Calgary's newest hotel is named after Oscar Wilde's classic novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and for those who've read the book, you probably know what the hotel is striving for based on the reference alone.
For those who haven't read the novel: It was published in 1891, is Oscar Wilde's most famous work, and remains a classic because of its commentary on themes such as art, beauty, and hedonism. "To me, beauty is the wonder of wonders', a character in the book tells Dorian Gray, the main protagonist, and the Dorian aims to be the wonder of wonders.
Located on 525 5th Ave SW, the $110M, 27-storey Dorian hotel opened its doors (and rooms) in late July, and was the first new hotel to be built in downtown Calgary in over a decade. According to a 2019 State of Downtown Calgary report, The Dorian also received "the first ever development permit featuring a density bonus due to excellence in design."
The Dorian is actually two hotels in one. The first, occupying the lower half, is a Marriott hotel with 169 rooms, while the upper half features 137 themed rooms -- called Autograph Collection rooms. That theme is one that "blends modern comfort with British whimsy and local flavour", the Dorian said in a press release.
The rooms range from single bedroom rooms about 350 sq. ft to larger suites nearly 700 sq. ft, many with views of the Calgary skyline. (A copy of The Picture of Dorian Gray will be provided in every single room, like the Bible.)
Also unique is how the hotel positions itself, calling it the "first and only lifestyle hotel" in Calgary, meaning that it's not just striving to be a hotel, but also a place you can visit even if you aren't staying overnight.
The Dorian offers multiple ballrooms, most of which are named after characters from Picture of Dorian Gray -- Lord Henry, Basil Hallward, Sibyl Vane -- that can be used for various size events, accommodating anything from 10-person meetings to 225-person weddings.
And of course, the Dorian also includes multiple on-site restaurants: the Prologue, a cafe on the first floor; the Bistro Novelle, a cosmopolitan restaurant on the second floor; and The Wilde, a cocktail lounge on the 27th floor with seven-foot glass walls and an outdoor rooftop patio.
Revitalizing Downtown Calgary
The Dorian hotel was developed by Calgary-based PBA, in partnership with Autograph Collection Hotels, Courtyard by Marriott, and Concord Hospitality, and PBA envisions it bringing new life to downtown Calgary. "We are extremely excited about The Dorian and the role we envision this hotel property playing in the revitalizing of Calgary’s downtown", said Patricia Phillips, CEO of PBA.
Calgary is being increasingly recognized as one of the most livable cities in not just Canada and North America, but the world. A workforce insight report published by LinkedIn earlier this year found that Calgary is the city in North America seeing the highest growth in its tech industry. The Province of Alberta recently launched an "Alberta Is Calling" ad campaign in Toronto and Vancouver to try to capitalize on this momentum and lure talent to the province, and the Dorian is now there to help.
At the end of Oscar Wilde's novel, Dorian Gray dies, by his own hand, but at peace. The portrait of him, however, remains in its original, exquisite form. Oscar Wilde once said that the moral of his novel was that "All excess, as well as all renunciation, brings its own punishment." That might sound a little ironic now with The Dorian in mind, and you may be wondering why the hotel wasn't named after The Great Gatsby, another story about excess and hedonism that happens to feature a famous scene in a hotel. "The Gatsby", however, was already taken.