Canada Travel Guide

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Before and After: Omni Renovations are Happening at the King Edward Toronto

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  Site Where: 37 King St E, Toronto, ON, Canada
March 27, 2014 at 10:09 AM | by | Comment (1)

We love hotel renovations nearly just as much as we love new hotels. But what we really love about hotel renovations is seeing the transformation that happens when an old, tired and lackluster room gets a modern makeover and transforms into new, spiffed-up, stylish guest room. Or put more simply, we love comparing the Before and After.

We told you last year that Omni Hotels was taking over the King Edward Hotel in Toronto and would be spending $40 million on renovating the hotel, from guestrooms to the 17th floor Crystal Ballroom that has been closed since the 1970s. While its 20-foot ceilings and four-way skyline views will make for a dramatic addition to the hotel, we’ll start today with a look at the before and after of the guestrooms.

The move to Omni last year marked 110 years since the hotel first opened in 1903, so it’s probably no surprise the rooms had a rather classic feel, but how have they changed?

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Canada Gets Its First Autograph Collection Hotel with the Revamped Algonquin Resort

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  Site Where: 184 Adolphus Street , St Andrews, New Brunswick, Canada, E5B 1T7
March 27, 2014 at 8:31 AM | by | Comments (0)

New Brunswick’s Grande Dame of a hotel, The Algonquin Resort, reopened last week after a one-year “rafters to registration” refurb to become Canada’s first hotel under Marriott’s Autograph Collection brand of independent hotels.

The century-old plus Algonquin Resort’s guest rooms and public spaces were completely redesigned by Toronto designer, Robynne Moncur of Moncur Design. The hotel’s décor reflects its Victorian origins but is re-styled for a modern sensibility, with a living room-style lobby that invites lingering around the two-sided fireplace. The lounge now opens to an outdoor patio that takes in the nightly sunsets over Passamaquoddy Bay in the awesomely-named St. Andrews-by-the Sea.

Each guest room and suite in the 233-room resort includes comfy pillow-top mattresses and bathrobes, radiant heat flooring in the bathrooms so that your tootsies don’t get cold, MP3 players, 32-inch flat screen TVs, in-room coffee, and complimentary in-room movies and WiFi. Select rooms and suites even feature a balcony or patio for you to while away an afternoon with a book — something like Michael Martin’s Lost in Hotels seems appropriate!

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Hotel Indigo to Open in NYC and Miami's Financial Districts in 2016

Where: Canada
March 19, 2014 at 12:56 PM | by | Comments (0)

We can't get enough of Hotel Indigos and fortunately, it's getting easier and easier to find a Hotel Indigo wherever we go.

The boutique brand from InterContinental Hotel Group has announced new hotels in New York's Financial District and in Miami's Brickell area.

The Hotel Indigo NYC Financial District will open in 2016 on Maiden Lane, one of the city's oldest streets, between Nassau and Broadway. This historic location will no doubt play a part in the Hotel Indigo's design which always works in elements from the surrounding area. And since Maiden Lane was where many of the city's watchmakers were located (there's a clock embedded in the sidewalk in front of William Barthman Jeweler), we're expecting a lot of clocks. Indeed, Hotel Indigo is already promising a "unique spin on the idea of time."

The hotel is also located one block from the new One World Trade Center. In total, the 25-story new-build hotel will have 190 rooms featuring all the Indigo brand standards--hard-surfaced flooring with area rugs, spa-inspired bathrooms, plush bedding and free WiFi, along with a bar and restaurant serving locally sourced food. And the new Interactive Neighborhood Guides will be in place as well.

This will be the fifth Indigo in NYC since it already has locations in Brooklyn and Chelsea with two more in the works in the LES and Flushing, Queens.

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Aloft Calgary To Open In April As Per Starwood’s 'Go Big Or Go Home' Goal

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  Site Where: 2359 Banff Trail NW, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, T2M 4L2
March 12, 2014 at 12:00 PM | by | Comments (0)

We’re hearing a lot about Aloft Hotels these days and here’s why: Starwood is planning to open 100 Aloft Hotels in 14 countries by the end of 2014. That’s a big shout-out to you, Gen Yers, since Starwood's building 'em mostly for you.

So without further adieu, here comes Aloft Calgary University, set to open on April 17—the first Aloft in Western Canada and the third to debut in the country.

Like all of the Aloft properties, you can expect modern design, loads of tech, and local live music at its signature W XYZ bar. You’ll also find a 24/7 pantry for when you have the munchies, indoor pool, 24-hour fitness center, full-service day spa, spin studio and a casual eatery on the second level of the hotel.

The Aloft Calgary University will have 143 loft-inspired rooms each with a walk-in shower, Bliss toiletries, free and, they’re promising, fast WiFi, and plug & play charging stations that connect to the 42” LCD TV.

Rates in May start at $189 CAD, but we say go the distance and have breakfast included for $199 CAD.

