Got hip? These two adjacent districts do. Toronto West Queen West/Ossington, which run for two miles on both sides of Queen and Kings streets west from Downtown Toronto (Bathurst St.) to Dufferin St., are Toronto's latest artsy locales. The southern extension of these neighborhoods is more or less defined by the Gardiner Expressway. The catalysts for this emergence are two totally renovated Victorian buildings that now contain Toronto West Queen West/Ossington venues Gladstone and Drake are a solid sell for small, trend-seeking groups; larger groups can bunk elsewhere and party here.
Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) is approximately 15 miles to the northwest of West Queen West, another mile farther from Ossington. Much closer is Toronto's city airport, Billy Bishop, which occupies its own island. From it, passengers need to take a one-minute ferry ride (free) that goes right to Downtown Toronto, where taxis await for the two- or three-mile trip to Ossington and West Queen West, respectively. Once here, regularly scheduled trams make access affordable and relatively quick.
It's another short taxi ride to Canada's largest convention center, the striking glass-and-metal Metro Toronto Convention Centre, which has 600,000 square feet of exhibit and meeting space that includes 64 meeting rooms, a 1,330-seat theater and two ballrooms.
Toronto West Queen West/Ossington meeting venues include the aforesaid Gladstone and Drake, and these are best suited for those who like Art with a capital "A" and all its trappings. The 37-room Gladstone can host up to 500 for a gathering. The Drake, with 19 rooms, is equally colorful; its Hey Loft bar leads to the Sky Yard, an outdoor space that together can host approximately 180 persons, while the Underground lounge space has room for a further 150.
Other Toronto West Queen West/Ossington venues that welcome group functions are the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, known as MOCCA, which has two spaces of 5,000 and 1,000 square feet, respectively. The Victorian Great Hall, closer to the Drake and Gladstone, has a meeting space called the Conversation Room; its largest space is the 3,000-square-foot Hall, which has 150 balcony seats. The Lula Lounge touts itself as Canada's premier spot for Latin, salsa and world music. On Dundas St. just west of Dufferin St., it has a private lounge for 40 overlooking the dance floor.
Dining venues in Toronto West Queen West/Ossington include La Hacienda, which can be booked in full, while Noce has room to host groups of 150 persons. Spadina Garden features Szechuan, Hunan and Peking cuisine; the Drake Hotel's Raw Bar serves up sushi, and the Red Tea Box has a restaurant with pan-Asian fare in a house at the back of a walled garden with Thai features.