Celebrity-Spotting at the Toronto Film Festival

purplepick, flickr

Toronto becomes the hottest city in North America for serious stargazing every September when the Toronto International Film Festival blows into town.The movie world flocks the streetscapes of Canada's buzzing metropolis for the TIFF (as it's known to locals) for red-carpet premiers, galas, and parties that take place around town. Everyone who is anyone will be in attendance -- from Hollywood megastars to international starlets to local filmmakers.

The 2010 Toronto Film Festival runs from September 9-19 and will feature movies by renowned filmmakers such as Robert Redford and Woody Allen, and others starring Edward Norton, Robert De Niro, and Clive Owen. These superstars, and many more, are expected to show up for the movie-related hullabaloo. For those on this side of the velvet rope, we've got the lowdown on the places the rich and famous like to frequent. Read on for the best hotels in Toronto to check into and the restaurants and bars where the stars will go to dine and unwind, including brand-new spots opening just in time for the festival. Don't forget to pack your camera, and your autograph book.


Drake Hotel
This contemporary boutique hotel is a darling of the artsy set, so hanging out at the Drake is a sure-fire way to rub shoulders with Hollywood's elite. Linger by the terrazzo staircase in the lobby for an easy way to stargaze; grab a coffee and croissant at the Corner Café; or lunch in the Drake Dining Room. Even better, come at night for a tipple at the star-studded Sky Ward rooftop patio and order an Annie Hall or a Dr. Strangelove from the TIFF Open Call cocktail menu.
Celebrities spotted: Heather Graham, Woody Harrelson, Nick Nolte, Mick Jagger, Justin Timberlake

The Fairmont Royal York
This grand hotel isn't just a stargazing hotspot; it's the place to catch celebrities in action. Walk in and you may find yourself in the midst of a movie set. The Fairmont has welcomed film crews since 1999 when the first movie was shot on its premises. Order the Festival Buzz signature drink at the Library Bar, with Moët Champagne and honey from the hive on the hotel's rooftop. Sit by the entrance for the best view of who's coming and going.
Celebrities spotted: Julianne Moore, Richard Gere, Hilary Swank, Drew Barrymore, Antonio Banderas, Mira Sorvino

Four Seasons Hotel Toronto
This festival standby offers what stars want the most-discreet service, top perks, and luxurious guestrooms. Which makes it prime star-spotting territory. Grab a table at the Lobby Bar, the bright atrium where stars love to unwind, or a libation or two at the stylish Avenue.
Celebrities spotted: Freddy Rodriguez, Orlando Bloom, Anthony Hopkins, Viggo Mortensen, Jodie Foster

The Hazelton Hotel

Sexy and dazzling, this Yabu Pushelberg-designed retreat is where Hollywood's high-ranking stars get ready for the red-carpet action, strike deals, and unwind after the hubbub. Book a table on the patio at ONE, A-lister central during Toronto Film Festival where celebs come to savor dishes by Toronto's super-chef Mark McEwan. Don't miss the butter-braised lobster spoons, which are to-die-for, and then head to the cocktail bar for hobnobbing over the signature ONE Sangria.
Celebrities spotted: Jennifer Aniston, Tom Cruise, Robert Redford, Diane Kruger, Joshua Jackson

Hyatt Regency Toronto on King

Just unveiled in its swanky new incarnation with pizzazz aplenty, the Hyatt Regency Toronto will be the official media center during this year's Toronto International Film Festival. That means all featured producers and actors in the 2010 TIFF line-up will be at the Hyatt at one point or another. We got this confirmed: the cast from Black Swan by Darren Aronofsky, featuring Natalie Portman and Winona Ryder, is expected at the Hyatt for interviews. After the multi-million dollar transformation, the new VIP floor is bound to host many a celebrity, too.

InterContinental Hotel
The lobby at the InterContinental Hotel in Yorkville has been witness to foot traffic from a slew of Hollywood high rollers who descend here for TIFF. Well-practised celebrity stalkers claim InterConti is the most accessible of all the viewing places, with no barriers so the spotting is easy. If you've got cash to splash, book a table at Signatures Mediterranean restaurant or have tapas and cocktails at the chic SkyLounge's outdoor courtyard.
Celebrities spotted: Hilary Duff, Perez Hilton, Tom Cruise, Gwyneth Paltrow

Park Hyatt Toronto
It's saying a lot that this is where Brad Pitt stays. That's enough of a recommendation for us. But if you need more, the 18th-floor Roof Lounge is where to go to see some serious Hollywood action. Martini in hand, suede and leather all around you, you won't know where to look-at the dramatic city skyline or the stars that surround you.
Celebrities spotted: Harrison Ford, Calista Flockhart, Lucy Liu, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie

Sutton Place Hotel
It's the perks of a small luxury hotel like personalized service that make this a discreet stomping ground for a galaxy of Hollywood stars during Toronto Film Festival. Just a few blocks south of Yorkville, you also get a dose of European elegance-rare artwork, antiques, lavish guestrooms, and plenty of privacy. If you're not staying here, a good star-spotting locale is the hotel's ground floor restaurant, Accents.
Celebrities spotted: Nicole Kidman, Tom Cruise, Sean Penn, Gabriel Byrne, Laura Linney


