A Peek Inside Toronto’s Iconic Hipster Hangout, The Drake Hotel
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 (yuk yuk). We also loved the owl light and the toiletries by Malin + Goetz.
The hotel has an extensive art collection that includes some notable modern Canadian artists such as sculptor Evan Penny (considered to be one of the ten hottest artists at last fall’s Art Basel Miami Beach) and conceptual artist Ken Lum. Favorite locales include the Sky Yard rooftop terrace, open even during the chilly Toronto winter, the Lounge, and the Underground, hopping with indie bands and DJs almost every night of the week.
If operating this personality-laden property isn’t enough, late last year The Drake folks opened up an offsite restaurant in an old bank at York and Adelaide called Drake One Fifty. The same design aesthetic was applied here, complete with a cork ceiling and an alcove with a Douglas Coupland sunset mural. The hotel is also expanding, adding 20 more rooms to accommodate those TIFFers and other partygoers, and is building the Drake Devonshire Inn in Prince Edward County. Oh – and they also have three retail outlets where you can get those retro-cool Hudson’s Bay blankets.
Rates range from $189 CAD ($170) for the 150 sq ft Crash Pad to $319 CAD ($288) for the 385 sq ft Suite.
[Photos: Janice Tober for HotelChatter]