Uptown Girl No More: Toronto's Downtown Hotels Are Where the Action Is

In 2013, Toronto welcomed almost 14 million tourists. People visit Toronto for a number of reasons, from tantalizing cuisine to world class art. From famous sports teams to some of the best theatre productions outside of Broadway. Toronto is the world's most multiculturally diverse city and can entice its visitors with a diverse array of activities. Much of what makes Toronto great is located downtown, so it makes sense to choose a hotel right smack in the middle of the city's core.

Toronto has a vibrant downtown that is easy to get around by foot once you find the right place to stay. Many of Toronto's best hotels are located just steps from the action and can be found for every price point. If history is what you are after, you must choose the Victoria Hotel, a boutique hotel with more than a century of success. The Delta Toronto is the first single purpose hotel to be built in Toronto in over 20 years and capitalizes on a new urban neighbourhood. Those who want luxury can check into Trump Hotel Toronto or the Ritz Carlton, two chains known globally for sleek sophistication.

Bloor Street to the North. Lake Ontario to the South. And you...happily stuck in the middle. Toronto welcomes you.


The Ivy describes itself as a European boutique hotel. However, a hotel doesn't have to be in Europe in order to bring romance to life through flourishing touches and impeccable service. The French inspired rooms are uniquely designed, each with king sized Hasten beds that are soft and welcoming, even if you plan on spending much of your stay there (ahem). Each room also comes with a small balcony overlooking an 18th century courtyard where you can read the paper while you enjoy the breakfast tray that will be at your door in the morning. The showers are massive and built for more than one person to be comfortable and clean. To which we say again: ahem.

Recommended for Downtown Hotels because: A view of the CN Tower directly from your room will make it easy to get oriented in the city.

Read more about The Ivy at Verity →

The Fairmont Royal York
Photo courtesy of Photo Courtesy of Tourism Toronto

The historic Fairmont Royal York dates back to 1929 and was the place to stay during the golden age of railway travel. Conveniently located across the street from Toronto's Union Station, times may have changed, but the deluxe accommodations of the Royal York remain in tact, with classic charm expressed in everything from rooms to a sprawling lobby. You half expect to see top hats and cigars, but things have been modernized with details like a state-of-the-art business centre and meeting rooms, to a fitness facility and indoor pool. Spend some time checking out the photo exhibit on the mezzanine level, which reveals the hotel's fascinating history. Have afternoon tea in the Library Bar, a Toronto tradition since 1929. And make sure to visit the rooftop herb and vegetable gardens and apiary, which houses 350,000 bees and produces honey used in the hotel's dining facilities.

Recommended for Downtown Hotels because: It is not often that you can simultaneously step back in time and have a modern downtown landscape at your fingertips.

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he Windsor Arms has mix of historic charm and modern luxury. The hotel opened in 1927 in Toronto's Yorkville neighbourhood and immediately became a favourite with high-end travellers seeking high-end accommodations. There was a short period of time where it closed in the 90s, but it reopened better than ever. The hotel's all-suite 28 rooms have incredible touches, such as a butler's pantry, which allows for uninterrupted room service. Rooms include Italian linens and handmade furnishings, as well as creature comforts including an IPod dock, sound systems and spa-like bathrooms. Each of the hotel's 28 guestrooms also includes a musical instrument. You could find a guitar, a harp or even a baby grand piano waiting for you. Downstairs, make time for tea, with a choice of hats that would make the Kentucky Derby blush. Whether you go in the afternoon or at twilight, the scones are worth the stop.

Recommended for Downtown Hotels because: Luxury and comfort, with just enough cool to keep things interesting.

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The Delta Toronto is a hotel that is sandwiched between Toronto's harbourfront and the hustle and bustle of downtown. Even though it is large (567 rooms), it feels like a little escape where you can take a breath and watch Lake Ontario from an unparalleled view. Directly connected to Toronto Convention Station, Union Station and the underground PATH, it is a downtown dweller's dream location. For business travellers, a 24-hour gym, indoor pool and on-site dining options make it more than easy to keep up with the rest of your life once your workday is over. The deluxe bedding doesn't hurt, either.

Recommended for Downtown Hotels because: Tons of rooms at different price points, all with stunning views of Toronto.

Read more about Delta Hotels by Marriott Toronto →

Located steps from the Air Canada Centre, home of the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs and the Toronto Raptors of the NBA, Le Germain Maple Leaf Square is a perfect choice for sports fans visiting the city. It's also located within easy walking distance to a number of other Toronto sights, and close to public transit. The Le Germain design ideals of light spaces and natural elements are at play here, with large windows in each of the 167 rooms and wood and stone touches throughout the hotel. Given its location, the hotel plays with a sports theme. Large screens in the lobby bar show big games, continental breakfast is served in the MVP Zone and meeting and event spaces have names like Penalty Box.

