Toronto's hotel landscape offers plenty of choice, from idiosyncratic inns to island B&Bs, conventional hotels to deluxe palaces. With more than 38,000 rooms to choose from, it's easy to tailor your stay to your needs. Prices tend to be fair, especially when you consider that this is a major metropolis. Although there are plenty of spots to stay near the airport locations, most of the activity is downtown.
The prices quoted are for a hotel's rack rate, the maximum that it charges; it is, however, seriously unlikely that you'll end up paying that rate unless you arrive at peak times. These include the weeks during the Toronto International Film Festival (early to mid-Sept; check dates); the first weekend of August, due to the crowds for Scotiabank Caribbean Festival; and Pride in early June. Online and agencies offer discounts for early and last-minute bookings. Toronto is a major convention town, so keep informed of business events and large group bookings (www.seetorontonow.com). You can typically find discounts of up to 20% for rooms when booking through websites such as hotels.com or Expedia. During slow times, it's not impossible to obtain a room at an expensive property for the same rate as a more moderate one.
Lodgings listed by location, in the neighborhoods defined as Downtown West, Downtown East, and Midtown. If you're having trouble finding a hotel, call Tourism Toronto (tel. 800/499-2514 or 416/203-2600) or visit www.seetorontonow.com for advice. Keep in mind that some special deals are available only through a hotel's website. The Fairmont Royal York almost always has an online deal; the Park Hyatt Toronto often does, too.
A note about Internet and Wi-Fi: Most accommodations offer in-room or in-lobby Internet or Wi-Fi access. Some charge for it, some don't. For hotels that charge for Internet or Wi-Fi, the price ranges from C$15 to C$21 per day. When included in the room price, I've listed the services as "free."
For Travelers in Need
If you should suddenly find yourself without a place to stay in Toronto, call the Travellers' Aid Society of Toronto (tel. 416/366-7788; www.travellersaid.ca). The organization will find you last-minute accommodations, and they can also assist in crisis situations. They maintain booths at the airport, as well as Union Station.
Bed & Breakfasts in Toronto
A B&B can be an excellent alternative to standard hotel accommodations. Toronto Bed & Breakfast Reservation Service (tel. 877/922-6522; www.torontobandb.com) has a short but wide-ranging list of accommodations in the city. The organization will make your reservation and send you a confirmation. The Downtown Toronto Association of Bed and Breakfast Guest Houses (tel. 416/410-3938; www.bnbinfo.com) has listings for most of metro Toronto, not just downtown. Bed and Breakfast Canada (tel. 800/239-1141 or 905/524-5855; www.bbcanada.com) has a very long list of independent B&B operators.
For a memorable, out of the ordinary stay, consider staying at one of the eight B&Bs located on the Toronto Islands. The cottage-like communities of Ward's Island and Algonquin Island are just a 10-minute ferry ride, but a world, away from the bustle of downtown. Some accommodations are summer seasonal, others have 1-week minimum stays. What they all share is the rare treat of staying in a park setting with wonderful views back to the city. Remember if you're out downtown to catch the last ferry back to Ward's Island (around 11:30pm), or you'll have to hire a water taxi. For a complete list of island accommodations, see www.torontoisland.org.
From September to early May, the dorms at the University of Toronto and at Ryerson Polytechnic University are full of students. But in summer, many of these rooms are rented out to budget-minded travelers. If you don't mind your in-room amenities on the Spartan side, you can save a lot of money this way -- and get a great downtown or midtown location, too.
Bucking the trend of reigning in the purse strings in tough economic times, Toronto's hotel inventory is trending upscale. With the King Edward Hotel, the grande dame of luxury properties, now being converted into a combination hotel/condo, there's room at the top for the five-star treatment. Enter the Ritz-Carlton, Trump, Shangri-La, and a new Four Seasons. Of these, the Ritz-Carlton opened in 2011, and the Trump (at press time) was scheduled to open late in the year; the others will follow in 2012, with the Four Seasons set to open mid-year and the Shangri-La sometime in the summer.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.