Million-dollar thrill: a peek inside the new Ritz-Carlton Hotel

Million-dollar thrill: a peek inside the new Ritz-Carlton Hotel

Putting up the Ritz: the new hotel and residence building is going up on Wellington Street (Photo courtesy of 

We’ve been giddily watching the new Ritz-Carlton climb into the sky over downtown (with that lion-printed cover wrapped around it like a five-star Snuggie, it’s hard to miss), but last week we had the chance to experience what the thing would be like on the inside. The unveiling of the Munge-Leung-designed model suite showed off how the hotel and its 15 floors of luxe residences will look when they open next summer at Wellington and Simcoe Streets. The event was swarming with notable locals, including Teatro Verde’s Shawn Gibson, foodie Sara Waxman and out-and-abouter Catherine Nugent. Strategically positioned violinists (sadly not included in room service—we asked) strung us along the immaculately staged rooms while maître cuisinier Xavier Salomon (of the Half Moon Bay Ritz-Carlton) gave us a taste of the gastronomic future of the hotel.

Check out the photo gallery, after the jump.

Chef Salomon’s meaty seared scallops took a touch of earthiness from pea purée and chanterelle emulsion. Shots of pumpkin soup with cardamom cream hit the spot—and the season—while foie gras lollipops with gingerbread crumbs were adorably decadent. While scallop-searing, the super-chef gabbed with us about Toronto. “It’s a city that’s full of life and very European, though I’ve never seen it in the winter.”  We pressed, but he couldn’t tell us who will be manning the stoves at Toronto’s Ritz.  “I tried to find out who the chef will be, but no one will tell me! It’s a secret!”

What is known is that the luxury tower will have three eating and drinking spots. On the mezzanine level, the culinary mainstage: a 120-seat open-design restaurant complete with a cheese case and a 720-bottle wine cellar. The concept is a grab-bag of buzzy menu nomenclature—Canadian, local, organic and sustainable—and appears to be less rigid and stuffy than other luxury hotel restaurants (“Truffles was an example of what not to do,” said general manager Tim Terceira). Instead, the Ritz will indulge a more casual craving, with bistro-style dishes and prices for mains in the $24 to $28 range. The hotel is still tiptoeing around the name for this restaurant, as well as its other dining rooms: a lobby-level raw bar and a lounge with light bites.

After our snack, designer Alessandro Munge gave us a private tour of the luxurious digs. His favourite piece was an eye-catching Jeff Goodman chandelier in the great hall, but we were drawn to the Carrie Bradshaw–worthy walk-in closet. Munge showed us the bedroom (a softer space with calming, unfussy lines) and the spa-inspired bathroom (though it’s no competition for the hotel’s 23,000-square-foot “urban sanctuary”). Said Munge of the bidet-flanked toilet encased in frosted glass: “How many times do you get a shitter that looks like that?” Not very many, we say, noting that the loo also abuts a not-so-frosted glass shower.  “Nobody wants to see someone on the shitter, but everybody wants to see someone naked in the shower.”

A design tip to live by.