##Staying in Toronto##
Toronto is hugely popular with both tourists and people looking to live, work and study in the Ontarian capital city. Its location, tucked alongside the beautiful Lake Ontario, and its wealth of attractions, entertainment, and a general multicultural, welcoming vibrancy make it a constant draw. A cosmopolitan, international hub for finance, business and the arts, Toronto brings in more than twenty-five million tourists each and every year, and with its excellent transport links – such as the colossal Pearson International Airport, and the trains, subways and buses of the Toronto Transit Commission – getting around and exploring the city and the Greater Toronto Area is easy and enjoyable.
Such is its popularity that places to stay need to be plentiful and offer a wide choice – and the city more than delivers on this front. Whether you are dropping by for a weekend motel stay or seeking a relaxing two week break, or even considering a longer arrangement and want to rent an apartment in Toronto, the capital has a broad selection of lofts, apartments, hotels and motels to choose from, with all of the ‘big name’ global brands featuring somewhere in the city.
Starting in the heart of the ‘Queen City’ in its bustling Downtown, adjacent to the harbour and with the CN Tower, Royal Ontario Museum and the Hockey Hall of Fame nearby (not forgetting the Theatre, Shopping and Entertainment districts), you will find an array of hotels ranging from privately owned boutique ventures to five star luxury, and with prices to suit all budgets. At the smaller end of the scale, the three star Madison Manor is styled to replicate a Victorian-era English country inn, complete with cheerful pub for as little as $99 per night for a standard room (including free continental breakfast), while just off Yonge-Dundas Square there is the uncluttered modern décor of the Bond Place Hotel, which offers a choice of 280 rooms and suites starting at $114 for a standard twin (and discounts are usually available when booking online). There are plenty of other cheap hotels in downtown Toronto, but for something more high end, the five star Ritz-Carlton is right at the heart it all, surrounded by the neighbourhood’s finest restaurants, shopping and cultural venues, and boasts a seemingly endless choice of guest rooms, suites and conference spaces, plus spa treatments, yoga, an indoor pool, and its TOCA restaurant featuring two star Michelin chef Oliver Glowig. Not unsurprisingly, this opulence comes at a price, with a guest room – complete with Italian linen, Portuguese bathroom décor, and a host of technological gadgets – costing in the region of $449 per night, although very good deals can be found online (often at up to 50% off). Similarly, the plush Four Seasons Hotel – located on the northern fringe of Downtown where it meets upmarket Yorkville with its chic shopping and eateries – is a 55 storey monolith of sophistication, replete with terraced cocktail bar, fitness centre, indoor pool and 259 rooms, starting at $485 for a superior located on one of the tower’s lower floors.
Inbetween these examples, Toronto can boast a huge assortment of Bed and Breakfast and Guest House accommodation dotted right across the city, from Mississauga in the west to Scarborough and Oshawa in the east, and to Markham and Brampton to the north of the downtown region. These are often the antithesis of the aforementioned mega-hotels, typically small and independently owned, and provide fantastic service for very reasonable prices. For just $59 (single occupancy) you can stay the night at the Toronto Garden Inn, a lovely B&B situated in a 19th century home full of charm and character, while on the eastern flank of Algonquin Island (one of the Toronto Islands) – only reachable via ferry – is the picturesque Smiley’s B&B which has two suites, the snug Belvedere for $120 per night/$656 per week, while the expansive Studio – a self-contained apartment for four with all mod-cons and free internet – costs $257 per night or $1400 per week. Guest Houses range from the cheap and cheerful – and extremely cosy – Amsterdam on Carlton Street (close to all the entertainment) which is just $49.95 per night for one of their four rooms, to Victoria’s Mansion in the famous Church Street Village which offers visitors a number of room choices, from compact singles with twin beds for $69 a day, to their roomy studio apartment which costs $139 per day. Meanwhile for tourists or visitors who are driving themselves and need a bed for a night or two, Toronto motels are also abundant, especially along the Gardiner Expressway and similar main arterial roads – the Super 8 chain offers a couple of budget places to stay, typically from $75 a night (including taxes), while around Pearson International Airport there is a large choice including another Super 8, a Day’s Inn and the clean and comfortable Avenue Motel.
Much the same as central Toronto, the roads and expressways around Pearson International contain a number of hotels, motels and smaller guest houses, all catering for the huge amount of travellers flying into and out of the airport; it is Canada’s largest, handing over 40 million passengers per annum, and accommodation is often a necessity for people on early flights or waiting for connections. Terminals 1 and 3 have hotel courtesy boards on their Arrivals Levels, meaning passengers can check for available rooms and make reservations almost as soon as they step off the plane. Chain hotels such as Best Western, Sheraton and Holiday Inn can be found peppering the outlying areas of Pearson, along with privately owned businesses such as the Woodbine Hotel and Suites; whatever the price or brand, most provide complimentary airport shuttles as part of their service.
If your stay in Ontario’s capital is longer than a weekend getaway or fortnight-long break enjoying the entertainment district – say you are looking at houses for rent in Toronto, or cheap furnished apartments in Toronto east – there are plenty of options, as well as services designed to help. As ever, the internet is the place to start before you set foot in the city and speak to living, breathing real estate agents: websites such as 4Rent.ca, Padmapper.com, Viewit.ca and TorontoRentals.com have extensive listings of apartments, houses and condos where you can browse at your leisure and without anybody pressuring you into putting down a deposit. Almost of all these sites allow you to narrow your search at will, so if you are seeking a one bedroom apartment in Toronto’s Richmond Hill, close to all amenities and within walking distance of public transit, or perhaps lofts for rent in Toronto’s ultra-hip West Queens West neighbourhood, they can be a great help. Alongside prices, property listings frequently display numerous photographs, floor plans, ‘tenant tips’ and even virtual tours of the accommodation and its surrounding neighbourhood. Depending on where you decide to call home, property rental costs can vary wildly: a two bed condo in the Don Valley northeast of downtown Toronto will cost $2,100 per month, while a fully furnished shorefront house in the sought-after The Beaches will set you back at least $5,000 each and every month – without utilities.
Students entering Toronto’s academic world – and there are plenty every year, with a host of Universities, Colleges and Institutes to choose from – or leaving halls of residence for the first time also have plenty of support, with many institutions offering student housing services. Ryerson, York and the University of Toronto, along with many of the smaller schools and colleges, all provide some level of assistance to pupils via websites, seminars and instructional workshops designed to teach them about letting agreements, dealing with landlords and basic property rental law. As with the wider real estate market, there are also private companies who deliver property searches and assistance too, although there can often be fees involved – make sure you check their websites before agreeing to let them do the work for you.