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Ontario has some of Canada's biggest areas of wilderness yet is also the country's most cosmopolitan state. How can this be? Because it's huge. Larger than France and Spain combined, it has acres of forests, miles of empty hiking trails, dozens of towering waterfalls and over 250,000 lakes. Yet over a third of Canadians also live here, most in either state capital, Toronto, or Ottawa, the country's capital; both vibrant cities. The best places to stay in Ontario make the most of either its cosmopolitan cities or its wild beauty; sometimes both.
Top of the 'natural-beauty' sights has to be Niagara Falls, easily visited in a day-trip from Toronto, though we'd recommend you stay in either Niagara by the Lake or Niagara Falls itself if you want to overnight.. But the state boasts other spectacular waterfalls. Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park, for example, near the vibrant city of Thunder Bay in the south-west, has 40-metre high falls. South-western Ontario is also the area to head to for freshwater beaches, watersports and fantastic bird-watching.
Ontario has dozens of Provincial Parks to satisfy outdoor adventurers. Killarney Provincial Park is considered to offer some of the world's best kayaking with over 50 lakes, while hikers may prefer Mississagi Provincial Park, north of Elliot Lake, with its mix of hemlock forests, aspen woods, sandy beaches and empty back country. Equally, Quetico Provincial Park is a wild and empty destination with over 2000 lakes, hiking trails through forests and towering cliffs, plus cross-country skiing trails.
Ontario's cities offer a striking contrast to the wild beauty of the back country. State capital Toronto's iconic sight is the soaring needle of the 533-metre-high CN communication tower with its revolving restaurant and stunning views. Equally stunning is Casa Loma, a massive architectural confection of battlements and turrets built at the beginning of the 20th century as the private home of a wealthy financier. Other sights include the downtown Distillery District of warehouses converted into galleries, boutiques and restaurants, the Victorian St Lawrence Market with over 50 speciality food stalls, and the Royal Ontario Museum of natural history. Scarborough Bluffs Park gives stunning views over Lake Ontario while Kew Beach is great for a stroll.
Ottawa is no less exhilarating with Parliament Hill's Victorian architecture, the striking-looking National Gallery and the contemporary-designed Canadian War Museum. Leave plenty of time to explore the Canadian Museum of History, full of hi-tech exhibits tracing the country's history. It also includes a 3D IMAX theatre and the excellent Canadian Children's Museum. One thing's for sure, the best places to stay in Ontario guarantee you will always have plenty of things to do, right on your doorstep.
The best lakeside Ontario hotels
- On the shores of Lake Ontario, the contemporary, chalet-style Drake Devonshire in Wellington, offers 13 chic, light-filled rooms, some with balconies, and all with glorious views. Dine outside or in, borrow a bicycle to explore or just relax on the outside decking.
- With just 10 rooms, The Inn at Cobble Beach is deliciously hidden-away overlooking Georgian Bay on Lake Huron. Rooms are contemporary-classic, plus there’s an indoor pool, spa, gourmet restaurant and next-door golf course.
- On the shore of Lake Joseph, Sherwood Inn is a traditional, white, clapboard inn set amongst gardens - where you can dine in summer months - with on-site tennis, watersports and walking trails. Rooms are light and fresh plus there’s a spa and Jacuzzi.
For the Niagara Falls
- Activity-lovers will enjoy White Oaks Resort & Spa with its nearby golf course, indoor pool, gym and acres of gardens. Rooms are fresh and modern and there’s a spa plus choice of restaurants.
- The homely and traditional Pillar and Post offers large and comfortable rooms plus an outdoor pool, spa and All-American-style restaurant. Plenty of boats take guests to the Falls or you can stroll along the lakeshore path.
For a city break
- In the centre of downtown Toronto, close to sights and restaurants, the Baldwin Village Inn B&B offers terrific value-for-money. Rooms are light, crisp and minimalist, and on sunny days you can breakfast in the courtyard.
- In the heart of downtown Ottawa, the Arc Hotel offers sophisticated styling and a perfect location; sights and restaurants are all walkable. Rooms are boutique-chic in pale, neutral tones plus there’s a gym and concierge service.
- Fashionistas will love the Thomson Toronto, perfectly placed in the centre of Toronto’s fashion district. Stylish and groovy with sleek bedrooms, a rooftop bar and pool - terrific city views - and an underground club, it’s the place to see and be seen.
- For old-school glamour, head to Toronto’s Windsor Arms Hotel, a grand 1920s red-brick hotel with a glittering, modern-European interior of chandeliers and leopard-print sofas. Rooms are reassuringly grand and classic, with panelling and wood floors; some even have pianos.
