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The Queen City of Canada, Toronto has been entrenching itself firmly in the lists of cities to see over the past few years. The CN Tower, Royal Ontario Museum and St Lawrence’s market are just a few of the calling cards that have seen record numbers of visitors making it their destination.
But despite its status as the northern neighbour’s largest cousin, most people tend to know very little about this city.
And for that exact reason, our team of travel gurus have put together a local guide for you to demystify where to stay in Toronto, based on your interests, budget and style.
We’ve got your go-to sorted, so your hardest decision will be whether to get rowdy at a Blue Jays or Maple Leafs game!
Right, here it is: your handy bible on where to stay in Toronto. You’ll be living it large like a local in no time!
Table of Contents
Where to stay in Toronto your first time – Harbourfront
Where to stay in Toronto on a budget – Chinatown
Best area to stay in Toronto for nightlife – Entertainment District
Coolest place to stay in Toronto – Queen West
Best neighborhood in Toronto for families – Downtown
Just hunting for the perfect spot and not worried about where? We’ve got you covered with our hot picks for Toronto overall!
This four-star bed and breakfast offer contemporary accommodation, as well as luggage storage and free Wi-Fi.
Offering all the necessities to ensure a comfortable stay, Downtown Home Inn is just moments from popular nightlife destinations.
Strategically located in the middle of the city, this hotel makes for an ideal base in Toronto. It also features a swimming pool and a fitness centre. The hotel has 96 rooms and has been recently refurbished, alternating between monochromatic black and white, and light wood panelling. Welcoming and professional staff are available 24 hours a day.
Rated 9.8, this hotel is situated in Downtown Toronto, just a 10-minute walk from the Hockey Hall of Fame and Toronto-Dominion Centre. The St Regis Toronto treats guests to superior amenities and services, such as a limousine service, an indoor pool and Purebeauty Salon and Spa. Just minutes from nearby clubs and bars, this 5-star hotel also allows guests to explore the best of the local nightlife.
Located in the south-east of Canada, Toronto sits on the northwestern shores of Lake Ontario, directly opposite New York State.
It’s a dynamic metropolis with plenty of green spaces and is just a short car ride away from Niagara Falls. What’s not to love?
The capital of Ontario was named in the New York Times’ top ten tourist destinations in the world recently. No surprises there, when you realise all the city has to offer.
Sports fans flock to Toronto to support or rail against their four iconic major-league teams, culture lovers make a beeline for its museums, and parents of youngsters love it for its family-friendly attractions. Oh, and it’s pretty darn picturesque, what with that tower jutting up against the skyline, against the foreground of the jewelled lake and all!
Drake’s hometown also has the unofficial nickname “The City of Neighbourhoods”. This grand title is because of the 140 official living areas that make up the city.
You can hang out (or party) like a student in The Annex, or rub shoulders with hipsters in Roncesvalles – Roncey, to those in the know! You could get your Gucci on with the rich and famous in Yorkville, or celebrate international flavours in Little India. How about sampling craft beers in The Junction, or heading out on the town after an enormous dinner in Little Italy?
You name it, Toronto has it. So get there, get neighbourly and get amongst it!
As its name tells us, this neighbourhood sits directly on the lake. For this reason, it’s in the summertime that this neighbourhood really comes alive. There’s no better place to soak in the sunlight and enjoy the atmosphere that comes with being by the water!
Harbourfront plays host to the ferry terminal of the city, from which you can head to Toronto Island, or further afield. Or you could watch the people come and go. Nothing beats people-watching with a cold drink!
Here is also where you’ll find the Harbourfront Center, a sprawling ten-acre site that hosts up to 4000 events every year. You can attend an expo, convention or festival on just about anything here. Take a look at the online schedule before you head to Toronto and you might just find the perfect event to add to your itinerary.
The outdoor spaces of the Harbourfront are the superstars, including the Music Garden with its ground design inspired by the notes of Bach. There is a range of waterfront areas dedicated to the open air, ideal for relaxing at the end of a hard day’s exploring.
This easily accessible area is linked to the rest of the centre city by a number of streetcar links. Though not known for its shopping or range of eateries, there are a few fine dining options overlooking the water, and the nightlife is worth a crack as well!
Sensational value-for-money, Radisson Admiral Toronto Harbourfront boasts a variety of luxurious amenities, such as a limousine service and Serenity Spa and Salon. It also has a fitness centre with a swimming pool. The feel of each room at is complemented by amenities such as in-room movies, tea and coffee making facilities and a desk.
Westin Harbour Castle Hotel is surrounded by a wealth of shopping, nightlife, and restaurants, making it the perfect base when on a trip. Queens Quay Station is just a two-minute walk, linking guests with the rest of the city. And it has a jacuzzi, sauna, and outdoor tennis courts. Score!
This stylish spot (rated 9.4) provides a ballroom, beauty centre and bar. The three Bs! On-site dining options include a restaurant, which is a convenient spot to have a meal after a big day exploring. Toronto’s attractions, such as the Hockey Hall of Fame and Toronto-Dominion Centre, are easily accessible on foot.