Bistro 990
Touted as Hollywood's home-away-from-home during the Toronto Film Festival, this beloved French bistro showcases vaulted ceilings, tiled floors, French doors, and flawless service. Chef Franco Belvedere conjures up classic bistro mainstays with a Provençal touch, much loved by the visiting celebs that frequently pop in from the plush Sutton Place Hotel across the street.
Celebrities spotted: Salma Hayek, Goldie Hawn, Kurt Russell, Kate Hudson

This restaurant and sake bar is where visiting movie stars come for their sushi fix (Sofia Coppola also had her launch party for Lost in Translation here). Innovative Japanese fusion fare is served up with flair under soaring-high ceilings. The other stars here are the famous makimonos, rolls filled with inventive ingredients. Try the Blue Snow, which has tuna, salmon, mango, and Blue Curaçao. After 11 pm, the place turns into a hopping lounge serving up saketinis.
Celebrities spotted: Jude Law, Scarlett Johansson, Jamie Foxx

This bar, club, and restaurant has the opulent design that's as hot as the clientele - plush white sofas, a lit-up onyx bar counter, and mirrored coffee tables paired with cutting-edge art exhibits. The sleek restaurant dishes out creative comfort food that will soothe you if no stars show up. Try to sneak into the private Champagne gallery where celebs hang out on the lounge banquettes.
Celebrities spotted: Scarlett Johansson, Christina Ricci, Woody Harrelson, Seal, Kim Cattrall

Rosewater Supper Club
A chic air of decadence infuses this former bank. Lots of moolah still remains, of course, as do original details such as 22-foot ceilings with hand-painted mouldings (contemporary touches include a three-story mosaic waterfall). Snag a seat on the intimate mezzanine level of this TIFF mainstay and peer down at the main dining room to gaze at the stars. Food is served and alcohol flows till 4am during the festival.
Celebrities spotted: Dan Aykroyd, Calvin Klein, Sigourney Weaver, Daryl Hannah, Brody Jenner

This restaurant has gone through several incarnations since the 1960s, the most recent one being the bright clad-in-all-white celebrity magnet that serves French-inspired Canadian cuisine. Come TIFF-time, stars sip on Bellair Bellinis and Badass Mojitos and munch on late-night grub in this row of Victorian houses at the heart of Yorkville. Service comes with attitude and food and drinks with a hefty price tag, but it's worth it for the number of stars you're bound to spot here.
Celebrities spotted: Bono, Matthew Broderick, Rod Stewart, Geri Halliwell, Mick Jagger, Sylvester Stallone

Sotto Sotto
If you manage to snag a reservation at this cozy basement trattoria, you're likely to rub shoulders with a movie star or two – literally. Tables in this intimate candlelit space are tightly spaced amidst terracotta walls, faux frescoes, and dripping candelabra. Snooty foodies as well as A-listers delight in down-to-earth Italian fare such as veal scaloppine, chicken alla marsala, and shrimp fra diavola, paired with an extensive wine list.
Celebrities spotted: Nicolas Cage, Anthony Hopkins, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Sharon Stone, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Natalie Portman

Vaticano Trattoria
Born and raised in Rome, chef Felice Vacca has made many celeb friends over the years that are drawn here for his killer spaghetti with kobe meatballs. Some customers complain of surly service at this Yorkville eatery, but you'll be too busy star-spotting to even notice.
Celebrities spotted: Andy Garcia, Susan Sarandon, Jackie Chan, Lindsay Lohan, Kiefer Sutherland, Eva Longoria Parker, Eugene Levy


In-the-know celebrity watchers find their way to this crisp white lounge and restaurant. The spot-on-cocktails (try the mean mint limonada martini) and Mediterranean-Asian fusion food (sushi risotto, anyone?) aren't too bad either. If you manage to get past the fussy doormen and into this low-ceilinged basement space, you'll be treated to swank minimalist décor, down-tempo beats, and a crowd that's absolutely fabulous.
Celebrities spotted: Christian Bale, John Legend, Jude Law

Binoculars in one hand and a drink in the other, perch yourself for a night of star sightings at this three-floor spot with a rooftop patio. Tucked away Yorkville, the bar has more than 20 types of draft beer and a great wine list, plus a refreshing lack of attitude for a hideaway so loved by celebs.
Celebrities spotted: Eric McCormack, Russell Crowe

About to open its doors for this year's Toronto International Film Festival, this is already slated to be Toronto's next A-List hideaway. A brainchild of the owners of Blowfish, Maison is located just a stone's throw away from the new TIFF Bell Lightbox, where festival films will be screened. On the roster at Maison each night of this year's festival are world-class DJs and multiple VIP areas for mingling with the stars.

The Roosevelt Room
A good bet for catching a glimpse of the rich and famous, this supper club is inspired by the classic glamour of Old Hollywood and the roaring twenties. With its Art Deco décor and a menu inspired by the 1929 inaugural Academy Awards dinner, it's a fun night out for both mere mortals and celebrities. After the dinner dishes are cleared, this turns into a star-drenched party palace, especially during Toronto Film Festival.

You'll find the entire "see and be seen" set at this happening club, one of Toronto's biggest and best. The dark boîte has a black and red theme and a gorgeous rooftop patio jam-packed with a gorgeous crowd. Mingle with the cool cats, get down to a hip soundtrack, and keep your eyes peeled.
Celebrities spotted: Usher, Janet Jackson, Colin Farrell, Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Paris Hilton

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