Now that Vogue has crowned one of Toronto's neighbourhoods as the second coolest in the world, it seems the secret is out.
Queen Street West (now known as West Queen West for the purposes of distinguishing it from the less cool, eastern portion) has long been a haunt of artists and others seeking lower rent, easy access to the city's amenities and large studio spaces that used to be factories.
A big part of bringing it up to Vogue-level glory is the Gladstone Hotel, a boutique, 37-room hotel that was built in 1889 and is therefore celebrating its 125th birthday this year. (The Drake Hotel down the street is equally well-known, but takes the role of the hip younger sibling.) Originally used by many musicians who had performed at Massey Hall, according to the hotel's website, it was bought and sold a few times before the Zeidler family purchased it in 2000 and set about making it a spot for artists once again.
Christina Zeidler, who is the hotel's most public figure, is a visual artist herself, and when the hotel originally reopened, explained that "the intent is to create a location for the art scene in Toronto, for people who want to discover it."
Queen Street is well known for a plethora of galleries selling big-name Canadian art (though quite a few have moved north to Dundas for the comparably low rent). But the Gladstone hasn't shied away from keeping the creative masses coming back for more, with large exhibitions like Come Up To My Room, rooms designed by artists from all over (not to mention some well-known Food Network hosts), and hallway space that's used as a de facto gallery all year round.
Check out some of the pieces from the Gladstone's past exhibits here — a landmark of the runner-up to coolest neighbourhood in the world or not, it's definitely inspirational.