Imagine being one of the very first people to stay in a brand new boutique hotel.
With no tripadvisor reviews to refer to, no blog posts and less than 48 hours to go before we arrived in Toronto, we took a bit of a gamble and booked The Annex hotel without giving it a second thought.
Given how fussy I am with hotels, it’s not a risk I ever take; I usually trawl through tripadvisor with a fine tooth comb, starting with every ‘terrible’ and ‘poor’ review and working my way up – but to our surprise this gorgeous find completely exceeded our expectations!
A short 30 minute uber ride from Pearson international airport and around $42 CAD later, we found ourselves in what appeared to be a sketchy, gritty area. Unsure of our surroundings; walls covered in grafitti, roads full of pot holes and boarded up buildings, we reluctantly got out of the car.
We located the hidden entrance with the help of a couple of extremely friendly builders within a couple of minutes and were greeted with the warmest welcome!
The reception lobby/bar area is beautifully designed, channelling all the instagrammable, hipster vibes.
The entire space is decorated in shades of teal, green, tan leather and marble with gold accents and greenery. The leather benches and chairs not only look very stylish, they’re extremely comfy too!
The huge marble bar is the key feature in a cave shaped area and it looks so inviting.
In the mornings, it turns into a breakfast bar and they have a wonderful selection of pastries, orange juice and water all laid out to choose from.
Sadly I didn’t work my way through their extensive coffee menu, being the caffeine addict I am. I have no idea what ‘bullet proof coffee’ is, but it sounds delish! Maybe I should have started with that!
As the hotel had literally only opened a couple of days before we arrived, they were doing sample menu tastings that day and asked whether we’d like to join in and give them some constructive criticism.
Having very little sleep the night before; thanks to the 3am wakeup call and a 7 hour flight later, we weren’t prepared to decline such a generous offer..
Keen to get out and explore the city, we didn’t stay for the entire evening, but who could say no to a coffee and huge platter of warm pastries!? The healthy carrot and kale scone was our favourite (I know, we were surprised too) – followed by the chocolate croissant and then the plain one. These are all supplied to the hotel by an artisan bakery nearby.
Luckily we were able to check in to our room early, but sadly the building doesn’t have a lift (elevator) due to it being a really old building. however there are only 3 floors in the building, so it’s not too much of a struggle to get to your room. In fact, this used to be a night club called The Green Room that has now been renovated and turned into this beautiful hotel.
We were taken up to our room, 201 and the first thing we were greeted with was this incredible mural painted on the building across the street. There is so much natural light that comes into the room thanks to the big windows which is a huge bonus. My pet peeve is staying in dimly lit hotel rooms where you can barely see anything, making it really difficult to apply your makeup properly.
The hipster vibe continues upstairs into the rooms, with it’s minimalist design, artwork on the walls drawn by local artists and a vintage (working) record player with a selection of records to choose from.
The bathroom is like a wet room with a power shower and toilet, and the basin is just outside – in the room itself, complete with a mirror that lights up. This is genius as it means there’s no need to wait for the other person to get out of the bathroom if you want to brush your teeth, wash your face or even just dampen your beauty blender! – Talk about first world problems, eh! *inserts eye rolling emoji*
There is a desk area with a working iPad and super fast wifi which is always a modern-day necessity. They don’t equip the rooms with a tv or phone, which didn’t bother us.. I mean, I didn’t even notice until somebody pointed it out to me, because, why would I fly halfway round the world to watch tv anyway? Instead they provide you with an email address and phone number to contact the staff, should you require any assistance – and it’s worth noting that they always reply immediately too which really helps!
Can we just take a moment to talk about how comfortable this bed is, please? We spent three nights here and had the best sleep ever; the mattress was firm without feeling like you’re sleeping on concrete, and the pillows felt like big, fluffy clouds that you can easily sink into.
There were only a couple of minor things that I felt were lacking from the room itself. A pair of slippers – LOL, call me a granny, but I hate getting out of bed in the morning and putting my feet down onto a cold wooden floor. Please tell me I’m not the only one? I don’t mind so much if I’m in a hot country as it isn’t as much of a shock to the system, however Toronto is freezing and that’s the last thing I wanna do after being all snuggled up in a warm, cosy bed all night.
I personally would have also found a free standing mirror helpful. I don’t mind standing in front of a full length mirror or sitting on my bed to apply makeup using a small compact if it’s for a night or two. However, for 3 nights or more, I like to unpack my makeup and sit at a table to apply it – leaning over a sink doesn’t quite cut it for me as I have terrible eyesight.
Aside from that, we had the most incredible first 3 nights in Toronto at this hotel. The staff went above and beyond and they honestly couldn’t have been more helpful.
While the location of this place isn’t as far downtown as we’d have liked, there’s lots to explore in the surrounding areas and it’s completely safe even though we initially thought it felt quite gritty. There’s a TTC (subway) station nearby and we used this and Uber pool’s to get around the city from here.
I have a sneaky suspicion that the price of this hotel will go up significantly once it becomes well-known and more popular, particularly as the have a huge food hall and communal garden opening very soon. We we lucky to book this for a reasonable price, but I know if ever we visit Toronto again, this is where we’d stay – I cannot recommend this place enough!