I was invited to preview the Signature Suite, Air Canada’s new lounge in Toronto’s Terminal 1 international departures area. This is a world-class facility, and is certainly the best Business Class lounge I’ve seen. The Signature Suite opens December 1, and is open daily from 7:00 – 23:30.
Access to the Signature Suite is highly restricted. For now, access will only be granted to international revenue Business Class passengers on Air Canada metal. Award passengers will not have access, nor will Star Gold or even Air Canada Super Elite members. Access rules may change in the future, but for now, you’ll only get access as a confirmed revenue Business Class passenger, which excludes award and upgraded tickets, and elite members of all tiers.
The Signature Suite is located in Terminal 1 of Toronto Pearson airport, near gate E77, adjacent to the Plaza Premium lounge. The lounge is designed like a high-end restaurant, with an à la carte dining room, bar, buffet, and lounge areas, featuring Canadian products.
Furniture feels high-end, and there’s plenty of space for eating, drinking, or relaxing.
There are no shower facilities in the lounge, but customers wanting a shower will be escorted to the Maple Leaf Lounge in the same terminal, where they will receive priority access to that lounge’s shower facilities. Although it may seem like a “miss” to not have showers, apparently shower rooms take up an immense amount of real-estate, and Air Canada wanted the Signature Suite to have plenty of available seating so it never feels too crowded (a serious issue with United’s Polaris lounge in Chicago). Since the Maple Leaf Lounge is only two minutes away, it’s a reasonable compromise.
All-in-all, the lounge is beautifully designed, highlighting Canada with a relaxed atmosphere. It’s comparable to a lobby of an Andaz, with modern, local, and cozy touches throughout.
The lounge serves two types of champagne – Moët & Chandon Impérial and Moët & Chandon Rosé Impérial, both very safe and delicious choices. I especially like the choice of rosé, since that’s rarer and more expensive.
There’s an extensive beverage menu, with absolutely delicious cocktails and wine choices. For wine, they offer:
- Hidden Bench Estate Chardonnay 2014 ($28.95)
- Henry Of Pelham Riesling VQA 2016 ($14.95)
- Cabert Friuli Grave Pinot Grigio 2016 ($19.16)
- Tawse Pinot Noir 2013 ($36.15)
- Domaine Queylus Tradition Cabernet Franc 2013 ($24.95)
- Red Stone Cabernet Merlot 2013 ($40.15)
- Tawse Growers Blend 2016 ($20.15)
Obviously they haven’t cheaped out on the wine. There’s a mix of mid-priced and higher-end bottles, most of which are from Niagara. I’m not usually a fan of Niagara wines, and would love to see bottles from Prince Edward County in the future, but nonetheless, there’s a fantastic selection showcasing Canadian talent.
They also offer:
- Beer (Molson, Coors, Belgian Moon, Creemore, Heineken, Moretti, Hop House 13, Guinness)
- Evian and Perrier
- Coca Cola pop products
- Both automated and barista-made coffees
- Eight different teas
- Full bar with top-tier liquors
The drink selection beats any Business Class lounge, and actually approaches the quality of several First Class lounges, including the Lufthansa First Class lounge in Munich (which I think is very similar in quality to the Signature Suite).
The menu is designed by celebrity chef David Hawksworth, who was in attendance during my visit to explain the menu. I’ve never had better food in a lounge before. The quality tops the Lufthansa First Class Terminal, the Polaris Lounge in Chicago, the Emirates First Class lounge in Dubai, the Thai First Class lounge in Bangkok, etc. It’s amazing, top-tier restaurant quality.
There are three menus: the buffet, the bar menu, and à la carte dining. Here’s the buffet:
I didn’t eat from the buffet, going for à la carte instead. Here’s the menu:
I ordered the Tuna Tataki as an appetizer, and Sablefish as my main. Both dishes were absolutely fantastic. They were artfully plated and cooked to perfection.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough time (or appetite) to sample more dishes, but the Signature Suite offers dining comparable to a high-end downtown restaurant in any major city (think London, Toronto, Paris, etc). Air Canada has invested significantly into this lounge’s food program, and it shows!
Personally, I rarely fly Air Canada. That’s going to change. The space is beautiful, the drinks and food are top-tier, and it’s a beautiful representation of Canada. I hope that access rules will be relaxed to include award travel on Air Canada, but that’s a minor quibble.
Good work Air Canada, good work indeed.