New York in Toronto

Yesterday, I had a glimpse of the almost-finished Thompson Toronto, the city’s latest boutique hotel, designed by New York firm Studio Gaia. It’s going to be stunning when it opens next month and a boon for travelling businessmen, just a five minute cab ride from the island airport. And this is the only Toronto hotel I can think of that has its own outdoor skating rink – such a charming local touch. There are several treasures in the lobby. One is a vast black-and-white mural by Valencian artist Javier Mariscal, inspired by Toronto’s skyline. Another is the comfortable bar (intended to be a famous rendezvous for the neighbourhood). The third is Scarpetta (opening in July), an incarnation of the much-lauded New York restaurant opened two years ago by chef Scott Conant. The mood at Scarpetta New York is modern, cool and unstuffy and the same kind of inclusive attitude is promised here. Conant’s food – generous, robustly flavoured Italian dishes with sudden moments of refinement that make you constantly re-evaluate the experience – should find many fans here. I liked the way Tony Cohen, one of the partners in the hotel, described the cuisine as “rustic Tuscan meets urban Milan,” which seems to be casting a pretty broad stylistic net.
There are other food outlets in the hotel. Min Soo Kim, whose Bracebridge sushi restaurant, Wabora, is the favourite of Muskoka’s smart summer set, is opening a Wabora on the Stewart Street flank of the building. On the Bathurst side, there’s a 24-hour diner called The Counter that I imagine will become clubland’s new hang. It’s been designed by Brenda Bent (Mrs. Susur Lee) and her business partner Karen Gable to look like a classic boxcar diner, though Bent has added her own inimitable touches such as banquettes upholstered in pewter-coloured flock, dazzling blue floor tiles and a wall of porcelain figurines. The menu features classic American diner fare including all-day breakfast, plus a few Canadian touches (poutine, to be sure).
The most beautiful space in the hotel will only be open to guests staying in the 102 rooms or condottieri living in the 336 condo units that share the ½-million-square-foot building. It’s the rooftop bar on the 16th floor. Designed by Toronto’s own II by IV, it gives the impression of being made almost entirely of glass, with an outdoor infinity pool and awe-inspiring views of the city, the islands and across the lake to Niagara.
Thompson Toronto hotel, 550 Wellington Street West. 416 640 7778.

  1. Sounds amazing! I can’t wait.

    Also very jealous of these well deserved previews you keep accessing! 🙂

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