How Travel and Art Can Seamlessly Intertwine The Drake Hotel Toronto by Molly Schofield

The Drake Hotel in Toronto is rooted in contemporary art, showcasing a commitment to the artistic and cultural elements of the Queen West neighborhood. This commitment is reflected in the hotel’s design and the artwork displayed throughout the property. The Drake Hotel strives to be more than just a place to stay; it aims to be a neighborhood hub that creates a unique sense of place. This includes fostering connections with both travelers and locals and creating a vibrant and inclusive atmosphere.

I have a conversation with Ana Yuristy, the Chief People and Brand Officer behind Toronto’s trendsetting downtown gem, The Drake Hotel. Ana delves into what makes this hotel such a stand-out destination, and how it is artfully redefining the very essence of hospitality.

MS: Can you tell our readers a bit about The Drake, the backstory, the inspiration, and its vision?

AY: Established in 2004, Drake Hotel Properties is a Canadian hospitality brand that prides itself on redefining the art of hospitality. With a passion for creativity and a commitment to delivering unparalleled guest experiences, The Drake has become synonymous with cutting-edge design, curated art collections, and a vibrant cultural atmosphere. ​Our properties include the iconic Drake Hotel in Toronto and two properties known for putting Prince Edward County (Ontario) on the map – Drake Devonshire and Drake Motor Inn.

MS: How do you feel art and travel intertwine?

AY: As our Curator Ashely Mulvihill would say, art has a unique power to connect strangers and stimulate curiosity. Hotels possess a certain mystery, in part, because our doors are always open and they are where guests from near and far gather in one collective space. Together this creates an environment where art provides a source of inspiration and has the ability to spark conversations, generate ideas, and encourage understanding.

MS: How would you describe the overall ‘Drake Experience’? What makes it so unique?

AY: Rooted in contemporary art, culture, and genuine hospitality, The Drake Hotel has created a neighborhood hub that provides a unique sense of place. With art-filled guestrooms, creative dining options, and the Drake Underground, a multifaceted performance venue with a reputation for hosting legendary shows and parties, The Drake Hotel is a cornerstone of Toronto’s cultural landscape.

MS: Food can often be something that is viewed as a necessity, but how do you turn it into an unforgettable dining experience?

AY: Executive Chef Taylor McMeekin brings a passion for local sourcing, sustainability, regenerative agriculture, and community support to the Drake Hotel kitchen. His new menu is just one part of The Drake Hotel’s food and beverage offerings. Guests will also enjoy a tasty cocktail menu, weekday happy hour specials, and Tuesday half-price bottles of wine during Wine Down. Another popular offering is our Sunday High Tea + High Tops, which has a selection of teas, sweet and savory bites, scones, jellies, and jams with live entertainment from nostalgic R+B, Pop, and Hip-Hop violin duo Double The Treble.

MS: Can you describe any partnerships or collaborations with local artists, galleries, or cultural institutions that provide guests with a deeper connection to the local art scene?

AY: In partnership with guest curators, local cultural organizations, and artists across the globe Drake Art is committed to amplifying marginalized voices and addressing the social, cultural, and environmental questions of our time. Guests are invited to learn more about the artists and their work through on-site didactic panels, Drake staff, and online resources. Deeply tapped into the Canadian art scene, Curator Ashley Mulvihill shines a spotlight on home-grown, emerging artists – including local Ontario College of Art & Design (OCAD) students. Our Cultural Programmer Kris Ludo invites emerging artists into our Lobby weekly with our Wednesday ‘Workflow’ where innovative artists from multiple disciplines showcase and discuss their work in the cozy confines of the lobby-turned-studio space.

MS: Travel trends are constantly evolving. Can you discuss any future plans or renovations to adapt to changing guest preferences and needs?

AY: The Drake Hotel has always been a hub for art, culture, expression, and hospitality, and the Modern Wing (opened in December 2021) builds on that legacy, extending it into the future with 32 new Hotel guest rooms and a re-imagined Lobby as a timeless and eclectically designed respite from the commotion of the city – a comfortable place for socializing, working or relaxing. The Drake continues to evolve our offerings and our design to balance work and play and to invite our guests to experience the best of what the neighborhood has to offer.

MS: For travelers seeking local experiences, how do you connect guests with the local community?

AY: The Drake offers curated adventures and exclusive packages in partnership with neighborhood businesses, ensuring guests have a one-of-a-kind stay. Our concierge team are experts at connecting our guests with unique local experiences, from our community corkboard in the Hotel lobby featuring insider recommendations from our staff and our frequent guests to profiles featuring staff picks such as our Drake blog (see: For The Love of The Neighbourhood – The Drake).

MS: Finally, what about The Drake, above all, keeps guests coming back for more?

AY: As a leader in the hospitality industry, The Drake is renowned for its unique blend of arts, culture, and exceptional guest experiences. Whether it’s a luxury getaway, a memorable dining experience, or an immersive art exhibition, our properties offer a one-of-a-kind journey that goes beyond traditional accommodations.

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Written by Molly Schofield

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