Toronto is an awesome place that’s as famous for its lakeside beaches as it is for its Chinatown. This multicultural, creative city is where it’s at for everything from hipster areas to theatres and history; foodies and night owls will love the selection of eateries as well as bars and clubs to indulge in here.
With all the variety, figuring out where to stay in Toronto can be tricky. It’s a big place and each part of the city has its own feel and specialities. If you don’t know what these are, it can be easy to pick the wrong place!
… Which is exactly why we created this guide. We’ve gone to town on the seven best neighbourhoods in Toronto, giving you an idea of what they’re all about, plus the best accommodation and coolest things to do in each one.
If you are planning a trip to Toronto, you won’t want to miss out on the best neighbourhoods you can stay in, so we’ve done the hard work for you. All you need to do is scroll down!
Quick Tips – Where to Stay in Toronto
- Downtown – Best neighbourhood in Toronto for your first time
- West Queen St. West – Where to stay in Toronto close to everything
- Entertainment District – Where to stay in Toronto for nightlife
- Kensington Market – Best neighbourhood in Toronto for families
- Chinatown – Where to stay in Toronto on a budget
- Leslieville – Best neighbourhood in Toronto for couples
- Scarbourough – Best neighbourhood in Toronto for nature lovers
Where to Stay in Toronto
Have somewhere specific in mind? These are our top recommendations for places to stay in Toronto.
Best Hostel in Toronto
A big, friendly hostel that’s part of the Hostelling International chain, this one’s got a killer location: it’s right in the middle of Downtown. Staying here means you’ll be in easy reach of public transport, nightlife and top sights. Not only that, but there’s also a free breakfast, events and tours on offer.
Best Budget Hotel in Toronto
A tried and tested option, this branch of Holiday Inn Express actually has pretty much everything you need in a budget hotel in Toronto. The rooms are fresh, modern and comfortable and the location makes it easy get some sightseeing done. Plus they serve up an amazing buffet breakfast.
Best Splurge Hotel in Toronto
Looking to splash a little more cash and luxe-out your stay in the city? The Hazelton Hotel is the top choice for that. Cool, contemporary rooms come with huge, comfy beds and marble bathrooms; there’s a swimming pool to lounge around in, and there’s a funky bar and restaurant for wining and dining.
Toronto 7 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in
This city comes with different neighbourhoods, each packed with different stuff to do for different people – so without further ado let’s have a look at the best neighbourhoods of Toronto for you.
(Best neighborhood in Toronto for your first time!)
- COOLEST thing to do in Downtown – hang out in Yonge-Dundas Square and soak up the hustle and bustle of the city
- BEST place to visit in Downtown – check out the Art Gallery of Ontario for contemporary art and cool architecture
Downtown Toronto is the city’s big, buzzing neighborhood. This is where it’s at for cool design, top shopping and amazing museums. This area is the perfect place to stay in Toronto for those who want a mix of everything: 19th-century buildings, shining skyscrapers, busy streets, it’s all here.
With so much stuff jam-packed into one district, getting around on foot is not only easy but recommended! There’s a ton of stuff here to offer different types of travellers; if you’re on a budget, you can cut costs with a quick bowl of noodles, but there are definitely places to splash out, too.
- Grab a drink in the Distillery District in one of the many funky bars that you can find in this fun area
- Do some window shopping (or real shopping if you can afford it) along ‘Mink Mile’, past Louis Vuitton, Gucci and all the usual suspects
- Go see a game of baseball at the Rogers Centre – make sure you’re wearing Toronto Bluejays colours!
- Catch a gig at one of the multitudes of live music venues located in downtown
- Wander around the tunnels and covered walkways of the world’s biggest underground shopping mall: PATH
Best Hostel Downtown
This top hostel in Downtown Toronto is an affordable, fun, friendly place to stay in the city. The dorms are bright, with wooden floors, metal frame beds and large windows; they also have large, clean private rooms. There’s a shared kitchen and some helpful staff on hand to point you in the right direction.