Best Hotels in Ontario
White Oaks Resort & Spa 200 rooms from $78Niagara-on-the-Lake (Ontario)
Wineries, a rolling golf course surround this luxury spa and business hotel. Crisp linens, fireplaces and modern amenities in all rooms. Award-winning Chef Michael Price heads the fine dining at LIV, or a more casual affair at Play Urban Café. A modern affair close to natural beauty.Sights nearby - See one of the seven natural wonders of the world - Niagara Falls. Avaliable to see from the skies with a helicopter trip.Great walks - Use the river as a guide and explore the area by foot.Views - Great views from hotelRomantic - Good for couples.Recommended by - CN Traveller
Inn on the Twenty 27 rooms from $89Jordan (Ontario)
Charming village in Twenty Valley makes this boutique the perfect country getaway. Fireplaces complete the homely rooms, along with bookshelves and arm chairs. “On the Twenty” adopts the farm to fork approach and whips up local cuisine matched with a cellar full of regional wines.Great walks - Take a picnic along the Bruce Trail and the Niagara Escarpment and find a spot to dine while looking over the waterfalls.Sights nearby - Do not miss the majestic Niagara Falls.Full of characterRomantic - Good for couples.
Harbour House 31 rooms from $115Niagara-on-the-Lake (Ontario)
Sunset over Niagara-on-the-Lake leaves a warm glow on this red brick mansion with stunning waterfront views. Fireplaces and light interiors make the modern rooms homely. Breakfast is served in the dining room overlooking the lake. HobNob Restaurant and Zees Grill are both walking distance.Great walks - Awarded the prettiest Town in Canada Award. A good enough reason to explore it by foot and capture it all.Local markets - Local markets area a great way to explore any town. Check with reception for dates.Back to Nature - See one of the natural wonders of the world.Sights nearby - Head to the marina for a buzzy atmosphere.
Baldwin Village Inn 6 rooms from $95Toronto (Ontario)
Idyllic B&B in downtown Toronto - moments away from some of Toronto's best restaurants. Minimalist rooms feature hardwood floors, huge bay windows and are decorated in white palettes. Breakfast served at the communal dining table or out in the pleasant courtyard garden.Local exploring - Location is key here, right in the centre of town surrounded by great restaurants, within walking distance of the main sights.Groups - Perfect for groups to take over and enjoy the personal home touches of the Inn keepers.Sights nearby - Learn about the textile industry at the aptly named Textile Museum of Canada.Local markets - Walking distance is Kensington Market for a vibrant afternoon of city life.
Pillar and Post 122 rooms from $129Niagara-on-the-Lake (Ontario)
Niagara-on-the-lake is one of Canada's gems, and this luxury hotel is the perfect place to enjoy nature's wonders, local restaurants and wine. Large, classic style rooms look onto the pool. The Cannery Restaurant offers an all-American menu throughout the day, before or after your spa treatment.Sights nearby - The name is in the title, do not miss the famous Niagara Falls.Great walks - Waterfront trail connecting Niagara-on-the-Lake with the FallsFull of characterRomantic - Good for couples.
The Gladstone 37 rooms from $129Toronto (Ontario)
Red brick Victorian building turned art-centric boutique in the bustling cultural district of Toronto. Each artist-designed room offers an aesthetically pleasing and luxurious stay. Grab a table at Melody Bar, enjoy the live music and seasonally inspired dishes.Sights nearby - Be sure to pick up a personalised Queen West district map from reception and explore the area with recommendationsLively - Hip and happening.Full of characterDesigner - Uniquely designed interiors.Recommended by - Tablet
The Drake 19 rooms from $135Toronto (Ontario)
Youngsters rule the art district. This boutique has an energetic vibe; hosting musicians, embracing culture and inviting you to 'crash' in their stylish and cosy, yet minimalist, rooms. Eclectic dishes & cocktails served at the lively Raw Bar with a great meeting place in the Corner Cafe.Sights nearby - CN Tower can be seen from almost eveywhere and is the tallest free standing building in Northern America.Great walks - Formal gardens of High Park.Lively - Hip and happening.Local markets - Good for local colour.Recommended by - Tablet, Mr & Mrs Smith
Drake Devonshire 13 rooms from $154Wellington, Ontario (Ontario)
Modern farmhouse on Lake Ontario offering chic and contemporary design all the way from Toronto. Large rooms are modern, chic and spacious. The include views, areas to lounge and balconies to capture the lake in all its glory. Flock restaurant serves fresh and local cuisine. A fantastic location.Sailing - Head to Sandbanks Provincial Park which is home to three sandy beaches great for sailing, windsurfing and relaxing.Surfing - Waking up and catching the surf is moments away.Views - Lake.Lively - Hip and happening.Recommended by - Mr & Mrs Smith
The Inn at Cobble Beach 10 rooms from $160Kemble
