The True North, Strong and Cheap
Unless you are Canadian, you may not have noticed that over the last few months the value of the Canadian dollar known as the loonie has been slip-sliding away. At the moment it is trading at around 70 cents U.S.
While this is bad news for Canadians planning to travel abroad, it is great for their neighbours in the U.S. who hanker to visit the great white north. Canada is still not a really low-cost destination, but it is definitely a bargain compared with a lot of places in the U.S.
By checking on www.tripadvisor.com for hotels for the last weekend of February, I was able to unearth some pretty good deals. In Vancouver, a room at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver goes for about $115 U.S. per night. The Hotel Vancouver is one of Canada's signature railway hotels built in Scottish baronial style, with vast and luxurious public rooms and a downtown location. Nearby in Gastown, the budget Victorian Hotel receives good reviews and charges only $42 U.S. for bed and breakfast.
In Montreal, the Omni Hotel on Sherbrooke Street is charging $80 U.S. per night for the same weekend, while the nearby Hilton Garden Inn offers rooms for $63 U.S. nightly on the same dates.
If you prefer to visit in summer (something I would recommend,) there are even better prices available at the residence halls of various educational institutions. For example, at McGill University's Royal Victoria College (which actually has a statue of Queen Victoria in front) at the corner of Sherbrooke and University, rooms go for about $32 U.S. single, $46 U.S. double except for Grand Prix weekend in June. The reference for this and other McGill dorms is www.mcgill.ca/accommodations/summer, and the prices are from 2015.
In Toronto, the University of Toronto boasts a downtown location, a leafy campus and a vast assortment of lodging for the public during the summer. Check out www.housing.utoronto.ca.
Many other educational institutions across Canada offer similar deals in the summer only--search for your preferred destination and you can probably find something. Unfortunately, there are no central booking places for these alternative accommodations.