Modern Boutique Hotel in a 19th-Century Foundry

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By Diana Budds
Designer John Tong’s inventive Ontario boutique hotel blends rural references with an urbane sensibility.

Prince Edward County in Ontario, Canada, has become a popular weekend destination for epicureans and wine connoisseurs. And while travelers have a bounty of farmstands, vineyards, and restaurants to visit, modern accommodations weren’t in the mix. Enter the Drake Devonshire, a new 13-room hotel located in a renovated 19th-century foundry. 

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The Owner’s Suite at the Drake Devonshire is located under a dramatic A-frame clad with Douglas fir inside. John Tong and his team custom designed the bed and found the sofa, armchair, and red footstool at the Brimfield Antique Market. The windows are by Alumilex, and the interior paint is Benjamin Moore’s Buckland Blue and Colorado Gray.

Throughout the structure, a medley of materials and finishes—patterned tile, painted brick, exposed wood rafters, and steel accents—reflects the homespun nature of local farmhouses. Designer John Tong and his team created custom furniture for the rooms, scoured flea markets for vintage pieces, and sourced accessories from local artisans. He maintains that there isn’t a formula for mixing the elements. "It’s kind of like putting ingredients into a meal," he says. "You have to taste as you’re cooking."  

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The Drake Devonshire is located on the shores of Lake Ontario in the town of Wellington. In addition to the guestrooms and suites, the boutique hotel offers amentites including a restaurant and bar stocked with local wines. Designer John Tong left the Douglas fir beams exposed in the dining area exposed to create a "camp mess hall" feel. The one-armed bar stools, covered in green leather, are similar to the pieces he designed for the Drake's Toronto outpost. Pendants from the Barn Light Electric Company and custom table laterns from Bookhou Design illuminate the space. A chalkboard wall highlights local events and places to visit.

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The structure was originally built as a foundry in the late 19th century and became a bed and breakfast before hotelier Jeff Stober purchased the property. “We are offering visitors and locals alike a really fun and inspired experience in one of the most beautiful regions of Canada,” he says. The Owner's Suite is underneath the gable on the second floor. Guests have access to expansive outdoor decks around the building.

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Mia Nielsen, the Drake's in-house art curator, populated the spaces with paintings, sculptures, and installations from contemporary practitioners. The owl is by Canadian artist Jennifer Murphy. The design team used a mix of materials and textures throughout the space to instill a feeling of "surprise and delight," as Tong describes. For example, the main corridor features painted brick, patterned tile from Sabine Hill, steel racks, and weathered wood floors.

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An installation by Kirsten Hassenfeld hangs above the custom reception desk, which is topped with slate. The floor tiles are 14OraItaliana's iGattipardi line. &Tradition makes the pendant lights and the Vivid Victorian wallpaper is from Flavor Paper.

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+tongtong custom designed the beds in the guestrooms; Multiflex fabricated them. The Monocle sconce from Rich Brilliant Willing offers light for nighttime reading.

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The spa-like bathroom features marble tile and a freestanding vanity.