The Vibe

Toronto’s newest boutique hotel aims to tap into the ever-thriving homestay market with its design-hotel-meets-AirBnB concept. The Annex takes its name from its surrounding neighbourhood, reflecting the property’s emphasis on local experiences rather than typical hotel frills.

Set in a 100-year-old building down a quiet side street off Bloor, the Annex has a stylish, urban aesthetic. The hotel takes an “everything-you-need-nothing-you-don’t” approach to amenities, which means no elevators, phones, TVs, room service or fitness center: Just 24 bright, loft-style rooms spread across three storeys.

There’s also no front desk, with guests instead receiving a text on the day of their check-in with their room number and a key code for access. You can text the same number throughout your stay to have questions or requests answered by staff. Staff are also on hand in the Lobby Bar in case guests have any problems with the self check-in process.

The Rooms

With their minimalist yet cozy vibe, rooms look like they’ve been plucked out of an aspirational hipster Instagram feed. Whitewashed brick walls are complemented by pale woods, potted plants and massive windows that let in plenty of natural light (double blinds provide privacy when needed and block out sunlight if you want to sleep-in).

Beds set on raised platforms come from the same supplier used by Ritz-Carlton and blankets are from Merchant Sons. Bathrooms are stocked with Malin + Goetz bath products. Most rooms have a sink set outside a large wet room, which houses the shower and toilet.

Almost all the bits and pieces you’ll see in the rooms are sourced locally, from the artwork to the vinyl collection from Sonic Boom, which can be enjoyed on record players with Bluetooth speakers. Other entertainment comes in the form of high-speed WiFi and 13-inch iPad Pros with free Netflix streaming.

The Features

The Annex has consciously omitted the typical line-up of hotel features and instead focused on developing a food and beverage program designed to draw guests and non-guests alike. The stylish Lobby Bar serves light fare throughout the day, including breakfast with coffee courtesy of Reunion Island Coffee and eats from The Tempered Room and Ripe Nutrition.

In the evening, a carefully-curated drinks menu focused on natural, organic wines is served via a gorgeous, white marble bar. The small, eclectic menu of eats, which ranges from cured meat and cheese platters to seared ahi tuna and pressed portobello caps, is (impressively) prepared in a tiny, one-counter kitchen using only a panini press and a toaster oven.

The hotel is also poised to launch a mini food-hall style space called the Annex Commons in early 2019, which will feature outposts of Seven Lives Tacos and Big Trouble Pizza. The new dining venue will also include a rotating third vendor, along with its own drinks program.

The Location

As its name suggests, the hotel is located in the Annex neighbourhood. It’s within walking distance of restaurants like cheap eats fave El Furniture Warehouse, as well as popular Koreatown spots like Barrio Coreano and Korean Village. Spadina and St. George TTC stations are both less than a 10-minute walk away.

Rooms start from $150 per night

296 Brunswick Ave, Toronto, 647-277-1179,