Heading to Toronto? Save some money with our guide to the coolest hostels in Toronto!
Best Budget Hotel in Downtown
This is a surprisingly affordable hotel in the heart of Downtown, complete with spacious rooms and some great amenities: a gym, swimming pool, and a restaurant. The location is definitively in the middle of the Downtown area, meaning loads of cafes, restaurants and bars on your doorstep.
Best Splurge Hotel in Downtown
You’ll be impressed with this place the moment you walk through the door – think gleaming surfaces, luxe furnishings and general, all-round chicness. The bar here has amazing views of the city and the swimming pool is beautiful, too. Rooms are high-end and come complete with a kitchenette.
Editor’s Recommendation! These are the staff pick for the top hostels in Banff (for all budgets!)
(Where to stay in Toronto close to everything!)
- COOLEST thing to do in West Queen St. West – stroll along the cafe-lined streets and find a spot to people-watch
- BEST place to visit in West Queen St. West – go to Trinity-Bellwoods Park with its joggers, drum circles and dog-walkers
A cool, dynamic neighbourhood, West Queen St. West is packed full with artists, galleries, cool cafes, bistros, patisseries and everything else in between. Small but perfectly formed, it’s a cool, funky area located between Bathurst Street and Gladstone Avenue and has a ton of hidden gems to uncover.
The location isn’t too far from Old Toronto and Chinatown is just on the doorstep, which means you get to stay in a hip area without compromising on solid sightseeing and delicious food. West Queen St. West was voted by Vogue as one the world’s coolest neighbourhoods – need we say more?
- Go and try some Ethiopian cuisine at Nunu – it’s certifiably tasty with its sharing platters and flatbreads
- Being known its eateries, there’s always more food to try: head to Poutini’s House of Poutine for none other than classic, Canadian poutine
- Stroll around Nathan Phillips Square where different events are held throughout the year
- Hit up the Museum of Contemporary Art aka MoCA; it’s cool and it’s free (or you can pay what you feel like paying)
- Check out the Stephen Bulger Gallery for displays of international photography and film screenings
Best Hostel West Queen St. West
A beautiful boutique hostel that you might expect in an area like this, The Parkdale Hostellerie feels like a cool neighbourhood hangout. The dorms and private rooms have been designed with care: think high ceilings and wood floors. It’s warm and cosy and it’s located right near public transport.
Don’t stay in the city too long! Take one of these great day trips from Vancouver to see more of the area!
Best Budget Hotel in West Queen St. West
Although the rooms here are simple and unfussy, they are clean and well looked-after and come with private en-suite bathrooms. The location, right in the middle of West Queen St. West, means you’ll be able to discover all the coolness of the area easily. On a road trip? The hotel comes with parking.
Best Splurge Hotel in West Queen St. West
A well-known art hotel in the area, The Drake is one of those hotels that you should visit for a drink – even if you’re not staying there. It’s got an outdoor terrace, displays of art all over the walls, and bicycles to hire. Though luxe, the rooms have a quirky boutique feel, making for one of the coolest hotels in Toronto.
(Where to stay in Toronto for nightlife!)
- COOLEST thing to do in Entertainment District – head up CN Tower to see Toronto from 1,168ft in the air
- BEST place to visit in Entertainment District – catch a show at the storied Royal Alexandra Theatre
True to its name, the Entertainment District is all about the nightlife. However, it wasn’t always the case: this area used to be Toronto’s industrial area. With its updated image you’ll find it’s one of the best places to stay in Toronto for entertainment, of course!
Located between Queen Street and Front Street, this busy area is where you’ll find swanky restaurants for dinner, theatres for evening shows, and bars for a post-theatre drink or two. There are also nightclubs in this area, something that seems to attract the whole city to the Entertainment District.
