When we originally came up with the concept of this site, there was a moment we tinkered with excluding all hotels, focusing instead on everything else: all the interesting places you can stay that fall outside the parameters of a standard hotel room (no matter how high the thread count!). But because of hotels like The Drake, we changed our minds.
Owned by a local, Jeff Stober, The Drake is every bit a café, design incubator, gallery and general neighborhood hangout as it is a place to sleep. It took about two years to restore this 120-year old hotel to its current design-star glory, and Toronto design firm 3rd Uncle is behind the rehab as well as designing way-cool custom details like the 50-foot-sculptural light fixture made from recycled bicycle frames hanging in the café, the custom damask wallpaper in the restaurant, and sourcing the one-of-a-kind objects throughout (a pommel horse in the lobby, a ceramic bust in the ladies’ room). There’s an art curator on staff, who’s responsible for filling the hotel with work by local, national and international artists (down to the soft sculpture on the beds, handmade by Adrienne Gibb of Fabricawakuwaku) and curating the rotating installations, like the provocative mixed media piece currently on view in the entryway vestibule.
The design, art and food are great (the café is regularly filled with as many neighbors as hotel guests), but the best part of the The Drake is how visitors feel totally immersed in the energy, culture and everyday life in the surrounding Parkdale neighborhood. It’s been said often—in the press, by the residents—that The Drake (along with the other independent hotel down the street, The Gladstone)—has been instrumental in helping the once dodgy West Queen West neighborhood develop such an edgy, dynamic and fiercely independent character.