Toronto: The Drake
The arts-oriented, 19-room Drake Hotel, originally a derelict apartment block, still maintains the high hip quotient it has enjoyed since it opened. A hit with both local and international creative types, it is a true Toronto cultural hub, covering all the travel basics—art, music, food and shopping.
Vibe: It doesn’t get much cooler than this. Informal, quirky and fun, The Drake is a pioneer of the small boutique experience in the city—artsy and original, with a high- and low-brow look and feel. The building’s façade, original granite floors and front lobby design details hark back to the building’s rambling past. Art springs out of almost every corner, as you would expect from a hotel with a full-time art curator. The Drake was the first North American hotel to offer a “pleasure menu,” featuring items from sex shop Come As You Are.
Rooms: The rooms sport bold colours and patterns, retro-style furniture and lighting, simple wood shelving and a stand-out original piece of art above a wooden headboard. A functional luggage rack along the top of one side frees up floor space and doubles as a clothes rack. Rooms also come loaded with tempting snacks and a ton of alcohol, a Bose SoundLink Mini, and a safe cleverly stashed inside a drawer. Bathrooms feature a private toilet and a large shower, with Malin & Goetz amenities adding a dash of luxury.
F&B: Culinary offerings in three main spaces—café, lounge and rooftop Sky Yard—are inventive, with the kitchen producing as much as possible themselves, including all the bread, charcuterie, pasta, and preserves. A raw bar churns out made-to-order sushi. The burger is one of the best in town, with “fancy fries” covered in grated pecorino cheese and truffle butter. The café does a serious breakfast, serving specialties such as house-smoked salmon, house-made sausage and a killer breakfast sandwich. A cocktail list is chock-full of booze-forward drinks created by the resident bartenders, and the wine list is longer than you’d expect, with varied price points.
Extras: A host is stationed at the front door to direct human traffic at busy times, adjacent to the small 24-hour reception desk. Guests get a discount at The Drake General Store across the street, a lifestyle emporium and apothecary with locations across Canada. The Underground space in the basement is busy with meetings, events, live bands and poetry slams. The hotel maintains partnerships with a nearby yoga studio and a gym.
Off-Site: The Drake is right in the thick of the Queen Street West shopping strip. Downtown is an easy 15-minute streetcar ride eastward and trendy Trinity Bellwoods Park is a 10-minute walk. The Ossington Avenue strip of fashionable bars and restaurants is two blocks away.