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Toronto’s come a long way. Having shed its old “Toronto the Good” label — read: b-o-r-i-n-g — Canada’s largest metropolis has blossomed into a buzzing, big-time destination. Word’s getting out; the city keeps breaking its own tourism records, with more than 14 million visitors checking in last year. A lowish Canadian dollar — equal to about 80 cents USD much of this summer — definitely helps, as do nonstop sports, culture and food happenings, like the celeb-magnet Toronto International Film Festival, which opens September 7 this year.
To really appreciate Toronto, you have to explore its neighborhoods, from dim sum in Chinatown and Polish-hipster mashups in Roncesvalles to vintage mecca Kensington Market. Your home base will likely be downtown, where most hotels and commerce are concentrated, though a few indie properties can situate you in more colorful quarters of the city. Across the board, hotel rates have inflated with the number of tourists. To help you spend wisely, we’ve picked some of the city’s most interesting places to stay.
1. Delta Hotel Toronto
Southcore is a newish downtown neighborhood with shiny condos and office towers near the Air Canada Centre and Union Station — and the Delta Hotel Toronto fits right in. While the property feels ultramodern, its glass and steel gets humanized by woodsy materials and local art. Designed for business travelers, the bright, clean-lined rooms offer zippy Wi-Fi, well-placed outlets and a smart TV-enabled welcome system. Views of downtown and Lake Ontario are to-die-for from almost every line. Though owned by Marriott since 2015, Delta’s proudly Canadian and you’ll get a warm welcome here. 75 Lower Simcoe St., rates from $230 or 30,000 Marriott Rewards points per night.
2. The Broadview Hotel
The Broadview Hotel might be sexier now than when it was Jilly’s, a notorious Toronto strip club, but the hotel, which opened in July, still goes topless; its sprawling rooftop is already a must-see for its 360-degree views and greenhouse-like bar. Downstairs, a meticulous restoration meshes wink-wink elements like pink neon and brass poles with bright floral textiles, local art and turntables in every room. The hotel is the first in the boho east-side enclave of Leslieville, a 20-minute streetcar hop or drive from downtown. 106 Broadview Ave., rates from $247 per night.
3. Bisha Hotel Toronto
Toronto long lacked glitzy hotels and Bisha, which officially opens September 6, seems to be making up for lost time. The first hotel from local nightlife kingpin Charles Khabouth, it brings disco-ball opulence to the city’s centrally located Entertainment District. The lobby’s an eye-popping gold-and-terrazzo extravaganza, while its charcoal-toned suites are both sleek and plush, with hand-picked art and exclusive amenities from Stockholm’s Byredo. Bonus: hotel designer and rock icon Lenny Kravitz was chosen to design Bisha’s seventh floor so you can expect an over-the-top LA-meets-Miami aesthetic. Celeb chef Akira Back runs the lobby restaurant, a Japanese/Korean mashup, while an elegant rooftop eatery offers sweeping views. 80 Blue Jays Way, rates from $450 per night.
4. Hôtel Le Germain Toronto Mercer
Tucked on a side street behind King St. in the Entertainment District, Le Germain’s a discreet fave of Toronto International Film Festival celebs. Part of a Quebec-based brand, it’s a low-key alternative to flashier downtown hotels. Minimalist rooms in blue tones and wood inspire calm, as does the ultra-plush bedding and quietly alert service. Dine all day at Victor, a new hangout a la Balthazar kitted out by Toronto’s DesignAgency, the people behind many David Chang joints. Bonus: Le Germain’s “no check-out time” policy is a major stress alleviator. 30 Mercer St., rates from $355 per night.
5. The Four Seasons Toronto
Four Seasons’ parent is Toronto-based, and its flagship is as on point as you’d expect. The lobby’s a soaring private gallery, with rotating pieces from a 1,700-piece in-house art collection. Showpiece eatery Cafe Boulud is as superb for early breakfast as it is for late-night snacks, while rooms and suites boast Four Seasons’ brand of understated luxury, all clean-lined neutrals. Service here feels almost psychic, with staff who seem to sense what you want before you even know you want it. The Yorkville location also feels blessedly removed from all the downtown tourist insanity. 60 Yorkville Ave., rates from $645 per night.
6. The Ritz-Carlton, Toronto
Strategically located in the city’s financial district, close to Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (YTZ) and the CN Tower, this hotel’s all about grown-up indulgence. Cleanly modern, richly detailed rooms are among the largest in Toronto, as are its lavishly marbled bathrooms. Corner suites boast floor-to-ceiling windows with Lake Ontario view, while the compact, well-equipped gym is open 24/7. Its TOCA restaurant — Toronto, Canada, get it? — is thronged by as many locals as visitors. A splurge, but worth it. 181 Wellington St. W., rates from $479 or 50,000 Ritz-Carlton Rewards points per night.
7. The Fairmont Royal York
It’s hard to beat a location across from Union Station, Toronto’s neoclassical rail hub, now connected to Pearson International Airport (YYZ) via the new UP Express link. Luckily, the circa-1927 Royal York’s more than just a great address. Fairmont upped its game here, with multi-million-dollar room renovations in 2015 and a smart redo of its sprawling restaurant, Epic. Breakfast’s a highlight — don’t miss the coconut milk French Toast — plus, Fairmont President’s Club members get goodies like a BMW courtesy car, access to the Gold Lounge with private meals, and a big, quiet space to relax in. This grande dame’s looking good. 100 Front St W., rates from $270 per night.
8. The Westin Harbour Castle, Toronto
A waterfront location makes this classic Toronto hotel an ideal choice if you’re not averse to giant properties — 977 rooms in this case. Along with magnificent views across Lake Ontario, you get Westin’s famous Heavenly Beds, a large indoor pool and five decent restaurants — Toula, its Italian rooftop eatery, has a solid reputation. On the con side, you may have to navigate through hordes of bus tourists and conventioneers, but if you’re in town for business, taking in a Blue Jays game or crossing the Hockey Hall of Fame off your bucket list, the Westin makes a very attractive option. 1 Harbour Sq., rates from $315 or 12,000 Starpoints per night.
9. The Drake Hotel
When the Drake opened in 2004, much of Queen St. West was derelict. Today, the circa-1890 hotel occupies a prized place on one of Toronto’s trendiest strips. If you can snag one of its 19 art-infused rooms, you’ll also enjoy a perch above hot happenings from concerts to design expos. Amazingly, the Drake doesn’t feel like a party hotel, even with Sky Yard, Toronto’s cool-kids bar, on its rooftop. You’ll need to cab it to downtown meetings, but the mood makes it worthwhile. Bonus: Drake General Store next door offers terrific Canadiana like knitted CBC tuques from local brand Arborist. 1150 Queen St. W., rates from $250 per night.
10. The Beverley Hotel
Opened in 2013, the compact Beverley boasts the best of both worlds: A location on cool Queen St. W. that’s minutes from the subway, Eaton Centre and the financial district. Bright, loft-like rooms in white and blond wood come in four categories; the XL, with a queen bed and desk, fits best if you’re working. Full-wall murals here are a signature, with abstracted black-and-white images of machinery and classic cars. Note that all 18 rooms overlook Queen West, so noise can creep in on weekends. The Beverley’s rooftop is a lower-key alternative to some of the outdoor scenes at other hotels. 335 Queen St. W., rates from $199 per night.
Where are your favorite places to stay in Toronto? Let us know in the comments, below.
Featured image courtesy of The Drake Hotel.
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