Among the neighborhood’s art-minded hotels, the Gladstone is the most interactive, with shows, classes, and ongoing events. The 37 rooms, all designed by local artists, have breathed new life into the 128-year-old icon, which filmmaker Christina Zeidler took over in 2003 and revitalized in 2005. The Victorian landmark, named for its avenue (in turn named after four-time Canadian Prime Minister William Gladstone), has been a gathering spot for over a century. And it was home to legendary Toronto characters like cowboy Hank Young, who became a fixture at the hotel as a country singer in 1961 and manned the hand-operated elevator from 2005 to 2009, and Peter Styles, former host of Karaoke Night, with applause sign in hand. The legend of Hank lives on in a framed photo in the stairwell en route to the second floor.

The Gladstone continues to push the boundaries of community and culture with creative events like its educational workshop series, Get School’d, and its annual alternative design event, Come Up to My Room (CUTMR), which runs alongside the city’s Interior Design Show. Begin your stay in this architectural gem with a drink at the Café or Melody Bar (that is, if you’re not first thrust into Fameless Karaoke Night).

More Recommendations

Boutique Hotel with an Artist's Point of View

Stay in one of the 37 artist-designed rooms at the Gladstone, Toronto‘s longest-running hotel, and you’ll be feeling the design vibe by morning. The Snapshot room incorporates vibrant images of Toronto’s High Park and gives a treehouse feeling to this small space. Each room is as unique as the last and artwork is found throughout the public spaces of the hotel. The renovation of the Victorian architecture incorporates the best of the past with modern amenities. Sustainable hotel practices include a commitment to local products and food, a living green wall and roof system, and strong support of contemporary culture in the city.

If you need to karaoke your little heart out: The Gladstone Melody Bar

Crooners, rockers, and wanna be disco divas from far and wide come to Queen West’s favourite karaoke in the Gladstone Melody Bar hosted by the indomitable Peter Styles. Voted Best Karaoke Bar by NOW Magazine for eight years. (via The Gladstone Hotel). All I will say is that Peter Styles is a rock star. There is always a birthday party happening here. It’s a fun time on a Saturday night. We know: love is a battlefield.

Artsy Slumber

If I had cash to burn––and didn’t live but a stone’s throw away––I’d set up camp at the Gladstone. Around since 1889, the city’s oldest operating hotel used to mark Toronto’s westernmost edge. Now it’s where you go for an injection of culture. Think: art shows, live music, burlesque acts, book launches, and design shows. There are two watering cans, and, should you feel the urge, a karaoke sesh is definitely within the realm of possibility. You could actually have quite the cultural weekend, and not even leave the confines of the place. And the rooms? Each of the 37 picks has been designed by an artist and is therefore truly unique. The Canadiana room will leave a proper Canuck taste in the mouth, while Teen Queen begs for some caramel popcorn and endless re-runs of 90210. Personally, I’d pack my bags and hit up the Chinoiserie room. Artist Millie Chen has taken an ironic approach to the term, with the piece de résistance being the playful wallpaper, which demands a closer look.

Sleep with Artists at Toronto's Gladstone Hotel

The Gladstone Hotel functions as so much more than a hotel: it’s a gathering place for the Toronto arts community. There’s art everywhere—in the halls, the staircase, the cafe—and each room has been decorated by a local artist in a different style. It’s a visually rich experience, worth just stopping by the cafe or the ballyhooed karaoke nights to see the community come together. (Shown is Orest Tataryn’s neon work, in the hotel lobby.)

Discover Toronto's Art and Design District with Betty Ann Jordan

Betty Ann Jordan leads tours all around Toronto, drawing on her extensive experience as a longtime arts writer and editor. She’s knowledgeable, friendly, and extremely enthusiastic about the thriving arts scene in Toronto. Here, she’s showing us the gallery room in the Gladstone Hotel, a cornerstone in the West Queen West arts district.

Gladstone Hotel

With 37 artist-designed rooms, The Gladstone Hotel invites guests to enter the whimsical dream worlds of Canadian and international visionaries. Combining contemporary decor with rich historical details, Toronto’s oldest hotel and former flophouse has transformed into one of the city’s hippest boutique hotels. Since 2003, the Gladstone has contributed to the gentrification of West Queen West while also supporting Toronto’s burgeoning arts community. For a truly unique travel experience, guests can stay in one of themed rooms such as the Surreal Gourmet room, which serves up kitschy food-inspired touches, or the Canadiana room outfitted with Canadian themed design details.

Information on this page, including website, location, and opening hours, is subject to have changed since this page was last published. If you would like to report anything that’s inaccurate, let us know at

Nearby highlights
Sign up for our newsletter
Join more than a million of the world’s best travelers. Subscribe to the Daily Wander newsletter.
More From AFAR