Earlier today a small mob scene coalesced on the sidewalk at Blue Jays Way across from Mercer Street for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to soft-open Toronto's newest hotel, Bisha, just before the film world's annual invasion of the city for TIFF. The Wallman Architects-designed building rises from behind a heritage frontage to climb 44 storeys (147 metres) into the air, capped off by a rooftop restaurant and pool deck.

Looking down Mercer Street to Bisha, image by Craig White

On hand for the event were Jacques LaPierre, GM of the hotel; John Tory, Mayor of Toronto; Charles Khabouth, CEO of INK Entertainment; Jonathan Tisch, Chairman and CEO of Loews Hotels; and Brian Brown and Michael Pearl, principals at Lifetime Developments. LaPierre hosted while Tory welcomed the new hotel to the Toronto scene and congratulated the team, Khabouth spoke of his dream for a hotel that would fit with his dining and clubbing empire, and Tisch spoke of his enthusiasm for Khabouth's vision and the hotel's fit with Loews' upscale collection of properties.

LaPierre, Tory, Khabouth, Tisch, Brown, and Pearl gather to celebrate the opening, image by Craig Whte

Following speeches, Brown and Pearl drew the drapes from two 'dango'-style cast bronze sculptures "Untitled (Heads)" by noted Japanese artist Jun Kaneko who typically works with monumentally sized 'rounded-form' objects—one on either side of the front doors. The heads elevate the person in amongst the towering brick, glass, and steel structures of the city. Kaneko has said of his works "I hope… that [they] will give off enough visual energy to shake the air around [them]."

Brown stands beside one of Jun Kaneko's two ceramic 'dango' heads gracing the entrance to Bisha, image by Craig White

Inside the front doors, the Studio Munge designed lobby and lobby lounge are now ready for guests. Both spaces are dominated by rich colours and textures. The lounge will be happy to feed you a meal, but is primed to ply you with drinks from a long selection of cocktails.

A glossy Art Deco inspired fireplace adds to the rich colours and textures of the Lobby Bar, image by Craig White

While the Studio Munge design continues all the way through the hotel, it's in the hotel floor corridors where more lightness is added to the luxe, all while maintaining visual drama. It's here where you also start to notice the Grace Zeppilli-curated art collection, which continues into the guestrooms.

Hallways on the hotel room floors feature art by Andy Warhol and others, image by Craig White

Ten different types of guest rooms can be explored on the hotel's website. Each includes a high-end marble-tiled washroom with shower or bath, and a custom designed armoire to hold your clothing. flat screen televisions hide behind the adjustable mirrors. A bar cart and comfortable sofa are there to help you unwind and relax.

One of ten different types of guest rooms at Bisha, image by Craig White

Way up top, a reception followed the ribbon-cutting in Kost, pronounced 'coast', a Baja beach house-themed Mexican restaurant which will feature five different menus throughout the week. Here, Studio Munge has gone all light wood and seaside colours to suit a room surrounded by sky, and with a swimming pool and sun deck just outside the windows.

The dining area at Kost, pronounced 'coast', at the top of Bisha, image by Craig White

Opening in time for breakfast, Kost's menu changes for lunch, for afternoon snacks, and then again for dinner. On weekends, the space will become one of the few places in this city of skyscrapers where you can enjoy brunch with gorgeous horizon-to-horizon views. 

Tables with a view at Kost, image by Craig White

Sheltered from winds by a glass wall, the sun deck and infinity pool are opening just in time for guests to enjoy the end of Summer. The deck is furnished with plenty of both lounge chairs and seats, as well as circular outdoor beds and enough pillows for a number of small parties to get very comfortable. 

Loungers with a view on the sun deck, image by Craig White

Today's visit would have ended terrifically with a dip in the pool, but it's probably better that the media were not asked to bring their swimsuits: stories wouldn't have been filed for another day, and besides, the hotel's guests have no doubt been waiting to swim amongst the skyscrapers.

The infinity pool at Bisha, image by Craig White


With the hotel soft opened and happy to accommodate you overnight, for a meal, or for a TIFF-related bash, there are still some areas still being worked on, and a grand opening—possibly in October—will announce their completion too. The stragglers include the hotel's Lenny Kravitz Design floor (the design is apparently top secret; no-one is getting a sneak peek until it's ready for its debutante ball), event spaces on the 43rd floor, and its signature Akira Back restaurant on the second level.

Want to know more about Bisha? UrbanToronto's database file, linked below, includes plenty of renderings and details. You can add your take by joining in on the conversation in the associated Forum thread, or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.

Related Companies:  Ink Entertainment, Isotherm Engineering Ltd., Kramer Design Associates Limited, Lifetime Developments, Milborne Group, Montana Steele, PRO-BEL, Quest Window Systems, Skygrid Construction, Studio Munge, Wallman Architects