The Westin Harbour Castle
Canada’s largest city is also often labelled its most American feeling and whilst Toronto does have a strong American influence, it is an essential Canadian city with its own unique charm. It is a city with a stark variance in seasons; visitors can enjoy lakeside beaches through hot summers and head to nearby ski resorts during snow-filled winters. Whereas the Downtown itself houses enough attractions and points of interest to keep travellers busy all-year-round. Moreover, there are also a multitude of events drawing visitors in, from sporting events to a thriving music scene and a host of cultural festivals.
Toronto is regularly referred to as the New York City of Canada, something which can be felt by the sea of skyscrapers and grid like road system. The central area is known as Downtown and one of its focal points is the Yonge-Dundas Square; a Times Square like area that lies at the intersection of two major streets. Much of the entertainment and shopping district is in this section of the city, as are multiple large high-end Toronto hotels including many international chains. Yonge Street is also key for orientation; running north to south and ending at Lake Ontario, it is seen as the division between East and West Toronto. Indeed the lake is obviously another important geographical reference point and the waterfront itself is a busy harbour with industrial and tourist boat traffic. The iconic CN Tower and adjacent Rogers Centre (formally the Skydome) are centrally situated in the Downtown and are both important points of interest. CN Tower provides panoramic views of the city, whilst the Rogers Centre is a multipurpose events arena and very popular with local sports fans. The surrounding area is home to multiple restaurants and bars providing an energetic atmosphere on game days, with several hotels close by ensuring a convenient stay in Toronto.
Although the Downtown houses many of the attractions and mainstream shops, bars and restaurants, Toronto also possesses several diverse neighbourhoods and districts presenting alternative hotel options. On the boundaries of the Downtown lies the city’s Chinatown, one of the largest in North America and a fascinating area of Toronto. Despite being within walking distance of the heart of the city, Chinatown presents an entirely different experience for visitors. Cuisine is obviously a considerable element of the area with dozens of traditional Chinese restaurants being frequented by all demographics of the city. It is also a well-favoured district for local and independent markets and shops, something which spills over into the neighbouring area of Kensington Market. A great deal of the alternative and subcultures of Toronto can be found around Kensington Market with multiple independent and non-profit cafes, shops and bars present. In addition, many of the more affordable hotels in Toronto can be found in these two districts which are favourites of the young backpacker crowd.
Being the largest and one of the most diverse cities in Canada, Toronto is home to a wide range of cultural events and festivals. It is also a prominent sports city featuring several Major-League teams including the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team, the Toronto Maple Leafs NHL ice-hockey team, and the Toronto Raptors basketball team. The jerseys and motifs of these can be seen all over the city especially on match days. Heading to a sporting event of any kind is a quintessential Toronto experience and in addition is the subject of many short getaways to the city. One of the most extensive festivals taking place in the city is the music and arts focused North by Northeast, based on a similar event in Austin, Texas. Each June thousands descend on Toronto across a few weeks to experience the variety of performances and exhibitions scattered all around the city. The Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) is another long annual event through August each year, presenting a much wider spectrum of entertainment, shopping and exhibits. As a result the city has an abundance of accommodation to cater for the seasonal fluctuations, ensuring that inexpensive hotels can usually be found in Toronto.
The city and its accompanying suburbs stretch for multiple hours along Lake Ontario, but getting out of the urban centre can provide many further points of interest, as well as some of the quieter hotels in Toronto. Canada is renowned on a global scale for its incredible nature and visitors do not have to venture far from the city to begin to experience this. Toronto Island Park is just a short ferry ride from the harbour and can be accessed conveniently from any of the Downtown hotels in Toronto. Here there are an assortment of beaches and further family-friendly attractions as well as some open green space to unwind in. Further along the coast westbound is the Humber Bay Park, another natural area stretching out into the lake, it is also close to the popular High Park on the western limits of the Downtown. In this area it is possible to find a hotel with scenic lake views that is also closer to Toronto Airport. Moreover, Toronto Airport is inland and west from the Downtown by around twenty-five kilometres, but staying in a hotel close to the airport is also a viable option.