Toronto's iconic Gladstone Hotel will reopen with a new name and a new look
It's time to say goodbye to the eccentric old Gladstone Hotel that we all used to know and love.
The dingy melody bar where tipsy locals belted out karaoke, the charming, wood-panelled retro lobby, even the name of the venue itself — all will be but memories when the West Queen West stalwart reopens as "Gladstone House" later this year.
Such was to be expected when the historic building was purchased by the same developers behind the Broadview Hotel's recent glow up.
The new Gladstone House will, in fact, serve as a "sister property" to the Broadview, according to Streetcar Developments; a west-end equivalent to the strip club-turned-bougie boutique hotel on Queen Street East.
Set to open publicly through a phased approach in September 2021, the 132-year-old Gladstone will look quite a bit different in its new iteration — though its name actually hearkens back to the days when it was still a run-down old rooming house, pre some major Y2K renovations.
"The new name pays homage to the original 'Gladstone House' engravings on the stone exterior of the building, adding a slice of history to the modern reinvention of the space," said Streetcar in a release announcing the new name on Monday morning.
"Situated in West Queen West, one of Toronto's most creative neighbourhoods, the reimagined landmark will maintain its emphasis on culture, art, and diversity, while ensuring the building's rich history and iconic original architecture remain preserved."
The development firm promises that the venue will continue to serve as a "cultural pulse of the city" but "with even more exciting new offerings." It stands to reason that those offerings will probably also be more expensive.
New images released by Streetcar show what we can expect in terms of how Gladstone House's public spaces will look: Lots of scribbly word art and hot pink neon.
"Designed by internationally acclaimed Elastic Interiors, guests will be delighted by unexpected and modern elements, contrasted with colourful contemporary artwork to provide a unique and elevated experience," writes the developer.
"The celebrated boutique hotel, steeped in history, features restored exposed brick walls and innovative lighting applications that transition throughout the day, bringing the building to life."
As a historically-designated property, the 1889-built Romanesque Revival building can only legally be altered so much. The exterior will have changed little, if at all, when the venue reopens this fall, and the iconic Victorian "Gladstone Cowboy elevator" — one of the last hand-operated lifts in Toronto — will remain in place.
There are no visuals yet to show what the (already quite artsy) hotel rooms will look like upon reopening, but designers appear to have gone in a darker and moodier direction for the adjacent Melody Bar.
The works featured throughout the bar and hotel at large were procured through local artists, about 500 of whom submitted pieces through an open call in November of 2020.
A panel of jurors selected over 50 works, which will be part of an art installation in each of the hotel's 55 guest rooms and surrounding public spaces, according to developers.
While still a few months away from publicly launching, Gladstone House opened up its online system for room reservations and event bookings today. Reservations can be made from September of 2021 onward.
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