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Old 05-01-2013, 11:48 PM
 
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Hi all, I'd love to get some help from locals, or previous visitors, who know the TIFF experience. I'm bringing a small group of students in Sep and it will be our first time at the festival. I don't know Toronto well either as I've only been once a few years ago.

I'm trying to find a hotel for a home base for us--and the cost of the downtown hotels at that time of the year are too much for our budget. Students pay a lot for four-year colleges and I can't ask them to pay any more than we have to.

Are there any cheaper (but safe) hotels that you might recommend we stay at? We're willing to commute in from the suburbs, but I'd like some feedback on how that might affect the overall feel and vibe of the trip. This is a major tour for them, so I want it to be memorable and impacting. I read elsewhere the Novotel was an option, maybe $150 a night or so, and maybe 20-30 minute trip from the north being so close to a subway station. Anybody have a reflection on that possibility? Is it close enough, or too far for an immersive experience?

Or are there other suburbs with hotels even further out which will save us more money, and not hurt too much on the time factor?

If you think it's a terrible idea to commute in via public transportation, please let me know.
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Old 05-02-2013, 08:16 AM
 
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It's a terrible idea to commute on public transit, but manageable IF you are within walking distance of the subway. Not "5 minute bus ride" to subway, actual 5 minute walking time. I'd be reluctant if you're more than 8 stations away from TIFF lightbox but see note below.

As for places, depending on what you mean by 'students' (hooligans or responsible senior high schoolers?) you might be able to rent a whole house on airbnb.ca for cheaper on a per night basis. My wife and I used it in Dublin and London and it worked out great, and hundreds of dollars cheaper than a hotel. Plus you have a kitchen, etc.

Personally, I'd try to stay downtown, especially if you're only in town for a few days. Novotel (assuming you mean the one at yonge and sheppard ish) is pretty uptown and far from where you want to be. Transit isn't cheap either, at about $5 a person per day (two ways return). That'll add up too.
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Old 05-02-2013, 08:55 AM
 
Location: Toronto
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Most of the hotels in Toronto are located in the downtown, a fairly short distance away from the TIFF Lightbox, or a few subway stops at most.

How much are you looking to spend?

The best thing to do would be to use one of those hotel discount sites....most Toronto residents don't know much about hotel prices because we live here and don't have to stay in hotels. Now once you get a quote on a site like Priceline, then you can come and ask if it's close, in a good location, etc., but I don't think many residents would have actually stayed there to tell you how nice it is. There are some hotels on Jarvis St. that may be cheaper than those west of Yonge, but during TIFF prices will be high everywhere.

I think AlsoNotMe had a good suggestion about looking to rent a house for a few days.

Also be aware that, although TIFF is pretty egalitarian and tickets to film showings are available to the general public (except the biggest Hollywood productions which get snapped up very fast by people connected to the production), you have to know what's playing, and when tickets are available. It can be pretty confusing. Some Toronto weeklies like Now list all the films, their locations, the date they're showing, etc., but I'm not sure if you can buy tickets online or if you have to buy them at the box office on specific days. I'm sure a similar list of all the films being screened can be obtained online, but I'm not sure how easy it is to buy tickets for those films if you're not in the city. Also, tickets tend to get bought up pretty fast once they go on sale.

I am not a regular attendee of TIFF, and have only gone to two screenings when friends and family members had extra tickets. I do know it can be pretty confusing trying to get tickets for the films you want to see. I would start researching everything now. Also remember that downtown hotel prices will be higher than usual because of the festival, so renting a house through a reliable website may be a better idea. Renting a hotel outside of the city is a bad idea, because even if you are near transit, Toronto is in the middle of updating their transit system, and is not very convenient for people trying to get downtown from areas far from the subway line. So hotels in most of North York, Scarborough, Etobicoke, and Mississauga are not a good idea even if they're much cheaper than DT hotels.
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Old 05-02-2013, 04:27 PM
 
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Thanks for the two thoughtful replies. I had seen on Tripadvisor that Novotel was right off the line and within a half hour, although looking at the map it's quite a number of miles/kms. The Novotel was looking to be about $150 a night, and they even had rooms with a queen and two singles, which I thought was definitely doable. But it sounds too far. $200 a night is getting beyond what my college students can do--they're already paying too much for their education. The more expensive it is, the fewer can sign up to go, and then they're losing out on taking the class (which includes this tour and another).

