Historic Victorian Architecture Meets Contemporary Artists’ Designs
Artistry is quite literally part of Gladstone Hotel’s foundation—it has Victorian-style arches and an ornate birdcage elevator. Toronto’s oldest continuously operating hotel, the Gladstone was originally built in 1889. Back then, performers would stop here on their way out of town after shows to spend the night or grab drinks in the lounge. Recently named one of the world’s top five arty hotels by Metro, the hotel has only strengthened its ties to the artistic community. A different artist designed each of Gladstone’s 37 guest rooms, and a full-time curator organizes rotating exhibits at three onsite art galleries.
Classic flourishes such as high ceilings, exposed-brick walls, and huge, functional windows tie the rooms together architecturally. But each has a distinctive look—the hotel asked local visual artists and interior designers to construct their own visions of artistic guest rooms. The Sugarbush room draws inspiration from southern Ontario’s maple forests in wintertime, which you can see in the natural walnut bedframe and light shades fashioned out of sap buckets. Contrasting that, the Offset room achieves an urban look with two intersecting installations designed by two architects, including a horizontal light strip that wraps around the wall. Check out the individual room pages for previews of the rooms and interviews with the designers.
Gladstone Hotel engages with the local art scene in other ways, as well. There may be an indie-rock show or a night of comedy in the Ballroom, an art exhibit in the second-floor gallery, or even a burlesque show. The Melody Bar hosts a regular karaoke night, but you can also drop by for a drink and entree from its eclectic dinner menu. Or sip on a glass of wine at the onsite café, which also serves food throughout the day.
Toronto, Ontario: Scenic Trails, Boutique Shopping, and the Hockey Hall of Fame
Toronto is known as a wonderful walking city, with a sprawling network of eclectic neighborhoods and miles of waterside parkland. Set on the shores of Lake Ontario, the city’s scenic hiking and walking trails wind along the harbor front. From there, a northerly stroll takes you to the Fashion District, where warehouses and old factories that sat empty for years now house upscale restaurants, galleries, and cutting-edge boutiques. A bit farther north lies Kensington Market, a bohemian village rife with vintage shops and organic-food markets.
Toronto may be home to Canada’s best collection of museums. Hockey is a national pastime, so it makes sense that the Hockey Hall of Fame is here. Its interactive Pepsi Shut Out exhibit challenges goaltender wannabes to stop a slap shot against a virtual Wayne Gretzky. The Hall of Fame’s centerpiece is the hallowed Esso Great Hall, home to the Stanley Cup and portraits of all 366 inductees. Science buffs can stop at the Ontario Science Centre, where you can watch an IMAX film, delve into space at the planetarium, or touch a plasma ball at the Science Arcade.
The nearby Art Gallery of Ontario exhibits an astounding collection of work from Canadian artists and European masters in a Frank Gehry–designed building that centers on a circular floating staircase. Toronto is also known as a city of gardens, and you’ll find one of its best, the Toronto Music Garden, stretched out along the waterfront. Designed in part by cellist Yo-Yo Ma, the Music Garden translates the music of Bach through beautiful landscaped installations, including a winding river and giant grass steps.
Read the Fine Print for important info on travel dates and other restrictions.