There is an enigma to decipher in the design of the hotel at every turn. If you truly want to appreciate just how much has gone into the hotel, don't hesitate on asking for Andrew Van Buskirk, the hotel manager, who knows pretty much everything about every square millimetre of the hotel and if he isn't too busy, he'll be happy to give you a 'design tour' of the hotel! And trust us, it is worth taking half an hour out of your weekend to learn about the hotel's design.
The small 27 room boutique hotel is our favourite hotel in Toronto for the meticulous attention to detail but also in the owners' determination to make everything fun and different. And Templar founders, Rhed Design's Del Terrelonge and John Wee Tom, got it just right. Not pretentious in the least, the hotel is luxurious without being conventional.
The innovative spirit begins in the hotel lobby. The sleek reception desk, a block attached to a mirrored pillar looks like it is floating in mid-air. The detail that we particularly liked was the use of 'Technilight' panels that line the walls upstairs and downstairs. The light-backed wall panels give the impression that on the other side is the outdoors; what looks like an opaque window is in fact LED panels with etched glass on top. This is extremely effective downstairs in the basement, where you will find the hotel restaurant - but instead of feeling like you are in the basement, the panels give the impression of being at least on the ground floor with a view onto the exterior; this genius piece of design was thought up by Rhed Design. Black etched mirror panels continue in the toilets, and are almost impossible to discern unless you know what you are looking for! Behind the door hides a row of cabins, each with its own Starck-designed toilet.
The lobby area, or 'Monk Lounge', as people in the know call it, is the area where guests can relax. A bar was being built in this area during our visit. Clean cut modular and comfortable furniture is what it is about here at The Templar. Even the floorboards have been given a touch of fun. Designed with inserts, the magnetic cow hide patches can actually slide out - practical for cleaning! But back to the floorboards, that beautiful grain and colour is what seduced the designers; so much so, that they sourced the wood all the way in Uruguay!
The floor-to-ceiling bookshelf gives the area a 'cosy nook' ambience, and the fact that every book has been handpicked adds a welcome personal touch. For a wider selection of something to read, guests can borrow Kindles and Kobos at reception.
The main preoccupation at the hotel is marrying form and function for an optimal level of experience and interaction. As you move towards the stairs leading down to the basement, admire the grey slate stone walls. The Ledge Rock was actually quarried in Japan and brought over. Look up at the ceiling and you might be lucky enough to spot an athletic body or two swimming in the hotel's salt water pool above the stairwell. The light through the water reflects onto the walls softening the hard lines.
Downstairs, the LED panels trick you into thinking that plenty of natural light is shining through the etched glass keeping your mood lifted. See more about the restaurant area in the food and drink section below.
In terms of facilities the hotel doesn't have a gym but it has a personalised spa for one guest or party, at a time. There is a bar and restaurant and when we visited, the owners were considering putting a second pool on the roof in a Japanese garden, so watch this space!