Smith trips: Juliet takes on Toronto

Juliet’s been boutique-hotel hunting in not-actually-capital-of-Canada Toronto; Anthony caught up with her when she touched back down…

Anthony Good to have you back Juliet – where have you been gallivanting to then?

Juliet Hello. I was in North America… New York in July – whew – now that is hot. And I had a cheeky little few days back in my motherland too….

Anthony Your motherland?

Juliet I’m a Canuck originally, didncha know? Like these people.

Anyway, I went to Toronto. Boy is that place clean and organised. And everyone’s so well, nice.

Toronto skyline

Anthony Well I’ll be darned, I thought Canada had banned all celebrity exports after Celine Dion

Yes – I was in Toronto five or six years ago and it positively sparkled.

Juliet I’m afraid even Avril Lavigne slipped through after that.

Anthony They need stricter border control.

Juliet Well picture it now but with about 100 glass and metal condo apartment buildings all along the lake. Those bad boys spring up faster than mushrooms in warm dung.

Anthony What a lovely image! I remember being blown away by its sheer ‘polishedness’. Reminded me of Canary Wharf… Didn’t you find it almost eerie?

Juliet You are hilarious. That is EXACTLY what it’s like in parts although…. I loved this really cool new district: the Art and Design quarter aka Parkdale: where this incredible hotel called the Drake is. Set to be a Smith hotel. Really vibrant, fun place.

Toronto boutique hotels – The Drake

Anthony I had a feeling it might be… So, what was so special about it?

Juliet It’s a buzzing little cultural hub… with really great design influence on the decor, the graphics… and the guy on the front desk was easy easy on the eye. And super friendly/helpful of course being a Canadian. Something that really stood out for me at the was that they had this bonkers piece of art which was a totally lifelike sculpture of a bloke’s head by Evan Penny.Evan Penny sculture

Anthony Whoa. That’s the weirdest thing I’ve seen today. So it’s a gallery-ish spot then?

Juliet When I went back in the evening it was great, they had a fab jazz singer. Only fly in the ointment was the two bouncers letting people into the Skybar were a little moody, mind, but apart from that…

Anthony Have you been rumblin’ with security again?

Juliet They eventually let me and my, ahem, dad through but obviously thought — hey — you’re over 30, you aren’t a cool young thing. Obviously those fools didn’t realise who they were dealing with ; )

Toronto boutique hotels – Drake Hotel roof terrace

Anthony What were the rooms like?

Juliet A fun little treat for guests at the hotel is they have a free paperback for you to keep by the bed… this month’s was a murder mystery set in that actual neighbourhood…

Anyhoo, Toronto itself was a nice place to be; although typically I was there for record rainfall. It was literally headline news — front-page photo of a guy with an umbrella. Almost a relief after the humid 100º swelter of Manhattan which we’d just come from.

Anthony That’s such a great idea! The book rather than the rain. Much more exciting a souvenir than a monogrammed flannel and half a bottle of Molton Brown.

Juliet Indeed. And the other place I eyeballed for Smith was the Hazleton. Tres luxurious.

Boutique hotels in Toronto - Hazleton lobby

I brushed shoulders with Roger Federer no less; I guess a few hours after he’d been knocked out of the Toronto Masters. But my favourite celebrity spot? <cue Famous Canadians game…>

Anthony John Candy?

No, wait… he’s dead

Juliet He sure am dead. Cue Dead or Canadian? game they played on MTV c1980-something

Anthony the Barenaked Ladies?

Perry Mason?

Don’t keep me in suspense here…

Juliet Ahem, anyway, it was <drum roll>


Anthony Will?

Will Young?

Will Smith?

Will Shakespeare?

Juliet From Will and Grace. Look it felt exciting. And it was funny seeing all the people in his wake whispering to their friend – ‘omigod was that who I think it was??’

Anthony That is a cool spot indeed. Was he staying at the Hazleton too?

Juliet Hmm, no just walking past I think. Lots of the stars do though — tis properly glam. In a Bulgari, Milan super-glossy kind of way.

Anthony As in hyowge Wayfarers, Prada’d up to the nines, get-me-a-martini glam?

Juliet Yup. It’s all that and a bag of chips.

And in case that expression’s over yer head:

Anthony Every day is an education…

I guess Canucks like chips.

So you’ve got me intrigued by Hazletonian glam? Paint me a picture…

Hazleton Hotel

Juliet About the French Fries? Oui. With poutine, As in gravy.

Anthony Oh, and cheese curds! I remember cheese curds.

Juliet Yuck. I don’t know nuffink about cheese curds. We digress.

Anthony So, Drakes, and the Hazleton: we’ll look forward to seeing them on the Smith site next month! Any final Toronto tips for those going Canada-wards (other than, don’t do what I did and go in February, when it’s frickin’ freezing)?

Juliet Print off a list of famous Canadians for hours of ‘Dead or Canadian?’ enjoyment.

I went to the comedy venue Second City which was fun. John Candy made his name there actually… I saw a sketch show called Barack to the Future which I’d throughly recommend.

Mind you, if you stay at the Drake or the Hazleton you’ll probably find you don’t need to leave the hotel as there’s tonnes of entertainment and excellent eating and drinking right on your lap.

Well, thanks be to Juliet. The Drake and the Hazleton have both made Mr & Mrs Smith’s new hotel launch list for this month, (alongside some equally fabulous finds in North America and the UK).

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This article was written by

Before joining Mr & Mrs Smith, managing editor Anthony Leyton was at The Independent, writing about universities for the Push Guides. As you can imagine, it was a tough task persuading him to exchange league tables for luxury holiday retreats and halls of residence for hip hotels. Anthony has penned pieces for publications both top-drawer (The Telegraph) and top-shelf (Fiesta), and he has had a love of travel ever since he found bullet holes in the walls of a hotel room in New Orleans. He also has too many pets. But that's another tale altogether.

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