Shopping Tips

The Colonnade, Bloor Street West

  1. Store Hours

    Most shops are open 10am to 6pm, Monday to Saturday (often later on Thursday). Department stores and shops in malls and commercial districts may keep longer hours, from 10am to 9pm, Monday to Saturday, and from noon to 5pm on Sunday. Widely observed retail holidays are Christmas, January 1, July 1, Labour Day, and Thanksgiving.

  2. Payment

    MasterCard, American Express, and Visa credit cards are widely accepted, Diner’s Club and Discovery less so. Bank debit cards compatible with the Interac, Plus, or Cirrus systems are also widely accepted. You will need your PIN.

  3. Sales & Returns

    Look for end-of-season savings on merchandise. Excellent savings are to be had on Boxing Day (December 26), when prices at many stores are reduced dramatically. Discounted items (and sometimes even those at full price) may not be returnable, or may be exchanged only, and within a certain time period. Be sure to ask about the return policy before making a purchase.

  4. Department Stores

    Toronto’s two department store chains, The Bay and Sears, carry practically everything. The smaller Holt Renfrew sells high-end clothing and accessories.


    • Eaton Centre, 1 Dundas St W

    Vintage clothing store, Kensington Market
  5. Shopping Malls

    The largest downtown mall is Eaton Centre. Other malls are Queen’s Quay Terminal, Hazelton Lanes, Manulife Centre, College Park, and the network of malls on the PATH system.

    College Park

    • 444 Yonge St

  6. Music

    Music giant HMV has a huge selection. For local flavor and good prices, visit Sam the Record Man . Classical and jazz lovers should head to L’Atelier Grigorian. For vinyl, try Kops Records.

    L’Atelier Grigorian

    • 70 Yorkville Ave


    • 333 Yonge St

    Kops Records

    • 229 Queen St W

  7. Books

    Chapters, Indigo, and BookCity have good selections and many locations. Other excellent bookshops are Nicolas Hoare for architecture and art, Open Air Books & Maps for maps and travel guides, Pages Books & Magazines for contemporary literature, and Bakka-Phoenix Books for science fiction.

    Bakka-Phoenix Books

    • 598 Yonge St

    Book City

    • 501 Bloor St W


    • 110 Bloor St W


    • 55 Bloor St W

    Nicolas Hoare

    • 45 Front St E

    Open Air Books & Maps

    • 25 Toronto St

    Pages Books & Magazines

    • 256 Queen St W

  8. Alcohol

    Sales of alcohol are restricted to LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) outlets (wine, spirits, and beer), the Beer Store (beer and coolers), and the Wine Rack (selected Ontario wines).

    Wine Rack

    • 905 564 6900

  9. Convenience Stores

    Small shops selling cigarettes, toiletry necessities, cold drinks, snacks and fresh produce, and lottery tickets are ubiquitous in Toronto. Many also sell transit tickets.

  10. Tax Refunds

    Books and groceries are exempt from the 8 percent PST (provincial sales tax), but most other items are subject to up to 15 percent sales tax . International visitors who have spent over $200 are entitled to a refund of the 7 percent GST (goods and services tax) within 60 days of purchase, excluding GST levied on restaurant meals, drinks, tobacco, and transport. Save your receipts.

    Visitor Rebate Program

    • 1 800 668 4748

Accommodation & Dining Tips

  1. Hotel Taxes

    In Ontario, accommodation is taxed with a 5 percent accommodation tax and a 7 percent GST (goods and services tax). An additional 3 percent destination tax is also levied on hotel rooms in the City of Toronto. You are entitled to a refund of the GST for hotel accommodation for short stays.

    Entrance, Royal Meridien King Edward Hotel
  2. Rooms

    In general, hotel rooms are well furnished and of a fairly good size. Most have two double beds or one queen- or king-sized bed; standard twin-bedded rooms may also be available. If you are sensitive to noise, ask for a room away from the elevator and the ice and dispensing machines; if sensitive to smoke, ask for a smoke-free room.

  3. Rack Rates

    Hotel rates vary according to the hotel category, and the time of week and season. Peak rates are weekdays and from April to December. Rack rates, the basic room rates, are the ones used in this book to provide a guide price. It is almost always possible to get a better deal, especially if you book online. And too, discounts are often available to members of clubs such as automobile associations or the Elderhostel. When booking, ask what special rates apply and make sure to bring proof of membership with you.

  4. Concierges

    Mid- and large-size hotels have concierges on staff whose job it is to cater to the needs and whims of the guests. They will procure tickets to shows and sports games, make restaurant reservations, arrange transportation, and offer helpful tips.

  5. Extra Costs

    Parking at downtown hotels is almost always extra, paid on a per-night basis. Telephone calls made from your in-room phone can be expensive, as can drinks and snacks consumed from the room’s minibar. Beware: These costs can add up quickly, and will appear on your final room bill.

  6. Restaurant Reservations

    Most restaurants take reservations and it is a good idea to book a table at a popular dining spot well in advance of your trip. Mention if you have special needs or dietary requirements. It is considered good form to cancel your reservation if your plans change.

  7. Tipping

    Tips and service charges are not usually added to dining bills. For service at restaurants, cafés, and clubs, plan on tipping about 15 percent of the pre-tax amount. An easy way of estimating the tip is to add up the taxes on the bill. At bars, leave a dollar or two for the bartender. Tip porters and bellhops at least $1 per bag or suitcase; cloakroom attendants, $1 per garment; and chambermaids, a minimum of $1 to $2 per day. A hotel doorman will also appreciate a dollar or two for his services.

  8. Dress Codes

    Jacket and tie are almost never required in restaurants, though many diners opt to wear them on a special evening out, especially to an upscale place. Some clubs, however, may not allow you in if you are wearing sneakers or jeans.

  9. Cellphones

    At most restaurants, it is considered uncourteous to leave your cellphone turned on or to carry on cellphone conversations inside.

  10. Meal Times

    Breakfast is usually served in diners and coffee shops from about 6am to 10am. Lunch is available from about 11:30am to 2pm, dinner between about 5pm and 10pm. Many restaurants and pubs offer a late-night menu. Brunches are often served on weekends only – and at some spots, on Sundays only – usually from 11am–2pm or later.

    Hot dog cart
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