#SummerFridays at The Drake Hotel: The One with The Culture

Welcome to the fifth review of #SummerFridays – a stay home travel series that will show you the best and the brightest that our province has to offer.

The Drake Hotel, located in the West Queen West neighbourhood of Toronto, is the home of great food, incredible cocktails, and a beautiful property – from the metropolitan rooms to the prohibition-style lounge and even a rooftop patio. 

The Cocktail Experience

The very best part of the stay was the unmatched cocktail experience with renowned bartender, Sandy de Almeida. In a very short time, we were introduced to her creations and learned so much about the way Toronto bartenders have been impacted by the pandemic, as well as how renowned Sandy truly is, in the most humble way possible. 

As noted on my personal social channels in real time, Sandy created the best drink I have ever tasted (and it isn’t the spirits speaking – it was my first cocktail of the evening). Made with a mixture of gin, lime juice and cilantro (!!!) amongst other *secret* ingredients, it was unparalleled to anything I’d ever tasted before – and I’m dying to go back to taste it again! 

There really are no words to describe what a special experience this was. 

If you are interested in Sandy and her art, visit The Drake lounge on Saturday nights and sit right at the bar (pending COVID-19 restrictions) to get an experience unlike any other.

The Food 

Of course, being in the city typically is synonymous with excellent food and The Drake is no different. Everything tastes fresh, full of flavour and in perfect portions to ensure you are well-fed and never wasting a bite. 

As a lover of carbs, I enjoyed the Gemelli Pasta and for a perfect Sunday brunch, I went with the classic, Eggs Benedict – both of which were excellent. 

Their new menu, crafted by the one and only Chef Laura Maxwell, focuses on quality ingredients and definitely proved to create a unique dining experience. 

“The menu I’m striving for focuses on quality ingredients presented in a beautifully “un-fussy” way, which really allows the flavours of each ingredient to shine through,” Chef Laura says about the new menu which includes some classics and new creations alike. 

The Room 

I’m not going to lie, I had never been to The Drake before and haven’t been to many boutique hotels in the past, so when I scanned my keycard and opened the door, I was taken aback. The room was small – all one room small. But as I settled in, it was one of the greatest rooms I have ever stayed in. 

Being in the industry I am, I have an understanding of making everything mean something – of course, for me that means words. In this room, everything had a purpose and a specific reason for being there – no fluff. Side tables and shelves folded down from the wall; a sliding toilet door added extra coverage for the glass shower and the sideboard acted as a desk, TV stand and bar station. 

At the end of my stay, my second “not going to lie” moment is that the room is my new home inspiration.

Pandemic Protocols 

As restrictions lighten up, I can still understand that not everyone is running toward the big cities because they are still some of the epicenters of the virus across Canada. This being said, I felt SO safe at The Drake. 

Their program “GoodCleanFun” cites all of the ways they are working to ensure the hotel and all of its various aspects that make it amazing are amazingly safe, too. This includes, masking up in all main areas, concentrated cleaning efforts (plus, the use of UV-C lights to disinfect soft surfaces) and even triple-sanitized rooms prior to check-in. 

“With our GOODCLEANFUN© protocols, we have laid the groundwork to welcome our guests back into our spaces with health and safety practices upheld at every touch point of our business,” Chef Laura adds. 

For more on their GoodCleanFun protocols, you can check out their site. 

Final Thoughts 

After several hundred words, it seems hypocritical to say the experience left me speechless. Not only was the stay incredible, the employees of The Drake have such a grunge-elegance about them that makes every guest feel both special and like they are the coolest person in the world, simultaneously. 

Between the arts culture of Queen West and the high end aspects of the property, it is a dichotomy that I cannot wait to get back to.

Thanks for reading our fifth edition of #SummerFridays – see you in a few weeks for a review of another great Ontario destination!

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