Smart Stay

Gladstone Hotel

by Kristine Hansen
Canadiana Room
Photo: Canadiana Room / Courtesy of Hotel Gladstone
by Kristine Hansen
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Aura Room
Photo: Aura Room / Courtesy of The Gladstone Hotel
by Kristine Hansen
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Surreal Gourmet guest room
Photo: Surreal Gourmet guest room / Courtesy of The Gladstone Hotel
by Kristine Hansen
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Toronto, also known as Canada's cultural capital, is filled with unique boutique properties, including the artsy Gladstone Hotel, a towering red-brick building on a prominent corner of the West End neighborhood. Built in 1889, it’s Toronto’s oldest-operating hotel. 

But this isn’t just a property with art hung on the walls. There are three dedicated gallery spaces and a staggering number of art shows per year (somewhere around 45). Guests and locals can take art classes, attend gallery openings, and sign up for workshops or social events, such as a life-drawing class, yoga in the art gallery, or karaoke night. 

It's All in the Details

Food is not forgotten, either. The property is home to Melody Bar, which features soaring, 14-foot ceilings, as well as an all-day café, where you can enjoy everything from avocado toast at brunch to seared ribeye for dinner. Plus, if you can manage to stay on a Sunday, Monday, or Wednesday, then you'll have access to Uncellared Wine Mondays (half-priced bottles), Sunday Fun Jam (family-style dinners), and the Harvest Wednesdays Food Series, which features dishes made with locally grown and produced foods ($75 per person). 

What You Need to Know

The Look

Here, each of the 37 rooms is specially curated by artists and different from the next, and they all feature fun names that connect to the décor. For example, in the Surreal Gourmet room, you'll find retro kitchen appliances, marshmallow pillows, and other foodie-approved touches. The Teen Queen room is filled with nostalgia-inducing, posters of celebrity heartthrobs and features bright pink and purple patterned bedding.

Tip: Before you book, be sure to check out the hotel's website for photos so you don’t end up with a room that doesn’t jive with your idea of calm — like the pixelated ceiling in the Pixel room.

The property also has several art galleries, where you'll find rotating exhibitions. In the lobby, there is a small gift shop where you can buy items created by local artisans and artists. Hotel Gladstone’s monthly market series, GH Marketplace, brings together 20 local makers under one common theme (think wellness, feminism, and more). 

Before you skip town, be sure to stop by the café. Featuring exposed brick walls, intricate woodwork, and pendant lighting, dining is like stepping back into Victorian times. Breakfast items include baked French toast, while the “wake-up boozy” menu showcases the staff’s cocktail art. Lunch or dinner might include a Fogo Island seafood crostini with locally grown greens or a cheese plate. 

The Vibe

Staying here kind of feels like your cool cousin’s loft apartment — but with a little bit more luxe and a lot less grit. The building’s Richardsonian Romanesque architecture includes gorgeous interior arches and original plaster moldings.

Who Will Love It

Naturally, artists and creatives adore this property because it’s engulfed in art and the patrons — which include locals —are most likely artists or art enthusiasts. If you’re looking for personal recommendations about where to shop, eat, and relax in Toronto through the lens of art, just ask the staff. If you’re the type of traveler who strives to stay outside of a city’s downtown core, this is your place.

Who Will Not

Families with young kids will feel out of place here. None of the city's main attractions (from the CN Tower to the Royal Ontario Museum) are within walking distance. Instead, the hotel is surrounded by shops, restaurants, and bars.

Best Amenity

The rooms. Where else are you going to find a hotel where each room has its unique personality? It’s almost like falling asleep in your own art gallery.

Money Matters

What’s Included

Wifi is free for guests in the rooms and public spaces. Between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m., you can enjoy complimentary coffee and tea in the third- and fourth-floor lounges. Wednesday morning yoga classes are also free. In the warmer months, the property offers complimentary bike rentals. 

Fees and Extra Costs You Should Know About

Parking costs $25 a night, which is significantly cheaper than downtown Toronto hotels. 

How to Get a Deal

Check the hotel’s offers tab for news of packages and promotions that discount the nightly rate (and maybe fold in perks). During the winter months, you can score rates as low as $199 per night. 

Getting There

In the Neighborhood

The area surrounding Hotel Gladstone is referred to as Queen Street West and Design Neighborhood (or Queen West for short). Here, you'll find an array of craft shops, clothing stores, lively bars, entertainment venues, and several restaurants. 

Nearest Airport

Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) services the majority of flights into and out of the city. By car, this is about a half-hour trip to the hotel. The trek takes just under an hour using public transit. 

Nearest Public Transit

The Queen Street streetcar stops right in front of Hotel Gladstone and you can purchase day passes ($3) through the hotel’s front desk.

The Bottom Line

If you live and die by indie hotels, then Gladstone Hotel is for you. But if you expect someone to take your bags as soon as you walk in or desire a workout in a top-notch fitness center, and want to check off all the major attractions and not walk far, then the chain hotels in downtown Toronto might be more your speed.

It's All in the Details