The Gladstone Hotel Toronto is one of the five best historic and the oldest continuously operating hotels in Toronto. Surprisingly, it is only a 3*hotel, but given the rave reviews across multiple review sites, I wanted to give it a try. I was keen to check out this landmark built in 1889 to see what the commotion was all about. The hotel has a catchy tagline, ‘Get in Bed with Art.’ Here is my review of the Gladstone Hotel in Toronto.
Review of the Gladstone Hotel Toronto
The Gladstone, on Queen Street West in the heart of Parkdale, one of Toronto’s coolest areas with locals now struggling to afford rents due to overwhelming popularity. This trendy area is also home to another of the five Best Hotels in Toronto, The Drake Hotel, built in 1890. According to USA Today, the Gladstone is the 5th ‘Most Romantic’ hotel in Toronto. It was built in a time when there used to be two railway stations across the street, and the hotel was known for accommodating travelers, artists and exhibitors.
The first thing I notice upon entering is all the wood. There are wood floors, reception desk, doors and staircase. It has a real warm and inviting, airy reception area, and art is evident everywhere. There is art on the walls, behind the reception desk, and even the light fixtures are some form of art. Just beyond, I see a real gem. The Gladstone has one of the last hand-operated Victorian Otis elevators, installed in early 1900’s. Only staff may operate it, and given there are only 4 floors, use it only when you have a heavy suitcase.
Excellent Service at the Gladstone Hotel
Check-in goes smooth, as I emailed reception beforehand. I was under a time crunch to get to a music venue, so they were waiting for me, and overall the hotel staff couldn’t have been more accommodating. I had a strange request for a powerful hairdryer, and while they were honest their dryers are standard lot, they bought a powerful one, which I paid for, that was waiting in my room. Morgan, at the front desk, is a great resource to take care of every need and question. So kudos to him and the rest of the staff.
The Red Room on Valentine’s Day…Alone!
Guests may not operate the elevator, so a staff member accompanies me to my room with my swollen suitcase. He asks, “So, what room are you in?” I say, “303.” He looks at me and chuckles.
Once we get there, he says, “Welcome to the Red Room.” I still hadn’t putting two and two together, partly due to jet lag, and partly because I did not see the room yet. But when I did, I completely understand…. I should be happy to have scored the ‘Red Room,’ but it is VALENTINE’S DAY, and I am ALONE and it is all RED! I look at him and burst out laughing.
Red Room 303 Interior
I love the wood-planked floors, and as the room name signifies, the entire room exudes a red hue. The walls cast red over everything. The lampshades are a lovely red fabric, and everything is red! I imagine what this room would look like at night from outside when I have the lights on. I wonder whether I’ll have little stones thrown at my window to double-check whether this is the red-light district, and I am open for business.
Lucky or not, I am in the Red Room on Valentine’s Day, alone. They must feel sorry for me. I’m sure a couple could benefit from all this passion. “Will you need two keys?” “Umm, no, just one, thanks.”
The room is actually quite lovely. The tall ceilings give it a regal-style airiness and it is well kitted out with quality bed linens, natural Canadian bath products, and a variety of locally-sourced snacks. Wifi is free and there are ample plugs for your electronics. I am not really happy with the bathroom, which is also red. I have an issue putting makeup on in the evening, and I can’t tell when to stop with the rouge!
Where’s Magda from, ‘Sex and the City’
There’s only one Red Room in the hotel, and each of the 37 rooms are individually designed. The Red Room is designed by a duo from Nova Scotia called RUCKUS, Kate Austin and Kristin Ledgett. They are known for their use of bold colors and whimsical patterns using lovely fabrics. “The color red evokes glamour, passion and heat.” If this isn’t your, ‘Get Lucky’ room, nothing is! I was expecting ‘Magda’ from Sex and the City to leave me a Virgin Mary on the nightstand!
The room is warm in freezing February even though the windows are not double-paned, and I could hear the all-night tram to some degree drifting by.
Gladstone Hotel is an Art Gallery
Cool thing is that the hotel is an art gallery as well. The corridors on two floors rotate installations by local artists. This is super because, due to jet lag, I was awake in the middle of the night. I decided to go see some art…on my floor…at 3a.m. I was lucky enough to witness a few exhibitions in February and went back again in March. The first exhibition was Love (Actually), which captures real moments at weddings, and another is a tribute to the Black Lives Matter movement. In March I saw Being Scene, which is a respectful and realistic understanding of those recovering from mental illness and addiction. And finally, CounterParts, a photographic display created by 3rd year students of Ryerson University. All exhibitions are impressive for different reasons. The Gladstone Hotel is a juxtaposition of repose and thought provocation.
Fun Gladstone Hotel Outlets
Moving back to the outlets, one side of the lobby is the fun Gladstone Café serving up breakfast, lunch, dinner, late night and a weekend brunch. It’s warm and cozy and I enjoy homemade granola with fruits and Greek yogurt, and besides the obligatory coffee, I slurp one of their Caesar’s – think Bloody Mary, but use Clamato juice instead. Spicy and tasty and appears everyone in Toronto knows what a Caesar is! Someone on the plane told me to try one. The place is busy and I am lucky to get a bar stool on the weekend. It’s a definite must-try.
Lots of Night Time Activities
In the evening you can enjoy art, karaoke and entertainment in Melody Bar. Again, lots of wood and art hanging all around you and it’s a jovial atmosphere. There are small and sharing plates, beers, cocktails and wine, but beware…, I have never found wine to be so expensive as I did in Toronto. I spend a lot time in the South of France, where a Happy Hour glass of wine will cost you €2 ($2.50). In Toronto, a glass at the Gladstone is $12CAD! That’s almost €8/$9USD. Amazingly expensive. There are numerous stories as to why wine and alcohol are expensive in Toronto. The cheapest glass I found was at C’est What Restaurant at $6 CAD ($4.50). I think twice about whether to splurge because alcohol is expensive!
I quite like graffiti, or as they call it, ‘Street Art,’ and the Gladstone Hotel has a dedicated room to this art form – room 308, which is The Queen Suite on Queen Street. I love this fun and bright room with exposed brick walls, and the bed’s headboard is in the form of graffiti. Even the lampshade reflects the street art you find around Toronto. Please request Room 308 if you heart is set on discovering Toronto’s street art scene. It’s also much brighter than the red room.
In all, this hotel is a great piece of renaissance and wasn’t a budget killer at $130 a night ($96 USD). You get more than just a hotel with the art that is around you. I hope you’ve enjoyed my review of the Gladstone Hotel Toronto. It is well worth the stay. You can find the Gladstone Hotel at 1214 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1J6.