Checking In: The Ace Hotel, Toronto


This warmly modernist new hotel is a hat tip to both the Canadian wilderness and design–forward Toronto.

Anchored on a deceptively tranquil corner in Toronto’s Garment District, the red brick–clad exterior of the first Ace Hotel in Canada is an ode to the city’s manufacturing past. Step inside, though, and suddenly the space opens and zooms forward in time. The modernist Lobby bar floats in space, suspended by graceful steel rods and framed by soaring poured concrete arches and floor–to–ceiling windows, all of it lined in warm red oak and fern–green upholstered banquettes.

February 10, 2023
The modern exterior of the Ace Hotel Toronto
The sunny and cozy lobby of the Ace Hotel Toronto
   Photos: William Jess Laird

Conceived by the celebrated Toronto firm Shim–Sutcliffe Architects to be a creative community hub, Ace is growing into that vision. On Friday and Saturday nights, you can drop into The Lobby bar for revolving DJ and musician nights, such as ISO Radio's Random Access and Minzi Roberta's monthly Dreamscape, curated by the hotel's community and marketing manager, Michael Nyarkoh.

Despite the sleepiness of its Camden Street location, we liked the hotel’s central location between the live music, boutiques of Queen West and King West’s Entertainment District, a block west of Spadina Avenue. The Art Gallery of Ontario and Chinatown are a short walk away, as is the TIFF Bell Lightbox. And we liked its emphasis on showcasing local artists, from Tahsine al Hassane to Dennis Lin.

The Lobby bar at the Ace Hotel Toronto
The Lobby bar.   Photo: William Jess Laird

Our tenth–floor Douglas fir–accented suite feels like the modernist urban cabin it was meant to be, with a long, leather–upholstered window seat overlooking tree–dotted St. Andrews Playground Park below. An acoustic guitar rests on a stand in the corner of the sitting area, decorated with a Navajo–style rug and mid–century modern–style furnishings by Atelier Ace, the hotel brand’s in–house design studio. In the bedroom, a Music Hall mmf turntable and custom Tivoli sound system are at our disposal to play a stack of LPs from local music collaborator Arts & Crafts. We could spend the entire evening enjoying the gorgeous sunset and listening to Andy Shauf and Broken Social Scene while dipping into the kitchenette bar’s stash of Ontario drink: Dillon’s gin, Lark water, Pearl Morissette wine, Beattie’s Potato Vodka and locally sourced snacks. Making it an especially enticing prospect are the comfy robes, a collaboration project between Ace Hotel and Canadian brand wings + horns.

A guitar on a stand next to a turntable in a suite within the Ace Hotel Toronto
Sun streaming through a bedroom suite at the Ace Hotel Toronto
   Photos: William Jess Laird

But dinner calls, so we head downstairs, first for a pisco, cherry and lime cocktail in The Lobby bar, sipped to the sounds of OutKast. Toronto’s renowned chef Patrick Kriss is behind all of the food at the Ace, so we're eager to get to our table at Alder restaurant.

Working from Alder’s wood–burning hearth, Kriss swaps the butter that anchors the menu at his fine dining restaurant Alo with olive oil for a seductive Mediterranean bill of fare. We feast on potato flatbread with eggplant and roasted lamb spreads; a delicate sea bream crudo with capers, shallots and tarragon while sipping a crisp and refreshing Stratus rosé. The high point: the combination of a swoon–worthy plate of suckling pig with watercress and charred mustard greens and a bottle of the special–issue 2021 Pearl Morissette Cabernet Franc.

A chef grating Parmesan onto a tomato, anchovy and potato flatbread at Alder at the Ace Hotel Toronto
Tomato, anchovy and potato flatbread.     Photo: Ashley van der Laan
The elegant staircase leading down to Alder, Ace Hotel Toronto's restaurant
Alder.     Photo: William Jess Laird
A cozy fire sets the mood at the rooftop bar and lounge, Evangeline at the Ace Hotel Toronto
Evangeline.   Photo: William Jess Laird

Had the 80–seat rooftop bar and lounge Evangeline been open yet, we would have stopped there for a nightcap and one of Kriss’ late–night nibbles. Now open, it offers a warm wood and clay–accented vibe with Persian rug–covered floors, two large fireplaces anchoring each end, and a wrap around terrace for warmer weather. From tip–top to below ground, the Ace has a way of making you feel welcome, well–fed, and cared for in a culturally rich and cozy environment.