Dining room and bar with a view of the Toronto skyline at the Park Hyatt Hotel Toronto

The Writers Room cocktail bar pays homage to Canadian literary legends such as Mordecai Richler and...

It will surprise no one to hear that hotels everywhere were rather quiet over the past 19 months. What you might not realize is that a number of intrepid Toronto properties used this downtime to update, renovate and reimagine ways to enhance the visitor experience.

The way we meet for business has changed. Aside from new health and safety protocols, we’ve seen some pretty creative solutions emerge, including hybrid events that bring in-person gatherings to a wider virtual audience. That said, face-to-face events are as important as ever, with people yearning to rekindle personal connections. And when they travel to a city like Toronto, they really want to experience local culture—from sampling Toronto’s famously diverse cuisine to discovering the creative works of Canadian and international artists.

It’s a strong theme that runs through these recent Toronto hotel renovations.

Dining tables at Joni Restaurant in Park Hyatt Toronto Hotel
Modern and cozy, Joni Restaurant is an immersive casual bistro dining experience | Photo credit: Park Hyatt Hotel

Park Hyatt Toronto

The luxurious Park Hyatt Toronto reopened in September after an extensive restoration marked by an interior design palette influenced by the Group of Seven and Canada’s natural landscapes. The hotel offers a permanent on-site art collection featuring pieces by renowned Canadian and Indigenous artists. 

Built in 1936 and situated at the prestigious corner of Bloor Street West and Avenue Road, the entire property—including 219 guest rooms—has been completely modernized while respecting the hotel’s storied history. 

Meetings & Events: Park Hyatt Toronto offers 14,000 sq. ft. of meeting and event space. Highlights include the Writers Room, a classic cocktail bar that nods to the site’s history as a meeting place for Canada’s literary legends. The bar, along with the Terrace Room, are located on the 17th-floor and boast panoramic views of the Toronto skyline. Joni, the lobby restaurant and lounge, embraces Toronto's vibrant arts scene and features a menu inspired by the city’s culinary diversity. 4 Avenue Rd.

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Inside the living area of the Penthouse Suite at Toronto's SoHo Hotel
The penthouse and outdoor terrace are perfect for VIP retreats, business events and product launches | Photo credit: SoHo Hotel and Residences

Soho Hotel and Residences

You know you’re in for a visual treat at this unique boutique property as soon as you approach the front entrance and realize the canopy is a custom hand-blown glass art installation by Dale Chihuly. 

This Entertainment District hotel recently completed a multimillion-dollar renovation that transformed its 89 guest rooms, saltwater pool, steam room and state-of-the-art health and fitness club. The property offers four complimentary Tesla charging stations and is a mere 10-minute stroll to the UP Express terminal at Union Station.

Meetings & Events: The three-storey, 4,290-sq.-ft. penthouse suite is a hidden gem featuring a private glass elevator, professional kitchen, media room and rooftop terrace with views of the CN Tower and Rogers Centre. The property also offers flexible, fully-outfitted meeting spaces that can be used as Zoom Rooms for presentations, video conferencing or to host socially distanced hybrid events. 318 Wellington St. W.

Dining tables, chairs and a bar in the public space at Gladstone House in Toronto
The interior features restored exposed brick walls and innovative lighting that transitions throughout the day, bringing the building to life | Photo credit: Gladstone House

Gladstone House

This 132-year-old Queen Street West landmark—Toronto’s longest continually operating hotel—reopened in September after an extensive redesign. More than 50 works by local artists are part of permanent and temporary art installations in each of the hotel’s 55 guest rooms and surrounding public spaces to complement the property’s original 19th-century architecture. The Art Studio offers two artist residency spaces and a workshop area to guests and members of the community. 

Meetings & Events: The property is brimming with character—from exposed brick and burnished wood to a 1907 manually controlled elevator complete with an intricate birdcast-style ceiling. Gladstone House offers four meeting and event spaces and is available for a full buyout. 1214 Queen St. W.

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Rendering of the exterior of the Drake Hotel in Toronto
The Modern Wing’s façade features apertures intersected by oversized contemporary windows | Rendering by Norm Li

Drake Hotel

The Drake Hotel has come a very long way since its years as a punk bar and rave venue through the 1980s and 1990s, and going back even further, as a cozy little stopover for train travellers when the hotel first opened in 1890 as Small’s Hotel. Fast forward and this historic west-end property is leaning heavily on its neighbourhood culture, art and design roots with the addition of a five-storey Modern Wing, a reimagined Sky Yard rooftop patio and a polished steel boxcar-inspired cantilevered rooftop level suite.

Meetings & Events: The new Modern Wing expansion brings state-of-the-art meeting and event space to the hotel, new art and public spaces and nearly triples the total number of guest rooms to 51. The historic charm of the Classic Wing has been enhanced by a re-envisioned lobby, an intimate street-front bar, updated Drake Underground performance venue and neighbourhood Drake Café. 1150 Queen St. W.

Seating inside the lobby of the Crowne Plaza Toronto Airport Hotel
The lobby offers embedded technology as well as different seating for working and socializing | Photo credit: Crowne Plaza Toronto Airport Hotel

Crowne Plaza Toronto Airport Hotel

Located just minutes from Toronto Pearson Airport, the Crowne Plaza Toronto Airport Hotel recently completed a $20-million renovation that fully modernizes this 528-room, 12-storey property for conferences and business meetings. 

The 200-seat Cannery Kitchen and Social dining, bar and social spaces offer fresh and healthy dishes influenced by Canada’s east coast cuisine. The lobby was completely redesigned to make it a one-stop solution for busy travellers, including a grab-and-go marketplace and a new business centre.

Meetings & Events: With 12,000 sq. ft. of flexible meeting and function space as well as a dedicated meetings director, the hotel is fully equipped to host in-person and hybrid gatherings. The Algonquin Ballroom has been outfitted with state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment, including digital screens, surround sound audio, web camera for virtual calls and theatrical lighting. 33 Carlson Ct.