A multicultural city on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario, Toronto is Canada’s capital of creativity and diversity, home to a miscellany of sporting events, galleries, festivals and renowned restaurants, along with a healthy dose of outdoor activities. These are the best places to stay and play.

Perched on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario, Toronto – or “The Six”, as it’s known to some locals – is a melting pot of culture from all corners of the world. The most populous city in Canada, it’s celebrated for its creativity – in film, music and artistry – and diversity, both of which have shaped the warm (figuratively and, from June until October, literally), welcoming metropolis it has become.

Residents love Toronto for its fusion of busy-city excitement and easy outdoor escapism. Downtown, where sports fans congregate to cheer on 2019 NBA champs the Toronto Raptors, tourists flock to see the CN Tower and the streets buzz with people, the pace feels electric. From sports games and art galleries to renowned restaurants, musicals and festivals, including the famed Toronto International Film Festival, there is endless entertainment. Yet you’ll also find pockets of calm at the many beaches and green spaces.

There are ample opportunities for activity in Toronto. During the warmer months, the lake is a funfair for surfers, kayakers and swimmers, and in winter there is ice skating aplenty as well as numerous indoor activities, including bouldering and obstacle courses. Cycling is one of the easiest ways to navigate the city, thanks to the extensive network of bike paths and trails, and bicycles can be borrowed from any of 465 stations peppered across the city. Public transport is another inexpensive and efficient way to explore.

If time and budget allow, hire a car and head out to some of Toronto’s neighbouring gems, such as Niagara Falls and the nearby wineries or Prince Edward Island.

TO STAY

Kimpton Saint George

With notable residential design characteristics, Kimpton Saint George is a 188-room hotel that has a feeling of home, unlike many larger establishments. A milky palette mixed with muted greens and blues makes the spaces feel modern and classy. Formerly a Holiday Inn, the boutique hotel is now a nod to Toronto’s culture, history and quirks, all demonstrated by locally made furnishings and artwork by Canadian artists.

The Ivy at Verity

The Ivy at Verity is a tiny boutique hotel with only four rooms near the historic Distillery District. Once a chocolate factory in the 1850s, the building boasts an abundance of period charm and antique grandeur. An overnight stay in the luxury hotel doesn’t come cheap, but if it’s the little touches that really make a trip for you, then you might be tempted by the morning room service of freshly squeezed juice and house-made scones.

The Broadview Hotel

Rumour has it that, pre-renovation, when the building played host to Jilly’s Strip Club in the 70s, dancers shared the stage with a live tiger. Nowadays, the space is – thankfully – much more tame, yet still fairly dramatic. Shades of deep red and dark grey adorn the 58 guestrooms, along with custom-made wallpaper and chunky, modern furniture. On Tuesday mornings you can drop into a 7am yoga class for a small donation, and enjoy dining at on-site restaurant The Broadview Bistro + Bar any day of the week.

Hotel X Toronto

A cinema, art gallery and rooftop pool are among the many delights that Hotel X has to offer. If those weren’t enticing enough, it also has spectacular views of the CN Tower and an impressive athletic facility, which includes eight squash courts, a spin studio and four indoor tennis courts. There are a total of 404 rooms and suites, which are simplistic in style in order to let the skyline view do the talking.

The Annex Hotel

Designed to encourage visitors to live like a local in Toronto, The Annex Hotel has no receptionist to greet arriving guests, no room service and no TVs to detract from the city’s sights. Instead, you enter one of the 24 rooms in the 100-year-old-building using a code, and use text messages to communicate with hotel staff. Loft-style rooms boast large windows, whitewashed, exposed-brick walls and light-wood fittings. There are record players in each room, along with a selection of vinyl to liven up your stay.

The Drake

Despite not being anything to do with the rapper, this hotel does host music shows and art events, as well as having a shop, café, restaurants and night club. It has owned the increasingly popular idea of a hotel being a hub where locals as well as guests hang out. A handful of boutique rooms are decked out like hip apartments with feature walls and mid-century furniture.

Bisha

Located opposite the famous Second City comedy club, Bisha has put design at the heart of its modus operandi. To this end, it has enlisted a range of people from rock star Lenny Kravitz, perfumer Ben Gorham of BYREDO, fashion industry big-hitter Grace Zeppilli and designer Alessandro Munge to add their own touches to the interiors at this high-end offering.

The Andorre House

Black-stained brick, walnut doors and plenty of gold make The Andorre House (formerly a forgettable Comfort Inn outpost) really stand out. This 11-storey boutique hotel has rooms decked out in dark and sophisticated tones with room numbers set in tiles on the floor. Quirky and enticing, it opened in April 2018 and remains one of the most talked about openings in the city.

The Drake

The Broadview

Bisha

Hotel X

The Andorre House

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