The hotel is nicely renovated. Many old details remain (the terrazzo, in particular) and many new additions (the art, for instance) give the Drake a great look. It's not over-designed, by any means, and it comes off as interesting and real rather than mindlessly sleek. But it's the service that makes the Drake worth the stay. I arrived days before the film festival and the hotel was already packed. The sight of stacks of luggage behind the front desk was enough to tell me my room wasn't ready, but I was a few hours early, anyway. That was all right, I wanted a drink, really, and I told the woman behind the desk, Kayla, exactly that. She stepped from behind the desk and took me to the bar, introduced me to the bartender, Stephen, and asked me what I needed (a drink, a room), what I wanted to do during my four-day stay (bike, eat, art, drink), and moments later I was drinking a Creemore (a Canadian amber lager) Stephen recommended, and talking to Kiki, a Drake manager, about bike, eat, art, drink in Toronto . . .
Within five minutes of my arrival, I had three positive contacts with the hotel’s staff. And it was busy. Very busy. I was impressed. And I had three days, twenty-three hours and fifty-five more minutes of my stay remaining . . .
My room was a “crashpad,” Room 203, small, but smartly designed. I’ve stayed in larger rooms that felt smaller and were far less comfortable. The shower, sink and toilet were elevated from the rest of the room and each separated by a glass partition. The bathroom fixtures were modern and the glass surprisingly spotless. The queen-sized bed had expensive linens and four big pillows. I had plenty of racks and hooks to stow my stuff and the Drake even provided a terrycloth robe. My favorite touch was the umbrella. Every hotel ought to provide its guests with an umbrella, I think . . .
I loved Toronto. Always a glass of water with a glass of beer. Dogs allowed on the streetcars. Washroom sounds so much better that bathroom. Brunch 24/7. The quietest big city ever, seldom a siren or a raised voice. Best city to ride a bicycle in, by far, even though I saw a girl get doored on Ossington Avenue . . .
And the Drake. I loved the Drake. Kayla got me a bike to ride and when I broke it Jonathan, the hotel manager, got me another. When I wanted gallery suggestions, no one was more helpful than Meghan in the café. When I wanted to know who Jack was—the Jack mourned in chalk graffiti all over the walls surrounding city hall—Charlie and Meghan told me about Jack Layton, and I glimpsed the collective grief of a nation without reading a newspaper . . .
And then there was Tony. Every encounter with Tony was delightful. I always seemed to catch him as he was leaving, accounting textbook in hand, off to study, earnest and eager as he is, but equally as eager and earnest to take time out to get me a latte or a table for breakfast. Or just time to chat with me about my day, a solo traveler, 500 miles from home . . .
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- Also Known As:
- Toronto Drake Hotel
- Drake Toronto