So what is a boutique luxury hotel in this day and age? How do you define it?

It’s usually a smaller hotel, more stylish, one that is typically located in a fashionable area of a big city.

We think they are properties that are not necessarily small in terms of room numbers or the size of the building, but could be run by smaller companies, leaner operations, even run by wealthy individuals who understand what goes into a unique luxury experience. And they differentiate themselves by offering the smallest of details, personal accents on their service, that only experienced luxury lifestyle artists can see and appreciate.

Toronto has luxury hotel offerings from all the heavy hitters – Ritz-Carlton, Delta, Four Seasons, Fairmont, and the like. Toronto also offers many boutique offerings.

Here is Part 1 of our Top 3 – Bisha.

All of the hotels on our list are especially perfect for a late summer respite, even if you live in the city:

BISHA

80 Blue Jays Way

416-551-2800

www.bishatoronto.com

Here is the thing about Bisha – those of you who have travelled to New York City, and have either stayed at or visited some of the really cool, stylish, talked-about and trendy downtown hotel offerings in that city, as well as the restaurants and bars that are a big part of those properties, feel like you have been transported into NYC vibe after spending a few hours having a glass of wine alongside the jetsetters among Toronto’s Entertainment District crowd, or just sitting by the infinity pool with the city at your feet – all located on a 44th floor Bisha rooftop experience that can’t be matched anywhere else in the city.

Bisha offers 96 hotels rooms – 77 King Guestrooms, some with private terraces, 8 Two Queen Rooms, 10 Luxury Suites and 1 Two Floor Exclusive Suite.

We will sum it up in two words – spacious and sumptuous. The luxury finishes and curated art is like nothing else we saw in our tour.

“You will never catch Charles at a Hilton,” says Jacques Lapierre, Bisha’s general manager. He is referring to Charles Khabouth, the Lebanese hotelier, restaurateur, music promoter and nightclub owner who is the brainchild behind Bisha. And Mr. Lapierre isn’t disrespecting Hilton by saying that.

“Charles always looks for little gems that will create an experience for him,” he said. “He wanted to blend culture, local art, fashion – whatever the city has to offer. In his travels, there were always things he would find in those lifestyle, boutique hotels, and out of that he came up with his own idea of what a true lifestyle hotel should be. Bisha is truly a lifestyle hotel, and it speaks to what Charles likes as a customer.”

Wherever you are in the hotel, it plays with the five senses – whether that’s the black velvet walls in the lobby, the rich, vibrant colours throughout, or the Bisha scent that greets you when you walk in – not picked from any catalogue.

The whole property has a feel of unscriptedness, including the staff.

“Bisha is playful, sophisticated but accessible,” Mr. Lapierre said.

We couldn’t agree more.