The Drake Hotel

1150 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1J3, Canada

Usually, when you travel, it’s to experience a different side of yourself. The more adventurous side, the slightly less scheduled side, the sleep-in-without-guilt side. And when you stay at the Drake Hotel in Toronto, you can’t help but feel like your cooler side is making a much-needed appearance. The recently renovated property on Queen Street West features the kind of interior design that radiates style whether it’s in the kaleidoscopic lobby, the next door theater, or in two wings of suites. That’s because the hotel commissioned artists to showcase their work on plenty of open surfaces — from a black-and-white squiggle accent wall in guest rooms to personality-driven drawings in the elevator — and the results make for surroundings that are the material equivalent of black sunglasses. Paired with of-the-moment details like pink terrazzo showers and wraparound midcentury sofas, and the Drake Hotel is meant to cultivate a see-and-be-seen vibe.

But that’s not to say that the hotel sacrifices comfort for being camera-ready. The staff is kind and always available through text, the beds are soft and squarely stationed in front of a well-appointed bar and flatscreen television, and designer toiletries are filled to the brim. It’s also possible to eat throughout the day at the hotel’s delicious cafe and patio (get the French toast), and then spend the night at its second-floor bar or ground floor lounge. On weekends, even if you’re not a guest, you can stop by for regularly scheduled events including a DJ who spins old and new tunes. If you do plan on leaving the hotel to see the city, then you’re right in the midst of it, and the surrounding neighborhood can keep you readily entertained.

When you stay at the Drake Hotel, don’t be surprised if you feel relaxed, in-the-know, and decidedly cooler once you check out. These are sides of yourself the hotel may have encouraged, but feel free to hold on to them after you return home.

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A hotel with a sharp design

Opened in 2004 in a 19th-century building, the 19-room Drake Hotel is beloved for sharp design, intelligent art, and non-kitsch Canadiana—check out the gift shop’s Thrasher-inspired Toronto T-shirts. Its new Modern Wing opened in February, unveiling 32 more rooms with midcentury-modern overtones, quirky art like Owen Marshall’s Unremarkable Staircase text installations in stairwells, and custom platform beds.

With massive picture windows overlooking busy Queen West, the Drake’s restaurant provides the street’s best people-watching perch. Basement bar Drake Underground hosts some of Toronto’s best live indie rock. And the Modern Wing’s tiny lobby lounge makes an inviting spot for a shot or an evening, with its cherry-red bar and low-key lighting. The Drake claims its entire creative team lives in the neighborhood, so the hotel feels real without trying.

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