Walking through the clubby, wood-paneled corridor of Halifax’s new Muir Hotel, I pass through the last door at the end of the hallway. The space opens up and the room is bathed in soft early evening light streaming in from the floor-to-ceiling windows. The suite overlooks the water and nearby Georges Island, and appears to float in midair, as if I’m on the prow of a large sailing ship.
In this city by the sea, where shipyards are a stone’s throw away, this marine effect is definitely by design.
Muir means “the sea” in Gaelic, and the hotel is built to mimic and honour Halifax’s sea-faring heritage. Designed by the Nova Scotian practice MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects, the Muir, Autograph Collection Hotel is the anchor for the vibrant Halifax Waterfront in the new Queen’s Marque district.
“Striking a rare balance between tradition and modernity, Muir is the physical and spiritual manifestation of a modern Nova Scotia, connecting guests to this place and its people through the art of architecture and design,” said Scott Armour McCrea, president and CEO of The Armour Group.
The Muir and the Queen’s Marque urban district are located in the centre of the city’s downtown, heralding a fresh chapter to a historic neighbourhood that is steeped in the mercantile spirit of the region.
In addition to Muir, the Queen’s Marque district includes residences, commercial offices, a multi-million-dollar public art collection, expansive public plazas, and a natural amphitheater, along with curated shopping and dining options. Massive granite stairs that lead into the harbour, which connects to the Atlantic Ocean, is among the highlights and already a favourite location for photos.
Muir’s Elegant Design Elements
Muir’s warm wooden interiors were conceived by award-winning Canadian designer Alessandro Munge of Studio Munge.
“Muir simultaneously embodies a contemporary and historic spirit,” said Brian MacKay-Lyons, founding partner at MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects. “In form, it is one of three abstracted ships that comprise the Queen’s Marque development and is set perpendicular to a 330-foot Wallace Sandstone building along Lower Water Street. In practice, the hotel has been designed with traditional elements such as a generous porte-cochère and hotel rooms reminiscent of the wood-lined ‘staterooms’ of an old luxury ocean liner.”
Muir encompasses the materiality of Nova Scotia, incorporating elements like salt-and-pepper granite, sandstone sourced from Wallace Quarries, and Muntz copper metal and walnut. The designers used Canadian-made furniture and lighting that embrace craftsmanship and a modern interpretation of East Coast design.
The “Light Chocks” are a pair of dramatic, glowing columns that incorporate abstract Fresnel lenses, similar to those used in lighthouses throughout Nova Scotia. Located at the entrance of Muir, the “Light Chocks” appear to hold up the building, creating a signature entrance to the porte-cochère and lighting the way to the hotel.
On the sustainability front, Queen’s Marque and Muir were designed with the future in mind. A Sea Water Loop reduces Muir’s carbon footprint and contributes to one of the most energy-efficient buildings in the region. Water is drawn from the harbour, harnessing the renewable energy of the sea through active chilled beams for heating and cooling. Natural conduction is utilized to circulate warm and cooled air, eliminating the need for boilers and creating further energy efficiencies through heat recovery.
Luxury Lodgings in Halifax
The hotel’s prominent position near the shores of the Atlantic Ocean offers intimate and immediate views from virtually all of the 109 rooms and suites. Each room and suite displays an original Nova Scotia landscape painting, commissioned purposefully for Muir, which invites guests to become intimately acquainted with the province.
Muir’s accommodations offer comfort, serenity and marine inspiration with touches like luminous portholes. The suites suggest the feeling of a modern stateroom in a luxury ocean liner. Suites enjoy an understated décor of curved corners and white oak floors and walls, and include family and pet amenities, braided rugs and bespoke locally-made tartan blankets. The showpiece in-room bars are finely crafted in walnut and feature a curated refreshment collection.
Muir’s Magnificent Amenities
Muir’s amenities, services, and experiences are as elevated as the property’s construction. Muir’s signature restaurant is Drift, with a menu that draws on local, seasonal ingredients to craft modern interpretations of Maritime classics.
Chef Anthony Walsh celebrates the region’s natural bounty from early morning breakfast to a cheeky evening nightcap. Drift welcomes guests into an atmospheric space marked by a capacious bar and seasonal patio with a harbour view. Dishes include baked clams with yuzu, a modernized rappie pie, and fish-forward hodge podge.
BKS, a “secret” speakeasy, provides an exclusive experience complete with waterfront terrace and modern cocktails whose lineage nods to the area’s rum-running past. Enjoy a modern twist on sailor’s grog or a margarita with local haskap berries. The rum-based Noon Gun cocktail is named after the daily artillery firing at the Citadel, the enduring landmark of Halifax that dates to 1749.
At Muir’s state-of-the-art fitness centre, Windward Wellness, guests will find Technogym treadmills, ellipticals, and rowing machines; yoga and spin rooms, complete with fitness classes; and a vitality spa pool and cold plunge pool. Wellness warriors can also indulge in a range of spa experiences, including a halotherapy salt room, infrared sauna and eucalyptus steam room.
The visual arts receive pride of place at Muir, where guests can explore regionally curated art in True Colours, Muir’s private art gallery. On the recreation side, guests can enjoy complimentary kayaks, paddleboards, bicycles, and access to Little Wing, a 36-foot Morris yacht available for guests to explore the harbour; and Reach, Muir’s high-speed motorboat.
MORE ABOUT THE MUIR HOTEL
Location: 1709 Lower Water Street, Halifax, NS (see map below)
Room Rates: A one-night weekend stay in a standard king room starts at $484 per night, according to a recent search of the hotel’s booking engine. A third-night-free package is available until August 31, 2022.