The Drake Hotel: Toronto’s Hotbed for Arts and Culture
Awash in music, art, history and inspiration, The Drake Hotel lies at the heart of Toronto’s thriving creative scene.
There aren’t too many hotels that offer ongoing art exhibitions, unique eats, beautiful design and a constant flow of live music all wrapped into one. The Drake Hotel has all that and more. Part hotel, part gallery, part restaurant and part nightlife venue, the Drake, as it’s known locally, has been at the heart of Toronto’s hip transformation since opening its doors in 2004.
The colorful retreat is nestled within a landmark building in the city’s most alluring neighborhood – West Queen West. The district lies away from the hustle and bustle of the Financial District, nestled within its own tight-knit community of artists, designers and creatives. It’s also home to some of Toronto’s most beloved independent shops, trendy bars and local galleries.
However, the Drake means far more to the local community than just another stylish hotel. West Queen West didn’t resemble anything close to a hotbed for tourism when the Drake first arrived nearly two decades ago. Dramatic transformation and gentrification have cleaned up the area since – and the hotel has evolved as the community around it has. During this period, the Drake has blossomed into an inseparable part of Toronto’s creative scene, acting as a buzzing community center that brings locals and travellers together.
Now, the Drake Hotel finds itself as an integral meeting place for artists, a hub of live music and chill-out spot that’s become a mainstay along Queen West. It’s become the perfect gateway for those looking to immerse themselves in the artistic, creative and cultural life of Toronto.
The Drake Underground is what steals the show here. Every Torontonian has a different story about a blurry night out at the Underground. Located within the basement of the hotel, the intimate venue is a regular stopover on the tour schedules of many musicians. It’s one of the most storied concert sites in Toronto with a long-standing reputation for legendary parties that go late into the night.
More than 200 acts take the stage each year – usually more by long lies that stretch for a block or two outside. In addition to the diverse array of local and international musical acts, the Drake Underground also hosts film screenings, poetry slams, comedy shows and more.
But the entertainment doesn’t stop with the Underground. On the main floor of the hotel, there’s a laid-back bar and dining room where smaller live acts play. Otherwise, you can head to the Drake Sky Yard on the rooftop, the perfect spot to mingle and soak up the city views with a fantastic array of cocktails.
Beyond the fun-loving atmosphere, the Drake Hotel has flourished into a full-scope lifestyle brand, including the cozy Drake Café on the first floor and the flagship Drake General Store directly across the street. The Drake General Store is a traditional hotel gift shop, classic general store, flea market stand and museum shop all rolled into one. Here, you can find design-focused home products, knick-knacks and independent clothing labels from across the city.
As a creative incubator with the mission of “connecting the community with both local and international artists,” the Drake Hotel has a constantly changing program of performance and visual art. You’re also able to enjoy the ever-growing permanent art collection and ongoing exhibitions around the hotel.
Guests of the hotel are also invited for complimentary spinning classes at Ride Cycle Club, as well as access to a nearby yoga studio. The constant cultural programming and events at the Drake means there’s always something to enjoy during your stay.
The creative sentiment continues to the 20 guest rooms – each with funky but modern interiors designed around the historic elements of the property. Think vigorous dashes of color, exposed brick walls, high ceilings, charcoal hardwood flooring, and a soothing blend of marble, wood and glass. The retro furniture is unique to each of the rooms, including throwback light fixtures, unique artwork, wood shelving and custom headboards.
One of the most unique aspects is the Artist Loft, which pairs a private location with the rest of the benefits offered by the Drake Hotel. The vibrant apartment is brimming with pops of color and has everything you need to feel at home. It’s the perfect spot for creative teams looking for a space to inspire, a small team looking to collaborate on the road, or a group of friends wanting to get in touch with Toronto’s music scene on a weekend away.
Down to its core, the Drake Hotel is a melting pot of ideas – from musical tastes and artistic styles down to its timeless-meets-funky design, and various spaces that range from chill to downright raucous. The Drake is just as important a spot for locals as it is for travellers. It’s more than a place to eat and sleep. It’s a place where curious cultural seekers come together to celebrate Toronto’s thriving creativity and arts scene.