DesignAgency Transforms a Soap Factory into a Boutique Hotel

02.14.18 | By
DesignAgency Transforms a Soap Factory into a Boutique Hotel

There aren’t many hotels that can boast a colorful history like that of the Broadview Hotel in Toronto, Canada. The building was originally built as a soap factory in 1891 and then converted into the Broadview Hotel. However, it went into decline in the 1970s when it was used as a boarding house, and afterwards the location of the infamous Jilly’s Strip Club in the 1970s. After a major renovation, design firm DesignAgency and architect firm ERA Architects have restored the landmark building and transformed it into a 58-room boutique hotel that includes a cafe, two restaurants, and multiple event spaces.

Upon arrival, the lobby’s interiors set the tone for the rest of a hotel, an eclectic mix of industrial, retro and contemporary design. Custom furniture, like the emerald green leather + brass rail bench designed by DesignAgency and fabricated by Orior in Iceland, are sprinkled throughout the hotel and in the guest rooms.

The mood of the guest rooms evoke a boudoir, Victorian vibe with its dark ceilings, marble bathrooms, luxe upholstery by House of Hackney, and brass accents for a touch of glamor. All the beds, dressing tables and wet bars were custom designed by DesignAgency. The bathrooms add a contrast to the vintage rooms with a more modern, floor-to-ceiling stone and glass design.

The Broadview Café + Bar, one of the communal areas of the hotel, features custom wallpaper inspired by an uncovering during the renovation, hexagonal tile flooring, and retro fixtures and furnitures, a nod to the building’s history and the location’s culture. The neon pink light above the bar was co-created by DesignAgency, artist Erik Petersen, and local fabricator Dan Raljic (the son of the creator of the original Jilly’s Strip Club sign).

The Civic Restaurant has a moodier ambience, like that of an aged tavern on a film noir set. The mix of deep colors and materials, rich leathers, brass fixtures and dark wood make the space feel glamorous and authentic without being stuffy.

The Rooftop lounge and bar is located on the 7th floor in a glass box with expansive, 360-degree views of the city and a skylight for views of the stars at night. Hanging plants create a modern greenhouse feel while jewel-toned furnishings add a luxe element to dining space. Guests can continue onto the wrap-around terrace and into the building’s historic tower that has remained relatively untouched. Exposed brick, unfinished walls and exposed wood beams give a sense of authenticity while the multitude of chandeliers, vintage mirrors and wood + leather furniture give the tower an intimate, romantic feel.

What: The Broadview Hotel
Where: 106 Broadview Ave, Toronto, ON M4M 1G9, Canada
How much? Rooms start at approximately $211 per night.
Highlights: This boutique hotel originally started out as a soap factory that has transformed into a contemporary hotel that has retained much of its authentic design and aesthetics.
Design draw: Much of the hotel’s interiors is inspired by the landmark building’s history. A mix of modern and vintage elements, the Broadview Hotel feels like you’ve just time-traveled back to the 70s.
Book it: Visit the Broadview Hotel

Photos by Joel LevyGrace Bennett, and Worker Bee Supply Co.

As the Senior Contributing Editor, Vy Yang is obsessed with discovering ways to live well + with intention through design. She's probably sharing what she finds over on Instagram stories. You can also find her at