Red bricks, concrete and steel celebrate the industrial beauty of Toronto’s Garment District while guestrooms offer a cosy, cabin-like retreat from the city at the new Ace Hotel Toronto.
Travel is all about discovery – new places, people, ideas, and tastes – but there’s also something to be said for feeling at home anywhere in the world.
For more than two decades, since transforming a Seattle halfway house into an affordable hotel for creatives, Ace Hotel has been perfecting that balance, responding to the distinctive character of each site yet retaining the essence of the brand – think in-room guitars and record players, artistic collaborations, exciting public spaces, and food and beverage offerings designed to attract locals alongside guests.
Today, there are 10 locations across the USA, Japan, Australia and, with the opening of a new hotel in Toronto, Canada.
“We’ve long admired Toronto, a free-thinking city and international cultural capital, and we are thrilled to open our first Canadian home here,” says Ace Hotel CEO, Brad Wilson. “Ace Toronto is housed in a brand-new building inspired, both in design and ethos, by the electricity and independence of this remarkable place.”
Set in Toronto’s historic Garment District, the new, 18-storey building is an ode to the industrial beauty of the surrounding red-brick factories and warehouses.
Designed by Shim-Sutcliffe Architects in collaboration with the Ace Hotel in-house design team, Atelier Ace, the iconic red clay facade with concrete, copper and timber details evokes the history of the city while the contemporary built form and generous openings speak to the current and future direction of the district’s creative community.
As in Ace Hotels globally, the heart of the Ace Toronto is its lobby. Enormous glass windows invite the curiosity of passersby, who are welcomed into the space with glimpses of Horizon Line. This three-storey-tall, shimmering site specific art installation by architect Howard A. Sutcliffe is inspired by Lake Ontario and offers a taste of the hotel’s creative leanings.
Inside, steel-edged, off-form concrete arches, richly textured red oak cladding and delicate steel rods define and break down the vast lobby. The reception desk echoes the red-brick of the facade, and doubles as the iconic Ace Hotel lobby shop, which stocks pieces from local makers; and a communal work table and a DJ booth offer amenities to be shared by the community.
The Lobby Bar is set between the concrete arches and appears as a suspended timber tray accentuated with considered details that juxtapose the enormous scale of the architecture. This playful shifting of scale is found again in Alder, a dramatic wood-fired restaurant led by chef Patrick Kriss, which boasts a soaring triple-height atrium contrasted with a more intimate single-height space.
While the architecture and lobby celebrate the city’s industrial beauty, the guest rooms evoke the wild nature at the outskirts of the city – and are described by the design team as “the comforting pleasures of a wilderness cabin retreat only set within the city”.
This cosy aesthetic is achieved with a rustic yet sophisticated palette of canvas, Douglas fir timber, and copper, complemented by bespoke and vintage furniture that brings a lived-in richness to the space and deep-set window benches.
Another Ace Hotel signature is creative collaboration. At Ace Hotel Toronto, this is found in the custom quilts designed by Canadian artist Kyle Parent, the eclectic in-room vinyl collections curated by Toronto record label Arts & Crafts, custom light fixtures by Toronto-based design studio MSDS, concrete panels to the rooftop bar by Montreal-based artist David Umemoto, and – of course – a dizzying, ever-evolving art collection.
“Along with our brilliant collaborators, we have created a site that reflects the city’s legacy as a global meeting ground and aims to actively share in its future,” says Wilson. “We look forward to opening our doors and welcoming everyone – locals and visitors alike.”
Images by William Jess Laird & Graydon Herriott
Enjoyed this article? Read more: Ace Hotel Brooklyn is a design lover’s dream