I'm going to go out on a limb here and say you've probably heard of the Drake Devonshire.
The Drake Hotel and its various outposts (General Store, One Fifty, Commissary, et al) are basically to Toronto what The Ace Hotel is to the States — art-focused, unapologetically kitschy, and referenced to on a first-name basis (that is, until a certain rapper sunk his talons into the moniker).
With their cool events, campy vibes and Instagrammable-everything down to the bathrobes (at the Drake Dev, they're terry hoodies), they're the anti-Marriott — and for those who've long eschewed big-box hotels in favour of boutique accommodations, they're the place to stay.
So what can I tell you about Drake By The Lake that you don't already know? Well...
The Drake is known for its tongue-in-cheek touches (when we stayed two Valentine's Days ago, they left mini vibrators on the pillows).
It's hard to miss the giant floral signage that greets you when you drive into the Drake, or the 3D mirrored letters dangling from the trees over the creek. The artist behind them is Toronto's Trevor Wheatley (@treverferever on Instagram).
During the summer, the back patio, shoreline and surrounding lawns transform into a community hub where locals come for dinner and spend the evening playing shuffleboard, beanbag toss and tetherball.
While it's easy to be tempted by the surrounding restaurants, you best reserve at least one meal (or better yet, brunch and dinner) for the hotel itself. The County-centric menus and lakeside views are 50% of the reason to say at The Drake Hotel. Do steal away for a pint at the Midtown Brewery around the corner while you're waiting for a table, though.
There are perks to weeknight stays: cheaper nightly rates and, in non-pandemic periods, special programming like, Monday game nights and $5 pints, paint nights on Wednesdays and half-priced wine on Thursdays. There's also usually flow yoga almost every morning in the summer, and play readings once a week.
Another way to save a few dollars: store a bottle of the County's finest in your room. A standard tip for any hotel, but it's easy to blow your budget by the glass in Wellington (especially when everything is suddenly shuttered at 6pm or all day on Monday or Tuesday, which tends to happen in the County).
THE NITTY GRITTY
- Seven rooms of varying size and style, sleeping up to four guests
- Open year-round
- Rates start at $350ish per night
- Can't find a room? Try your luck around the corner at little sister property Drake Motor Inn.
Yes, it's worth the price for a night to remember (or not).
Yes, it's that nice in person.
And yes, you should take your girlfriend, because has she not hinted hard enough?
It was a trip to PEC a couple of years ago — and a stay in one of the Creekside guestrooms — that inspired us to start Good Weekend, and it just keeps getting better and better every time we visit. Suffice it to say, we're forever fans of The Drake Dev.
- If you're sensitive to sound, opt for a room further away from the restaurant and kitchen, especially if you're staying on a weekend. It's not terrible by any means, but events there can get live (throwback to New Year's Eve 2017, during which I vaguely recall 'helping' staff by carrying a tray of water glasses around the dance floor).
- Bring bug spray for summer stays. The Drake is right beside a creek, which tends to attract the skeeters in the summertime.
- Sign up for their mailing list! The Drake Dev offers lots of solid packages that can get you more bang (i.e. bike rentals, picnic baskets, fishing fun, etc.) for your buck, and can make your stay extra-special if you're going for an occasion.
Photography by Chelsey Burnside