Toronto’s West Queen West is a neighborhood in flux, where appliance stores, art galleries, and places like Camera, a screening-room bar owned by filmmaker Atom Egoyan, exist cheek by jowl. In 2001, when Canadian entrepreneur Jeff Stober first walked into the Drake Hotel, a former flophouse on a gritty stretch, he saw its potential and set about fashioning a hub for the area's creative types. The style of the 19 rooms is beyond eclectic: floral wallpaper, sock dolls crafted by a local artist, transparent ottomans with visible springs, ladders leading up to an overhead storage space. Downstairs, the dining-room walls are covered in trippy flocked Rorschach blots, and the lounge has leather booths and red velvet banquettes. The hotel employs an in-house curator who arranges shows in the lobby exhibition space and manages an artist-in-residence program. Permanent art displays are peppered throughout the building, from a light installation made from bicycle parts in the café to a Bums and Chests piece made from postcards in a men’s lavatory.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.