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Seedy Bay Street motel to become boutique hotel

Posted by Robyn Urback / December 24, 2012

Bay Street MotelThe Bay Street motel was a bit of a legend in its heyday. A filthy, scary, shameful legend. Named the second dirtiest hotel in Canada by TripAdvisor in 2009, I actually let my masochistic side take over a few years back and decided to saunter over with a roommate to "inquire" about a room. Needless to say, the subsequent feeling of persistent itchiness took a while to subside.

But gone are those days for the structure at 650 Bay. Sold to investors from Greece and under renovations for the past couple of years, the hotel is poised to reveal itself anew as a chic "destination space" in the heart of Toronto's downtown. To be called the Be SixFifty Hotel, the new space will boast 22 totally made-over rooms, all of which will have ensuite bathrooms, recessed televisions, iPads for guest use, and other technological boons. Each suite has been designed by Robin De Groot, whose work has been featured on Restaurant Makeover and in various Canadian magazines and television shows.

"I just want to be clear, the space will be entirely new," says Addy Saeed, the realtor for the project. "The washrooms are totally new with mosaic tiles, high-end finishes, and all the latest technologies," he says. The hotel will also have its own second-floor lounge space (with a menu to be finalized) and rooftop patio for sunshine in the summertime. The adjacent Sliced cafe has already been operational for nearly a year.

While not a designated heritage structure, Addy says the new owners have opted to work within 650 Bay's existing shell to maintain an intimate, boutique hotel atmosphere. "I really think this will be a destination in downtown Toronto," he adds, noting that Be SixFifty has an edge location-wise over The Drake and Gladstone hotels. "It's right in the middle of downtown, a stone's throw from Dundas Square, and walking distance to everything," he says.

Be SixFifty doesn't have an exact opening date just yet, but Addy estimates that it will start taking its first guests sometime in February. Chances are, however, that unlike the former Bay Street Motel, you won't be able to snag a room here for $59.95 per night.



Me / December 24, 2012 at 12:05 pm
Did the new owner's actually SEE any of Robin's awfulness on Restaurant makeover before hiring him? I feel bad for them.
bobo / December 24, 2012 at 03:22 pm
I think this story is about a year too early.
citytv replying to a comment from bobo / December 24, 2012 at 05:30 pm
More like a year late.
Simon Tarses / December 25, 2012 at 06:29 am
'Chances are, however, that unlike the former Bay Street Motel, you won't be able to snag a room here for $59.95 per night.'

No duh on that one. This hotel will be in the same price range as the Drake and the Gladstone. It's too bad that these same impresarios can't or couldn't also buy up and refurbish places like The Constellation Hotel or the Valhalla Inn.
Jonathan L / December 25, 2012 at 05:14 pm
As much as I love downtown Toronto, I am really disappointed in the lack of choice in the form of low-rent, budget inns. For people who need to be close to the bus station, the train depot, the central city, etc., - too bad; get out of the way for the Escelade-driving elite looking to be pampered for $600 a night at these boutique hotels. Meanwhile, those who are coming to Toronto who'd like to spend the night are now having to make it a round-trip in one day (Windsor-Toronto and back in one day) because they can't afford to stay here overnight.

It's a shame really, places such as the 'Y', that used to provide this very type of housing are long-gone, and Toronto's downtown is quickly becoming a vertical gated community.
iSkyscraper replying to a comment from Jonathan L / December 25, 2012 at 10:36 pm
Not sure I agree. Economic vitality means expensive hotel rooms, hard to separate the two. Ever try to find a cheap hotel room in Manhattan? On the other hand, lots of deals to be had in downtown Buffalo or Detroit.

To the extent that it is possible, what I see filling the void for budget travelers are net services such as AirBnB and the continued urban invasion of lower cost (though not low cost) flags such as Hilton Garden Inn, Red Roof Inn, Hampton Suites, Residence Inn, Comfort Inn, aLoft, etc. Not many of these are in Toronto yet but they are making their way into US urban areas as they learn to modify their suburban standards and cut some corners to shoehorn into tighter spaces.
Michelle / December 26, 2012 at 11:28 pm
Drake and Gladstone have ambiance and events going for them. Is this place going to be that, or is it just a hotel?
Addy Saeed replying to a comment from Michelle / January 3, 2013 at 06:18 pm
There are more than enough event taking place in the area so no set events are planned. Once the roof top patio is finished, there will be entertainment scheduled for there.
Bridgette / February 15, 2013 at 09:09 pm
Are you open for business coming to Toronto Monday feb much is a room queen bed 2 people??
New York Yankees iPhone 5C Cases Leopard Print / January 17, 2015 at 04:55 am
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SC / February 19, 2015 at 08:47 pm
There are several cheapish options just east and/or west of Dt- a couple of decent but basic places on Jarvis st, Neil Wycik (only in summer) on Gerrard and the Super 8 in Chinatown come to mind. That said, kudos to Bay Motel owners for turning a skid row place into a boutique hotel.
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