One of the largest Chinatowns in North America, Toronto’s is a reflection of the multicultural nature of the city. Located west of the main city centre, it has the expected collection of Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, Thai and fusion cuisines, while being easier on the pocket when it comes to places to rest your head.
There is a bunch of unique stores in this funky neighbourhood, from the original unicorn lattes or ‘LattePies’ at CutiePie Cupcakes & co., to AnimeXtreme, which houses Toronto’s largest anime-based collection.
And for those fans of belting out the anthems after a sake or two, there is 8090 KTV for karaoke in amusingly sumptuous surroundings. In fact, go into any Chinese restaurant very late at night and ask for ‘Cold Tea’ – Guaranteed you won’t get what you expect! Psst: this is Toronto slang for beer served after liquor licensing hours.
If you’re visiting at the right time, you may even hit the street-food and music based Toronto Chinatown Festival, or be in the crowds to watch the dragons dance past for Chinese New Year.
Any time of year is great to simply wander the streets, keeping your eyes peeled for the weird and wonderful things sold in the traditional pharmacies, the exotic fruits on offer at the street-side stalls, and the classy and elegant rosewood furniture for sale. There’s also plenty of stores to buy the best cheap and cheesy souvenirs you can find!
Keep your footpath-rage in check here though. The crowds will mean you may be moving at a slow pace but just take the opportunity to really see and appreciate your colourful, energetic surroundings. And definitely leave the car behind; streetcars can get you to and fro, while the in-between is on you.
Situated in the heart of the city, this hotel provides easy access to Toronto’s popular retail areas and tourist attractions. It has a day spa, as well as meeting rooms, a sauna and a swimming pool.
A gym is available to those wanting to keep up their exercise regimes while travelling. This district offers plenty of nightlife and guests are spoilt for choice when it comes to dining and bar options.
All of the contemporary rooms at The Beverley Hotel feature an iPod docking station, a refrigerator and cable/satellite channels. The Beverley Hotel is located in the heart of Toronto’s entertainment district with restaurants, cafés and nightlife on the doorstep. Their multilingual staff will help to ensure all guests enjoy their stay.
The most luxurious accommodation on offer in Chinatown, it has a gym, as well as free Wi-Fi, a Jacuzzi and an indoor pool. Hilton Garden Inn Toronto Downtown has recently been refurbished and offers valet parking, a beauty centre and an express check-in and check-out feature. Staff are available 24/7 and can book tours and tickets.
What better name for a district that is the best for entertainment than the Entertainment District?
As you’d imagine, it’s packed with enough restaurants, clubs, pubs and theatres to keep the most hyperactive socialite happy!
Since the beginning of its rejuvenation from an industrial area in the 1980s, this place has come a long way.
Entertainment District is small in area, sitting just behind the Gardiner Expressway that runs beside the waterfront, but packs a major punch when it comes to things to do, even in the daytime.
Within its blurry boundaries you can find the holy trinity of the CN Tower, where you can scare yourself silly with an EdgeWalk; the Rogers Center, home to the Blue Jay Major League Baseball team; and the Ripley’s Aquarium, where you can marvel at the biggest shark collection in North America.
We know what you’re really here for though… the after-hours low-down! In Entertainment District you can find DJs spinning sets, mixologists serving up the latest in contemporary cocktails, with some jazz & blues clubs thrown in for good measure. Nighttime is when the pulse of this district really gets racing, and you will find yourself spoilt for choice when it comes to fun.
For a chilled lead-in to your evening, you could watch one of the year-round film showings on offer at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, where the Toronto International Film Festival takes place annually. Or see an internationally renowned stage show or stand-up comedy act in the theatre region.
Where you go next is up to you, with any which way a good choice.
Just a stone’s throw from nearby bars and clubs, this 3-star hotel also allows guests to discover the local nightlife. For guests who like to start the morning with a barista-made coffee, and who might need it after visiting that nightlife, simply ring the reception and order from the restaurant menu. Strathcona Hotel is close to Union Train Station, making it easy for guests to discover Toronto and its surrounding areas.
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Rated 9.5, this hotel offers a beauty centre, sauna and a pool. The air-conditioned rooms at the hotel are modern and have a spa bath, a mini bar and a refrigerator.
SoHo Metropolitan’s restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, providing guests with a convenient dining experience near their room.
Putting on the Ritz! Naturally, this hotel features a golf course, an indoor pool, a Turkish steam bath and a sauna. Guests can soak up the sun on the terrace or have a drink at the bar. They can also enjoy the recreational facilities on offer, such as a Jacuzzi and a playground. Just minutes from nearby bars and clubs, this 5-star hotel also allows guests to easily discover the best of the local nightlife.
Queen West holds the title of the coolest place to stay in Toronto with ease. In fact, Vogue magazine named it the second coolest neighbourhood in the world! Of course, native Toronto-ites have known this for years, but it’s nice to have it recognised!
Trendy, fashionable, eco-conscious: Queen West is them all.
