Toronto hotel scene adds options and updates

Some old, some new, some reimagined, and even a blue

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Travelers to Toronto have an embarrassment of riches to discover and plenty of vacations to choose from. The city and the Greater Toronto Area have several new hotels, with a few hot spots opening soon. The pandemic has also given one of the city’s most iconic hotels a chance to reinvent itself.

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1 Hotel Toronto

The Flora Lounge at 1 <a class=Hotel Toronto on Lower Bathurst Street looks like a botanist’s dream, with a huge array of plants surrounding a huge mirror.” class=”embedded-image__image lazyload” data-src=”https://smartcdn.gprod.postmedia.digital/vancouversun/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/0205-trav-hotel-1-Hotel-Toronto-Floral-Bar.-Photo-Courtesy-1-Hotel-Toronto..jpg?quality=90&strip=all&w=288″ data-srcset=”https://smartcdn.gprod.postmedia.digital/vancouversun/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/0205-trav-hotel-1-Hotel-Toronto-Floral-Bar.-Photo-Courtesy-1-Hotel-Toronto..jpg?quality=90&strip=all&w=288, https://smartcdn.gprod.postmedia.digital/vancouversun/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/0205-trav-hotel-1-Hotel-Toronto-Floral-Bar.-Photo-Courtesy-1-Hotel-Toronto..jpg?quality=90&strip=all&w=576 2x” height=”750″ loading=”lazy” width=”1000″/>
The Flora Lounge at 1 Hotel Toronto on Lower Bathurst Street looks like a botanist’s dream, with a huge array of plants surrounding a huge mirror. Picture of 1 Hotel Toronto

Formerly the Thompson Hotel, this property has been gutted and rebuilt as a luxury property with an emphasis on recycling and waste reduction. Located on Lower Bathurst Street, just west of downtown, it reopened to great reviews last summer. The hotel has a contract with a company that takes old trees from the city that were destined for scrap and uses them for tables and such. Some of them even have a little stamp so you know what kind of tree it was, and even where it was growing before it was felled. The lobby bar, called Flora Lounge, looks like a botanist’s dream, with a huge array of plants surrounding a huge mirror. There are plants just about everywhere you look throughout the hotel, including some hanging from the rafters in the two restaurants, 1 Kitchen and Casa Madera, which serves upscale Mexican cuisine. The famous rooftop bar (there is also a swimming pool) has been renovated and renamed “Harriet’s”.

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Drake’s Modern Wing

The rooftop suite in the Drake's Modern Wing emphasizes contemporary art.
The rooftop suite in the Drake’s Modern Wing emphasizes contemporary art. Photo by BRANDON BARRE

The original Drake Hotel on West Queen West opened its doors 17 years ago in a historic 19th-century building, helping to transform a dreary part of town into a hip and vibrant neighborhood. They had a strong emphasis on contemporary art and this continues with the new Modern Wing, a five story affair which adjoins the original hotel. There are just 32 rooms, plus an intimate bar that faces Queen Street and has a brick fireplace. Rooms feature warm woods, textured fabrics, home-designed blankets, and original artwork. Guests also receive in-room tablets for contactless access to concierge services and amenities. The modern wing features a rooftop terrace suite, with an oversized outdoor terrace overlooking the city, two bedrooms, two full bathrooms, a kitchenette with a wet bar, and a large living room.

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King Blue Hotel Toronto

The King Blue Hotel at King Street West and Blue Jays Way has a fabulous indoor swimming pool.
The King Blue Hotel at King Street West and Blue Jays Way has a fabulous indoor swimming pool. Picture of KING BLUE HOTEL

This is an upscale property in a beautiful historic brick building (the former home of the Westinghouse company) at King Street West and Blue Jays Way, in the heart of the entertainment district. You will find attractive rooms in taupe, gray and soft blue tones, with touches of wood and leather. The six-story hotel has 118 rooms and seven suites, so it’s decidedly more boutique than business. The rooms are pet friendly. There’s free Wi-Fi, a modern fitness center, and a lovely indoor pool that opens to a rooftop terrace.

A remake of the Park Hyatt

The Writers Room Bar is the rooftop bar at Park Hyatt Toronto.
The Writers Room Bar is the rooftop bar at Park Hyatt Toronto. Photo by Park Hyatt Toronto.

One of the city’s most iconic and luxurious hotels has had a ladylike makeover. The hotel brought in famed designer Alessandro Munge of Studio Munge, who said his design was inspired by Canada’s “striking seasons and natural landscapes.”

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The hotel features a permanent collection of Canadian art, including a large tapestry in the lobby by Shannon Bool, who was born in Comox but lives and works in Berlin. The lobby restaurant, Joni, is a stylish nod to a certain Joni Mitchell, who was singing a few meters away. There are 219 rooms, including 40 suites. The rooftop suite has a dining area, double rain shower and freestanding tub overlooking Yorkville. Perhaps the best thing about the hotel’s reopening is the return of the famous rooftop bar, for years the haunt of the city’s top literary figures. It has been renamed Writers Room and pays tribute to the legends who spent hours at the bar. A spa and wellness center are coming at a later date.

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A Burlington game changer

The Pearle Hotel and Spa is located on the Burlington waterfront with breathtaking views of Lake Ontario as a backdrop.
The Pearle Hotel and Spa is located on the Burlington waterfront with breathtaking views of Lake Ontario as a backdrop. Picture of PEARLE HOTEL & SPA

The lakeside Pearle Hotel and Spa in Burlington is a smash hit, elegant design and fabulous cuisine. This is a luxurious, cutting-edge property on the shores of Lake Ontario, with a chic lake house vibe and a terrific dining and drinking scene. The design was done by Studio Munge.

Chef Ben Heaton is a cooking pro and uses both local produce (the hotel is part of a group that owns a nearby farm) and exotic ingredients, like Santorini caper leaves. The hotel pays homage to the Ciancone family’s grandmother, Pearle, who once owned a summer cottage where the hotel now stands.

Hotel guests are encouraged to explore and write letters to the people who matter most to them, and they provide paid postage and mailboxes inside the hotel. This is the first Marriott Autograph Collection hotel in Ontario.

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Future:

Canada’s first Ace hotel

The Ace Hotel is now taking reservations for its June opening.
The Ace Hotel is now taking reservations for its June opening. Picture of the Ace Hotel

Located in the heart of Toronto’s historic Garment District, the 123-room hotel is housed in a red brick and concrete building designed by Toronto firm Shim-Sutcliffe Architects. The Ace is adjacent to Queen West, Chinatown and the downtown business hub, blocks from the Horseshoe Tavern and Velvet Underground music venues. Canadian chef Patrick Kriss takes the reins of the kitchen. Reservations are now open at Ace Hotel Toronto for stays beginning June 15, 2022.

A Downtown W

The former Marriott hotel on Bloor Street, just east of Yonge, is set to open this year. W hotels typically cater to young travelers, and this one seems to be right up there with that. Located half a block from Yorkville, the hotel is billed as “an urban oasis of culture and style,” with live music and a lineup of DJs, plus a rooftop bar and restaurant .

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