- Go and look at Canada’s Walk of Fame located outside the Princess of Wales Theatre and spot Jim Carey’s prints (and many others)
- Go for a cocktail at a cool bar, such as speakeasy-inspired Parlour, or dance the night away at one of the Entertainment District’s amazing clubs, like the decidedly nocturnal mayhem of Coda
- Be amazed at one of the 16,000 marine creatures at Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada
- Do the vertigo-inducing EdgeWalk around the outside of CN Tower (no handrails – but there are obviously safety harnesses)
- Film buffs can check out movie posters and read movie scripts at the Film Reference Library
Best Hostel in Entertainment District
This hostel is a cool place to stay, set in an old, renovated building that’s right in the middle of the action. Think exposed brick walls, funky lounge areas and very clean rooms. There’s a big rooftop for summer barbeques and events get put on here all the time, making it good for solo travellers in Toronto.
Need to see more of Canada? These day trips from Toronto will show you the coolest areas around.
Best Budget Hotel in Entertainment District
A good way to keep to your budget staying in the entertainment is to opt for a self-catering studio. The 40th Floor comes with amazing views of the city as well as a kitchen, dining area, big, comfy bed and laundry facilities. There’s even a balcony with views of CN Tower. You’ll feel like you’re part of the city.
Best Splurge Hotel in Entertainment District
This luxury hotel in Toronto has been designed with a touch of Asian style. There are marble bathrooms, floor to ceiling windows with skyline views and a lobby that truly has the wow factor. Staying here means treating yourself to a real experience rather than just a place to stay in the city.
Come to Canada! And visit these places while you’re here!
(Best neighborhood in Toronto for families!)
- COOLEST thing to do in Kensington Market – stroll around and soak up all the street art
- BEST place to visit in Kensington Market – Bellevue Park is the place to be on Sunday with its street performers
Kensington Market is a vibrant area located to the west of Chinatown. This kooky neighbourhood has a lot of atmosphere in its 27 acres and is an old district packed full of 19th-century Victorian houses; in the 1960s it was once a hippie hangout. Back in the day, it was where British, Irish and Jewish immigrants settled, leading to its diversity today.
Full of streets closed to traffic on Sundays, walking is the best way to get around Kensington Market. With no skyscrapers, it has a village feel that makes for a family-friendly place to stay in Toronto. You won’t be stuck for places to eat with your children either.
- Grab a cup of coffee at Casa Acoreana, a historic cafe that’s been in business for over 40 years
- Browse the vintage wares at Courage My Love and pick up a quirky outfit or two
- Treat yourselves to a slice of pie at Wanda’s Pie in the Sky – something everyone will be happy with!
- Take some cute snaps at the Alphonse Mucha Mural, an impressive piece of street art inspired by Czech artist Alphosne Mucha
- Stock up on organic foods, produce and snacks at 4 Life Natural Foods
- Get a picnic together, find a comfortable spot in Bellevue Park and watch an outdoor concert
Best Hostel Kensington Market
A funky, fun place to stay in Toronto, The Planet Traveler Hostel is surrounded by all the diversity of the area. The hostel is set in a heritage building that’s been lovingly restored, it feels safe and looked-after. As well as cooking up a free breakfast every morning, staff make sure everyone has a good time.
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Best Budget Hotel in Kensington Market
A great place to stay for families in Toronto, this budget hotel in Kensington Market is located in an old Victorian house. The rooms are large, there’s a fully-stocked kitchen to use on-site, and there’s a lush, grassy garden where kids can let off some steam running around. Family-sized apartments are also on offer.
Best Splurge Hotel in Kensington Market
With its great location – making it easy to get around the city – this high-end hotel in Toronto is a great option. There’s a swimming pool for guests to use here, plus a convenience store in the lobby. To make sure you never go hungry, or thirsty, there’s a restaurant and bar located on-site as well.
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(Where to stay in Toronto on a budget!)
