W Toronto Embodies the City Within Its Walls
Juxtaposing its brutalist frame, the hotel’s vibrant scenography pulls inspiration from the city’s diverse cultural fabric
Photography by Brandon Barré
After years of anticipation, the W Toronto has finally opened its doors—unveiling a dramatic design by Sid Lee Architecture. The Montreal-based practice used the building’s brutalist structure as a neutral canvas and differentiated spaces with notes of biophilic design and vibrant contrasting elements. As a result, Toronto’s first from the global hotel chain is as eclectic and diverse as the city its aims to represent.
On the ground floor, the facade opens onto Bloor Street East and allows for direct entry to PUBLIC SCHOOL: the café by day and cocktail bar by night at W Toronto. Its colour palette is bright and preppy, inspired by the designer shops of Yorkville, to inspire a chic but comfortable public space. “It was vital to connect the hotel to its surrounding context, but the original closed-off layout of the building represented an integration challenge,” says Martin Leblanc, architect and principal partner at Sid Lee Architecture. “Our team relied on a seamless connection between the interior and the exterior to turn the hotel into a connectivity hub.”
On the second floor, the W Toronto reception area is known as The Living Room. Distinguished by its suspended grids, velvet curtains, and lighting that resembles movie projectors, this space gives the impression of being backstage. A tribute to Toronto’s thriving theatre and film scene, The Living Room’s saturated palette and textures are reminiscent of a theatre are paired with prop-like furniture and art pieces.
A conversation pit set around a modern fireplace creates an open setting inspired by socializing archetypes. The curved seating is inspired by Toronto’s brutalist architectural history and softened with velvety cushions.
The guest rooms at the W Toronto are unique in their layout. Composed of two distinct areas, one private and the other rather social, the space is a departure from the usual hotel room configuration. Here, natural light is emphasized over moody fixtures, and an open concept creates the sensation of endless flow.
This innovative new layout also allows for extra living space within each of the hotel’s guest rooms.
No doubt a contender among the city’s top hotel bars, W Toronto’s SKYLIGHT rooftop bar is inspired by the city’s multicultural quality, but also by the hippie culture specific to Toronto’s Yorkville neighbourhood. Here, comfortable nooks, hanging plants, colourful ceramics, and warm tones create an atmosphere worthy of celebrations big and small.
At more than 190 000 square feet, W Toronto features 224 rooms and 30 suites spread over eleven floors of the original 1970s building. From the city’s history of music to the street art of Graffiti Alley, Toronto is known for its vast and dynamic artistic legacy. Above all else, W Toronto aims to honour that legacy by way of a design that echoes the diversity of our ever-evolving urban centre.