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Hotel Ocho

Posted by Staff / Posted on May 4, 2011

Hotel Ocho TorontoHotel Ocho will soon join the ranks of Toronto's existing boutique hotels come June, but manager Kenneth McElheran tells me it will have a decidedly different vibe. "No one wants to go to that faceless Toronto place," he says as we sip Americanos by the Espresso bar. "I want this to be just like staying at my house," he continues, ABBA playing in the background.

"So, should I expect to hear Dancing Queen if I drop by your place?"

"Yeah," he says with a smile. "That's actually my playlist."

Hotel Ocho TorontoHotel Ocho's rooms, restaurant, and lounge occupy a 12,000 square-foot former textile factory on Spadina just north of Queen Street. Family owned, daughter Louise Choi decided to ditch her New York finance job five years ago and move to Toronto to transform this space into a boutique hotel.

Hotel Ocho TorontoThat's not to say that the building has lost any of its early-1900s charm. The original wood beams still gloat with handsome character, as well as exposed brick on several walls. But the guest rooms, for example, have been created using granite and marble in the bathrooms, as well as flat screen TVs and WiFi ready to go. I don't think that shiny espresso machine was there back when the building served as a cigar factory, but the charm, undoubtedly, is still there.

Hotel Ocho TorontoUnfortunately, I didn't get to check out Hotel Ocho's 12 rooms (interior design company Dialogue 38 has a stranglehold on the keys until the rooms are unveiled in June), McElheran tells me they're charming and comfortable, going for for $175, $225, or $250 per night. "You have everything you need in there," he says. "And Jamal will be there in his Hello Kitty housecoat if you do require anything else," he says of his overnight staffer. And yes, he really does wear a Hello Kitty housecoat.

Hotel Ocho TorontoWhile the guest rooms are getting their final touches, Hotel Ocho's restaurant and lounge has been open for about four weeks now. It serves an eclectic menu of starters, entrees, and desserts, each item costing under $18. Ocho has also added weekend brunch to the mix, serving the regulation eggs benny ($9), French toast and fruit ($9), and a delicious-sounding smoked salmon and goat cheese omelette ($11).

Hotel Ocho TorontoWord has started to get out about the café/lounge it seems, with a lineup out the door last Friday, according to McElheran. "Everyone loves a secret, I guess," he says. "We haven't done a lick of advertising."

Hm. Well, I guess the secret's out? Ocho hosts live music Wednesday to Saturday nights, with everything from jazz to live mixing. "There's this one pair," McElheran says, "they're just amazing. This guy plays jazz guitar and a woman sings. I think they're scheduled for Wednesdays."

Hotel Ocho TorontoMcElheran found the guitarist, believe it or not, busking on Queen Street. "I just heard this music and thought, 'Wow, I need to find where this is coming from.' I found him--and actually, he's doing his PhD in economics--and asked if he would come perform." He agreed of course, and brought along accompaniment.

Live music can be enjoyed with drinks from Ocho's full bar, with several beers on tap, wines, specialty martinis and cocktails. Dress code, of course, is non-existent, so feel free to bust out that Hello Kitty.

Hotel Ocho TorontoWriting by Robyn Urback. Photos by Dennis Marciniak.



Longo / May 4, 2011 at 02:03 pm
Nice blue socks.
Jordan / May 4, 2011 at 08:36 pm
Are the public spaces finished? It looks really empty / characterless from the photos... monotonous maybe? Someone's gotta fill it up with Toronto charm!

Jordan / May 4, 2011 at 08:37 pm
Also - patio? That grass is calling out for one!
Danielle / May 5, 2011 at 06:56 am
I'm glad to see that building put to good use. Five years ago, it was boarded up and covered in bird shit.
Phil / May 5, 2011 at 08:40 am
Try the Kenneth cocktail!
miles / May 5, 2011 at 11:14 am
I like the tranquil, minimal design. The wood and brick, complemented by the texture of the blue fabric. It allows for people to fill the space, without unnecessary embellishments competing for attention. So nice to see that level of restraint.

I'm sure the mood is great in the evening. I'm really curious to see the guest rooms.
max / May 5, 2011 at 03:49 pm
well, i left an appreciative comment about the minimal design and interesting space, but it never showed up. i'm not going to sit here and type it all out again.

nice menu too.
AF / May 6, 2011 at 10:27 am
Ocho is awesome, Kenneth is great. I was selfishly hoping they wouldn't get 'too' busy, but they certainly deserve the traffic.

Also a great spot for a hotel; two streetcar lines and close to so many great Toronto neighbourhoods.
J / May 8, 2011 at 10:19 pm
Was there today and the layout is great. The tables on the lower floor are made from the original wood that was removed as part of the renovation and the dining room upstairs is perfect for parties. Wish it was around when I was having my engagement party.
Jason Kucherawy / May 8, 2011 at 11:12 pm
I met with Kenneth today after he came outside to tell my tour group about the Banksy piece on the side of the building. We were finishing our "Graffiti in Toronto" bonus ending at the Banksy piece when Kenneth showed up with a photo of it and explained all about the fine he has to pay the city to keep it on the wall there. He's a super nice guy, and I hope the hotel does very well! The lounge has a great look and is comfortable to sip a latte and have a chat in. I will be back!
Ben Weeks / July 22, 2011 at 10:34 pm
I just wish the piece of paper stuck to the window with a print out of a menu on it could be rethought, the place looks great inside, but that's a bit of a fail/fly in the ointment from a presentation standpoint. Usually I'm interested in going in until I see that and the inspiration is lost. Canteen on the other hand presents their menu very well to outsiders gauging if they want to go in or not. Such is the power of design. The nearest designer of quality to Ocho I know of would be the Office of Gilbert Li. So if you're reading Kenneth, I look forward to seeing what happens!
Fred Payne / August 2, 2011 at 05:46 pm
My wife and I spent a weekend at Ocho in July and loved it. A cosy boutique hotel with great staff. Special thanks to Ester and Chris for their hospitality and making the weekend a memorable one. Location is perfect for walking around some of the most interesting neighbourhoods of TO. Will certainly do it again
Will / May 8, 2012 at 03:01 pm
Hotel Ocho is an amazing event space for meetups and birthdays. Been there usually for Startup Drinks and it's so conveniently located to Toronto's "Tech corridor" so it's within walking distance from all the companies based in the area.
ernesto / November 30, 2012 at 07:49 pm
The Rooms are awesome and i love the espresso in the morning:-)
Iliana / February 7, 2013 at 09:33 pm
Talk about their experimental chef perhaps?
Their minimalistic interior is sure nice contrast to their dishes.

My experience in a nutshell
(or more like a nutshell with candied walnuts, goat cheese, raspberries, avocado, and much more):

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