The Drake Hotel Toronto
“Oh man, this is très delish,” I murmur to Glenn as we eat our lobster nachos dinner on the bed at The Drake Hotel, slowly slipping into comatose with each bite. We had flown in earlier in the morning from Seoul and been out exploring Toronto with Huey and David, friends we’ve met through Instagram (bless its heart, social media). Needless to say, jet lag eventually wins and we drift off to the sounds of Canadian TV spouting “aboot… aboot… aboot…”
The Drake Hotel is our home for the next three days as we take time out to recuperate before we head to New York. When I told a few friends that I am heading to Toronto, reactions were a mixed bag of “huh” and “why”. “Niagara Falls,” I confidently replied to each one of them and that was enough to appease the curious minds. But of course, Toronto is more than that – it’s renown for its hip and creative hub, full of culture and culinary and I cannot think of a better representation than The Drake Hotel itself.
Situated in the trendy Queen Street West, the hotel is more than an accommodation where guests drop off their bags, go wander to take in the sights and sounds of the metropolis and return to plonk themselves onto bed. This Toronto landmark is an institution for art, music and food – an urban oasis for trendy locals and savvy travellers, very much like Palihouse West Hollywood in LA.
We stay in the Crash Pad, an intimate room with high ceilings and a peak-a-boo bathroom design that’s not for the shy. The room is decked out with custom furniture and millwork and exclusive Malin + Goetz toiletries, evoking a luxurious vibe without the stiffness that can occur with high-end hotels sometimes. It’s the kind of stylish and quirky deco that Pinterest users go ga-ga for – pinning it under an interior porn board for personal inspiration or work references – or photographers use for fashion editorials.
If you follow our travels, you’ll know that Glenn and I have a penchant for boutique hotels, especially the ones that think outside the box. And The Drake Hotel does just that. I mean, how many hotels would take risks like displaying a wallpaper of women’s naked breasts in the lobby? Risqué, you think, but if you consider that they also have a “pleasure menu” featuring adult toys (like The Warehouse Hotel in Singapore , you’ll soon realise that the hotel’s aesthetic is less highbrow and more tongue in cheek.
Previously a railway hostel before a multimillion dollar renovation turned the venue into the hippest hotel in Toronto, this hotel bleeds cool which, by association, makes guests cool so I insisted on staying here. Weeknights see music aficionados gather to catch their favourite local and international bands. Come weekend, cool kids and savvy yuppies catch up with family and friends at the cafe or restaurant for brunch or dinner.
We dine in at the cafe and restaurant several times, because unlike many hotels where their eateries often feel like a secondary add-ons, the ones at The Drake Hotel serve food that’s highly inspired and not as an after-thought. It almost feels that the cafe and restaurant are independent businesses that just happen to reside in a hotel with the same quirk and vibe.
Now, about those lobster nachos (leaving you hanging without the details would just be rude), it’s quite possibly one of the tastiest nachos I’ve tasted. Topped with guacamole, pickled jalapenos and onions and finished with chunks of Canadian lobster in home-made mornay sauce, I still recall the succulent texture of the lobster paired with the crunchy fried nachos. Tasty food, good vibes and all-round coolness, come at me again, The Drake Hotel.