Drake Hotel Toronto in the West Queen Street West District reflects and feeds its artsy community.
|Photographer: Dan Chan|
Hotels are often like little worlds of their own, self-sufficient and self-contained. Welcome to the Planet of Leisure, they whisper.
Some, like the Royal York Toronto, for example, even strive to be a city within a city.
While this kind of fantasy can be comforting, it's also fun to find a hotel that is the exact opposite.
The Drake Hotel is one of those rare hotels that actually reaches out to its neighbourhood, and reflects its neighbourhood, with all the quirky features of that environment.
The most obvious element of both the Drake and its West Queen Street West community is art with a capital A.
Before you even step inside the lobby you'll see art on display in the window. Pass through the vestibule and you'll find more art on the walls of the lobby and beyond. But come back next month and you'll find a different exhibit… because this hotel is more than just a hotel. It's a cultural centre too.
Culture at the Drake extends to music as well. Sure, many hotels feature live music, but the Drake takes it seriously. With a lounge and a basement bar there's something happening every night. It could be local indie band or even a poetry slam.
Suspicious of hotel food? Well this one's a bit different.
Sure, you can find hotel comfort food here: fish and chips, burgers, even mac and cheese… but with a hip, Queen Street West twist, fresh ingredients and a zippy flavour. The food and the gourmet coffee makes the café, dining room, lounge and other venues as popular with locals as with hotel guests … how many hotel restaurants can truthfully say they're a neighbourhood hangout?
The Rooms at Drake Hotel Toronto
Oh yah, the Drake also rents out rooms. Did I mention that? Each of the 19 rooms is unique and as quirky as the art galleries and boutiques along Queen Street West. Why? Because they were designed by the same folks who brought you those places.
As one of the most popular boutique hotels in Toronto, the Drake has gained quite a following with the chi-chi magazines (Wallpaper, Travel + Leisure, Time Out, etc) as well as with Mr. and Ms. Tourist (4 out of 5 stars on tripadvisor.com is pretty impressive).
History of Drake Hotel Toronto
The Drake is one of Toronto's oldest hotels. It opened in 1890 as D. A. Small’s Hotel. Over the past 100+ years, it has changed names and appearances several times, operating as Hotel Cecil and the Stardust. It's been known as the Drake since 1949.
For some years the hotel fell on hard times, like the rest of the neighbourhood, and it survived as a flop house for a while.
In 2001, Jeff Stober bought it and began $5 million worth of extensive renovations. The main designers, 3rd Uncle Design, kept many of the older features of the building. Re-opened on Valentine's Day, 2004.
Location of Drake Hotel Toronto
You'll find the Drake 1150 Queen St W in what's now called the West Queen West Art and Design District, or the Parkdale neighbourhood, depending on who you ask. The community's a mix of scruffy and cool.
For more information
Drake website: http://www.thedrakehotel.ca