I realize I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating. If you are in downtown Toronto near Union Station, looking for a place to spend an hour or two to write, consider going to the UPStairs Lounge above the UPExpress station beside Union Station. The facility, which was set up to cater to business travellers, is located directly above the boarding platform of the UPExpress station for trains to Pearson Airport. You can access it via stairs or elevator, and it appears to be open whenever the UPX runs, which is roughly from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. the following morning.
The lounge’s management has been very laissez-faire about people borrowing tables and sitting and lounging, but Erin and I have arrived during the mid-morning or mid-afternoon when traffic was quite light. The place fills up a bit during rush hours, and especially during Blue Jays’ games. The ambience is not rushed, a bit dim but clean, and windows look out onto the Skywalk, the boarding platform level, and onto the train tracks outside.
Yes, I’m probably biased for this site because I love trains, but Erin and I were able to write without interruption or disruption, and the lounge offers a number of features which encourage it, including free WiFi, and lots of electrical sockets to charge up your electronic devices. The food is provided by the Mill Street Brewery, and so is your typical pub grub. The burger is definitely not something to write home about, but the turkey melt is good, and the nachos were tasty, albeit somewhat salty. They serve drinks, and don’t object if you bring Balzac’s coffee up from the boarding level to sit and wait.
I feel that Downtown Toronto is a good place to write, if you are empowered by a sense of energy from the people around you, and like taking a little time to look up and people-watch. However, there are few places in downtown Toronto where one seems particularly welcome to sit and lounge and write. The Toronto Reference Library is a good spot. Some Starbucks will do in a pinch, but the UPStairs lounge was one of the best places I’ve found so far. It’s especially good if you are in town for a travel connection and have a couple of hours to kill.
Today, Erin and I sat at that spot for two hours. She made progress on an edit plan for book project #5, while I almost reached 60,000 words on my draft of The Sun Runners, and I think that’s a decent endorsement.