Gladstone Hotel
Toronto

Historic Gladstone Hotel Toronto is a lively cultural hotspot along Queen Street West Toronto. Learn more about its offerings: food, art, music and more.

Photographer: Cat O'Neil

The Gladstone Hotel Toronto is one of those curious old buildings I like to photograph from the outside when I visit Queen Street West Toronto. Until recently, however, I'd never been inside. Then I read a review of its restaurant and decided to try it for lunch. Although I didn't stay overnight, I did get a chance to explore the common space, to leaf through some photos of the different artist-decorated rooms and to discuss them with the very helpful desk clerk on duty. Here's my take on one of the most popular and unusual boutique hotels in Toronto.

A little history of the hotel

The Gladstone is the oldest continuously operating hotel in the city. It was designed by architect George Miller in 1889, which makes this grand old lady more than a century in age – a true antique. The Gladstone began life as a stylish railway hotel (the Parkdale station stood just across the street back then), but over the years its fortunes faded along with that of its neighbourhood. In recent decades it became very run down like many of the nearby buildings.

In 2002 the current owners, the Zeidler family, bought it and renovated it, slowly turning it into an elegant venue once again. They kept and renewed many of its old charming features, like the faux-marble pillars in the bar and the Victorian hand-operated elevator in the lobby. The same thing is happening with other buildings nearby, and in fact the whole community surrounding it is gradually taking on a healthier glow, as stores, art galleries and eateries continue to spring up along the street.

Sleeping at the Gladstone Hotel Toronto

At the Gladstone you won't find any cookie-cutter hotel bedrooms. Each of its 37 spaces has a unique design. Artists and designers teamed up to create some weird, wacky and wonderful rooms. Here are some examples:

Photographer: Tom Arban

Prices for rooms range from less than $200 (small room) to over $400 (two-storey tower suite).

Some of the rooms feature clever uses of space. One room for example appears to have a fireplace, but when you pull the curtain, you find a flat-screen tv. This room, by the way, is designed to look as it might have back in the day when the hotel first opened.

Photographer: Cat O'Neil

Another room has what looks like a stack of antique suitcases piled up in the corner; but pull on the side and it opens up to reveal a television.

The hotel attracts an artsy crowd who appreciate the unique spaces and cultural events the hotel hosts. On tripadvisor.com the hotel has more than 100 reviews, and gets 4 out of 5 star– a very respectable rating. In May 2009 National Geographic Traveler listed the Glastone as one of the "Hotels We Love" – quite a coup! And the Guardian recently included it in their list of "Art Hotels of the World".

Dining at the Gladstone Hotel Toronto

As I mentioned above, we recently had lunch in the ground-floor café. I had the porchetta sandwich with apple, coleslaw and cheddar and my sister had the grilled cheese sandwich with apple on raisin bread. Both were above-average, served on fresh gourmet bread and accompanied by a delicious salad. Even the fair trade decaf coffee was so good I had to order seconds.

Photographer: Cat O'Neil

This room has a high ceiling, wonderful windows facing onto Queen Street and gorgeous glass lamps that are works of art. Paintings adorn the wall and give the space a homey feel – it's more like an artsy living room than a public space. It's so relaxing that you'll probably be tempted to linger longer than you normally would for lunch, so plan accordingly.

We'll definitely be back again on one of our Queen Street West shopping trips. We might even try dinner, although the menu doesn't look very extensive. Maybe they'll expand it in future.

Drinking, Partying & "Convening" at the Gladstone Hotel Toronto

The Melody Bar is the regular music area of the hotel and is situated at the front of the building. The Ballroom near the back also hosts events. The second floor has other reception areas for private hire. The hotel hosts parties, business meetings, conferences, weddings, etc.

Favourite features

Besides the great café area and wacky bedrooms, here are a couple of other things I love about this place:

1. The gargoyle on the outside wall.

Photographer: Guylaine Spencer

2. The lobby furniture, including this chair:

Photographer: Guylaine Spencer

Location of Gladstone Hotel Toronto

The Gladstone Hotel Toronto is located at 1214 Queen Street West at the corner of Gladstone Street in the Parkdale district of Toronto. This area is west of the main downtown area and a perfect location if you're going to be shopping/eating/bar-hopping along Queen Street West.

For more information

Web site: http://www.gladstonehotel.com

Related pages

Royal York Hotel Toronto

Queen Street West Toronto


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