A look inside the theatrical, Shakespeare-inspired Hotel Julie in Stratford
The property’s transformation is the basis for a new CTV series called Staying Inn
In January of 2022, Paula McFarlane and Jake Tayler, former paramedics–turned–real estate developers, bought a set of nine rowhouse-apartments in downtown Stratford. The houses were originally built in 1890 and most recently operated as short-term rentals. McFarlane and Tayler wanted to transform the dated property into a luxury hotel, and they brought in designers Autumn Hachey, Sarah Brinksman and Jilly Smith Moher to spearhead the renovation. A new CTV series, Staying Inn, starring Hachey and Moher, follows the epic undertaking. It premieres on August 7.
The building hadn’t been updated in decades, so the team spent 10 months—from the fall of 2022 to the summer of 2023—revamping the property. The hotel welcomed its first guests this past July. Each flat has a different layout and they range in size from 176 to 632 square feet. “We were intentional about designing them all differently,” Hachey explains. “We wanted to give people nine opportunities to come and visit.”
There’s no front desk, but there are keyless entry pads to each room. You also won’t find any common amenities or restaurants on the property—instead, each room comes with a full kitchen or kitchenette stocked with an Our Place pot and pan, as well as basic condiments, coffee, a kettle and a French press.
The property’s name is intended to be a modern twist on Romeo and Juliet. Theatrical, Shakespearean motifs pop up throughout the guest flats, which feature plenty of velvet, curved arches, brass fixtures, fluted wood and marble, alongside vintage decor items.
Here’s a first look inside Hotel Julie.
The building’s previously grey exterior was repainted olive green. A mural, painted by artist Jules Mercanti, acts as the property’s signage. “There are subtle Shakespearean nuances throughout the hotel,” says Hachey, Hotel Julie’s creative director. “In the mural, the flowers in the curtains are nightshades, which is the poisonous flower from Romeo and Juliet.” The burning heart is Hotel Julie’s logo. “It’s an homage to tragedies of the heart, which is what Shakespeare is known for.”
The colour palate in Flat 3 is dominated by moody purples. Hachey paired it with a chocolate brown hue to balance things out. She found the 1930s couch on Instagram, where a home staging company was selling its stock, and then hired upholsterer Kara Schuster to re-cover it in a deep aubergine. It’s paired with a repainted credenza that was already in the room. “That was one of our salvaged items,” Hachey says. All of the rooms have a TV and Wi-Fi.
Flat 3’s bedroom has an eight-foot-high custom headboard upholstered in purple velvet. Hachey recreated a box valance, where the drapery hangs from. There’s also a vintage ceramic clown figurine on one of the side tables—one of many hidden throughout the property. “That was our way of being a bit weird,” says Hachey. “If everything’s too pretty, it’s not interesting. The clowns all have frilly collars, which is another nod to Shakespeare.
Hachey used deep red Rossa Levanto marble on the kitchen countertops, paired with plenty of brass fixtures from Emtek. The brass wall sconces above the open shelves are positioned to resemble theatre marquee lighting.
Flat 4 used to have a small bedroom with a separate office area. They removed the wall that separated the two to create one large bedroom, which now accommodates two queen beds. There’s also a keyhole doorway with velvet drapery—a play on theatre curtains. The giant sectional was thrifted on Facebook Marketplace, and the coffee table, a 1970s piece made from Rosso Levanto marble, is from Alvar Home, a vintage store in Toronto. “It weighs 300 pounds,” says Hachey.
The kitchen in Flat 4 is one of Hachey’s favourites. It has an arched travertine backsplash and a checkerboard floor of travertine and Arabescato white quartz. All of the stoves have custom fluted hood ranges.
A bold red colour palate dominates Flat 6, a studio-style room. In the sleeping area, there’s a custom wiggle headboard and a bedskirt. “It makes the room feel romantic and, again, very theatrical,” Hachey explains. Since this flat doesn’t have space for a full-size sofa, Hachey splurged on a Sarah Ellison Huggy swivel chair. The travertine coffee table is from Shoppe Clover in Toronto.
The dining table, made of Italian verde luana marble, is also a vintage find from Shoppe Clover. The vase on top contains hand-painted wooden flowers by Cosmic Peace Studio—another whimsical decor addition.
Flat 6’s bathroom features bright floral wallpaper from House of Hackney, paired with a classic checkerboard tile floor. “We went with hand-formed tile from Fireclay Tile,” says Hachey. “It gives off an old-world feel, because the tiles aren’t entirely perfect.” The shower has a Carerra tile surround and the bathroom sink is travertine, with marquee-esque wall sconces around the mirror.
According to Hachey, the studio-style Flat 9 has the most neutral colour palette because the designers wanted the purple wiggly headboard to stand out. The bed sits on a circular base.
The galley kitchen features another custom fluted hood range, picture moulding and marquee-style brass wall sconces. The backsplash is made of Arabescato quartz, and there’s also vintage glassware and a Cosmic Peace hand-painted flower in a vase.
“We thought this would be a room that couples would stay in, so we added two sinks,” Hachey says. They’re made of travertine and paired with the same sconce lighting found throughout the property. Hotel Julie’s bathrooms are equipped with toiletries from Public Goods and a custom-made body wash bar from Toronto company SSSOAPS.