Designed by Peter Dickinson during his time at Page and Steele and opened in 1957, the Westbury Hotel was one of the first luxury hotels built in Toronto since the late 1920s. Strategically located at 475 Yonge Street, just north of Eaton’s College Park, the Westbury was convenient to the downtown business district, major department stores, Maple Leaf Gardens and the upscale Bloor Street shopping area.
The Westbury’s exterior represented the lightness, airiness and transparency of Dickinson’s best work during the mid-1950s: horizontal bands of windows in slim metal frames, contrasting solid wall planes of buff-coloured brick and daringly cantilevered balconies with translucent glass panels. A space-age butterfly canopy of steel and concrete, flanked by lush greenery, identified the main entrance on Wood Street.
Interiors were designed and outfitted by the Robert Simpson Company. Public areas and guest rooms featured sleek, clean-lined modern furniture of walnut and brass; the hotel’s lobby was lined in marble and bookmatched walnut paneling. The Sky Lounge on the sixteenth floor, with its views over the city and Lake Ontario, and the Polo Room cocktail lounge were favourite nightspots on the lively Yonge Street strip.
In the early 1960s a nine-storey block by Webb Zerafa Menkes was added to the north, the exterior lettering was replaced and, to accommodate the widening of Wood Street, the entrance canopy and planting beds were removed. After changing hands a few times, in 1999 the Westbury was completely reclad and renovated as a generic Courtyard by Marriott.
The Westbury Hotel is profiled in the recent monograph Peter Dickinson, written by John Martins-Manteiga and available through Dominion Modern.