When it comes to getting some shut-eye, Toronto offers variety and value, especially for those travelling with strong currencies.
Though in past years the city's 35,000 rooms were characterised by a cookie-cutter sameness, things are improving. An explosion of high-end hotels is imminent, with the Ritz-Carlton, Trump, Shangri-La and a new Four Seasons all on the horizon. The Hazelton (www.thehazeltonhotel.com), new in 2007, was first out of the five-star gate. All of them are bundling their spacious suites and services with condo towers on top - a new hotel trend.
For more down-to-earth types, innovative and individual boutique properties are adding spice to the mix. The Cosmopolitan Toronto is going for a Zen-inspired experience, but for truly edgy accommodation, check into The Gladstone Hotel. Once a flophouse, the city's longest-operating hotel has had a radical revamp: each guest room is designed by a different local artist.
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For a decent cheap sleep, it's worth investigating bed and breakfasts such as the Baldwin Village Inn or Victoria's Mansion Guest House. And for a room with a view – of the waterfront, the playing field, or the fast-growing skyline – Toronto's hotels are not short of options.
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Rates & seasons
Hotels tend to quote wide price ranges over the phone. The rate depends on many factors, especially the season: in slow periods, a 'luxury' hotel might reduce its rates to the expensive category, and during special events like the film festival or the Toronto Grand Prix, everyone's prices shoot through the roof. As a rule of thumb, high season runs from April to October, when deals are hard to come by. However, some corporate hotels get quiet in the summer; hit them while they're down and ask for a reduced rate.
In addition, enquire about deals for students, seniors, teachers, members of Canadian Automobile Association (CAA), American Automobile Association (AA) or AA members, or any other group you belong to. Always ask about special offers or upgrades; many hotels have partnered with other attractions to offer dinner/show or spa/shopping packages, which can save you money.
Internet & smoking
Though we have specified in the listings whether a hotel offers internet access, note that some hotels charge for this service (check before you book). Also be aware that if you smoke, not all hotels will accommodate you. With tighter smoking laws in effect, some properties have chosen to ban puffing altogether. Others offer designated floors (often the lower ones without views) or specific rooms.
Bear in mind that most booking agencies will only hook you up with their own members, so it pays to shop around.
Tourism Toronto (416 203 2500, www.torontotourism.com, 8.30am-6pm Mon-Fri) is the city's official booking service, while the Greater Toronto Hotel Association (416 351 1276, www.gtha.com) maintains comprehensive links on its website. Travellers' Aid Society of Toronto (416 366 7788, www.travellersaid.ca) can provide shelter and information in emergencies. This society also has booths at many rail and bus stations, as well as the airport. The Downtown Toronto Association of Bed & Breakfast Guest Houses (416 410 3938, www.bnbinfo.com) will be able to match your accommodation preferences – via a detailed online form or by phone – to B&Bs in central Toronto. Toronto Bed & Breakfast Reservation Service (1-877 922 6522 or 705 738 9449, www.torontobandb.com) helpfully brings together a handful of B&Bs, mainly in downtown areas.
Get your money back: visitors are eligible for a six per cent Goods and Services Tax refund on goods and short-term accommodation. You must have spent at least $200 to qualify. For more information, contact the Visitor Rebate Program at 1-800 668 4748 (within Canada) or 1-902 432 5608 (outside Canada), or visit the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency website at www.ccra-adrc.gc.ca/visitors.
Happening hotel: The Gladstone hosts cabaret and burlesque shows, magazine and CD launch parties and indie bands regularly perform in the ballroom. With all that and room decors that include a Faux Naturelle Room – where 'lesbian separatist commune meets Storybook Gardens' this hotel has got pretty much everything you could ever want.
We have divided our listings according to the price of the cheapest double room: Budget is under $100, Moderate $100-$169, Expensive $170-$289 and Luxury anything from $290 to your life savings; hostels are listed separately.
Note that rates listed do not include federal tax, which is six per cent (though there are ways of claiming this back; see top tips). Unless otherwise stated, the following rates only include breakfast at B&Bs, not hotels.
While every effort and care has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this guide, the publisher cannot accept responsibility for any errors it may contain. Before you go out of your way, we strongly advise you to phone ahead and check the particulars.
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