A luxury hotel will take the place of the building that used to house two popular student haunts in the Annex: the Fox and Fiddle pub and a New York Fries restaurant. Opening this summer, 280 Bloor Street West will be home to Kimpton Saint George, part of the luxury Kimpton Hotels chain.
The entire building, which also housed a Holiday Inn, will be renovated from top to bottom to include 188 hotel rooms, including 20 suites and a presidential suite.
“Kimpton is known as a leader in adaptive reuse, transforming existing buildings into modern, artfully designed boutique hotels that garner civic pride,” said Ron Vlasic, Vice-President of Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants.
Some of the features of the hotel include complimentary bikes, yoga mats in each room, and a fitness centre.
The now shuttered Fox and Fiddle located below the Holiday Inn will be turned into a “gastropub dining destination” that will also service the hotel’s in-room dining.
Students and other members of the Annex neighborhood have mixed feelings about the renovations.
U of T student Alex McKeever has fond memories of the Fox and Fiddle, saying that it was a favourite of his. The Holiday Inn was where he stayed when he visited U of T for the first time, and the Fox and Fiddle was where he met some of his first friends at university.
“The defining feature of the Fox was its karaoke and the endearingly quirky clientele that it drew,” said McKeever.
McKeever said that he was disappointed with how many student-friendly establishments along Bloor Street are being replaced with “subpar substitutes.” He described it as “symptomatic of a Toronto-wide trend that is slowly robbing the city of its character,” and he was not the only one expressing this sentiment.
Reva Landau, a member of the Annex Residents’ Association, said that she doesn’t think that the Annex needs a luxury hotel, nor does a luxury hotel need the Annex. “Anyone expecting to be in the ‘center of the city’s dining, arts, and culture scene’ might be surprised to find themselves looking at the Senator Croll building,” she wrote, referencing claims made in Kimpton Hotels’ press release.
However, she added that at least the hotel is a renovation rather than a new construction. “In view of what some developers want to do to Bloor, at least it should not make things worse.”
The initial announcement for the renovation advertised the building as being in the Bloor-Yorkville neighbourhood. The official press release for the new building, however, acknowledges its rightful location in the Annex. Vlasic attributes the mixup to the fact that, while the hotel is geographically located in the Annex, as a business on Bloor Street, it “falls under the auspices of the Bloor-Yorkville Business Improvement Association.”
Either way, Vlasic said that they “love the indie Annex vibe.”
The hotel is currently taking reservations for July 1 onward. There’s no word yet as to whether the gastropub dining destination will include karaoke.