BeSixFifty Hotel has taken the once-grungy Bay Street Motel and turned it into something far more luxurious and (literally) shiny. Not a lot has changed from the outside - and why would you want to, when you have a historical building from the late 1800s to work with? The interior, however, is like stepping into a glittering world of crystal chandeliers and crisp white sheets. Gone are the days of worrying about bed bugs.
So clean is the hotel, it's actually hypoallergenic. There are no questionable padded armchairs harbouring of bodily residue; instead, easy-to-wipe ghost chairs adorn every room. The tiles are imported from Italy and the sheets are all minimum 500 thread count. But the thing that gets me the most excited is that each room is fitted with an iPad to automate everything from the TV to the temperature - and it isn't chained up under lock and key!
You can take the iPad down to the 650 Cafe & Bistro on the ground floor to peruse local events and restaurant listings (all specially curated for you), while you enjoy a delicious and healthy hot meal from their Mediterranean menu, which changes daily. Or you can take the iPad up to the soon-to-be-open roof terrace, which will boast a bar and outdoor grill on its nearly 2,000 square foot property (and yes, it's open to the public).
But the real selling point of BeSixFifty is the design by Robin De Groot . Each room comes equipped with modern fixtures and high-quality materials, and includes quirky touches like tree stump side tables and little statues of dachshunds and rhinos. Oh, and did I mention all the chandeliers?
The rooms themselves are small, though they have downsized in number from the Bay Street Motel's 51 rooms to 22. The three types of rooms include the single ($169 per night), double ($189 per night), and queen ($209-$229 per night, depending on the size). Yes, the rooms are cozy, but the soaring ceilings add a sense of openness, and there is a very efficient use of space.
As for amenities, the internet is free, and each room features specialty channels at no extra cost. They didn't have space for a gym, so they made special arrangements with Hard Candy Fitness down the street, so you can enjoy all their membership privileges at - you guessed it - no extra cost. And if that isn't sweetening the deal enough for you, they also offer complimentary bite-size cupcakes at check in, and have their own private label glacier water and a chef-prepared blend of nuts waiting for you in your room. It's all about the details.
BeSixFifty's goal was to create a pod-style boutique hotel that focuses on guest experience and quality over square footage. They aim to appeal to the younger urban professional who wants to stay downtown, but doesn't want to fork out hundreds for a larger room that was probably designed in 1992. This project has been four years in the making, and I'm happy to say that they absolutely nailed it. Especially the chandeliers.
Writing by Esther Rogers. Photos by James C Lee .