Sprawling and diverse, this fast-paced commercial capital harbors an edgy, artistic soul.
Modern art gallery meets 1940’s Hollywood at the 77-room Hazelton Hotel (doubles from $472), in the posh Yorkville neighborhood. Interiors are full of luxe details—suede-paneled walls, Italian granite floors, and private dressing rooms lined with floor-to-ceiling mirrors. Great Value Close to the city’s rowdy nightlife district, Hôtel Le Germain (doubles from $235) is nevertheless a haven of quiet contemplation, with Zen-like display shelves and cream-colored sofas in the airy, split-level lobby. Great Value New on the radar: Thompson Toronto (doubles from $220), the first foreign outpost of New York City’s decidedly downtown brand.
Toronto has its share of excellent Chinese food, but the haute dim sum at the Metropolitan Hotel’s Lai Wah Heen (dim sum for two $55) might just be the best in town. On the new restaurant row of Harbord Street near Spadina Avenue, chef Cory Vitiello of the Harbord Room (dinner for two $90) serves up creative interpretations of bistro standards—Ontario lamb three ways; a saffron pot de crème—on his small, ever-changing menu.
Home to local food purveyors for most of the week, the St. Lawrence Market becomes an antiques fair on Sundays, with more than 80 vendors hawking everything from rare prints and Bakelite bracelets to kitschy secondhand treasures. Quirky paraphernalia—stag-topped shot glasses, Canadian Mountie cocktail napkins, and the like—make up the merchandise at Drake Hotel General Store.
For an evening of offbeat camara-derie, replete with dive-bar staples (pickled eggs; an eclectic jukebox), it’s worth seeking out the slightly off-the-beaten-path Communist’s Daughter (drinks for two $11), where the barkeep sings gypsy jazz tunes while pouring pints for a roomful of regulars.
Cannes and Sundance get much more of the hype, but serious cinephiles know that the Toronto International Film Festival (Sept. 9–18) is the place to preview indie releases from all around the world. It’s also a good indicator of future Oscar buzz (past winners: Slumdog Millionaire, Precious).