- COOLEST thing to do in Chinatown – simply walk among the East and Southeast Asian shops and markets to take it all in
- BEST place to visit in Chinatown – head to King’s Noodle Restaurant for some of the best Cantonese food going
Set between Dundas and Spadina, you won’t be able to miss Chinatown. The signs and lights of this buzzing area will transport you into a world that looks more like Hong Kong than Canada – it’s an amazing district that speaks of Toronto’s diverse, multiethnic community.
The best time to come and explore the neighbourhood has to be Chinese New Year. You’ll get to see New Year’s decoration, seasonal treats to try out and the iconic dragon and lion dance. Needless to say it’s the food of Chinatown that will attract many, with countless options and intriguing markets to explore.
- Catch the Toronto Chinatown Festival in August to see performances, even more markets than usual, and a festive atmosphere
- Sing your heart out at karaoke 8090 KTV (don’t worry, they have private rooms)
- Grab a Vietnamese coffee, complete with condensed milk, from one of the Vietnamese joints like Pho Pasteur
- Stock up on ramen to take home from the Japanese convenience store, Sukoshi Mart
- Go for a Hong Kong-style afternoon tea at Hong Kong Bistro – it involves dumplings!
- Take a walking tour around the neighbourhood with a local so you can understand more about this fascinating area
- Shop for electronics at one of the many stores – you might just pick up a bargain
Best Hostel for Backpackers Chinatown
A great budget hostel in Toronto, this Chinatown gem is family run and will provide you with a home away from home in the city during your stay. There’s free tea, coffee and snacks all day. The prices are low. The dorms and private rooms are clean and safe. Plus there’s a fully equipped kitchen to stick to your travel budget.
Best Budget Hotel in Chinatown
It might be a basic hotel, but Guesthouse Toronto Lucky House is all you need for a place to stay in Toronto’s Chinatown. Rooms here are spacious and come with high ceilings as well as lots of natural light. There’s a shared bathroom, but there’s also a shared kitchen too, which makes it feel homely.
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Best Splurge Hotel in Chinatown
Of course, staying at the Hyatt is going to be a splurge, but why not? It’s the Hyatt. The location of this high-end hotel in Toronto means that the middle of Chinatown is practically on the doorstep. Rooms here boast enormous beds, chic interiors and glittering skyline views. This is definitely about luxury.
(Best neighborhood in Toronto for couples!)
- COOLEST thing to do in Leslieville – shop for retro furniture, trinkets and other old-world oddities in the neighbourhood’s vintage stores
- BEST place to visit in Leslieville – wander around Little India and be amazed at the fabrics on sale
A cool place to stay in Toronto, Leslieville is a hip enclave just east of the Don River. It’s a local area to hang out that’s alive with some trendy drinking, dining and shopping opportunities. Lesser visited than other cool neighbourhoods of Toronto, Leslieville is like the alternative, alternative area of the city.
With its street, quirky stores and bars, there’s a lot to see and do in this village-esque district. Located in Old Toronto this “Hipsterville East” (as dubbed by a local newspaper) mixes history with young creatives for some awesome results. Close to the Beaches, and with Downtown in easy reach, the location is perfect as the best neighbourhood in Toronto for couples.
- Have a look at Leslieville Pumps – it may look like an old-timey gas station, but it’s actually home to the city’s best pulled-pork sandwiches
- Breakfast must be eaten at Lady Marmalade; be sure to arrive early since it’s very popular and people always want to eat here, which just shows you how good it is
- Take a stroll around Maple Leaf Park and see some of the national icons
- Browse Leslieville Farmers’ Market for fresh and baked goods – as well as some great food stalls
- Duck in and out of boutiques and curiosity shops of Queen Street East
Best Hotel for Backpackers Leslieville
Not in the middle of Leslieville, this is one of the best hostels in Toronto for location – it’s pretty much equidistant between Downtown and Leslieville, with all the fun of East Chinatown and Cabbagetown in between. The hostel is clean, modern and comes with large social spaces to meet and greet other travellers.
