It’s hard to miss the giant owl surveying Toronto from its lofty perch at the corner of Bloor and St. George—that is to say, the Kimpton Saint George is not one to be overlooked. Emblazoned with a large geometric, bird-of-prey mural by renowned Toronto-based artist Jerry Rugg (a.k.a Birdo), the hotel makes a grand first impression, having opened this summer as the San Francisco–based boutique hotel chain’s only location in Canada.
“The theme of the hotel is sort of based on this bird,” says general manager Bertrand Mangeot. “The city of Toronto is reflected in its sunglasses … [and with the hotel] we wanted to create an area which reflects the complexity of the neighbourhood.”
Situated between the ritzy Yorkville neighbourhood and the Annex, a bohemian cultural hub, the hotel’s location presented a challenge for Kimpton’s locally inspired design approach. To create a cohesive style that reflected both the eclectic surroundings and Kimpton’s signature flair, the hotel chain’s global senior vice president of design and creative director, Ave Bradley, collaborated with Toronto’s Mason Studio to transform the property, formerly a Holiday Inn, into the sleek 188-key hotel, unveiled at the end of June.
Every guestroom, common area, and corridor is painted with a contemporary-chic brushstroke from a palette of blues, greys, and greens. Curved archways and funky light fixtures lend a modern touch, wood paneling and marble backsplashes add classic elegance, and original artwork from Canadian artists bring a sense of place.
Of course, a beautiful house does not make a home—but the Kimpton’s thoughtful, personal touches add substance to style. Morning meditation is facilitated by in-room yoga mats, and a pet-friendly policy means you can stretch out in downward dog, with your dog. A mid-day pick-me-up is served in the lobby with daily afternoon coffee and tea, as well as wine come happy hour, and hot chocolate or apple cider in the winter.
For more than a light libation, depart the lobby down the main corridor and turn left to reach the Fortunate Fox. The on-site gastropub is a welcome sight for the weary traveller, serving a sophisticated spin on comfort food—think pulled chicken pot pie with smoked gravy, beer-battered haddock with mushy peas, and Tabasco honey fried chicken—and a generous selection of well-balanced cocktails (the Send Flowers, an herbaceous blend of prosecco and Dillon’s Rose Gin is a standout). Still, Toronto’s bustling food scene provides tough competition and considering the Kimpton Saint George’s prime location, some exploration is certainly in order.
In the heart of nearby Yorkville, the freshly redesigned Sassafraz provides a light-filled, botanical haven for fresh Canadian cuisine with a French influence. Dishes here are as beautiful as they are delicious: Caesar salad comes in leafy segments with flavour-packed anchovies and cured egg shavings; leek and mushroom agnolotti glistens in a brown butter sauce; and the lemon crème caramel is a sunny finale with juicy grapefruit and orange segments. If you manage to draw your eyes away from the beautifully plated dishes, keep a look out for celebrities amongst your fellow diners—George Clooney, Nicole Kidman, Emma Stone, and Idris Elba are among the many stars who have imbibed here.
Navigating the area’s high-end boutiques and designer flagships makes for a leisurely post-meal stretch (though a more focused shopping spree can be arranged with the help of the savvy style consultants at Your Shop Girl). Stop by the Yorkville Village shopping centre to see TNT Concept’s curated collection of cutting-edge styles, or browse for a pair of red-bottoms at the fairytale-esque Christian Louboutin flagship before making the 15-minute stroll back to the Kimpton Saint George. The Gardiner Museum, Royal Ontario Museum, and Bata Shoe Museum are all along the way should a dose of culture be in order.
At day’s end, there is a familiar comfort in passing through the arched entranceway and being greeted personally by the forest green button down–clad doormen. Rendering the old cliché true, but with a twist, the Kimpton Saint George is an elevated home away from home.
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