There’s something about The Westley Hotel that stands apart. Partly because it is the first Tapestry Collection by Hilton hotel in Western Canada; but mainly because the entire structural renovation and design showcases a clever mashup of what makes Calgary so unique.

As general manager Jeanette Poty likes to say, “It’s a little bit of this and a little bit of that. The Westley represents contradictory ideas and images that make Calgary so unique.”

The pet-friendly boutique hotel, which opened in 2021, is located in the heart of the Eau Claire neighbourhood in Calgary’s downtown core, where the different faces of the city converge. Adjacent to the downtown shopping centre and business district, it is also within walking distance of Prince Island’s Park and Bow River pathway.

The hotel is part of Silver Hotel Group, an ownership group with more than 20 hotels across Canada. With 104 rooms in six different configurations, the Westley offers everything guests would expect from a high-end boutique-hotel experience, from the comfortable lobby atmosphere featuring soft seating and local artwork, in-house restaurant, meeting spaces and open workspaces, to the fully appointed suites with subtle nods to both the corporate and cowboy cultures.

The five-storey building once served as a corporate headquarters, which led to some interesting and unique design elements. The entire project tells a story of adaptive re-use and the changing tides happening in Calgary, says Kristen Lien, principal at FRANK Architecture & Interiors in Calgary, the firm responsible for the project design. “When we looked at the original building, we saw we could make it work with some massaging of the floor plans. All in all, it was suited to a conversion.”

The design draws inspiration from the building’s origins in the 1970s, says Poty. “It’s not all about the past, however. The Westley is about celebrating the past, present and future. We have brought in elements that are a nod to that past in the furnishing and fabrics, but also added modern elements, including the latest technology innovation. The designers have found great ways to balance the two within the same building.”

The goal of the project was to create a boutique hotel that reflected the many facets of modern-day Calgary, says Lien. “Calgary is known for its corporate, white-collar culture, but the wild-west mentality also exists because of the farming, ranching and oil industries. We came up with the idea of proper and wild, then played that out in the design and the details. People in Calgary always say even that weather here can’t make up its mind.”

The target audience is equally eclectic, from business travellers and international guests to locals looking to celebrate special occasions or small group retreats, says Poty. “A lot of industries are represented, from technology and finance to traditional ones like energy. It’s a very inclusive destination.” She notes the The Westley recently became Rainbow Registered (a national accreditation for LGBT+ friendly businesses and organizations) by the Chamber of Commerce.

The uniqueness is evident the moment visitors enter the front doors. The entire design is meant to define the restaurant space first, says Lien. “The lobby bleeds into the food-and-beverage area where guests can mix with locals. The idea was that guests didn’t walk into the front desk when they entered.”

The Fonda Fora restaurant, serving fresh, Mexican fare by Yucatan-raised chef Rafael Castillo, and meeting spaces are at the forefront to create a social experience first and foremost “that’s what really defines this hotel over traditional experiences.”

Standout elements include the beautiful herringbone hardwood flooring and mushroom-inspired light installation by New York artist Danielle Trofe. They just bring an unexpected element when you walk into the lobby,” says Lien.

With a large, open space to work with, “We were challenged by the large structural spans and size of the space, so decided to break it up with thick, deep arches to provides the idea of layers,” she adds.

The reception desk is a statement piece in and of itself, Lien adds. “It’s an expansive stone element designed to look like furniture. It has a dark surrounding that lets visitors know they are transitioning from the lobby lounge space to private corridors and into the hotel.”
The lounge space furnishings are eclectic yet curated, she adds. “The space transitions from day to night quite nicely. You can serve breakfast and coffee, or snack while waiting, or eat there and have cocktails in the evening. The beautiful open kitchen design offers a prominent view of an island where the chefs are working, while the adjacent patio feels like a little oasis. It’s like a little nook within the city.”

Much of the furniture and artwork are made locally. “That’s something that we’re quite proud of,” says Poty. “We wanted to weave ourselves into the local community and embrace the supporting local mentality.”

The guestrooms’ “proper” aspects are reflected in the houndstooth check-patterned carpets and piping detailing on the furniture that serves as nods to corporate attire. At the same time, elements of the wild-west culture are infused into the space in the way of fringing on lamps, and floral patterns and colours that tie into western attire. “It has all been tastefully pulled together,” says Lien.

While the rooms are slightly smaller than typical suites, the designers created the feeling of a grand experience by scaling up the size of the washrooms, including large vanities and spacious walk-in showers. Blush pink and tan colours draw from some of the more feminine details seen in western attire, contrasting with the masculine details in the room itself. Floor-to-ceiling glazing also makes the rooms feel bigger than they are.

As a Hilton Tapestry Collection hotel, The Westley not only provides a unique guest experience, but it is also part of something bigger with all the benefits that go along with that, including the Hilton Honors loyalty program, says Poty. “Being part of a collection has allowed us to showcase our unique personality and voice and be authentic about who we are and how we weave ourselves into the community.”

“What is nice about soft branding is that it provides the association with the Hilton Brand while maintaining the Westley name,” says Lien.

With the return of international travellers, Poty anticipates busy times ahead. She’s confident The Westley will be on their radar as something out of the ordinary. “We are the answer for people looking for an upscale cool and sophisticated experience but still want the warmth and genuineness of down-home hospitality.”

Gone are the days when hotels just fit into one bucket, under one heading, she adds. “Someone that loves the ballet might still like to put their boots on and go stampeding. Executives on a business trip might also like to go outside and enjoy nature. Life is full of contradictions. That’s what makes it interesting. We have tried to embrace that as much as possible.”



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