Staycation

Toronto’s Annex Hotel is an artsy neighbourhood escape

Our Staycation series highlights spots in your home city perfect for a night (or a week) away. This week, check into this futuristic escape in the Annex. 

Written by Karolyne Ellacott

The History

Sitting somewhere between a boutique hotel and Airbnb, the brand new Annex Hotel is in a league of its own. The hotel aims to parcel up a tech-friendly M.O. with that sense of community that comes from the boutique experience. This hotel is for travellers keen to experience the real Toronto while exploring a residential neighbourhood. Think BMV Books, Hot Docs Cinema and Piano Piano. The CN Tower? That’s for tourists.   

Taking over what was once the ratty tatty Green Room — a grimy University kid hangout — the space is completely unrecognizable from its past self.  A complete gut-job resulted in 24 rooms spanning two floors. There’s no front desk to speak  of; check-in is online and patrons can waltz into their rooms after accessing them by an emailed key code. (Word to the wise: Write both the building and room key codes down on actual paper as a precautionary measure, allowing seamless hotel entry on the off-chance a phone death occurs.) Checking out means closing the door and walking out.

The Design

Raised beds with all-white linens. 

Minimalist rooms are plucked straight out of the mind’s eye of your design-savvy friend. StudioAC and Moss Design created the tranquil hideaways. Large picture windows allow plenty of natural light to wash over the spaces, though double blinds ensure not a peep of light can get in come sunrise. Lucky guests will look out onto a vibrant back alley mural, which acts to bolster the artsy feel of the hotel.

Beds are raised and clad in all white linens, with just-fluffy-enough Quebecois Mariel’Oie duvets and pillows promising a deep sleep. Plywood counter tops reach from one end of the room to the other, segueing from a music station fit with Sonic Boom vinyl (think Canadian faves like Caribou and Feist) to a workstation complete with iPad and over to a sink, accompanied by Malin+Goetz suds. Behind, a wet room composed of toilet and shower is hidden from the main area thanks to a frosted glass partition wall. 

A section of the end-to-end plywood countertop featuring records from Sonic Boom.

The love of Indie labels extends over to the mini fridge and snack basket; the former houses Dillon’s bottled Negronis while the latter displays an array of saliva-inducing morsels like coconut chips and cricket dusted energy bars. The goal here is to satiate the hungered guest slightly, but invite them down to the lobby bar for bigger bites with a far more social lean. While there is no room service, a concierge is reachable via text for that ever-essential ice bucket. (They’ll have you know those cubes are 1.25” squared, which was determined to deliver the perfect coolness-to-melt ratio.)

The Dining

Over in the lobby café-slash-bar, patrons can tuck into snack-y grub morning through evening. The tightly edited menus place the focus on locally sourced ingredients and collabs; morning eats include fare from Parkdale’s Tempered Room, such as their veg breakfast sandwich with egg, ‘shrooms, arugula and melty cheese. Sip on beverages like chai lattes, crafted with oak milk for a silky smooth finish, or classic Americanos for those in need of a java jolt. 

Come sundown patrons can sip on wines of the natural and bio-dynamic variety, or cocktails such as their Newly Fashioned, spruced up with walnut bitters. Stay tuned for the soon-to-open accompanying food hall, The Commons; it promises Seven Lives tacos and ‘za from Big Trouble. 

The Annex Hotel, 296 Brunswick Ave., 647-277-1179, rooms start at $150