If a hotel were simply a spot to bunk down for the night, we wouldn’t be this excited. But we are this excited: contemporary hoteliers and their designers are creating aspirational lodgings that make us second-guess our own interior design choices at home. (Why didn’t I think of a glass-bottomed pool?) OK, so maybe we can’t import the more daring and inventive features into our urban villas — but it’s always nice to dream.
Better than dreaming, though, is visiting. Here, a stylish crop of hotels that deliver big on experience, from the contemporary-cool Templar to the glitzy, Gatsby-esque Georgia. These 5 top Canadian destination hotels — for when looks really do matter — will make you want to check in just to check them out.
Templar Hotel (Toronto)
“Design-centric vertical villa where guests can play host”
Pictured: Del Terrelonge and Rico Bella, rhed
The façade quietly bears its name in marble: Templar Hotel. But like chocolate-enrobed cherries, the sweet stuff is inside. From the cantilevered ipe desk at check-in to the side table that looks like inflatable plastic but is actually steel to the Monk bar (a nod to jazz great Thelonius) with its ragtag assortment of funky furniture (hello, fuzzy Patricia Urguiola log chair) and whimsical wood flooring interspersed with cowhide, this design-centric, minimalist hotel boasts many adventurous moments. Gaze up while on the main floor to see the pool in the Japanese spa above; ride the elevator studded in jutting mahogany that even non-OCD types won’t be able to resist caressing. The seven-storey, 27-suite digs is owned by rhed’s Del Terrelonge — rhed principal Rico Bella worked his magic here, too — and Templar partner John Wee Tom. Seamless rhed built by Poliform furniture components keep the look neat throughout. Suites sport marble headboards and trough-like tubs, and there are four striking, two-level penthouses, swanky as an NYC architect’s pad. Or an urban British agent: The hotel takes its name from the classic ’60s TV series The Saint, whose main character was the super-suave spy Simon Templar.
Rosewood Hotel Georgia (Vancouver)
“Character-filled history meets modern sophistication”
Pictured: Alessandro Munge; photo by Device222
Katherine Hepburn, Errol Flynn and Nat King Cole have all spent time at the historic Rosewood Hotel Georgia, first opened in 1927. You can’t blame the owners for wanting to give this grand dame a facelift instead of sending her to Sunset Boulevard. Today, the 156-room building is kitted out in Art Deco flair, care of Munge Leung led by Alessandro Munge. Whispers of the past include cornices and crown mouldings, preserved terrazzo tiles and original mahogany wall panels. The lobby’s stunning 30-foot-long chandelier is as radiant as the sun. Guest rooms tread on the traditional side, in a palette of light blues, ivory and chocolate with Art Deco furnishing. The hotel features Vancouver’s largest private art collection of contemporary pieces.
Trump Hotel & Residences (Toronto)
“Stately and residential, like guests have arrived at a luxurious home”
Pictured: Inna Levitan, CEO, Talon Luxury Collection at the Trump International Hotel & Tower, Toronto
Buffed by II by IV Design Associates in a champagne and caviar palette with hits of aubergine, this 65-storey, 261-room hotel is for those who like it refined. The glamorous, 1940s-esque inky black lobby, with killer mosaic floors, is a standout. Ditto the lap pool on the 32nd floor, surrounded by windows and marble walls, offering sublime views of the city. In the dining room, dark herringbone floors, tufted banquettes and panelled walls signal old-world refinement free from the noose of stuffiness (thanks to high ceilings and lots of light). Guest rooms are heavy on moulding and marble. The presidential suite — the city’s largest and highest — features a soundproof media room, among other posh pleasantries.
Hôtel Le Germain (Calgary)
“Well-designed spaces with natural materials and an abundance of natural light”
Pictured: Viateur Michaud, principal at Lemay Michaud Architecture
Oui! Calgary’s 143-room Hôtel Le Germain Calgary is timelessly elegant. The architectural firm Lemay Michaud’s cohesive vibe is immediately evident. Echoing its interior, the hotel façade is clad in Spanish wood. Inside, natural materials reign in the lobby (with light-inviting 25-foot windows) and guest rooms: stone floors, wood panelling, soft leather and granite. In-room chairs are ergonomic. Plunk down your passport at the check-in desk, where playful pendants — glossy and mushroom-shaped, with orange in the shades’ interior — bob above. Of note: the loopy (as in it sports loops, not kooky) ceramic installation in the lobby by Quebec artist Pascale Girardin; also crushing on the spiral stairwell and as riveting as a sculpture. And don’t bother booking a spa visit: one room per floor features a glass-walled tub (enjoy an American Beauty moment, because you can request rose petals to be strewn into your bathwater) while all other rooms feature rain showerheads, windows with opaque glass and fluffy bathrobes. Psst… the much-ballyhooed CHARCUT Roast House is accessible from the hotel lobby.
Shangri-La Hotel (Toronto)
“Luxury lodgings with an Asian flair”
Pictured: The Design Agency’s Allen Chan, Anwar Mekhayech and Matthew Davis
Hitchcock would have had a chuckle: At Shangri-La’s entrance, a stainless steel sculpture sees birds in flight ascend the glass tower as well as the hotel’s cavernous lobby (“Rising,” by Zhang Huan). It’s a fitting welcome for an uplifting, opulent hotel. Shangri-La is peppered with Asian imagery throughout; be sure to take a gander at the glass cases in the hallway housing figurines, vases and pottery. Occupying the first 17 floors of the 66-storey tower, the hotel portion’s 202 rooms vibe decidedly residential — if you happen to live in luxury: sapele veneer covers the walls and oversized bathrooms boast black-veined white marble and mirrors embedded with LCD tellies. The Design Agency handled the interiors of the penthouses and Momofuku restaurant.