Recommended for Downtown Hotels because: Sports lovers and urban design lovers can both be satisfied at this hotel designed for the traveller on the go.

Read more about Le Germain Hotel Maple Leaf Square →

Hotel Victoria

The Victoria Hotel is Toronto's second-oldest hotel. Built in 1911, it is a relatively rare building in a modern city like Toronto and is a designated historic site. It has had an update or two over the past century, including a 2011 renovation which preserved the original marble pillars and crown moulding, while giving the lobby and guestrooms a hip, modern makeover. Each of the 56 rooms features sleek new bathrooms, 32" flatscreen TVs, free wi-fi and iPod docking stations. While the small building doesn't offer the in-house amenities one normally expects of a modern hotel, guests receive a discounted rate a nearby chain fitness centre and can eat at the all-day breakfast restaurant in the hotel.

Recommended for Downtown Hotels because: The Victoria Hotel is your chance to experience history with modern flourishes and an excellent price tag.

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The Ritz-Carlton, Toronto
Photo courtesy of Ritz Carlton Toronto Facebook page

The first Toronto entry from this luxury global hotel chain opened in February 2011 on the western edge of the financial district, offering guests an ideal base to explore both the city's downtown core and theatres. The 53-storey tower includes 267 hotel rooms on its first 20 floors, with 159 condo residences occupying the top floors. Both residents and hotel guests at the Ritz have access to a wealth of luxurious amenities. The fifth-floor spa and fitness centre offer body treatments and training sessions, yoga, as well as professional hair and makeup services and a lap pool surrounded by views of the city. The menu at TOCA draws from Canada's bounty, from Quebec foie gras to Alberta bison, served in a dining room rich with dark wood accents. Guests can retreat to spacious rooms featuring floor-to-ceiling windows, heated floors and spa bathrooms. For even more luxury, club-level guests have access to a lounge where complimentary food and beverages are offered throughout the day.

Recommended for Downtown Hotels because: Putting on the ritz in Toronto is certainly not overrated. If you can afford it.

Read more about The Ritz-Carlton, Toronto →

SoHo Metropolitan Hotel & Residences
Photo courtesy of Soho Metropolitan Ottawa

If you're visiting Toronto to check out the city's Broadway-quality theatre productions, its art galleries, or to catch a baseball game, The Soho Metropolitan is perfectly positioned in the heart of it all. While Toronto is in the midst of a luxury hotel building boom, the 72-room boutique hotel has been offering its guests many upscale touches since its 2003 opening. The contemporary-designed rooms feature marble bathrooms with heated floors, remote-controlled curtains and lighting and free wi-fi. An onsite spa is available for those who need a bit of pampering after a day of sightseeing, or refresh in the indoor pool and whirlpool. While the SoHo Met is just a hop, skip and jump away from some of Toronto's best dining options, the innovative Asian-influenced menu at Senses Restaurant has been a consistent favorite for years with Torontonians.

Recommended for Downtown Hotels because: The SoHo met has great package offerings, some of which include parking (a definitely plus in a city where hotel parking can cost $50/night).

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The King Eddy has been a landmark hotel in Toronto since it opened in 1903. For many years, it was the hotel for the rich and famous. Over the years, its gleam faded until local investors poured millions into restoring the property to its former glory. It remains the hotel to come and stay for special occasions (and the hotel for Prince William, by the way. Name dropping over.). The carved marble columns and the glass-domed ceiling in the lobby harken back to more genteel days. Rooms are on the small side but seem larger because of the high ceilings and large windows. All have been decorated with an Old European flair and many personal touches, like decadent marble bathtubs. You will be within walking distance of all the best restaurants, as well as Toronto's theatre district and many other attractions.

Recommended for Downtown Hotels because: Gorgeous, old world charm in the heart of a new-world city.

Read more about The Omni King Edward Hotel →

This boutique hotel in Toronto is an incredibly unique and glitzy way to get your downtown on. The rooftop lounge even has a 40-foot infinity pool that is open seasonally (because no matter how Canadian you are, an outdoor pool and winter don't mix). Rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows that open to views of Lake Ontario and the Toronto skyline. Hardwood floors and bright accents make the rooms look oh-so-modern. Heated marble floors in the bathroom make a visit to the walk-in shower last much longer than anticipated. Toronto's top restaurants are right around the corner - and did we mention the view from the rooftop lounge?

Recommended for Downtown Hotels because: This boutique hotel is on the cutting edge of cool in the city.

Read more about Thompson Toronto →


Meet Courtney Sunday

Courtney Sunday has lived in England, Switzerland, Canada and the US, finding her way into the professions of freelance writing and yoga teaching in between travel opportunities. She learned...  More About Courtney