Tour Toronto like a celebrity (but on a budget)
Find your people: For the best chance of spotting a star, be sure to explore upscale Yorkville, or the trendy Ossington strip. You just may find celebs shopping for diamonds at Royal De Versailles or primping at the Hazelton Hotel.
Upgrade your accommodations:
Toronto is a town swimming with high-end hotels. Check out the Gladstone Hotel, a grand Victorian on West Queen West. While rooms here are small, each is a commissioned work of art. Playful options include the Faux Naturelle, a riff on cheeky pastorals, or the Model Citizen, sporting a peacock theme (light-up tail feathers, anyone?).
Indulge in the little things:
Ogling the goods at Chanel or Cartier is a fun diversion, but not many people can afford to leave with a shopping bag in hand. Why not shop somewhere you can afford to buy? Confections at SOMA chocolatemaker are just as gorgeous as any Bloor Street bauble. The fair-trade, organic sweets here have been winning awards for their smooth and unexpected flavors like gianduja laced with Pop Rocks (don’t worry, more traditional pairings exist, too).
Find nourishments at haute bar restaurants. Dining in the Ritz-Carlton’s TOCA restaurant — complete with a glass cheese cave holding $1,100 wheels of Gouda — will set you back plenty. But who says you need a dinner table to do dinner? Belly up to the TOCA bar and make a meal of their Latin-inspired small plates, like pulled pork tortillas. While you eat, you can also enjoy some of the best cocktails in town. Mixologists here combine molecular gastronomy with fine spirits to concoct delicious potions; try the Minted Cucumber Collins.
Travel in style:
Let the stars keep their limos — streetcars are the best way to get to know the city. Like San Francisco’s cable cars, they give the city a dash of personality, and jumping on a cheery red car as it rolls downtown is a cinematic moment no visitor should miss.
If you’re visiting a new city — or just want to see a different side of your own — the navigators at Renaissance Hotels want to make sure you can access all that it has to offer, on your own terms. As part of this navigation program, you fill out a questionnaire that asks your food, drink, shopping and activity preferences for a night on the town. And from there, leave it up to the experts. They’ll curate a night based on your interests. No need to worry about how you’ll ever get into that trendy restaurant or buzzed-about walking tour that they recommend — the hotel hooks you up with reservations and transportation. Can’t make it to the hotel? Download the Renaissance’s iTunes app ($4.99) to unlock hidden hot spots in your city. - Meredith Engel