These Toronto Hotels Used COVID Lulls to Redesign Interiors. The Results Are Amazing.

Hotel style 2.0.

Pandemic times have meant hotels faced with few guests, but as the industry adapts, three hotels in Toronto decided it was time for a decor tune-up. The Ritz-Carlton Toronto, Drake Hotel, and Hazleton Hotel have reimagined their original environments, working with Toronto-based interior designers to offer a newly styled version of their accommodations for guests this fall and in the future.

The Ritz-Carlton Toronto

Opened in 2011 near the southwest corner of Toronto’s Financial District, the elegant lady of Wellington Street West was a 21st-century version of the Ritz-Carlton tradition, built 100 years after the opening of the first hotel in New York City. DesignAgency’s Allen Chan led the recent redesign plan, which refreshed 263 spacious guest rooms and suites, as well as the Club Level rooms, Club Lounge, and the hotel’s dining spaces Ritz Bar and TOCA restaurant.

Inspired by the themes of the neighbourhood—the railroad, Lake Ontario, and the Entertainment District—the decor includes striking photography by Caitlin Cronenberg from past Toronto International Film Festivals. A palette of blues, greys, and white contrast and highlight the original woodwork and marble, glamorous chaise lounges in suites let guests indulge in skyline and lakeshore views through floor-to-ceiling windows, and new carpets feature curved patterns reminiscent of the fluidity of water.

VIPs will appreciate the bold, filmic lighting, as well as a wet bar in a modern interpretation of a 19th-century travel trunk and the other rare amenity for a hotel suite: an in-room gym with accessories, weights, and Peloton bike with a view of the lake. Public areas such as the Spa My Blend by Clarins and TOCA’s private dining room have also been updated and adapted with more space for guests, ensuring the A-list hospitality remains in the new surroundings. The hotel’s DEQ Terrace and Lounge will be unveiled with a new look in spring 2021.


The Drake Hotel

West Queen West is being reinvented as the Drake Hotel adds 32 more rooms (which will open in 2021) to the building, originally renovated in 2004. Additionally, its recently launched Artist Loft is an 800-square-foot apartment that can sleep eight and will also be used by the hotel’s artist-in-residence program and musicians (the formerly grungy space had been used by touring bands).

DesignAgency’s Anwar Mekhayech has designed the playful loft to make a splash from the street, with a hand-painted door by Rcade Signs. The neon-lit staircase leads to a two-storey modern apartment illuminated by a skylight, with rubber floors, three bedrooms, and a kitchenette, which can be prestocked with charcuterie, preserves, and bread from the Drake Commissary. The main floor seating area has midcentury furniture and a high-top table embedded with historic Drake event flyers, while the walls feature Polaris Music Prize posters. Colour-blocking in each room brings in shades of yellow, orange, teal, and green, with the main floor beds sporting classic Drake Hotel blankets in grey with white linens (and dolls created by Spare Label) and windows overlooking Queen Street; the upstairs loft has two queen beds and a pair of vintage dressers. Singer/songwriter k-os and musician/writer Nathan Carson have already spent time here as part of the ongoing artist-in-residence program, endowing this space as a creative hub, a perfect lure for travel bubble pals to explore downtown Toronto’s west end.


The Hazelton Hotel

This intimate boutique hotel has been a haven for A-listers since 2008, and while it was closed from March until July 2020, this five-star hotel returned to original designers Yabu Pushelberg to add au courant touches such as custom-designed furniture. The hotel also expanded its well-known contemporary art collection with two distinct collage pieces by artist Stefan Gunnesch in the restyled, brighter lobby.

The leather walls outside the hotel’s 77 rooms and suites remain, but subtle in-room decor additions include soft green curved couches and club chairs, tech necessities like USB and electrical outlets on matching night tables, and a central lighting panel to create the perfect mood from different room heights. Information about hotel amenities is still easily found; guests can scan QR codes to order from room service or make a spa appointment. The luxurious green granite bathrooms with heated floors needed no upgrade, nor did the other YP design hallmark: the walk-in closet in zebrawood with ample shelving and hanging space. With changes needed for health and safety, there are now stylish dispensers offering hand sanitizer and safety signs complementing the serene design.

The hotel’s popular screening room has been given an upgrade, as has the Valmont Spa, with spacious treatment rooms, while ONE Restaurant’s coveted patio on the corner of Hazelton and Yorkville remains the place to be seen in the neighbourhood.

To read more about these and other amazing Canadian hotels, visit our archives.

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