I saw the Holiday Inn (lombard st was it?) was $179; that was the cheapest downtown place.

I've done it before, but I don't know why I didn't think of a house. I'll definitely look into that. My students are fairly conservative (all around), and I have to stay with them, so there won't be any partying in the house. They get to watch movies all week for class, so I don't know what they'll have to complain about.

I'll write off the public transportation commute idea.
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Old 05-02-2013, 04:58 PM
 
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From the Novotel, it obviously won't be walking distance to downtown Toronto. But it is 20 mins to Bloor and 30 mins to King by subway and the station is right by the hotel (with no transfers). There's also places to eat and things to do nearby the hotel, it's not in some wasteland or anything.

I would obviously recommend finding a place downtown if you can find something available in your price range. But I would also budget in a TTC pass in any case ($40 a week for unlimited use) unless you REALLY like walking.
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Old 05-02-2013, 07:47 PM
 
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Hmm, so Novotel is possible--we could do half an hour as I don't think we will be needing to go back and forth to the hotel multiple times in a day.

TTC pass...perfect, it looks like they have a student (and senior) discount for $30. Every dollar helps. I'm surprised the public transportation in Toronto is more expensive than many of the U.S. systems.
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Old 05-02-2013, 07:57 PM
 
Location: Toronto
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boroc7 View Post
Hmm, so Novotel is possible--we could do half an hour as I don't think we will be needing to go back and forth to the hotel multiple times in a day.

TTC pass...perfect, it looks like they have a student (and senior) discount for $30. Every dollar helps. I'm surprised the public transportation in Toronto is more expensive than many of the U.S. systems.
Yeah, public transit is certainly possible as long as the hotel you choose is near a subway line. Also, If your hotel is on a streetcar line, that is also doable, because all but one of our streetcar lines run right into the downtown.
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Old 05-02-2013, 08:06 PM
 
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Thanks TOkidd.

The tickets are a bit unusual from other festivals I've looked at. Apparently you can make requests of what you'd like (we're going with a 10-ticket pass), but you don't necessarily have guarantees. That works for us since it's more the independent films we're interested in, and the overall experience. I also could care less to see any Hollywood celebrities--after all I worked in LA and there is no educational value to spotting celebrities. Although if this were a sociology class, that might be another matter...
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Old 05-02-2013, 08:13 PM
 
Location: Toronto
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Yeah, public transit in TO is expensive because they're in the midst of upgrading the system, and guess who gets to pay for it! As even larger expansions of our system get underway in the next few years, I only see fares getting more and more expensive. Currently, there are at least two tunnelling projects going on under our streets to expand transit, plus the city bought a bunch of new streetcars (that don't even fit the line they were built for), and is also in the midst of replacing its subways trains. Many of the new trains are running on the Yonge/University/Spadina line. They're pretty cool - no separation between cars, so you can walk from one end to the other without obstruction (except at rush hour, of course).
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Old 05-04-2013, 02:03 PM
 
Location: Astoria, Queens, you know the scene
750 posts, read 2,321,021 times
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Check out the hotels along Church, Sherbourne or Spadina for the best deals. Hotwire.com is a good website for deals, in fact I see a hotel on Sherbourne near Bloor that I stayed at before that is only $85 during TIFF. You'll definitely want to be downtown so that you can easily get around to all of the different venues and events that happen all over the city during TIFF. I go up for TIFF every year and it's easily the best film festival in the world in my opinion having been to Cannes, Telluride, and Tribeca. There's definitely a buzz in the air in Toronto during those few weeks.
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