{Rendering: Starwood Hotels & Resorts]

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Montreal Says 'Bienvenue' to a New ALT Hotel

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  Site Where: 120 Peel Street, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, H3C 4B8
February 27, 2014 at 9:18 AM | by | Comments (0)

Groupe Germain Hospitalité is opening its fifth ALT Hotel at the end of March: the ALT Hotel Montréal Griffintown. Along with Hôtel Le Germain Montréal and ALT Hotel Brossard Quartier DIX30, this will be the company’s third hotel in and around the city. It will also be the first hotel (try to keep with all of these stats!) to open in cool-sounding Griffintown, one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods now home to Montréal’s Fashion Week and its own bespoke beer, Griffintown Blonde Ale from Brasseur de Montréal. (You know you’ve made it when your name’s on a beer, are we right?)

The hotel will continue to fulfill the ALT Hotels mandate of offering a “no-frills-chic hotel concept combining modern design and eco-friendly features at an affordable rate.”

See more renderings below!

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A Peek Inside Toronto’s Iconic Hipster Hangout, The Drake Hotel

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  Site Where: 1150 Queen St W, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
February 20, 2014 at 9:51 AM | by | Comments (0)

The Drake Hotel was one of, if not THE, first boutique hotel in Toronto when it opened. When we heard that dot-comer Jeff Stober was opening The Drake west of Queen West, we thought it impossible for the hotel to survive in the then downtrodden boonies. We were wrong, so wrong—not only did The Drake persevere but it quickly became a hotspot for locals who lined up to get into its basement band venue and kickass lounge. Now, ten years on, we set out to discover whether The Drake Hotel still had true cachet.

We walked in on a wintry Saturday afternoon and the place was overflowing with bohos and hipsters alike, most waiting for a table in the recently-reno’ed (and enlarged but still full to capacity) restaurant and lounge. If you ever wondered what the Canadian design aesthetic is, you need to come here. There’s lots of natural wood, industrial lighting, earth tones, forest motifs and—to take it one step further—The Drake has a kitschy camp feel that reminds us of every camping trip we ever took as kids, sans mosquitoes.

The rooms carry on that mid-century modern campground feel but with modern ModCons. You can see inside the rooms in the photo gallery, but there are a few things that deserve an extra shout-out. First, let’s hear it for “Hairy Chest Man.” This particular doll for adults with leather studded collar is handmade and you can find a different doll in every room. Next, the “pleasure menu”: The Drake purports to be the first hotel in the world to carry one and while we can’t vouch for that, we can say that it is probably the most extensive menu of its kind that we’ve had the “pleasure” of seeing (yuck yuck). We also loved the owl light and the toiletries by Malin + Goetz.

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A Peek at The Beverley Hotel in Toronto

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  Site Where: 335 Queen Street W, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5V 2A1
February 13, 2014 at 3:34 PM | by | Comments (0)

Next up in our Toronto tour is the 18-room hotel, The Beverley, found on hipster hangout, Queen West. After some initial confusion as to whether to head up or down the stairs (go up to check-in and down to go to the popular restaurant and lounge), we met up with GM Scott Newnham who showed us around this tasteful minimalist boutique property.

The hotel’s motto is, “Everything you need and nothing you don’t,” and we think this is a pretty accurate depiction of what the hotel’s all about. Cool, white minimalism takes over the rooms — with a happy shock of vivid color coming from the bathrooms — and what’s there is luxurious: Frette linens; local spa Body Blitz toiletries; fluffy cotton robes; and flat-screen TVs mounted on the ceiling or wall.

Have a look at the photo gallery below to see for yourself!

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A Frosty, Carnaval-esque Killer View from the Hilton Quebec City

Where: 1100 Boulevard Rene-Levesque, Quebec, Quebec, Canada
February 12, 2014 at 12:57 PM | by | Comments (0)

Those hardy Québécois are well-known for embracing rather than fearing the winter. And when it blankets the city so attractively like this, we can almost see why.

This is an early February view from the 18th floor of the Hilton Québéc. The 23-story, 571-room hotel is located on Parliament Hill, which makes for some pretty sweet views of the St. Lawrence River, Parliament, or the Laurentian Mountains from every room.

From the floor-to-celing window in our King room, looking out across the snow-covered rooftops, the iconic Château Frontenac aka "the most photographed hotel in the world" now run by Fairmont Hotels, is visible, as is the Place Desjardins, the setting for most Carnaval activities.

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Toronto’s Drake Hotel Has a New Sibling: The Drake Devonshire Inn

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  Site Where: 24 Wharf Street, Wellington, Ontario, Canada
February 12, 2014 at 12:12 PM | by | Comments (0)

For a new hotel that’s not opening in the heart of the city but in the country, there sure is a lot of buzz around the Drake Devonshire Inn. Mind you, it is opening in a quaint little town with a quaint name — Wellington in Prince Edward County — but we suspect it’s because The Drake name holds a lot of clout in these here parts (for a peek inside The Drake Hotel Toronto stay tuned until next week when we’ll bring you inside it’s hallowed halls).

