Spacing Satellite: Aerial Accomodation

This week’s Satellite challenge looks into Toronto’s tourism industry from the top down.

Ready to see how well you know your hotels?

Sure enough, the popular vote didn’t have any trouble identifying this as The Fairmont Royal York, shown here facing Front Street. In the comments below, readers raised the peaked roof at the edge of the photo, the reflection of WZMH Architects’ Royal Bank Plaza building to the right, and Front Street’s trees as identifying features.

Meanwhile, for the real challenge: spotting the six very unique “suites” that can be viewed from this hotel’s rooftop, one of which I mentioned as playing host to the current Queen. Indeed, the Queen in question is not the lovely Elizabeth II, but rather a queen bee: the rooftop form is especially relevant to The Royal York because it’s the site of the hotel’s bee hives. Special credit goes to Jon, for picking up on this trick in the comments.

With clever names like The Honeymoon Suite, The Royal Sweet, Comb Suite Comb, and the Stayin-A-Hive Suite, clearly someone at the Royal York has a great appreciation for puns. Thanks to executive chef David Garcelon, the hotel also has a great appreciation for honey: Garcelon reached out to the Toronto Beekeepers Cooperative in 2003 as a means to bolster his use of local ingredients. Begun in 2004 with three hives, the operation was an instant success: the bees produced 380 pounds of honey in their first year. In 2009, the number of hives was expanded to six, now home to over 300,000 bees at peak production times. For an inside view into The Royal York’s beehive program, the hotel’s website offers some terrific snapshots of last year’s first honey harvest of the season. Meanwhile, other downtown venues like the Four Seasons Centre For the Performing Arts have also come to adopt rooftop apiaries.

Apart from using the resulting honey as a daily ingredient in its recipes, The Royal York also draws on its hives for special themed fare, such as this Christmas’ “Royal Stinger” beer, produced in partnership with Mill Street Brewery.

Thanks for voting, and tune in next week for another Satellite challenge!


  1. I don’t know about the guests, but it sure ruins the fun when the photo is called by the hotel name, and when holding my mouse over the photo accidentally tells me the answer! 🙁

  2. It’s still a very easy guess – especially on the left side of the photo, where the distinctive roofline is very obvious.

  3. The reflection off the neighbouring building kinda gave it away for me.

  4. Can the vote software handle multiple choices? It might be interesting to, say, have pictures of, say, five off-kilter intersections, and have a list of five (or more) intersection names to choose from. Match picture with name.

    Also, maybe one on public spaces vs. private spaces?

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