An upscale resort set on 574 acres of manicured gardens and golf courses on Cobble Beach. The elegant rooms feature antique style wooden furnishings, plush linens and warm tones. Gourmet meals are served in the chic dining room commanding views of the bay. A sophisticated grown up hideaway.Sights nearby - Inglis Falls Conservation Area an 18 metre high cascade water fall, the most visited in the areaLively - Hip and happening.Remote - Off the beaten track.Full of character
Oban Inn & Spa 26 rooms from $123Niagara-on-the-Lake
Overlooking Lake Niagara, Oban Inn & Spa is a delightful hotel that marries excellent service with a warm, friendly atmosphere. The rooms are elegantly furnished and are adorned with tasteful artwork. Spend an afternoon exploring the lake on a bicycle or relax in the spa. A lakeside gem.Families - With excellent family rooms and a babysitting services, it's a great choice for a family holiday.Local exploring - Perfect for exploring the area around Niagara-on-the-Lake.SpaSwimming Pool - Indoor/outdoor
Sterling Inn & Spa 41 rooms from $168Niagara Falls (Ontario)
Proximity to Niagara Falls and nature gives this contemporary spa cum Inn the edge for die hard explorers or mini-breakers. Modern rooms with sizable baths and luxury products. Chef Cory Linkson whips up seasonally inspired dishes paired with the famous regional wines.Great walks - White Water Walk takes you along the widest white waters in the world.Birdwatching - Bird Kingdom is the world's largest free-flying aviary.Sights nearby - Niagara Falls is a must see during your stay.Romantic - Good for couples.Recommended by - CN Traveller
Old Mill Toronto 57 rooms from $169Toronto (Ontario)
Boutique getaway nestled in the Humber Valley surrounded by walking trails, parkland and the tranquil sound of the Humber River. Classic rooms and suites surround a garden and courtyard. Popular Home Smith Bar hosts live jazz music and the 300-guest restaurant menu is loved across town.Sights nearby - The metro is an easy stroll away and opens up the city of Toronto to guests.Great walks - The mill is surrounded by parks and next to the Humber River.Views - Great views from hotelRomantic - Good for couples.
Sherwood Inn 49 rooms from $130Port Carling
A charming Inn perched on the picturesque Lake Joseph. Classical rooms feature large beds, flat screen tvs and spectacular views of the lake and gardens. Plenty of beautiful scenery to explore by foot, bike or boat.Great walks - There are a multitiude of walking trails in and around the property for all fitness levels.Swimming Pool - Small plunge pool in the spa.Views - Great views from hotelRemote - Off the beaten track.
Shaw Club 30 rooms from $189Niagara-on-the-Lake (Ontario)
Elegant small hotel offering exceptional service, prime location and a fabulous restaurant. Large, contemporary rooms are a great base for your days of exploring Lake Ontario, local history and vineyards. Only gourmet dishes can be expected from the Zees Grill, a casual atmosphere enjoyed by all.Families - Babysitting services are avaliable for those parents that wish to indulge in a carefree weekend at the spa and restaurant.Romantic Break - Champagne and strawberries in the deep soaking tub are just the start of a relaxing romantic weekend.Sights nearby - Fort Niagara stands at the mouth of the river on Lake Ontario and is a great spot for sunset, as well as exploring.Local markets - Head to Walker's Country Market to source some local produce and catch the general buzz.
ARC The Hotel 112 rooms from $201Ottawa
An upscale boutique hotel, in downtown Ottawa. Sleek minimalist rooms feature neutral tones, modern furnishings and soft Egyptian cottons. Conveniently located for exploring Ottawa and soaking up the rich history. The sophisticated choice.Local markets - Visit Byward Market, approximately four blocks of boutique shops and restaurants.Great walks - Take a guided tour of the Parliment buildings and their majestic grounds.Lively - Hip and happening.Lively area - In the thick of the action.
Arowhon Pines 50 rooms from $161Ontario
A rustic chic resort in the centre of Algonquin Park on the shores of Little Joe Lake. Cabins feature a range of hand-painted french style furnishings, fireplaces and private lakeside patios. All inclusive meals are served in a hand-hewn log dining room. A totally off-grid wilderness escape!Back to Nature - Located in the centre of Algonquin Park on the shores of Little Joe Lake this is a nature lovers heaven.Kayaking - Paddle a hotel canoe on a day trip and explore a series of lakes, streams and narrows.Fishing - The hotel recommends a true Park fishing guide to explore all the local waters.Sailing - Relax in a hotel sailboat as the winds carry you through the afternoon.
The Ivy at Verity 4 rooms from $214Toronto (Ontario)
An 1850s chocolate factory, home to an award winning restaurant, four enchanting rooms and a spa in downtown Toronto. Unique and vibrant, the luxurious rooms capture original features with marble bathrooms. The old fashioned meets the contemporary in the restaurant decor, a popular spot with locals.Sights nearby - The Victorian-era buildings, hustle and bustle that make up the Distillery District are enhanting.Local markets - St. Lawrence Market is walking distance from the hotel and popular for cafes and restuarants.Great walks - Explore Toronto on foot.Restrictions on children - Adult only.
