Toronto’s Riverside neighbourhood is a mecca for restaurants and boutique shops. Fortunately you can also spend the night in a range of great accommodations available here, just steps from downtown Toronto. This blog highlights the places you can stay, the people you will meet, and the experiences you can enjoy in Riverside.
No showers after 11:30 pm is the number one rule at host Sandy’s Victorian home in Toronto’s bustling Riverside neighbourhood.
“It’s loud!” she says, laughing, during a recent interview with several local residents about what it’s like to open their homes to Toronto travellers. Each host spoke highly of their unique accommodations, interesting guests, life east of the DVP and how recent tourism trends have contributed to the local economy, including their own wallets.
Semi-retired, Sandy has been sharing three bedrooms in her beautiful four-bedroom home with travellers since 2015, and she loves every minute of it – especially cooking dinners for guests, sharing wine with them, and basically getting to know wonderful people from all walks of life, from all over the world.
“Many of them are now friends with warm invitations to visit them in their homelands,” she says.
There are at least six dozen residents in Riverside offering either private rooms, trendy self-contained studios, or their full spacious home with rooftop deck and enough room for six guests. Prices typically range from $33 to $200 a night.
Steve, another host, has been renting the apartment on the second floor of his home to travellers since 2015. Unlike Sandy, he doesn’t share space with his guests or interact with them. He only asks they leave it as tidy and clean as they found it.
“When I give you the key to my place you have your own pad,” he says. “Most of the time they’re out sightseeing.”
Both hosts agree sharing their space has not only been a great way to supplement their income – Steve says, “I own a house and I couldn’t own a house without it,” – but it has also introduced the Riverside neighbourhood to visitors who may otherwise normally stay closer to downtown Toronto.
While there are lots of sights to see and things to do in and around Toronto (including jumping on the highway to visit Niagara Falls), globe trotters are finding out that Riverside can hold its own on a travel itinerary.
“I read somewhere that this is one of the hottest neighbourhoods in the city,” says Steve.
In fact, many of Steve and Sandy’s guests have left rave reviews for both their accommodations and the Riverside neighbourhood.
In August, traveller Kara from Grand Rapids, Michigan wrote, “Steve was a very friendly and kind host. His home was very comfortable and beautiful. The home is very close to the public transportation system which can take you downtown, and steps away a very lively and fun main street full of shops and restaurants.”
Pretty much anywhere you stay in Riverside is close to the streetcar, and everything else is a minute to get to by foot. The neighbourhood’s location in between Toronto’s major attractions – downtown and the beaches – also make it very attractive, not to mention The Danforth just steps north.
“There’s definitely something special here,” says David.
Travellers, especially families, are already checking out the availability of his four bedroom home for next summer. Since 2016, David has rented his home approximately 20 times to families who want to share their travel experience under one roof. If they stay longer-term, for a month or more, he takes off to Mexico. If it’s short-term he’ll stay with his girlfriend in the west end.
“I think [home-sharing] is a totally new vacation phenomenon,” says David.
The busiest time of year for David and most hosts in Toronto is from May to September with the majority of visitors coming from small towns across Canada, United States, and Europe. Their thousands of reasons for being in Toronto are as varied as the accommodations available to them.
The Opera House is often mentioned by guests as a reason for visiting as well as the Riverside Eats & Beats Streetfest and Riverdale Art Walk in June, Riverside breweries, celebrity chef Lynn Crawford’s restaurant Ruby Watchco, and even De Grassi Street which was made famous by the Degrassi TV series of television shows for youth in the 1980s.
Bonjour Brioche owner and host Lori says a lot extended family stay in the neighbourhood, as well, to be close to relatives but not in their way, as most homes in Toronto are fairly small.
“Grandparents are huge,” says Lori who’s one-bedroom apartment is located above her bakery on Queen Street East and usually rented long term.
You can find all these great local hosts and accommodations via Airbnb
Those looking to rest their heads in-style in Riverside can do so in one of the swank new rooms at The Broadview Hotel which re-opened in August 2017. It’s “a 126 year-old building and an historic neighbourhood landmark that has been meticulously restored and re-imagined as a 58-room boutique hotel and charismatic gathering spot”.
The Broadview Hotel boasts uniquely decorated guestrooms, three restaurant/ bar/ cafe spaces, a variety of special event spaces, and a range of unique events happening in-house. With nods to Riverside’s history and modern life throughout, you will also get an intimate view of the neighbourhood at The Broadview.
KNOW A GREAT RIVERSIDE ACCOMODATION THAT WE’VE MISSED? LET US KNOW!
Karen Lloyd is a writer, photographer and website designer in Toronto’s Riverside neighbourhood. This blog is part of the series giving you the inside scoop on Riverside, Toronto. Read Blog 1 in the series on Riverside Patios.