The Kimpton Saint George Hotel celebrates Toronto music with audio zones and in-suite vinyl turntables. Meet the woman who designed the new hotspot’s musical identity.


By
Rick Muller

Music has always been an essential part of Toronto’s persona. From the big bands of the 1940s, to Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell and Neil Young playing Yorkville coffee houses in the 1960s, to Drake and The Weeknd who continue to lead the international music scene today, the city has helped cultivate some of the most iconic musicians in history.

Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants celebrated this legacy in June by opening Kimpton Saint George, a boutique luxury hotel at 280 Bloor Street West with a uniquely Toronto music program.

Mirroring the sophistication of nearby Yorkville and the cultured cool of the Annex, this 14-storey, 188-room enclave of elegance features different musical zones within the hotel, with the sounds carefully selected by Kimpton’s Director of Music, Lauren Bucherie.

Cool job, right? Here’s how she does it:

How did you approach finding the hotel’s musical identity?

The process is different depending on the experiences we want guests to have. Arrival moments in the lobby are more delicate, for example, and guest rooms are different than bars or rooftops. First we determine the overall musical palette and then we build out a more robust playlist.

What did you discover about Toronto’s musical history during your research?

I already knew a lot about Toronto’s music scene. I’m a huge fan of Broken Social Scene and Metric. So, this was an opportunity to really geek out on what I knew would work well. I knew exactly what I wanted to do.

Is it difficult to separate your own musical tastes when programming a hotel property?

Not at all—I’ve been doing this for 10 years. I consider the property, design, and guest first and then our designers work with my vision to build it out. The music is specific to the time of day—morning, noon, and night—and meant to complement the guest’s journey through the hotel. That’s how Kimpton uses music.

There are some cool TEAC turntables in the suites featuring vinyls from Canadian artists. How did you decide which artists to include?

It was difficult because there are so many great ones! Twenty artists made my list, which I then narrowed down to 12. In any suite there are a handful of records that cover a wide variety of genres, from Joni Mitchell to The Weeknd. I wanted there to be music for a broad range of people.

And the reaction so far?

It’s been great! The vinyl in the suites is a nice surprise for the guests, and many have asked for the hotel playlist. Kimpton playlists are on Spotify, which I also curate—it’s a way for us to connect with our guests before they arrive and after they check out. Music is a sense and memory trigger and a fun motivator—you might stay longer where the music is great