Where to Stay during Toronto's Annual International Film Festival



The community of Toronto really loves film. Don't believe us? Walk near any cinema in Toronto that is partaking in the Toronto International Film Festival in September. Fans and cinephiles alike wrap around the block in eager anticipation of everything from provocative documentaries to star studded blockbusters. The Toronto Film Festival is one of the major events that put Toronto on the map, and locals want to pledge their allegiance to it every year.

If you want to get a good look at the Oscar contenders for the coming year, or you want to see what your favourite celebrity looks like in person, TIFF is a must for any film buff remotely near Toronto. Canadians are notoriously friendly, so you may know one with a welcoming couch. If you do not, just give it a year. In the meantime, you need a place to reset and get that beauty sleep so that you don't feel like an ugly duckling in comparison to the Hollywood elite. Those people are annoyingly pretty.

The old hub of the action for the festival was Yorkville, but even so, some celebrities like routine in their whirlwind lives. Blake Lively and Ben Affleck have stayed at The Hazelton Hotel. If you would rather be within steps of the downtown films, do as George Clooney does and stay at The Ritz Carlton

Just remember that he's married with children, ladies.



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The Westin Harbour Castle is within walking distance of the major film screenings of The Toronto International Film Festival. Located near the lovely Harbourfront neighbourhood, this twin-tower Lakeside hotel has exquisite touches. One could get used to marble bathrooms and decadently comfortable beds, flat screen TVs and windows overlooking sparkling Lake Ontario. On a clear day the views are especially spectacular if you want to look at something other than a movie screen. Have a cup of coffee in your room to start the day off right, then hit the ground running and get on King Street as soon as possible.


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Drake Hotel Toronto
Photo courtesy of Connie Tsang


 

Part of what makes the Drake the perfect TIFF retreat lies in its history. The hotel opened in 1890 as an upscale retreat for railway travellers stopping in what is now Toronto's west end. As the neighbourhood fell on hard times, the building became little more than a seedy flophouse but after 2001 received millions of dollars in upgrades. Today, the Drake Hotel houses a great restaurant and several bars and lounges where creative drinks, great live music and DJs draw crowds nightly. It is one of Toronto's hottest social hubs. Hotel aside, the Drake is a more economical way to stay near TIFF. It has a boozy launch party that is for the everyman: no tuxes or red carpets necessary. The Drake's 19 rooms are ready to house overnight guests in spaces that are small, but neatly designed in a mix of modern artistic and old-time charm.


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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. During the film festival, they even employ a film concierge to ensure that everything is just so for the VIP guests. On the lower level, check out the black-and-white photos of Hollywood stars that have paraded around the Royal York's classic red carpet.


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This luxury hotel property is right in the heart of TIFFdom. Toronto is inseparable from the famous film festival in September and this hotel is ideally located for celebrity spotting and eating popcorn for dinner (just like Olivia Pope!). As you wait for your elevator, grab a complementary bottle of water and piece of fruit, just because you can. Goose down comforters and feather pillows are so plush, your inner child will be very tempted to jump up and down. Rainfall showers will make you feel like a celebrity after a day slumming it, regular-person style. Unifrance hosts their film festival party here, meaning that you will be surrounded by French celebrities. Dress well to blend in.


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Four Seasons Hotel Toronto
Photo courtesy of Christian Horan

 

The Four Seasons was started by a Canadian businessman and this Yorkville location has only been open since 2012. 55 stories high and in the heart of the glamorous, there are 259 guest rooms including 42 suites. This Toronto location of the luxury brand was ground zero for all things TIFF and it still retains its elite guest list. Actors and filmmakers come and go through the doors and shop at nearby favourites like Holt Renfrew and Harry Rosen. The plush rooms include down duvets and light-as-a-feather pillows for you to rest your people-watching head. Be sure to frequent the Starbucks in the area, as even the big names need a caffeine break.


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Shangri-la hotel Toronto
Photo courtesy of Shangri-La Toronto Facebook page


 

There is a whimsical look to the Shangri-La that warrants a second glance, even amidst the commotion of the busy location. University and King is one of the hubs of activity in Toronto and the Shangri-La keeps up, making their attention to detail appear effortless. Expect luxurious classiness at every corner, with everything from high tea to a Turkish fitness centre available onsite. The Shangri-La is excellent at providing top-notch service, such as nightly live music in the lobby to decadent chocolates in your room if you want to see what it is like to live like a celebrity. In prior years, the TIFF Asian Film Summit was held here, encouraging the bridge between Asian and Western cinema.


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The Hazelton Hotel Toronto
Photo courtesy of Hazelton Hotel Facebook page

 

The Hazelton Hotel is an exclusive five-star hotel that made its home in Toronto's posh Yorkville neighbourhood. It opened just before the annual Toronto International Film Festival in 2007, and every year it has been filled with stars and elite clientele, even when the festival moved south. Rooms are as elegant as an old black-and-white movie, with 62 detailed rooms and 15 extraordinary suites. Each of the 77 guest rooms is at least 620 square feet in size and feature nine-foot ceilings and custom-designed furnishings. Other exquisite details include French doors that open onto Juliet balconies and heated bathroom floors. The effect is both classic Parisian elegance and 21st century convenience. During TIFF, the Hazelton hosts some of the world's biggest stars (but they remain mum on the guest list). If you can't get enough movies, book their 25-seat state-of-the art theatre for a private movie screening.


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SoHo Metropolitan Hotel & Residences
Photo courtesy of Soho Metropolitan Ottawa

 

While Toronto is in the midst of a luxury hotel building boom, this 92-room boutique hotel has been offering guests many upscale touches since its 2003 opening. The contemporary-designed rooms feature spacious and inviting marble bathrooms with large tubs and heated floors, and remote-controlled curtains and lighting for those comfortably curled up in bed. The small amount of rooms means that you have a chance to feel right at home in the fast-paced TIFF world. An onsite spa is available for those who need a bit of pampering prior to a day of movie heaven. The SoHo Metropolitan is perfectly positioned in the heart of it all. If you need more reason to stay, Lady Gaga has been a guest here.


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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. A 24-hour gym, indoor pool and on-site dining options make it more than easy for the family to stay happy without having to travel far. The deluxe bedding doesn't hurt, either, and cribs are available on request.


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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 2011 on the western edge of the financial district, offering guests an ideal base to explore the Toronto International Film Festival. 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. Bars on the ground floor have "seen and be seen" parties during the festival. 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.


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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

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