The Annex Hotel
The Annex Hotel is a boutique lodging with a modern, local feel.
Taking over a 100-year-old building just off the main drag of the bustling Annex neighbourhood, the hotel offers just 24 rooms, accented by work from mostly local artists.
Staying at The Annex feels a bit like staying at an Airbnb: there's no front desk here, nor is there room service, a gym, parking lot, or even phones or TVs. There are, however, iPad Pros in every room.
Like Airbnb lodging, coordinating your stay will be reliant on tech: on the day of your booking, you'll receive a text from the hotel with all your room info and access key code.
All you have to do is text the number and you've effectively 'checked in.' Save that number: you can text it back anytime, requesting things like extra pillows or recommendations to a good restaurant nearby.
To access the main entrance, walk through the Green P parking lot off Brunswick to find a concealed side door and make your way up to your room on the second or third floors.
Rooms here range from small, 200 square-foot affairs (starting at around $150/night) to medium rooms with one queen bed ($200/night) to large and even extra large rooms with two queens ($250/night).
Most rooms here are an exhibitionists dream, with massive windows and beds on raised platforms that leave you exposed to the eye of anyone walking down Brunswick or through the West-facing parking lot.
Thankfully there are two types of night blinds, though leaving them open has its perks: you'll get a stellar view of the next door mural by local artist Elicser.
The rooms themselves are filled with local art: illustrations include work from Toronto artists like Melody Hansen and Emily Filler, plus photography from the likes of Max Rosenstein and Darius Bashar.
Each room comes equipped with a record player, Bluetooth speakers, and a handful of vinyls that come curated courtesy of Sonic Boom. You'll probably hear people blasting their copies of Purple Rain and Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City through the walls.
Mattresses are ultra-comfy (they're from Stearns & Foster, the same supplier that decks out the Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons). Bedding comes by way of Quebec-based Marie L'Oie and Sferra , while the Annex's custom blankets comes by way of Merchant Sons.
Sinks are located outside the tiled wet rooms where the toilet and shower are (it's kind of fun brushing your teeth while making eye contact with someone smoking in the alley).
There's not much necessary face-to-face interaction with hotel staff, which is great if you generally know your way around hotels. For those who find the self check-in process confusing (you're likely not alone) there are always employees hanging around in the Lobby Bar.
Designed by Montreal-based studio Gauley Brothers, this cozy 6,000-square-foot main floor feels more like a restaurant than a lobby.
Here is where guests can grab breakfast items like elk breakfast sandwiches with egg and cheddar ($8) by way of Parkdale bakery The Tempered Room, until 11 a.m.
After that, it's the midday and night menus, where the kitchen serves shareable snacks like the cured meat and cheese plate ($22).
There's also the celery caesar ($16), a light healthy meal that subs croutons for pomegranate.
And the burrata ($21), which comes with seasonal sides like grapes.Meals aren't big and heavy here; they're more to complement the extensive list of rare, biodynamic organic wines from around the world, served from the curved marble bar.
The Annex Hotel's hands-off approach encourages visitors to act less like lost tourists and more like seasoned travellers. Here, guests have everything right at their fingertips, whether it's through their phones or with all the next-door attractions the neighbourhood has to offer.
The Annex Hotel