By Meagan Thibeault
Brimming with anticipation at being in a new city, with its uncharted bike lanes leading to fresh and exhilarating adventures, the cyclist inquires to the concierge about bike rentals.
“I’m sorry, we don’t offer anything like that,” he replies. “But you’re welcome to use the stationary bikes in our state-of-the-art fitness centre.”
While those simply aiming to tone their quadriceps might be content with an “Exercycle,” most bicycle enthusiasts would probably steer clear. Luckily, bike riding in Toronto has been steadily increasing in popularity, which means more businesses, including hotels, are beginning to cater to the self-propelled.
The luxurious Fairmont Royal York, conveniently located across the street from Union Station, is one example of a hotel that thinks outside four wheels. In addition to a bicycle concierge service, they provide bike rentals for $25 per day, including helmet, lock and bike map. There are currently six brand new mountain bikes available for reservation and if you’re a Fairmont President Club member, they’re on the house.
The Zen-inspired Cosmopolitan Toronto Centre hotel also offers mountain bike rentals and equipment for the same price, as well as a cutting-edge luxury spa to relax those tired muscles. If it’s music and entertainment that gets those cranks circulating, the Drake Hotel might be your best option. With the promise of live music every weekend – and periodically during the week – they’ll also equip cyclists with a complimentary city bike, plus a helmet and lock. For those who read too fast, note: the bikes are free!
Similar accommodations are also offered at the sophisticated Park Hyatt Toronto. Complimentary bikes, locks, helmets and maps are available, however there’s a four-hour limit on the bikes, which means less time for cruising and more time on public transit or the familiar heel-toe-express.
Touring cyclists, local Torontonians and those who travel with their bikes to avoid separation anxiety, can all rest tranquil knowing the Gladstone Hotel is bicycle-friendly. This unique hotel, located in the trendy Queen Street West area, is overrun with artists renting studio spaces and enjoying live music in their Ballroom Café. Anyone arriving by bicycle will receive a $20 discount off the price of a standard artist-designed room, as well as an indoor area where they can safely lock up.
Finally, those looking to lessen their impact on the environment and their wallets should be aware that most hostels in the downtown area offer indoor storage areas for bicycles. Dorm-style accommodation prices average about $25 per night, and the staff can usually provide directions to the nearest bike shop for rentals and free maps.
All of these establishments have recognized the trend as the sound of ringing bells is becoming as common as honking horns. Next time you find yourself in need of a good night’s rest, be sure to select a lodging that will accommodate you and your passion for cycling.