With Niagara Falls just two hours away, a super-efficient transportation system and the welcoming Torontonians always smiling and ready to help, there are many reasons to visit North America’s fourth-largest city. Buzzing during term time with a few hundred thousand students and a population representing a couple of hundred nations, all frequenting the city’s excellent restaurants, theatres, museums and art galleries, there is plenty to see and do in Toronto.
When it comes to trendy neighbourhoods, Toronto’s east side traditionally lagged behind more westerly hot spots such as College Street’s Little Italy. But nowadays Queen St. East is the new Queen St. West, and the formerly industrial stretch known as Leslieville has emerged as one of the city’s hippest places to eat, drink, shop and live. Over the past decade, the east side has attracted an influx of young homebuyers who have changed the dynamic and like to dine out and spend their cash in cool places close to home, with much of the excitement now centred on Gerrard Street.
The Broadview Hotel on Queen St. East opened in July 2017 after a three-year renovation and restoration process, represents one of Toronto’s most enormous transformations, and is another fine example of fresh buzz again being injected into the city’s east side. Officially named Dingman’s Hall and erected by a soap maker in 1891, who thought that the neighbourhood could use a community hub, what was once a bicycle club, residential complex and latterly a rooming-house and notorious strip club, has been transformed from a structurally unsound wreck into a lovingly realised boutique hotel, complete with a funky café-bar on street level and a seventh-floor rooftop bar and deck surrounding a preserved tower, which was the tallest structure in the area until recently. Indeed, Broadview’s rooftop was one of the summer’s most happening hang outs for miles around.
A building with such character and multiple layers of history gave the hotel’s designers – DesignAgency – lots of freedom to play off different eras and genres. This playfulness is obvious in every party of the property, not least the 58 rooms and suites which feel a little like boudoirs, decorated with rich velvet curtains, patterned textiles, and the occasional utility pole that functions as the support for bedside tables or mirrors while also resembling a brass pole. Every room has a record player and selection of vinyl hand-picked by the hotel’s east-end neighbour, Tiny Record Shop, mini bars are stocked with goods from local purveyors, and marble-lined uber retro bathrooms are stocked with toiletries from another east-end company, Graydon Skincare. When it comes to Toronto’s east side, it’s all about keeping it real and keeping it in the family.