In keeping with The Drake Toronto, we’re expecting a certain cheeky Canadiana charm to fill the twelve-room Inn, which is expected to open early summer. The architects have taken an existing historic building and are melding it with the new to create a rough-luxe design aesthetic where flannel would be appropriate. The hotel’s aim is to bring the big-city cool kids to the country — a sort of adult year-round camp — and that also means an old-school games room, farm-to-table dining in an indoor and outdoor restaurant that serves home cookin’ with a twist, loads of local entertainment and maybe the odd pillow fight.

And while you’re hanging out on the outdoor deck sipping a Pinot, it’s--quite literally--hanging out over Lake Ontario.

Rates aren't available yet, but we hope to know more soon.

[Renderings: Drake Devonshire Inn]

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A Peek Inside Toronto’s Hotel Ocho

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  Site Where: 195 Spadina Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5T 2C5
February 7, 2014 at 10:39 AM | by | Comments (0)

We popped in to 12-room boutique Hotel Ocho during our recent excursion to T.O. We found an industrial-style crash pad with Danish minimalism and shabby chic décor thrown in for good measure.

The hotel opened in May 2011 in an area underserviced by the big-name brands. Next to Chinatown and in the trendy Queen West area (you can rent a bike right outside the hotel to get around), it attracts the creative class with its basement restaurant and lounge offering martini and wine nights. The hotel’s reception is also in the basement level, although you might just miss it if you're not aware, since check-in is located behind the stairs leading up to the second level (as you can see, there’s some quirk here too!).

Once you hit the rooms—on the top two floors of the four-storey building (and yes, there is an elevator)—you’ll have a choice of a Standard Room, Superior Room or Deluxe Room. All have wood-plank ceilings, flat-screen TVs and free Wi-Fi. We had a peek at a Superior Room and it also had a little desk, an open bathroom concept and walk-in shower, and La Source toiletries. The Standard Room also had the open concept bathroom and was... cozy.

The hotel showcases local artists and rotates the work about every two months, giving the hotel a lot of character. See for yourself in the Photo Gallery below!

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Generation Next In Airport Hotels: The Grand Winnipeg

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  Site Where: 1979 Wellington Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, R3H 1H5
February 4, 2014 at 4:59 PM | by | Comment (1)

While times, they are a-changing, the vast majority of airport hotels are still conservatively-designed chain hotels. The Grand Hotel Winnipeg Airport, part of Preferred Hotel Group, could be the next generation of stylin’ airport boutique hotels that have it all goin’ on.

To prove our point here are 10 things that we loved:

1. It brings back the golden age of flying – We’ve all heard tales of a time when one wore their Sunday best to fly and martinis were copious. We’ll never get those days back, but with The Grand’s design scheme we can still pretend. Colours in the hotel are tarmac grey paired with sky and Robin’s egg blues. The addition of whites makes the hotel feel crisp and laundered. It feels like optimism, all shiny and new.

2. Artwork – The hotel doesn’t bill itself as an art hotel, but it should. All of the artwork in the hotel—the rotating images behind reception, in the rooms and throughout the public areas—are photographs taken by the hotel's owner, Keith Levit.

3. The Room – Spacious and well-thought out, full of flat spaces and cubby holes for our stuff. We had a Deluxe Runway View room (620 sq ft) and—calling all location scouts—it looked directly out onto the apron and runways.

4. Local food done really well – Fresh ingredients including the kitchen’s homegrown micro greens made for a great dinner, and you should see that walk-in wine cellar!

Not ones to apologize for noticing and appreciating the minutiae of a hotel because we do sweat the small stuff, some small but important deets are below:

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10 Treats To Try at Trump Toronto

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  Site Where: 325 Bay Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5H 4G3
February 3, 2014 at 5:18 PM | by | Comments (0)

We recently took a couple of days to check out what’s going on in the Toronto hotel scene and, diggin’ what Trump has been doing lately (their Trump Attaché service and Trump Wellness Program, for instance), here’s an insider’s guide on the treats to be found at Trump Toronto.

1. Glam ‘n glitz: No surprise that the design aesthetic is pure glam, and we had heard going in that “champagne and caviar” was the theme. We have to admit that we were more than a little skeptical; it sounded very “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous with Robin Leach.” But, you know, it works. Dramatic blacks and whites are softened by greys and purples. There’s lots of crystal thrown in for good measure and displays are voluptuous with flowers. Our favorite “caviar dream” piece is the pure black Louis XIV chairs found in STOCK Restaurant and Bar.

2. Trump-toiletries: They lean towards the masculine (consider where you are) in what we would describe as a woody citrus, but what was surprising was the bounty! In addition to the regulars—shampoo, conditioner, soap, shower gel and lotion—there was a salt scrub, bath salts and a body balm, all in easy-to-take-home sizes.

3. House-made chocolates: ’Nuff said.

4. Room reaction: They’re huuuge, some of the largest in T.O., and the one-bedroom suite we were in had a fireplace, wet bar, and two bathrooms. If we had some of The Donald’s cash, we’d redo our home to look this this. Have a look at the photo gallery for the full reveal!

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