Not all hotel lobby bars are worth hanging out in, but when Daniel Boulud puts his influence on one in a swanky hotel like the Four Seasons Hotel Toronto, it's likely to be a hit. Since opening in 2012, the world-renowned chef's restaurant Cafe Boulud and its accompanied bar, d|bar have both been popular go-tos for Torontonians and visitors alike.
Recently, the bar overwent extensive face lift and, as of this week, is looking more luxe than ever. A palette of blush, olive, natural greys, rose quartz and brass opted for by designer Alison McNeil offers a lighter, elegant and inviting atmosphere in the revamped space that now boasts more seating, as well as a new seating area dubbed, "Sharp's Corner". The small area set underneath the lobby stairs pays homage to Four Seasons founder, Isadore Sharp (Toronto-born) with images from the early days in his career. Set to be unveiled soon, the space provides a relaxed and private area for meetings.
"You can't tell the story of Four Seasons Hotel Toronto without telling the story of Mr. Sharp himself," says McNeil. "This hotel has a heart behind it, a person who deeply believes in this city and the Four Seasons brand. We created a design narrative around those origins. It's something we always came back to, and was a guiding influence in all of our design decisions – something that allowed us to achieve an interesting layered, but cohesive aesthetic."
Another notable addition to the space are LED screens that blend the world of technology and art. Made to look like a cohesive art piece, the custom video artwork offers striking images of things such as leafs floating across the wall or a speedy 24-hour timelapse of the Toronto's skyline and waterfront, where people can watch the sun rise and set in minutes.
Since TIFF begins this week, d|bar is also presenting a photography exhibit honouring women in film and television. Storeys-high still images by Miller Mobley for The Hollywood Reporter of actors Angela Bassett, Claire Foy, Elisabeth Moss, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Sandra Oh and Thandie Newton grace the hotel's exterior, while the lobby's public spaces feature iconic red carpet moments taken by celebrity photographer George Pimentel. The exhibit will remain active until the end of the month.
To go along with the new look, Boulud has curated a refreshed menu that showcases high quality ingredients with refined technique through dishes like tuna crudo or sugar cane skewered shrimp. Bar manager Melissa Hart has also reworked the cocktail offerings, which includes the signature neighbourhood-inspired Yorkville Affair and the bar's most popular dishes like Boulud's lobster roll.