With a grand opening party befitting of its rich history, The Anndore House was, this week, reborn as one of Toronto's newest and most highly anticipated boutique hotels.
Built in 1955 as a luxury long-stay hotel and residence, the original Anndore Apartment Hotel was the pick of many-a wealthy business person and celebrity, including the iconic Liza Minnelli. Now, the 11-story building located in the heart of downtown Toronto and just steps from Bloor-Yonge station retains much of its original 1950's charm, with newly-painted black brickwork giving the exterior a striking, modern appearance.
Having been lucky enough to be guests at the grand opening party, we were treated to an experience that simultaneously honored the building's colorful past and showed off the stunning fruits of the year-long renovation which saw The Anndore House come to life. Upon arrival, the dreary Toronto weather was soon forgotten, as we were greeted with a gin cocktail in the spacious lobby bar to begin the night.
Next, we made our way to the impressive restaurant, Constantine, where delicious culinary delights were served to a soundtrack of chatter and mellow R&B. The wood-fired oven is the centerpiece of the large open kitchen, where diners can watch their food being prepared right from their seats. A venture of the Toronto-famous chef, Craig Harding, the restaurant offers up rich flavors of Italy, The Middle East, and more. Lamb ribs marinated in pomegranate molasses, Swiss chard fritters, and wood-fired pizza were just some of the beautiful canapé-sized bites we sampled from the regular menu, in addition to a fresh seafood bar serving hand-shucked oysters, Fogo Island shrimp and tuna tataki.
Having heard from a trio of retro-clad women of a "secret party' happening upstairs, we headed to the elevator, as instructed, where a similarly fashioned bell-hop explained how we would be journeying back in time to iconic decades with each hotel floor. The theatrical Best-Kept Secrets production was a guise for a hotel tour and quite an experience in which to get our first glimpse of some of the hotel's 113 rooms. The fourth floor was home to the fifties — 'secret' marriages took place in hotel rooms, with party guests becoming 'best men' and 'maids of honor'. The third floor saw the seventies, with a disco party taking place in the hallway. Finally, the second floor returned guests to the present day where local drag star Lucy Flawless (Eric Rich) hosted a "slumber party".
Throughout the tour, one thing was evident: each room at The Anndore House is beautifully decorated. White exposed brick contrasts dark grey walls that are reminiscent of the building's exterior — a clear theme throughout the hotel. Exposed electrical conduit and Edison-style lighting fixtures give the rooms an industrial finish, though simple wooden storage softens and ties together the character of the room nicely. The bathroom's bronze fixtures (including a rainforest shower head in the walk-in shower) and white brick-tiled walls are in-keeping with the theme. Despite the intended 'unfinished' feel, it must be stressed that refined luxury absolutely precedes anything truly industrial here.
Tasteful touches are abundant, as this hotel manages to seamlessly combine nostalgia with contemporary. Retro telephones and vinyl record players in each room are an intentional nod to the past; though the hotel boasts a library of LPs, the record players' compatibility with modern technology shows the attention to detail that has gone into the design. Alongside modern amenities like a coffee machine and a flat-screen television, artwork, including work by local Toronto artists, adorns the rooms' walls, adding to the throwback vibe.
Despite paying homage to the building's past, The Anndore House has no shortage of up-to-date luxuries. An on-site barber shop and café are just some of the hotel services guests have to enjoy during their stay. However, the pinnacle of all that is modern is The Anndore House mobile app from which guests can check-in, order room service, and control their rooms' temperate and lighting.
It is safe to say the rebirth of The Anndore House has been a hugely successful one. The blend of modern with Art Deco is simply charming and the expected practicalities every hotel should possess have been finely executed. All of this to say, this hotel is a joy to visit.