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2006 12 11
Our Favourite Hotels: The Gladstone Faces Off Against The Drake

"The Felt Room" design by artist Kathryn Walter

The Queen Street West hotel scene really began a few years ago when Jeff Stober invested in his vision for a hotel that would also be a centre for arts and culture in the city. The Drake Hotel was born with the help of local architects and designers, 3rd Uncle, along with some of the city's most prolific artists. A little while later local design mavens the Zeidlers (Christna Zeidler, development manager and father, architect Eb Zeidler, who did the renovation) decided to contribute to the Queen Street arts cluster by renovating the Gladstone hotel, a local landmark. Now both contribute to the renaissance of the west end.

The Gladstone offers 37 artist designed rooms for those with a desire for the unique (it is a "unique" hotel not a "boutique" hotel). Here are three of the rooms.

"Re:Fresh" design by Andrew Jones and Joy Walker


"Blue Line" Barr Gilmore and Michel Arcand

The hotel's philosophy:

• Experimental: The Gladstone project is in essence an ongoing experiment in melding cultural entrepreneurship and urban development. The Gladstone embraces creativity, invites collaboration, innovation, and maintains open access to an important Toronto landmark. It redefines the commercial definition and traditional idea of a hotel.

• Innovation in Development: The project is constantly pushing the boundaries of commerce, culture, and community. The Gladstone is engaged in an on-going push/pull between promoting Toronto’s creative community and protecting and preserving the creative community’s place in a neighbourhood that is becoming increasingly gentrified. The idea is to model stewardship in development.

• Neighbourhood: The hotel is rooted in the Parkdale community not just in a physical sense but also in a social sense. It is place were artists show their work and perform and more importantly a place where artists and regular neighbourhood patrons come just to hang out. The clientele is truly an eclectic mix of grass roots emerging creative types, prominent elite artists, social innovators, and regular folk.

• Experience: Hotel room accommodations give visitors instant access to the diverse Toronto art scene. Guests can experience Toronto art from within the comforts of one of the hotel’s artist designed rooms and attend art related events held right in the hotel and then step out into the heart of the city’s art and design district.

• Facilitating: Everyone who participates in an event here contributes to shaping and creating the future of the hotel. The Gladstone’s mandate is to facilitate other people’s ideas. The building itself is an architectural backdrop for creative passions to play out.

• Emerging: New ideas demand new forms of expression, new ways of thinking. The Gladstone is a place to experiment, evolve, and grow new creative ideas and new ways of looking at creativity. Many events held at the hotel are ground breaking, such as Come Up to My Room the Gladstone Hotel’s Annual Alternative Design Event which showcases new and emerging designers and artists whose work is not clearly “design” or clearly “art”. The event promotes site specific installations.

• Access: The most important goal of the development was to establish and maintain accessibility to art, community and culture. The Gladstone is focused on attracting and maintaining a broad community base clientele and to showcase a broad array of events, tastes and talents. From Karaoke in the Melody Bar, to book launches and cabarets in the ballroom, to theatre performances in the Art Bar, to fourteen room art installation exhibits on the second floor.

• Green: The Gladstone Hotel is a member of the Green Tourism Association. The development efforts are striving to evolve the Hotel as an environmentally conscious “citizen” and to make “green” choices. Click here to learn more about the Hotel’s Green philosophy.

Tomorrow: The Drake.
[email this story] Posted by R Ouellette on 12/11 at 02:21 PM

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