The past decade has seen a boom in boutique hotels. Travelers want intimate details and personalized service — the hotel should be just as interesting as the city they’re visiting. In Toronto, the trend started on Queen West and in the midst of the metropolis’ construction boom, but now, it’s making its way to the city centre.
Here are three major standouts among the crowd — fabulous in their own right, but also a great introduction to the different districts the city.
The Drake Hotel
Calling itself the “hotbed of culture,” The Drake Hotel changed the concept of the boutique hotel entirely after its inception in 2004. The stylish, 150-square-foot “crash pads” are like a sophisticated hipster’s cabin: flannel blankets, exposed brick, vintage furniture, and funky wallpaper prints. You’ll get personalized touches, too, like a handmade doll on the bed or maple syrup in the mini-bar. The pads are an ideal rest stop after a fun night on the lively Queen St. West strip, or in one of the property’s several venues. Dance away to a festival downstairs at the Underground; attend the infamous 86’d food events in the Lounge, hosted by local food maven Ivy Knight; or refresh with a creative cocktail in the Sky Yard, open year-round. Come morning, stock up on the delectable fried chicken and waffles at the Drake Cafe.
Art is at the heart of Gladstone Hotel, another option close to the funky neighbourhoods of Queen Street West, Parkdale, and the Ossington strip. Its 37 rooms – each with a different theme designed by local artists – are like staying in your own curated art installation, but casual enough to be able to jump on the bed.
The regal Billio Room, for example, is awash in cranberry walls and lush gold-and-red floral curtains. Custom antique armoires and a blueprint of the original hotel are an ode to the hotel’s 125-year history, and that sense of timeless class is a nice change from the cookie-cutter rooms in most other places. The sleek Map Room is perhaps even cleverer, paying tribute to Toronto’s topography in subtle design details. Look up at the crown moulding, and you’ll see it represents city blocks. You don’t have to be a design geek to love something like that.
Hotel Le Germain Maple Leaf Square
As soon as you walk into the purple-lit lobby of Le Germain’s second boutique hotel in the city, steps from the bustle of the Air Canada Centre and Maple Leaf Square, you immediately feel like you’re at home (in French or in English. The staff are fully bilingual!). The rooms have a modernist feel to them, but with fun design details: Rooms feature round, plush beds and black-and-white portraits that add a dash of sophistication to the cozy chaise and rain shower. The environmentally friendly hotel lets you bring your pet, too! After a day at the nearby Toronto Islands/Harbourfront or in the Financial District, few boutique hotels are as relaxing and fun to come home to.