The Stratford, Ontario gem cues a showstopper stay with rooms inspired by the playwright’s works brimming with dramatic flourishes
Located on a leafy residential street just steps from the theatrical centre of town, Hotel Julie sets the stage for an inspired getaway. And its olive-green clad exterior emblazoned with a hand-painted burning heart mural (a nod to the Bard’s romantic tragedies) is just the start.
“We wanted to create an aesthetic that was classic and elegant, but also quirky,” says Paula McFarlane, who owns the property along with her husband Jake Tayler.
The couple, former paramedics with a penchant for real estate, had acquired a few short-term rentals before taking the leap into large-scale hospitality and purchasing the property in 2022. The 1890s-built row house was in good order structurally, but its nine short-term apartments needed a significant style reboot. The couple envisioned a boutique-hotel vibe and enlisted designers Autumn Hachey of Stay Here and Jillian Smith-Moher of Twenty-Two Twelve, along with their teams, to elevate the scene (the designers came up with the name as a modern twist on Juliet of Romeo and Juliet).
“We knew Hotel Julie would be a destination for people attending the famous Stratford Festival,” says Hachey. “We aimed to incorporate theatrical nuances and an experience that felt grand, luxurious and edgy.”
A 10-month renovation of Hotel Julie netted nine individually designed flats (all of which feature kitchens) that are recast as characterful triumphs. Palettes go beyond polite neutrals with rooms laden in shades of moody aubergine, jewel-box gold, and spicy red. An imaginative deployment of marble finishes courtesy of Toronto’s own Shoppe Clover, from Italian Verde Luana and Rosso Levanto to Calacatta Viola, doubles-down on luxury.
Interestingly, there is no lobby at Hotel Julie – instead, guests use keyless entry pads to directly access their flat. “In most hotels, a lot of design details and big elements go into making a grand entrance or lobby and the rooms tend to fall flat. It’s the opposite at Hotel Julie,” says McFarlane. “Guest can stay nine times, in nine different flats and get a slightly different experience each time.” In other words, get ready to repeat-book. HOTELJULIE.COM
LOCATION: 92 St Vincent St N, Stratford, ON
149 km from Toronto
IF YOU GO
Located on Romeo Street (this is a theatre town after all), the gallery features a permanent collection of Canadian art, and diverse contemporary exhibits, many by local artists.
|Stratford Festival You can’t visit Stratford and not take in a performance. The 2024 season is a crowd-pleaser with everything from the heft of Romeo and Juliet to the fun of La Cage aux Folles.
|Pazzo Pizzeria A Stratford staple for more than 20 years (and a favourite haunt of the late Timothy Findley), Pazzo serves up traditional Italian fare and is open late on weekends – a boon in a small town.
The town’s main street boasts independently owned businesses that make for a nice shopping and dining experience that feels anything but touristy.
Bacon and Ale Trail
This self-guided tour is a fun way to discover the town’s pork and brewing traditions. Sixteen businesses take part, offering everything from bacon shortbread cookies to flights of craft beers.