Boutiques and bistros run along the streets side-by-side, and you’d be hard pressed to find a greater concentration of arty types anywhere else in the city. This neighbourhood has been the creative heart of Toronto since the 1990s and is located on Queen Street West between Bathurst and Gladstone.
Independent labels are a standard here, with quirky hidden stores and galleries there to be found by the eagle-eyed or well-researched among us.
Keep an eye out for interesting design plans, like the shopfront decorated with vintage bicycle parts.
There are historic hotels and buildings in the area too. Two of our recommended Queen West hotels, The Drake and The Gladstone, are considered cultural landmarks. The Drake even has an underground dance venue, to add to its cool points!
Just south of the neighbourhood is the eye-popping Rush Lane, better known as Graffiti Alley. Since 2012, legitimate street artists have been encouraged in the city so this small hidden lane serves as a gallery of their work. It’s an easy place to miss so mark it on your map and keep your eyes open.
With views of the CN Tower and sitting near Lake Ontario, Life Suite Soho offers a hands-off approach to staying in Toronto. These well-appointed apartments offer a gym, games room and terrace, not to mention free wifi, of course. It’s proximity to a major station allows easy access in and out of downtown.
Editor’s Note – If you are visiting Toronto, you HAVE to check out our article about the things to do in Toronto!
This historic hotel offers a concierge, an exhibit space, and a ballroom! Those looking for a meal and wanting to stay close by needn’t look any further than Gladstone Hotel’s in-house restaurant, which is ideally open every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner. In the evening, guests are invited to wind down in the comfortable lounge bar.
Guests can soak up the outdoors on the terrace or enjoy a drink at the bar. The rooms at this artsy hotel have a mini bar, a flat-screen TV and an iPod docking station. Those staying at the property can also hire a bicycle to zip around Toronto and its surrounds.
Like the rest of our neighbourhood picks, Downtown is in the centre of town and is easy to navigate on foot. When we say Downtown we are referring to the area between Old Toronto, Baldwin Village and Cabbagetown. This is to differentiate from calling the whole city centre ‘downtown’.
Even so, in this small area, there is plenty to do and see. You can easily move in and out of the region to explore the other four neighbourhoods on this list, so the family can see the different sides of life in the big city!
The neighbourhood is just a few streets up from the central station, and a short walk from the waterfront. This means it’s an easy trek to your accommodation on arrival in the city, and you’ve always got the giant reference point of Lake Ontario to help you navigate. Not that you’d need it, as Toronto is built on a sensible grid system.
As a bonus, there are green areas galore to take the kids for a runaround, and you’re only a block south of the enormous Queen’s Park.
For rainy days, a visit to the Art Gallery of Ontario will keep everyone occupied, with a whopping 90,000 works for your viewing pleasure. Or spend a morning at St Lawrence’s market finding a local delicacy or fresh fruit to charge your energy levels for the day ahead.
You’d be hard pressed to find a more fun way to spend the afternoon than in Snakes and Lattes, a board game cafe with over 1000 options! It’s a bit out of our downtown limits but as it’s a short walk away, it makes the cut!
Guests are able to unwind with a drink at DoubleTree by Hilton Toronto Downtown’s bar and try international and Chinese style food in the restaurant. Dining options at the hotel include Senses and Hemispheres. If the drink doesn’t work, there’s always the sauna, pool, spa or massage option to help guests relax!
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With phenomenal prices at the right time, this hotel features a beauty centre and a Jacuzzi, and guests can also access a fitness centre. Multilingual staff can assist with reservations or dining recommendations. Just minutes from nearby clubs and bars, this 4-star hotel also allows guests to discover the local nightlife.
Offering complimentary Wi-Fi, a restaurant and an indoor pool, the hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Toronto-Dominion Centre, Queen Street West and Toronto City Hall. Guests can enjoy the sun on the terrace or have a drink at the bar. Wellness facilities include a Turkish steam bath and a sauna, and a relaxing massage session can be requested. It also has a gym with a swimming pool.
Toronto is a big city but has a small area perfect for all types of travellers right in the middle. There are so many fun and fresh things to do here, if you just take the time to look. One for the book lovers is the random vintage book vending machine in The Monkey’s Paw, on Bloor St West. At $3 a token, it’s a literary bargain!
The absolute ideal place to be based for your time in Toronto has to be The Drake Hotel. Part art gallery, part nightclub, part iconic piece of history, staying here will have you in the heart of all Toronto has to offer.
Get out there and explore the wider neighbourhoods of Toronto. Who knows, you may just discover a new favourite that’s not on our list!
So there is your starting point – 5 great neighbourhoods, 18 fantastic hotels, 1 great holiday. The hometown of Drake, Jim Carrey, Keanu Reeves and Margaret Atwood is your next must-see destination.
“I think Toronto’s the greatest place because every corner of the world is here.” – Rumi Kaur
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Gin lover. Coffee addict. Nicola has traveled the world for 7 years and is a staff writer for Hotel Jules. Born in London, Nicola first got the taste of travel studying abroad in Barcelona. Since then she's been hooked - traveling the world non-stop. Passionate about green travel and vegan lifestyle, Nicola spends more of her free time staring at maps wondering where she will head to next!