Best Budget Hotel in Leslieville
This bed & breakfast is a great hotel in Toronto for couples. Located in the middle of Leslieville, the rooms are boutique-style, with individual decor, comfy beds and en-suite bathrooms. Nice design continues throughout, even in the outdoor terrace, plus there’s the bonus of a free breakfast.
Need to save money? Check out the cheapest hostels in Vancouver!
Best Splurge Hotel in Leslieville
The Broadview Hotel is a dreamy place to stay for couples in Leslieville. Set in a handsome historic building, with period features and funky modern design, it’s so nice you won’t want to leave. Think marble bathrooms, chic bar and a terrace that’s perfect for sundowners with your other half.
(Best neighborhood in Toronto for nature lovers!)
- COOLEST thing to do in Scarborough – amble along Scarborough Bluffs, complete with Lake Ontario views
- BEST place to visit in Scarborough – head to the sprawling Rouge Park, Canada’s first urban park
Located along the waterfront of Lake Ontario itself in the eastern part of the city, Scarborough is where it’s at for natural scenery in Toronto. Not only is this neighbourhood the perfect place to stay for nature lovers in Toronto, but it’s also plenty of history and culture to uncover in the area.
Scarborough, like much of the city, is multicultural; foodies will rejoice at the sheer amount of different types of cuisine on offer. History buffs, on the other hand, will be in heaven with the mix of heritage buildings and Scarborough Museum. Hiking trails, cliffs, water sports: it’s all here for nature lovers.
- Hit The beach! Scarborough is home to not one, but two beaches that are great for swimming; there’s Rouge Beach and Bluffer’s Park, the latter of which is actually a Blue Flag beach
- Discover native ecosystems on one of many nature trails along the Rouge River
- Or explore the river by canoe, and spot the wildlife around Rouge Marsh, such as kingfishers and blue herons
- Go to East Point Park – a bird sanctuary that’s a stop-off point for migratory birds (you can even get a guide to take you around)
- Walk among the roses at Rosetta McClain Gardens with views of Lake Ontario
Best Hostel Scarborough
For nature lovers looking for a place to stay in Scarborough that’s social as well as easy on the budget, this place will make you feel right at home. Not technically a hostel, City Garden Oasis is more like a homestay where everyone is welcome. The owners are kind, the house is charming, and there’s a garden!
Traveling on a budget? Have you seen our cheap hostel recommendations for Toronto?
Best Budget Hotel in Scarborough
This place is the ideal budget stay in Toronto if you’re looking for a place close to nature. A tried and tested chain hotel, this option is actually really nice: there’s a large indoor swimming pool (complete with slide), traditional style bedrooms, a restaurant and a bar. There’s also parking.
Best Splurge Hotel in Scarborough
If you really want to stay amongst nature, then this is a great option. It’s a polished guesthouse located right on the waterfront itself, boasting a BBQ area for summertime cook-ups and even a nearby private beach area. What better way to wake up in Scarborough than with glittering views of the lake?
Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Toronto?
Toronto. We’re not sure why anyone wouldn’t want to go to Toronto: it’s an amazing city! There’s so much to see and do here that packing it all into one big, crazy trip might not be the best idea. Our tip would be to choose a neighbourhood that suits you and spend your time there, lapping it all up.
While couples will love the chill of Leslieville, beach lovers will enjoy the sand and lakeside living in Scarborough, and nightlife fans will dig the Entertainment District.
If you’re still wondering, let us help by suggesting our favourite area, which is Chinatown. This cool neighbourhood in Toronto is all about food, glorious food, so if that’s you, this’ll be your spot.
Everywhere has its perks though – just make sure you pick the right one for you.
Any cool neighbourhoods we’ve missed off? Hip hang-outs we didn’t include? Tell us in the comments below!
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