When staying at Toronto hotels, getting the most bang for your buck depends on planning ahead. By anticipating your needs and being wise to hidden costs and benefits you should always be able to find accommodation in Toronto for less than $150 per night. Outside the downtown area (bounded roughly by Spadina, Bloor, Yonge, and Lake Ontario to the south), it should almost always be possible to find accommodation for less than $100 per night, even during summer festivals. (The one major exception here is the airport hotels: not recommended for a budget Toronto stay.) On average, the cheapest periods of the year to stay in Toronto are during the spring and fall. All major Toronto hotels include private bathroom facilities in the cost of the room.
As is often the case for many major cities, hotel prices in Toronto drop the further out you get from the city centre. While bargains can be found even in the heart of Toronto, the major under-$100 deals will be a half-hour to hour commute away, sometimes more. If you bring your car, the outlying hotels and motels will often include parking in the cost of your stay, while hotels closer to the core will usually charge you about $20 per night per vehicle. If you want to park closer to downtown, lots outside the Spadina-Bloor-Yonge-waterfront area are usually much cheaper than those inside.
Public transit is extensive and reliable in Toronto. In many cases, the subway is a very viable alternative to taking the car, especially after adding in the price of big city parking. If you intend to rely on public transit, it is an excellent idea to check ahead of time to ensure that your hotel is close to a subway station. In fact, every major downtown destination, including the Royal York and several other major hotels, is connected within a square of six subway stops and a highly-used network of underground malls called the P.A.T.H. Outside this area twenty-four hour bus service is available, but service tends to be infrequent during the overnight hours and not all areas are serviced. In general, between the hours of 6 am and 1 am, subway trains or buses will be available most places south of Highway 401, between Pearson International Airport (Dixie Road) to the west and Scarborough to the east. A wonderful deal for families is the Sunday/holiday day pass, which allows up to two adults and four children unlimited travel until 5:30 am the next day. Some subway stations also offer Park-n-Ride/Kiss-n-Ride lots, where commuters can park their cars and take the subway into the heart of Toronto.
Most Toronto hotels now offer free local telephone calls. Many also offer free morning newspapers, in-room coffee and tea, and continental buffet breakfast; and some even include in-room Internet access. Check the Toronto Tourism webpage for special offers, which combine the cost of accommodation with a prix fixe restaurant supper, shopping discounts, personal pampering, or tickets to theatre or other attractions. Depending on your specific wants, these perks may more than balance out a slightly higher cost of accommodation.
If you are travelling with a group or to a convention, check ahead of time to see if your group has arranged a special rate with a particular hotel. The event coordinators may also have arranged discounted public transit passes with the Toronto Transit Commission for the duration of the event.
Always check on-line for discounted rates before you travel. Many on-line providers offer deep discounts on the rack rate ranging from 25-50%, and some may also offer last-minute deals.
If your hotel offers a loyalty program, take advantage of it. Some of these programs offer one free night for every three or four nights consecutive stay, while others may give free upgrades, and still others, such as Air Miles, may be partnered with a number of transportation, shopping, and entertainment affiliates to earn you free rewards in any one of these areas.
Two often-overlooked alternatives to the traditional hotel are university residences (at Victoria University or the University of Toronto) and the short-term rental apartment. While university rooms will not have private bathroom facilities, they almost always include free Internet access, and at $40-60 per night (under $20 per night for students), you can’t beat the price! Last-minute specials on studio, one, and two-bedroom full apartment units, even in the heart of Toronto, can run as cheap as $99 per night. Kitchenettes or even a small in-room fridge can save you a great deal of money, as grocery stores and even open-air markets are readily accessible in all parts of Toronto. As always, it pays to plan ahead.
All hotels in Toronto will charge tax on top of the basic room cost and any room charges. The Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) is a single combined tax of 13% which replaces previous federal and provincial taxes.