When Jeff Stober redesigned the derelict Drake Hotel in 2004, he not only enhanced the Toronto hotel scene, he helped revitalize the West Queen West neighborhood. This long before the rapper Drake (no relation) became known as a Toronto ambassador. The design-oriented property, known for its “crash pads”—stylish rooms by the innovative John Tong and his design firm +tongtong—is a landmark in the neighborhood, and it’s become a mainstay at many festivals including North by Northeast, Canadian Music Week, and TIFF. Even if you’re not staying here, it’s worth a stop for a bite to eat at the Café, a show in the Underground, or a cocktail at the funkiest rooftop in the city. The Drake is truly your one-stop-shop for culture, design, and cuisine.
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In the heart of West Queen West, the Drake sits amid some of Toronto’s best restaurants, art galleries, shops, and bars, not to mention its own Drake General Store. On Queen West, we love places like Dandylion and Nuit Social for serious dining experiences; Feel Good Guru for a healthy fix; and Type Books for an escape (or to buy gifts). The hotel borders a few different streets and neighborhoods. If you walk east, you’ll find the gentrified Ossington, with a mélange of vintage boutiques like I Miss You Vintage, upscale restaurants, and the street’s signature craft brewery Bellwoods Brewery (now complete with a bottle shop, in case you can’t snag a spot on the popular patio). If you walk west through the underpass, you’ll be in trendy Parkdale. Walk east on Queen and north through the grassy Trinity Bellwoods Park, and you’ll come to Dundas West, home to great eateries and bars including the Black Hoof, its Cocktail Bar, and Rhum Corner. Campagnolo and Porchetta & Co. are tops for Italian cuisine and sandwiches, respectively.
Need to Know
Rooms: 19 rooms, 1 suite. From $199. Check-in: 3 p.m.; check-out: 11 a.m. Dining options: The Drake has four options for food and drink. In the main dining room, nosh at the sushi bar or enjoy the many fish offerings of chef Ted Corrado. Grab a burger and beer in the lounge, and a windowside seat for prime people watching. At the more casual café, start the morning with the signature fried chicken and waffles; discounted cocktails and snacks are offered 4–6 p.m. during the week. Up top, begin or end your evening at the Drake Sky Yard, a heated patio with artistic flair and boozy pours. Try the Beets by Drake cocktail, and make sure you say hi to the tattooed Sandy de Almeida, the petite bartender who makes a mighty drink. Spa and gym details: There is no spa or gym. But guests have access to 99 Sudbury gym, occasional yoga events held at the hotel, and numerous yoga studios in the neighborhood.
Who it's for: Creative types with a touch of hipster; culture mavens wanting to explore like locals; friends on a getaway; couples and business travelers seeking a culture fix in their downtime. Our favorite rooms: The cozy, 130-square-foot Nook is the perfect room for the solo traveler. For foodies: Meet industry insiders at the Drake’s 86’d event every Monday. As a bonus, free culinary competitions involve some of the most innovative chefs in the city—plus a chance to mix and mingle with those in the food and drink industry.