The Best Hotel Bars in Toronto
The best hotel bars in Toronto used to be one of the few places you could go to get a decent cocktail, with bartenders who had years of experience, plush surroundings, and the budget to splash on the really good bottles of scotch and cognac. While that's no longer the case, there's still something really enjoyable about sweeping through the lobby of a grand hotel to grab a drink.
These are the best hotel bars in Toronto.
Photos by Jesse Milns and Rick McGinnis.
The Roof Lounge is a fairly small space, seating no more than around 30 people, and about dozen or so on its patio. However, travelling up the elevator at the Hyatt to this little oasis is a journey in itself, and serves to remove you entirely from the woes of the city, leaving you with breathtaking views and luxe furnishings. Resident bartender Joe Gomes has been pouring cocktails there since 1962, and has a wealth of stories to tell, as well as one of the most well-practised martinis in the game.
For the hip set, there's no hotel bar worth mentioning above the Drake, which actually comprises two bars. The lounge downstairs is huge, and plays host to live music and other events. In the summer, the fun extends up to the Sky Yard, a huge rooftop space that might not match the views of the Hyatt, but creates a more casual party vibe in which you'll feel at home in jeans and a t-shirt. The cocktail program is also one of the best in the city, with many of Toronto's finest bartenders either having cut their teeth here before making a name in the restaurant scene, or are still working the wood to this day.
One of the newer players in the Toronto hotel game, the Roof Lounge is an exclusive experience reserved almost entirely for guests and residents of the Thompson. Decked out with an infinity pool, cabanas, and a fantastic view of the city, it's worth the effort to get in and rub shoulders with the King West glitterati. Offering bottle service and demanding smart evening wear turn this place from a mere bar into something more akin to a private club, and come TIFF season, it's a club everybody wants to be in.
A few blocks west of the Drake is the Melody Bar. Like the Drake, it also plays host to a range of live music, inexpensive snacks, and cocktails, but it's a slightly more cosy affair (though the bar can accommodate over a hundred), with trivia nights and more than the occasional event of interest happening, like the annual Come Up To My Room art takeover of the whole hotel, which converts the space into a gigantic house party.
The newest (and smallest) entry on this list, this tiny boutique hotel in the heart of Queen West's shopping district boasts only 18 guest rooms, but a gorgeous little patio on the roof that makes for an escape from the bag-laden throngs that bustle below. Signature cocktails are well-crafted, and the view to the street is worth the trip alone. In less forgiving climes, the bar downstairs is also a snazzy affair.
The sprawling patio at the back of the Ritz is lit dramatically with chic modern firepits, creating a brooding and stylish space that looks better and better as the sun sets. DEQ also offers an afternoon tea service with sandwiches and litre pots of tea. However, as mentioned, it's better to enjoy DEQ in the late evening, once the post-work rush has settled down and the servers can give you a bit more attention.
Probably the most sumptuous room on this list, this brand new space is all light wooden accents and leather furniture, making for the kind of space you'd take someone you really want to impress. Although the cocktails at the relocated Four Seasons bar are a step-up in terms of price ($18), it's all offset by the complimentary nuts and snacks as you imbibe. If you are still hankering for something more substantial, the bar menu is overseen by celebrated chef Daniel Boulud, whose restaurant is adjacent.
Back to the Royal York for the last space on our list, York Station. An odd little space that's not even featured on the Royal York's website, this tiny bar feels like a time machine into the 1970's, and is only open during the day (until 7pm). It's modeled after a railway car, and even features a model train running around the ceiling. Since the closure of the commuter bar in Union station, this is the last of Toronto's bar catering to those about to jump on a train, and is well worth a visit if you find yourself on the receiving end of a delayed journey.
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