 15 different nationalities all existing in the same space. It's welcoming to all religious beliefs, genders, sexual preferences, everything. I've never been anywhere in the world like it," says Brugel, who shares with The Hollywood Reporter her favorite spots to eat, shop, sleep — and throw axes.
The Keating Channel Pub & Grill
2 Villiers St., Toronto
"I love this cheap and cheerful suggestion that was my father's favorite restaurant. It's on the Don River near the District, and it's a crazy mix of grungy pub with a great, Amsterdam vibe. You get a lot for your money. I always order a cool, 9-ounce glass of chardonnay."
AFTERNOON HIGH TEA
High Tea at Shangri-La Hotel
188 University Ave., Toronto
"High tea is always lovely and is sort of my jam. I love it here because it's eclectic and there is tea — my favorite is peppermint — little sandwiches and a variety of live entertainment, like piano or jazz. There is always a who's who of Toronto walking in, so you can just people-watch."
33 Villiers St., Toronto
"Spas and facials are amazing, but I'm quite athletic, so when I really want to relax I like to throw axes. It's so great because you can bring a group of friends. It's much more physical than you anticipate, so it provides such a release when you get your body moving. Beware: It's highly competitive, and if you get a chance to throw the big ax, it's the best night of your life."
Bisha Hotel Toronto
80 Blue Jays Way, Toronto
"This is for a sexy night with your boo. As soon as you walk in, you see black velvet wallpaper in the lobby. There's a great bar, and the rooms are modern and spacious with low light, so everyone looks good from all angles. I find it incredibly sexy, and it's the heart of downtown. You can pop out and walk around the neighborhood to grab brunch the next day. It's hidden but just around the corner from all the action."
LOW-KEY, SCENE-FREE STAY
1214 Queen St. W, Toronto
"When I was in university in Toronto, this was the seediest, scariest place I had ever been to in my life. Not anymore! It's been revamped and there are cool rooms with a sort of '60s vibe. The restaurant is also great. I love the breakfast and anything that comes with truffles. It's just chill and nice with a very easy, cool vibe. During TIFF, I tend to stay here because it feels more sane and less see-and-be-seen, yet it's right in the center of all the chaos."
A village of refurbished Victorian industrial buildings, the Distillery District features one-of-a-kind stores, shops, galleries, restaurants and theaters. "It's like a small town right in the middle of this huge city. They have a Christmas market that is one of the biggest in North America. I'm a Christmas psychopath — I have four trees every year — and I love it not only for the fashion but for interesting gifts and cool ornaments. There are also gorgeous art studios and the artists are on-site so they can talk to you about their pieces. It's a nice market experience without feeling like you've gone into the woods."
NEIGHBORHOOD EVENING WALK
"I love grabbing an iced coffee when the weather is getting crisp and just going for a walk in this neighborhood, known for its high-end luxury stores. You can pop in to Gucci or Louis Vuitton. It's our Rodeo Drive — Canadian style."
This story first appeared in the Sept. 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.