Set the scene: Located where a Thompson hotel once operated, 1 Hotel Toronto couldn’t be more aesthetically distinct from its retro-modern ancestor. Although the basic footprint remains the same, an elaborate rockery dotted with native trees and shrubs now lines the exterior of Wellington Street West, while a once underutilized pavilion in the courtyard just to the east of the building is home to a seasonal herb and vegetable garden and a buzzing bee hotel. Inside, the cavernous reception area has been fitted with floors and shelves made of elm salvaged from a dismantled barn in the Ontario countryside; the space is punctuated at one end by a massive ‘living’ wall installation overlooking the inviting lobby bar (the creator of the plant piece, floral designer Lauren Wilson of local studio Timberlost, recreates the greenery as needed). And although 1 Hotel is a short walk from the often bustling nightlife of King Street West in Toronto, it seems to attract more than the cool kids in the neighborhood. On a recent visit on Tuesday morning, two flexible beauties swung their legs in the outdoor rooftop pool, while a stay-in couple and their grandson waded in the water nearby.
The backstory: Launched in 2015 with the goal of combining luxury hospitality with minimal environmental impact, 1 Hotels currently offers eco-chic getaways from South Beach to West Hollywood. For its inaugural property north of the US border, the brand relocated to Toronto, a city teeming with parks and forests, for its obvious cultural fit. And indeed, the company, which brought in New York’s Rockwell Group to lead the design, found a host of like-minded local collaborators ideal for achieving its vision. Just Be Woodsy, a studio specializing in turning Toronto’s felled trees into usable beauty items, has crafted plenty of furnishings that dot the property, from the monolithic panel outside the main entrance to end tables in the bedrooms. . Complementing the Timberlost wall art in the lobby bar, a giant paper installation hangs behind the reception; mimicking loon feathers, it was created by internationally renowned Toronto studio Moss & Lam. What about the stylish staff uniforms, designed by sustainable fashion star Misha Nonoo? They are made by Kloth Studio, a local manufacturer of bespoke uniforms that embraces zero waste production.
The rooms: As befits a nature-inspired retreat, the hotel’s 91 rooms and 21 suites are oases of calm and well-being. The noisy city outside is barely noticeable through the floor-to-ceiling windows, which allow natural light to flood in when the curtains are drawn. A calming color palette of milky whites, oat beiges, soft pinks, and pearly blues-grays inform a range of textiles, including organic cotton linens, nubby cushions, and flowing-shaped rugs. In entryways, hooks made from pieces of driftwood attached to the wall come in handy for hanging hats and face masks, while lockers and closets contain slippers tied with raffia, natural cotton bathrobes, and slippers. rolled-up yoga mats (a more intense workout can be done in the well-equipped gymnasium in the basement, called the Field House). The hotel’s brand of eco-opulence is perhaps best embodied in bathrooms, where filtered water flows through large black metal faucets and shower heads, biodegradable handkerchiefs share the Countertop space with Bamford bath products and deep soaking tubs (some of which open to bedrooms through shuttered openings) feature rustic reclaimed wood planks on their tops to rest your elbows while reading.
Food and drink: Next spring, the hotel will unveil Casa Madera, an “immersive” restaurant and concert venue offering coastal Mexican and Mediterranean dishes; this will be the first establishment of Madera Group, based in California, Canada. Harriet’s Toronto, located next to the hotel’s rooftop pool, is also slated to open soon. he will serve small plates and cocktails in this spectacular and dizzying setting. In the meantime, hungry visitors can feast on the hotel’s signature restaurant, 1 Kitchen, which offers a product-based menu fueled by its direct relationships with Canadian food suppliers. Of course, all these places will have access to organic crops grown on site in the garden pavilion, from onions and peppers to herbs and edible flowers; these hardworking bee hotel pollinators will also provide fresh honey.
Eco-effort: As you would expect from the Canadian flagship of such an eco-centric brand, 1 Hotel Toronto’s sustainability efforts extend far beyond its material palette and exuberant use of greenery. Many of its most important features are invisible to customers. On-site composting, for example, turns all wet organic waste into reusable soil for the more than 3,300 plants in the hotel and garden. A partnership with Toronto-based Green For Life ensures the recycling of all paper, plastics, glass and hazardous waste on the property, while an alliance with GreenPlanet converts 100% of cooking oils and fats into biofuel. .
The neighborhood / area: The hotel’s proximity to King Street West makes it ideal for those seeking access (as well as respite) to the wine bars and nightclubs of this bustling entertainment strip. However, its location on the west side of downtown also puts it within walking distance of less noisy attractions, including the independent shops and restaurants of trendy Queen Street West to the north, and bike paths, parks, and venues. of the Lake Ontario waterfront. South.
The service: Service in Toronto can be hit or miss, but the staff at 1 Hotel are delightfully attentive when needed, discreet when not. Consider waiting for people to appear next to you almost as soon as you sit down in the bustling lobby lounge, then step back until you want to again. The pool attendant on a recent visit was particularly intuitive, providing towels and drinks at the right time. And the mixologists across the site are as friendly as they are creative.
Accessibility: All public and private spaces are fully accessible, although features vary by room, so those with special needs or requests should report them at the time of booking.