Love it or hate it, all roads in the Canadian business world eventually find their way to Toronto. Fortunately, your next business trip to T.O. is also a chance to co-opt it into an extended weekend of bleisure fun. (Cheeky, eh?) Stretch your work week in the city by tacking on that extra weekend with the help of this list of things to do in Toronto.
In this Bleisure Bets Guide, we show you how to load up on the best of the city’s indulgences during business hours and how to live like a Torontonian once the work week is over.
The ride in…
Two recent additions to airport connections to Toronto are sure to interest business travellers. If you’re landing at Toronto Pearson International, look into the city’s airport-to-downtown rail link. Should your business meetings in Hogtown be contained to the downtown, you’ll be better off without a rental car for your entire time in Toronto. New round-trip fares on the UP Express to Union or Bloor/Dundas West (which both connect to the subway) go for $24.70 as compared to $50-60 for a one-way taxi fare.
For flyers coming in from nearby, consider Billy Bishop Airport (locally known as the Island Airport) which not only offers a first-rate view of the skyline on take-off and landing but connects you to Union Station by free shuttle or streetcar in under 15 minutes. Nothing quite matches that “executive feel” from hopping off a propeller plane to start your time in Toronto.
The Toronto Hotel you Expense to the Company…
The Toronto Hotels near Bay Street: One King West and the Adelaide
If you’re in town for a few Bay Street meet-ups, you’ll be keen to stay walking distance to the work and play of Toronto’s Financial District. A favourite option right at King and Yonge is the all-suite One King West with dedicated kitchenettes and even the odd private Jacuzzi tub.
When the bill is being covered by the boss, have a look at The Adelaide Hotel which comes out on top with some of the city’s largest and most opulent guestrooms. A 15,000 square foot spa, health club and salt water pool as well as 24-hour concierge service also sit at the ready.
The Toronto Hotel for Tastemakers: Bisha Toronto
A near-manic obsession with novelty is needed to keep up with Toronto’s “in” crowd. Your shortcut: take out a room at the brand-new Bisha Hotel & Residences. Rooms at this Entertainment District tower evoke the flash of TIFF (the Toronto International Film Festival) with a flirty rooftop lounge and infinity pool to match.
The Toronto Hotel for the Start-Up Techie: Grand Hotel
Even if the company (ie. the other founders aside from you) is footing your hotel room bill, you still want to be mindful of the budget especially on this “VC funding round” trip to Toronto. Without compromising on comfort, the Grand Hotel enjoys condo-style amenities at an affordable price tag. Best yet, you can dock by the day at Workplace One and Verkspace (two coworking spaces within walking distance of the hotel).
The Toronto Hotel for Bon Vivants: The Thompson Hotel
You’ve been given clear directives to put your best foot forward in Toronto and that shining impression starts with your hotel choice. The Thompson Hotel, long known for its legendary dining and sipping establishments, will leave your clients and partners in no doubt that you know Toronto in and out. Discuss details at the Thompson Diner before celebrating the deal at the Rooftop Lounge.
The Early Morning Routine…
Some need a good shake-up to start the day, and the perfect combined sightseeing tour and cardio workout is a run along the Harbourfront facing the Toronto Island.
Others need their fuel for their morning kickstart, and the full greasy spoon pleasure trip at Fran’s or The Senator downtown will hit the spot. Go ahead and order us a plate of Challah french toast, we’ll be there in a sec.
The Business Lunch Date…
Loosen those ties at Leña whose Latin-influenced menu lists a King Crab scrambled eggs, calamaretti in rice and Gaucho empanadas.
Use your liberty as an “out-of-towner” to push your lunch group towards Momofuku Daishō’s large format feasts where David Chang’s signature ssäm buns stuffed with pork and other trimmings fill the table.
Unsure of lurking picky eaters in your lunch group? Count on Pizzeria Libretto’s three-course $16 prix fixe for an authentic Neapolitan slice.
The After-Work Spot with a Twist…
In a town that can’t make up its mind whether it lives to work, or works to live, one of these after-work diversions might just bring you and your Toronto counterparts closer together:
- Pack a few craft beer tallboys and head to Backyard Axe Throwing League which is exactly what it sounds like
- Pair off with stripes and solids over one of The Rivoli‘s 11 vintage billiard tables
- Kick it old school with arcade games at Get Well
- Keep it professional with ping pong (no solo cups on the table) at Spin
The Toronto Hotel you Cover Yourself…
The Downtown Toronto Hotel for Sightseeing…
Business travellers itching to check off Toronto’s must-see attractions, with a fitting view of the CN Tower, ought to check themselves into the Delta Hotels Toronto right by Union Station and the Harbourfront. Prepare yourself for the Instagram treasure hunt of Toronto’s main sights.
The Downtown Toronto Hotel for the Cultureseeker…
If your extended weekend priorities lie in a stretched-out brunch, smart-casual clothes shopping and a touch of yuppie nightlife, then the boutique digs at The Gladstone and The Drake on West Queen West will do you good.
The Downtown Toronto Hotel that Doesn’t Feel It…
Have you had enough of the Toronto rat race during the week? Escape to the East End with a stay at The Broadview which serves as a central homebase to explore Leslieville, the Beaches, and the Distillery District. Name drop your hotel with Toronto colleagues and you’ll win their “cool kid” admiration straight away.
The Souvenir for your colleagues…
With a masterclass of Canadiana wares (try to fit that all into your CBC lunch box), the Drake General Store‘s multiple outlets also stock a hearty selection of tasteful Toronto memorabilia. If your coworkers (and the big boss) have a bit of a sweet tooth, take back a touch of refined cocoa from Soma Chocolatemaker from your time in Toronto.
After a week of more Uber and TTC connections than you can count on all fingers and toes, it’s about time you tapped out of the urban jungle. On the weekend, peruse the farmer’s market and feel-good community initiatives at the Evergreen Brickworks or marvel at the Caribbean blue waters at the Scarborough Bluffs.
Should Mother Nature have other weather plans in mind, you’ll never be too far from one of the city’s ubiquitous cold-press juiceries and, of course, the hotel spa!
All good things need to come to an end. Hopefully, your time in Toronto does not come to an abrupt close with an early morning departure from Pearson. In which case, make it a breeze with these Toronto Airport Hotels for every kind of bleisure traveller.
And that’s a wrap on your extended business trip to Toronto. After this first (or third taste) of Toronto, you’ll want to be back to try out the ever-changing roster of city hotspots. Though even if it’s not in your plans, we’re sure work will find a way to send you on another bleisure trip here!