Hotel Spotlight

Toronto's Hipster Hotel Goes Retro in the Countryside

by Jeralyn Gerba
Pooches welcome. Photo by Graydon Herriott / courtesy of Drake Motor Inn.

Drake Motor Inn
Wellington, Ontario, Canada
Roadside Rad, $$

Trends tend to get their start in urban areas, so it's funny when the trend in the city is to get out to the countryside. A few years ago, Toronto's boutique stalwart, Drake Hotel Properties, crashed a small town on the shores of Lake Ontario with a quirky retreat called Drake Devonshire. More recently, they refurbished an old motel nearby and called it Drake Motor Inn. If you're the kind of traveler excited by Normann Copenhagen design details, Polaroid cameras, and nostalgia, chances are your tastes will align with this affordable Drake offshoot, which makes a cool year-round weekend escape from Toronto in which to explore a burgeoning wine scene, cycling trails, and next-level antique shopping. Guests of the motel (including pets!) can take advantage of seasonal programming like art therapy, water sports, ice skating, snow shoeing, chef pop-ups, open mic shows, and clam bakes. They can also stroll down to the fancier Drake Devonshire for lakeside views and hotel amenities (bikes, hammocks, concierge services).

The Drake Motor Inn was sure to keep some of the classic features of drive-up lodging: outside door access, retro color palette, ground-level terraces. They hand out Polaroid cameras and have a vending machine for snacks and other necessities you may need in a pinch (ie: tarot cards). Every Drake hangs a curated art collection, and this one has a hazy, Super 8 road-trip kind of feel, which will really set the tone for a midcentury-meets-21st-century memory of your own.

Photo by Graydon Herriott / courtesy of Drake Motor Inn.
Photo by Graydon Herriott / courtesy of Drake Motor Inn.

Book It

Click here for reservations. Or contact the Fathom Concierge and we can book your trip for you.

At a Glance

The Vibe: Retro roadside romanticism.

Standout Detail: Those Drake folks really know how to make design, functionality, and fun coalesce around a lakeside community.

This Place Is Perfect For: Families, groups, and pets looking for a laid-back countryside weekend.

Rooms: Just a dozen rooms pack a punch with upgraded motel basics. The Scandi-inspired interiors incorporate tambour wood and other natural materials like jute, leather, ceramic, as well as custom millwork and Canadian furniture. Amenities are upgraded too: mini fridge, clock radio, Bose sound system, flatscreen TV. Pet beds are available on request.

Food + Drink: Complimentary coffee and scones help guests go from groggy to go. A retro vending machine stocks snackable goodies 24/7. The motel makes s'mores kits available in every room. The restaurant at Drake Devonshire is only steps away on the lake.

On Site: They keep it light! Guests check-into their room via app and have access to the Drake General Store and can hang out in a communal lounge.

Photo by Graydon Herriott / courtesy of Drake Motor Inn.
Photo by Graydon Herriott / courtesy of Drake Motor Inn.
Photo by Louisa Nicolaou / courtesy of Drake Motor Inn.

What to Do Nearby

The town of Wellington in Prince Edward County (not to be confused with Prince Edward Island) is quaint and blossoming with new wineries, independent shops, and a brewing scene (Midtown Brewing Company is a neighbor), and lots to do on Lake Ontario. Shop for antiques at places like The Electric Garage Sale, Play de Record, or MacCool's Re-Use (in an old barn). Fill your home with cool new stuff from Honeychurch Lane and drink sparkling rosé (all day) at Rosehall Run Vineyards. Get out on the beloved Millennium Trail, an eight-foot-wide, 30-mile-long rural corridor on an old rail line. Prince Edward County is home to Sandbanks Provincial Park, considered one of the country's nicest beaches. Wellington has a bustling art scene with galleries, studios, and workshops. Find out what's on here.

The traditional land has been inhabited by the Anishnaabeg, Wendat, and Haudenosaunee Peoples and is still home to many First Nations people. You can support and experience Ontario's indigenous cultures through food, art, and events.

We make every effort to ensure the information in our articles is accurate at the time of publication. But the world moves fast, and even we double-check important details before hitting the road.