Where to stay in Canada
Hotels in Canada cover every budget: all the major North American chains are represented across the country, from luxury brands such as Fairmont, Westin and Four Seasons to more affordable options including Days Inn and Comfort Inn. Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal have all seen a slew of new luxury hotels opening in the past few years and design-led boutique hotels have become something of a trend in all the major cities.
There’s certainly no shortage of clean, modern hotels to suit smaller budgets, however. Hotels generally have a variety of room types: you can often squeeze four into a room with two double beds or go for a super king-size bed or a one-bedroom suite if you’re travelling with kids.
Grading: The voluntary Canada Select accommodation grading system (www.canadaselect.com) operates across the country. In many cases, non-profit groups or industry associations assess the properties, such as the CAA (Canadian Automobile Association), which grades participating properties on a 1- to 5-diamond rating (www.caa.com).
Bed and breakfast
Bed and breakfast accommodation is widespread in Canada. You can find an excellent source of listings at www.bbcanada.com.
Camping facilities in the national parks are generally only open from mid-May until the end of September. To make reservations, contact Parks Canada (tel: +1 877 737 3783; reservation.pc.gc.ca). There is also a huge range of private campgrounds, a few of which are open year-round. (Be forewarned, though, that winter camping is a demanding activity requiring experience and preparation.) The voluntary Camping Select grading programme (www.campingselect.ca) has a 5-star rating system. Drivers who hold full licences and are aged over 21 (depending on the supplier) can hire campervans or RVs, which can sometimes be the size of a bus.
Lodges: For fishing, kayaking, hiking or wildlife enthusiasts, Canada boasts incredible remote lodges amid staggeringly beautiful scenery. While some are decidedly rustic, there is an increasing number of ultra-luxurious (and wallet-busting) wilderness resorts complete with full spa facilities, helicopter or floatplane transfers, top-notch cuisine and expert guides. Many coastal and lakeside lodges are in fact floating lodges.
Youth Hostels: There are youth hostels in cities and towns across the country and in several national parks. Hostelling International Canada (www.hihostels.ca) has a huge variety of hostels on its books, from modern city pads and historic townhouses to traditional ski lodges. Most have private and family rooms in addition to dorm accommodation. There are numerous independent backpacker hostels too; Backpackers Hostels Canada (www.backpackers.ca) is a good place to start. Most universities also offer budget-price accommodation during the summer vacation, usually between late May and mid-August.
Apartment Hotels: All-suite hotels, where all the rooms come with self-catering facilities, are extremely common in Canadian cities. You’ll still receive hotel service (reception, daily room cleaning etc) and they may well have a pool or spa too, though not necessarily a restaurant. You can opt for a studio with basic kitchenette or go for a one- or two-bedroom suite complete with fully-equipped kitchen.
Cabins: Traditional log cabins or chalets are hugely popular throughout Canada. A good place to start your search is on the accommodation pages of the local tourism website.
Unique Accommodation: If you’re looking for more unusual accommodation, how about cruising Canada’s myriad lakes and rivers aboard a houseboat? These are kitted out with everything you need and more, including waterslides and hot tubs in some cases. Alternatively, hole up in a treetop globe: Free Spirit Spheres (www.freespiritspheres.com) rents our three cute spherical treehouses perched among the majestic west coast rainforest of Vancouver Island, British Columbia.