Inside Othership, a booze-free alternative to the King West bacchanal
The newest addition to Toronto’s spa scene isn’t your typical pleasure palace. Othership’s otherworldly offerings combine late-night socializing with a wellness quotient. Think next-gen Soho House for the Burning Man set with a lounge for late-night hangouts. The guided sessions—developed by two of Othership’s founders, Harrison Taylor and Amanda Laine, who are Aufguss-trained sauna masters—use breathwork, music, sound baths, group shares and aromatherapy to generate mindfulness.
Since opening in January, Othership quickly earned a throng of followers seeking transcendental heights. It’s not just Torontonians who are drinking the kombucha, though. Angel investors (including a founder of SoulCycle) are financing a soon-to-come U.S. expansion. Here’s the Adelaide Street entrance:
And the reception area–slash–merch store:
Othership was founded by two European-trained sauna masters (Taylor and Laine), a King West restaurateur (Myles Farmer), a breathwork expert (Emily Hunter), and a cold water evangelist (Robert Bent), who says ice baths were the key pillar of his sobriety journey. “Our goal is to help people find a more mindful, meaningful, happier state,” says Bent. “And, by making it community-driven and fun, we’re making emotional wellness work accessible to everyone.”
Othership’s first incarnation was a makeshift ice bath located in Bent’s Bloorcourt garage. It started as something just for friends and soon swelled to a 300-person WhatsApp group.
Most of the cold plunges at other spas in southern Ontario don’t get as cold as these—the baths have built-in cooling devices to keep the water’s temperature feeling like Lake Ontario on a winter’s day. Purportedly, the ice bath triples norepinephrine (the neurotransmitter responsible for mood, attention and vigilance) in the brain.
The designers at Futurestudio chose natural materials (wood, leather, riverstone tiles) for the interiors to contrast King West’s glass-and-metal landscape.
To accommodate Othership’s less extroverted patrons (you’re in a bathing suit with a bunch of strangers), Futurestudio’s Ali McQuaid Mitchell carved the 3,000-square-foot King West space into a series of nooks done up with James Turrell–inspired low lighting, breeze block walls and textured natural materials, including petrified wood sinks and cedar walls. The minimal art is deliberate, so as not to distract spa-goers from their inward journey.
Co-founder Harrison Taylor created a custom scent for the spa. It’s made from four different types of cedars and piped in through the HVAC system and in the incense.
This is one of the largest saunas in the city proper. It’s made of western red cedar and fits up to 50 people.
The leather stadium seating in the tearoom area, where patrons gather after a sauna visit, is meant to encourage conversations between strangers.
Othership is entirely booze free, and its late hours are intended to give King Street’s nightlife revellers an alternative space to congregate. Weekend social sessions, around the fireplace in the tearoom area, run to 1 a.m. “Footwork, an after-hours club I used to frequent, previously occupied this storefront,” says Bent. “It felt so powerful to reclaim the place for something restorative.”
Othership offers Clover Botanicals’ adaptogenic tea, which includes the stress-dampening properties of valerian root and ashwagandha—it’s complimentary in the space and also available for purchase ($13).
There’s only one change room, and it’s gender neutral.
There’s also a breathwork app—created by co-founder Emily Hunter—that provides more than 500 on-demand guided mindfulness sessions.
425 Adelaide St. W., othership.us.