Best-Kept Secret Hotels

Best-Kept Secret Hotels

That old nugget, “There’s no room at the inn”? We’ve never heard it in Toronto. The city’s downtown core is home to dozens of hotels, with literally thousands of rooms to suit all budgets and travel styles. But sometimes you want more than a “Standard King” at a big chain. We teamed up with to help you score a room at one of these best-kept secret hotels to ensure a memorably unique stay—and inspire a bit of envy in your friends back home.


Blink and you’ll miss this minimalist marvel, which sits at the edge of Toronto’s Entertainment and Fashion districts. Boldly unassuming, its lobby is evocative of a particularly exclusive ad agency’s reception area, and what little signage there is seems almost an afterthought. But once you’ve checked in, you’ll discover that, in fact, everything has been thought of. Each of the just over two-dozen guestrooms is fabulously sophisticated, with organic mattresses and hypoallergenic bedding, oversized soaker tubs, in-room iPads and more. Indeed, if Apple were in the hotel business the Templar could easily be its brand template.


Similarly stylish—if less overtly upscale—is this Chinatown haunt that makes the most of its setting in a restored turn-of-the-century textile factory. Resplendent with exposed brick and wood beams, the streetside dining room, bar and lounge are easygoing places for plotting Toronto adventures (or just whiling away a few hours), and though the guestrooms are austere, their uncluttered simplicity is welcome after a long and busy day of downtown exploration. Close proximity to Kensington Market is a definite plus.


Atop an exclusive women’s club and spa (within a historic chocolate factory) rest four guestrooms styled to conjure European elegance mere blocks from Toronto’s busiest downtown strip. Luxe touches abound, from the king-size Hästens beds to the heated floors to the selection of bath salts—and let’s not forget pleasure of sipping a latte on the terrace, which overlooks a lush private courtyard. Guests can also enjoy fine dining at lauded George restaurant, in-room massages and many other wellness-focused amenities.


Though hardly a shrinking violet, the Gladstone nonetheless tends to be overshadowed by ever trend-setting Drake Hotel, just two blocks away. The former, however, is always worth a visit. The entire space is a high-concept hub for the visual arts: a different Canadian artist designed every room (check out the whimsically food-focused Surreal Gourmet room, or the graphically sexy Blue Line Room), and no matter when you stay, there’s guaranteed to be at least one exhibition installed in the varied gallery spaces.


A South Beach-inspired rooftop patio has made this boutique hotel—nestled amongst the international retailers along Queen West—a secluded meeting place for locals and travellers alike. Each of the 18 pocket-sized but modishly appointed rooms makes for a sort of high-functioning crash pad. You won’t want to be cooped up all day, but the amenities are more than enough for a good night’s sleep. A note to the self-conscious: Glass-walled washrooms leave little to the imagination.