Toronto might just be the biggest melting pot of a city ever. Its patchwork of neighborhoods, rolling off the sloshing waters of forest-fringed Lake Ontario, is a hodgepodge of all sorts. Some are packed with mezze-brimming Greek tavernas. Others are doused in soy sauce and awash with Canton-style dim sum houses. There’s pizza-spinning Little Italy, a taste of Tuscany in Toronto’s suburbs. There’s Little India, where Rajput curries broil in cauldrons beside thali kitchens. The anchor of it all is downtown Toronto – the CBD. There, you find some of Canada’s most acclaimed cultural attractions – the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Royal Ontario Museum – and iconic landmarks like the CN Tower. Oh, and daytrips are a doozy, too, what with Niagara Falls and the Ontario winelands on the doorstep.
Airbnb is now a major source of accommodation for travelers looking to check off this bucket-list city. At last estimation, there were around 9,500 listings active in the sprawling capital of Ontario, ranging from slick penthouses in the heart of the downtown core to spacious suburban pads where you can get a feel for that welcoming Torontonian neighborhood vibe. Let’s take a look at the lot…
Airbnb is legal in Toronto. However, there are a few rules in place to govern short-term lets. Landlords are only allowed to rent a place that’s also their “principal residence”. Hosts will also have to register with the city and display their registration number prominently on any online listings. Guests don’t have to worry about any of that, but they will have to pay a Municipal Accommodation Tax (it’s 4% of the total cost of a stay).
Where should I stay in Toronto Airbnb?
Toronto isn’t small, but even locals prefer to consider it a conglomeration of small towns rather than a large mass of a city. The reason? Places like the Old Town (1) might be in the thick of it, but they retain a true historic character. The same goes for Cabbagetown(2), where old Victorian mansions line the streets. Then you’ve got uber-chic Yorkville(3) for the upscale A-listers, or the Entertainment District(4), which is perfect for ticking off the main sights. West Queen West(5) beckons with some more local boutiques and coffee joints, but Chinatown(6) and Greektown(7) are probably better for out-and-out foodies looking to taste their way through Canada’s largest city.
You can feel the history
Tasty treats at St. Lawrence Market
Close to the galleries of the Distillery District
Expensive part of Toronto
Quite business like
With a name like that, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Old Town traces its history all the way back to the beginning of the 1800s. It’s the most venerable neighborhood in the city, and it’s retained a little of that vintage charm. Centered on the 200-year-old St. Lawrence Market (a great place to grab lunch), it covers 10 blocks with big Victorian buildings of redbrick and Neo-Classical design. Art galleries abound in the nearby Distillery District and there’s oodles in the way of fine-dining and cocktail drinking in these parts.
Sleek and exclusive Yorkville is where the trend setters go to grab the latest haute fashion and designer wear. At the intersection of Bloor Street and Bay Street, you can find the uber-chic Mink Mile area – thought to be one of the most expensive places to live in all of Canada. Of course, with the upscale shopping comes upscale vibes, so expect refined Japanese sashimi kitchens next to artisan bakeries. The Royal Ontario Museum is also right there on the doorstep, offering everything from dinosaur bones to Art Deco crafts for rainy days.
Grab yourself an apartment with a view of the Toronto docks down in the Entertainment District and you’ll be immersed in one of the city’s most happening quarters. It’s skewered through the heart by the CN Tower (check out the observation deck more than 500 meters up!) and spreads to the sides of the lake with Roundhouse Park. It’s a real hubbub after dark, with Canadian grill houses and retro theatres erupting between the clubs and the pubs. Definitely one for the partiers!
Chinatown Toronto might not be the biggest Chinatown in North America, but it’s certainly one of the most immersive. The moment you pass by those dragon-woven towers on Spadina Avenue, you could be forgiven for thinking this was Hong Kong, not Canada. Chinese grocer shops abound with stacks of noodles and five spice. There are more dim sum cooks than you can shake some lemongrass at, and even traditional East Asian antique stores. Yes, it’s a tad ramshackle but that’s half the fun.
