Toronto on a Budget: Lodgings for Frugal Travelers

Toronto skyline, Ontario, Canada

Traveling to Toronto? A stay in Canada’s biggest city doesn’t mean you have to spend big bucks. Here are our choices for Toronto’s best budget lodgings:


If you’re going to stay in a hostel, you might as well choose one that’s stylish and hip. Planet Traveler, a privately run hostel near Kensington Market, is Toronto’s coolest cheap sleep. It’s full of useful little touches like “phone booths” with Wi-Fi where you can make Skype calls and electrical outlets in the lockers to keep your computers and phones safe while you recharge. There’s a communal kitchen, laundry machines, and a rooftop deck/party space with awesome views across downtown.

Planet Traveler’s dorms ($30 per person) each have six bunks and a bathroom. Private rooms with shared baths (CAD$75/double) are also available, sleeping two or three, in either a double bed or a double with a single bunk above. Rates include continental breakfast and Wi-Fi.

Market bakery IMG_2235Sharpe Centre IMG_2260

More centrally located, a short walk from the St. Lawrence Market, the HI-Toronto Youth Hostel isn’t as spiffy as Planet Traveler (it’s an older, though well-kept, building), but it’s a friendly place with scads of activities, from pub crawls to karaoke nights to summer barbecues. Rates include free Wi-Fi but vary depending on how many beds are in the room; the dorms come in many different configurations, from two- to ten-beds (CAD$22-45/person). There are even some modest private doubles with en-suite baths (CAD$89-109).

University Residences

From May through August, several university residence halls open their doors to travelers. You don’t have to be a student to stay in these budget accommodations; you just need to be comfortable in student-style digs. Rates typically include breakfast and internet access but few other frills.

Subway IMG_2268

Options include the Victoria University Residences at the University of Toronto (CAD$62/single, $84/double); the Massey College Residences, also affiliated with the University of Toronto (CAD$55-60/single or $83-90/double); and the Neill-Wycik Backpackers Hotel (dorms CAD$28/person, $54/single, $75-90/double, $101/triple, $120/quad).


Your quest for a moderately priced guesthouse may end at the 18-room Annex Quest House, in the Annex neighborhood near the University of Toronto. Rooms are spare, with Indian-print bedspreads and rag rugs; all have private bathrooms with copper wash basins. It’s technically not a B&B, because there’s no breakfast served, but the rooms do have refrigerators and coffeemakers. Double room rates range from CAD$105-120, including Wi-Fi.

You might not expect to find a cozy bed-and-breakfast only a block off busy Yonge Street downtown, but Les Amis B&B, with five simple but comfy guest rooms in a narrow 19th-century townhouse, has a convenient central location on an unexpectedly quiet residential street. Room rates range from CAD$90-100/single and $120-135/double, including a full hot meat-free breakfast; owners Paul-Antoine and Michelle Buer are both vegetarians. The cheaper rooms share baths.

Chinatown buns IMG_0327

The same owners run a second guesthouse just east of Bloor-Yorkville, Au Petit Paris B&B, with four guest rooms (all with private baths) in another slim townhouse. There’s no living room area for guests, but you can sit out on the top-floor deck. Rates (CAD$95-105/single, $130-145/double) include a full vegetarian breakfast and Wi-Fi.

Good-Value Hotels

If you can spend a bit more, the 56-room Hotel Victoria, in the midst of Toronto’s Financial District, is a boutique property with an art deco-style charm. Guest rooms have black furniture with gold accents, iPod docks, and coffeemakers. The standard rooms are petite; if you want more space, upgrade to a “deluxe” queen or king. Rates (CAD$144-174/double) include Wi-Fi but not breakfast. You can check rates online at Priceline or

The 285-room Bond Place Hotel is far from posh, but it’s been renovated into a decent mid-range hotel. The rooms are small, with blond wood furniture, white duvets, and flat screen TVs. Double room rates run CAD$129-189, but beware of additional charges for Wi-Fi and parking. The hotel is located three blocks east of Dundas Square. Rates are also available at or Priceline as well.

Directly across the street from the Fairmont Royal York Hotel, two blocks from Union Station, the Strathcona Hotel wins points for its handy downtown location. You won’t get a lot of space, but rooms here have all the basics, and the white duvets with red accents give them a cheerful feel. If street sounds bother you, ask for a quieter (but darker) interior room; the street-facing rooms are lighter but noisier. Doubles range from CAD$135-185, including Wi-Fi. Or book online through Priceline or

Harbourfront birds IMG_2330St Lawrence Mkt IMG_2431

Toronto budget lodging round-up by Vancouver-based travel, food, and feature writer Carolyn B. Heller, author of the new travel guide, Moon Handbooks: Ontario. Toronto photos © Carolyn B. Heller.

About The Author