Over the last couple of years, Canadians have been patiently waiting until the borders burst open, setting the table and souping up a new suite of hotels to welcome international travelers.
That time has come, and Toronto’s brand-new string of spaces are ready to welcome travel-deprived tourists.
These new properties range in size and sentiment, from calm countryside getaways to buzzing boutique hotels to North-of-the-border openings from much-loved US chains (think a 1Hotel outpost and a Toronto-ified Ace Hotel location).
The city has also seen a wave of savvy hoteliers reinterpreting motels and envisioning heritage properties into modern inns and secluded stays. They’re tagging in artists, commissioning sculptures and filling the city with unique spots to lay your head, sip and snack.
Now that borders are open, here are six excellent reasons to book a visit.
Situated on a roaring strip in the downtown core, Toronto recently welcomed the opening of the lush, verdant, eco-focused Canadian transplant of Brooklyn’s 1Hotel. Though the Rockwell Group-designed property is centered in the city’s social district, the hotel is designed to mimic the feel of a lakeside escape. Think calming color palettes of blues and greens, flora and fauna-filled public spaces and rooms, plus a suite of other thoughtful, eco-minded details (think organic bed linens and a restaurant stocked with local farm fare). Plus, much of the design is made with reclaimed materials, including timber, driftwood and local limestone (the lobby flooring was once a barn in Blyth, Ontario). The crowning cocktail bar atop the hotel is worth a stay in and of itself—the bar is backdropped by a stunning, sweeping, sunset-filled view of the city.
At Arcana, guests can feast their eyes on Canada’s famed fall foliage from the comfort of a sprawling bed, with full floor-to-ceiling views of the surroundings. Clad in reflective polished stainless steel, each chic bunker blends right into the deciduous forest. A private sauna, plunge pool and pavilion with a record player, wood-burning fireplace and make-your-own tea service with local foraged ingredients round out the property.
The exclusive wilderness cabins are situated just north of the city, with exact locations given upon booking—it doesn’t get more private.
Over the last few years, this historic Queen West hotel has been undergoing a major renovation, with the owners carefully restoring architectural detailing whilst handing over the design reigns to a series of local artists. Now the space—complete with restored 1800s-era detailing like exposed brick and restored hardwood—is filled with sculptures, photography, glasswork, murals and paintings aplenty, plus a brand-new suite of amenities. Rooms are spacious and the bar is always buzzing, while the ground floor Melody Bar acts as a show space for local bands, karaoke fans and drag shows. An ever-rotating artist residency program means there’s always something new to see.
This tiny boutique inn sits atop a commanding cliffside in the heart of the wine region just east of Toronto. There are a few enticing ways to unwind here: in the infinity pool, curled up with a Cuvée of something local in the panoramic living room, or sprawled out on the private lakeside deck. Floor-to-ceiling views, intimate design and art-tinged interiors feel more like you’re staying at the home of a dear friend (one with stellar taste, at that).
Think of Wander as a camp, perhaps less of the get-your-hands-dirty style and more for upscale seekers of the serene. Ten cabins are dotted across the lakefront, each pulling cues from Hygge-forward Nordic Design. Expect thoughtful detailing, like private cedar decks with fire pits, heated floors, hanging rattan swings, plus custom scents, curated playlists, and complimentary local wine to round out each space. Outside of your dedicated cabin, the property offers pools, hot tubs, yoga and beaches. Full kitchens mean you can pick up produce from local farm stands or stock your fridge with the county’s bounty of wine. It’s hard to find a summer resort that hits all the right notes in the off months, but don’t skip the winter reservations—the hotel offers skating on the lake, cozy winter fires and all sorts of chilly-season activities.
It’s fair if the thought of Ontario doesn’t initially incite images of sand-in-your-toes, beach-front motels. But hear us out: Sauble Beach’s June Motel does just that. Friends Sarah Sklash and April Brown restored a former Knight’s Inn and transformed it into a Southern Cali-in-Southern Ontario ode to 1970s beach culture, with retro-modern décor, a full swimming pool and, of course, proximity to a white sand beach (albeit a colder one than California would offer). Rooms are bedecked with wares from Canadian creators and each piece is shoppable if you’re looking for a souvenir, so stock up on custom throws from Flax Sleep, beauty products from Truth Beauty Company and wallpaper from Candice Kaye.
To round out the throw-back, beachside vision, an on-site beach bar offers lobster rolls, fried chicken, oysters and magnums of rosé, a la the New England lobster shack of your dreams.
Standing tall at the end of Millionaire’s Mile (where blocks on blocks are lined with luxury shopping) is the newly-refreshed Park Hyatt. Formerly the Park Plaza, this 85-year-old hotel is one of Toronto’s most revered, but recently the hotel group brought world-renowned designer Alessandro Munge of Studio Munge in to perform a major restoration. The new interior draws design cues from the Group of Seven, detailing the cavernous space with a warm Canadian color palette and a focus on local materials (like limestone). Spotlights on Canadian artists mean you can expect beaded ceramic pieces by Algonquin artists and a 3D series by Nurielle Stern, on loan from the Gardiner Museum (who will continue to supply stellar statement pieces for the property). On the tippy top of the building, be sure to stop into the newly-transformed Writer’s Room bar—literati icons like Margaret Atwood, Hunter S. Thompson and Farley Mowat all called it their local.