Cabbagetown got its curious name from the veg gardens that were planted by the first Irish settlers that came here in the 1800s. These days, the cabbages are all gone, but you’ve got a handsome historic district of lovely Victorian houses to delve into instead. It’s grown into something of an artist’s, hipster’s colony, so expect lots in the way of vintage clothes stores and roastery coffee houses. Strolling the avenues beneath the oak trees to see the lovely architecture is one of the main joys, and so is tasting Cabbagetown’s creative dining – sourdough pizzas, French croissants, Vietnamese pho.
Queen West is the boulevard that shoots westwards out of the downtown core of Toronto. West Queen West is the western half of that, and it’s one of the city’s top shopping areas. We’re not talking large chain stores and Wallmarts, though. We’re talking local craft boutiques and independent fashion designers. The district also boasts lovely parks and good links to the roads that run out to join up with the Lake Ontario shoreline.
You’ll know you’re in Greektown when you start seeing the street signs written in the Greek alphabet. On the eastern side of the Don River along Danforth Avenue, it’s an area with a distinct ethnic character that’s inspired by the south Mediterranean community. Yep, that means fantastic Greek eats, with mezze and hummus and souvlaki to die for. Known locally as, just, The Danforth, it also comes with cracking coffee joints and a chilled, urbanite charm.
Get high up for a view of the steel-clad skyscrapers in the midst of the buzzing downtown of Toronto with this well-appointed condo. It’s really modern with plenty of style, including in that bright lounge-diner and spacious double bedroom. Floor-to-ceiling windows abound, and so do up-to-date kitchen and bathroom fixtures. You’ll be both comfy and in the very heart of the metropolis.
Overlooking Forest Hill Trees in Huge Family House
It’s hardly a surprise that this spacious, 4,500-square-foot urban pad has an Airbnb Plus rating. It’s downright gorgeous. Just check the L-plan lounge with its cushy sofa and French doors that lead to a sprawling terrace overlooking the leafy streets of north Toronto. Yes, it’s a tad further from the sights than some other rentals, but you get nice neighborhood coffee spots and extra room to show for it.
Enjoy a Coffee on the Roof Top Deck with CN Tower Views
Another lovely Airbnb Plus that sits a little off West Queen West and within eyeshot of the CN Tower, this one’s perfect for the whole crew. It comes with four designated bedrooms and capacity for up to eight guests, who can make use of a large kitchen, a communal dining room, and even a breezy rooftop terrace with views of the Toronto skyline.
This sleek penthouse flat with exposed brick walls and hardwood parquet floors is like something out of New York. It’s bound to impress with its boho style and industrial-chic feel. What’s more, it can sleep up to 16 and is located smack dab in the heart of the Toronto downtown, close to Old Toronto and the Entertainment District alike.
Vintage Style Apartment with Free Parking in the Annex
It’s tricky to find whole buildings up for rent in the heart of Toronto. More often, it’s an apartment unit in a semi like this one, which adds even more character on account of its gorgeous Victorian-era exterior. There’s a touch of classic style with the Italian-inspired fresco paintings and array of antiques, but you also get luxuries like underfloor heating and air conditioning. Location is in the uber-cool Annex close to happening Yorkville.
Airbnbs can help you save a whole load of Canadian dollars on your trip to Toronto. They’re often cheaper per night than a hotel of comparable quality. But it doesn’t end there. Airbnbs in Toronto usually have self-catering facilities and can come with space enough for your whole travel group. That means you’ll save on eating out and can divide the cost of the stay between several people.
One thing you might miss if you do plump for a short-term rental in Toronto is the high level of service that’s associated with a hotel. Airbnbs prize privacy. Hotels are about hands-on pampering from start to finish. To enjoy room service, a concierge, and sleek hotel lobby bars, you might prefer to book somewhere like the Pantages Hotel Toronto Centre. It’s a mix of Art Deco cool and modern charm, with high-rise rooms, a gym, and a fantastic location just on the fringes of Old Toronto.
Toronto promises to be a fizzing, fun-filled city of iconic Canadian culture and sights. It’s also famed for its quirky neighborhoods and districts, which range from immersive Chinatown to the vintage Victorian walks of Cabbagetown and the bustling Entertainment District. Airbnbs are on offer in all of those and more, so get a-searching today!