Le Germain Toronto 122 rooms from $221Toronto (Ontario)
Chic, sharp stainless steel and glass exterior, make way to a library come expresso bar reception area. Views, gadgets, luxurious linens make up the rooms. The French cuisine served at Chez Victor is the cherry on the cake as it gains recognition across town with its pull of regulars.Sights nearby - Head to King Street for a look at the theatres of downton Toronto.Great walks - Take a ferry to Toronto Islands and explore on foot.Lively - Hip and happening.Full of characterRecommended by - Tablet
Le Germain Maple Leaf Square 167 rooms from $240Toronto (Ontario)
A city hotel with sharp, chic style. Modern rooms provide all the mod cons: rain showers, music and DVD players, tea and coffee making facilities and access to the hi-tech gym. Lobby Lounge offers tapas and cocktails to get the evening started.Local markets - St Lawrence Market is one of Toronto's oldest buildings, is it home to 120 vendors merchants and artisans.Sights nearby - Hockey Hall of Fame is home of Stanley Cup (for hockey lovers).Great walks - Walk along Lake Ontario and soak up the magnificance.Romantic - Good for couples.Recommended by - Tablet
Windsor Arms Hotel 28 rooms from $244Toronto
A plush five star 1920's hotel, in downtown Toronto. The decor is delightfully ostentatious, with chandeliers in lobby and pianos in several of the suites. Original sash windows and hardwood floors give a European feel. Glamorous and indulgent!Local markets - Visit the The St. Lawrence Market, ranked by National Geographic as the world’s best food market.Great walks - Take an EdgeWalk, a thrilling hands-free walk on an outside ledge of the CN tower.Sights nearby - The Royal Ontario Museum is just five minutes walk away.Swimming Pool - Indoor year round pool.Recommended by - Tablet
Hazelton Hotel 77 rooms from $247Toronto (Ontario)
High end boutique, home of plush interiors, indoor pool and spoil-yourself-spa. Sizeable rooms boast city views, fine linens and all the mod cons. One restaurant pulls the locals in with its exquisite menu and cocktails, a great atmosphere. Enjoy a film in the cinema room, or relax at the spa.Local markets - Local markets are a great place to see the hustle and bustle of this vibrant city.Sights nearby - Nearby you will find Royal Ontario Museum.Great walks - Explore Lake Ontario on the walking trail.Views - Great views from hotelRecommended by - Tablet
Thompson Toronto 121 rooms from $261Toronto (Ontario)
Slap in the middle of the Fashion district, this lively and luxurious hotel is a popular hot spot for nightlife and leisure seekers. Crisp, chic rooms boast outstanding city views. Head to the rooftop lounge for small bites, the Diner for a more hearty meal and then delve into the underground club.Local markets - Kensington Market is great for shopping and local art exhibits.Sights nearby - Victoria Memorial Square is within walking distance.Great walks - Explore Lake Ontario by foot.Views - City and Lake Ontario.
Langdon Hall Country House 52 rooms from $322Cambridge, Ontario (Cambridge)
A spectacular 1902 five star hotel and spa nestled in the Carolinian forest. Tastefully decorated suites with original sash windows, fine fabrics, feather and down beds and antique furnishings. Award winning restaurants serve gourmet dishes paired with fine wines. Classically stylish.Cooking classes - Interactive cooking demonstration changes weekly depending on what guests wish to learn.Great walks - There are over 12 km of walking trails on the property through Carolinian forest.Swimming Pool - Outdoor.Lively - Hip and happening.Recommended by - Relais & Chateaux
Shangri-La 202 rooms from $264Toronto
A chic five star hotel between downtown Toronto's Financial and Entertainment Districts. Plush rooms with an elegant oriental twist, enormous marble bathrooms and floor to ceiling windows. The luxurious on-site spa and trendy bars and restaurants follow the eastern theme. Oozing opulence and styleSailing - Charter a sailing boat at the nearby Waterfront from Sailnig and Powerboats.Swimming Pool - Indoor year round pool.Lively - Hip and happening.Opulent
Four Seasons Toronto 259 rooms from $429Toronto (Ontario)
The renovated flagship Four Seasons stands tall over Victorian mansions overlooking Lake Ontario. Luxurious large rooms with city views, plush linens and bathroom treats. Café Boulud offers global cuisine. Both business and leisure guests meet at Dbar over delicious cocktails.Sights nearby - CN Tower is the tallest freestanding structure in the Americas.Views - Lake Ontario and city.Lively - Hip and happening.Romantic - Good for couples.