Just as daily life looks different for Canadians in the wake of Covid-19, so too does travel. At the end of February 2021, new travel restrictions were introduced that require Canadians flying back into the country to quarantine for three days in one of the newly government-approved quarantine hotels.
These hotels, which have adopted more robust cleaning and sanitation protocols to qualify for approval, are designed to allow travelers to comfortably wait for the results of a Covid-19 test. International travel can be stressful enough, and many Canadians are understandably confused about what exactly a quarantine hotel entails and what their stay there will look like.
Today, we’re going to cover absolutely everything you need to know about these quarantine hotels. We’ll discuss what they are, what they cost, how you know if you need to book one, and how to go about the booking process. We’ll even provide a glimpse at the hotels currently available, and what you can expect to find at each one.
First and foremost, let’s address what makes a quarantine hotel different from a regular hotel.
What are Quarantine Hotels?
Quarantine hotels are government-authorized accommodation (GAA) that, while maintaining their status as privately-owned hotels, have been determined to provide the required sanitation and care considerations to be able to provide a safe, comfortable place to quarantine.
On February 22nd, 2021, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that air travelers arriving in or returning to Canada from international destinations would be required to complete a mandatory three-day quarantine in a government-approved hotel while they wait for the results of a Covid-19 test.
The hotels approved by the Canadian government have to demonstrate that they can accommodate travelers with a variety of needs, such as dietary restrictions or accessibility concerns. While travelers stay in the hotel, they’ll be able to carry out their quarantine with meals delivered to the room, but they won’t be allowed to receive guests or use shared facilities.
How a Regular Hotel Becomes a Quarantine Hotel
To qualify as a government-approved quarantine hotel for the mandatory post-travel three-day quarantine stay, a hotel must meet several specific requirements.
The first of these requirements is that the hotel must be located within 10 kilometers of the four airports still receiving international flights during Covid-19 (Calgary International Airport, Vancouver International Airport, Toronto-Pearson Airport, and Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport). The hotel must also provide transportation from the airport to the hotel and free Wi-Fi access.
As per the quarantine requirement, while guests await the result of their Covid-19 test, hotels must provide at least three consecutive nights of accommodation in addition to meals and telephone access in a safe manner. Due to the no-contact nature of quarantine, the hotel must be able to provide contactless delivery of meals to guest rooms. Daily linen service may not be available at every hotel, but the Canadian government does require that linens be exchanged upon request.
In addition to the service and operational requirements laid out by the Canadian government, quarantine hotels must also have the capacity to report the number of travelers checking in and out and may be asked to report non-compliant guests in quarantine to the Public Health Agency of Canada.
What Does a Stay in a Quarantine Hotel Look Like?
Before you leave the airport, you’ll first need to take a PCR Covid-19 test. Once that’s completed, the first part of your stay will consist of getting to the hotel. If you have a car parked at the airport you’ve arrived at, you may be allowed to drive it to the hotel if you agree not to stop for gas or food. Otherwise, the quarantine hotel will provide a shuttle to collect you and your belongings and transport you to the hotel.
Once you’ve been welcomed and checked into your room, your time will largely be your own. Meals will be delivered to your door with zero contact, and while you’ll receive toiletries and fresh linens when you check in, there won’t be any daily room cleaning. Whenever you open your hotel door to collect your meals or to speak to an official, you’ll be required to mask up.
However, fear not – your hotel will provide you with free Wi-Fi, and you can still request a walk outside (you’ll be escorted by a hotel official to make sure you maintain social distancing and quarantine rules). Do be aware that both alcohol and cannabis are classified as non-essential items, and while individual hotels may have their own rules about to-your-room delivery, it’s not standard.
How Much Does it Cost to Stay for 3 Days in a Quarantine Hotel?
When Prime Minister Trudeau introduced the policy, he estimated that costs for the three-day visit would reach or exceed $2,000. However, because each hotel is independently owned and will offer different amenities and services (aside from those required by the Canadian government), the price fluctuates from place to place.
Some hotels will offer a set nightly rate (such as the Alt Hotel, whose prices begin at $339 plus tax for a single traveler) while others will offer a catch-all 3-Day Stay Package. The Coast Vancouver Hotel, for example, offers such a package at a rate of $450 per night, or $1350 in total. The package includes three meals a day with a selection of menu items, transportation from and to the airport, and parking for one car.
If the quarantine hotel you’re considering doesn’t state the details of a 3-Day Stay package or rate online, call and ask about GAA accommodations at that location. They may have discounted pricing or packages that haven’t yet been added to their website. You’ll likely still need to call one of the two GB Travel Canada Inc. phone lines to book, but you’ll have a better idea of the price you can expect.
Who Needs to Stay in a Quarantine Hotel?
The short answer is that most travelers who arrive in Canada by air from outside the country will be required to stay in a quarantine hotel. Even travelers arriving by land are required to quarantine for 14 days and complete two Covid-19 molecular tests.
A hotel must hold GAA status for you to be able to complete your quarantine there.
- 3-Day Quarantine – As of January 2021, travelers arriving in Canada by air are required to take a PCR (polymerase chain reaction testing) Covid-19 test, which will provide an answer as to whether the traveler is infected with Covid-19 or not. As the test takes time to process, the traveler will need to safely quarantine at an approved hotel while they wait for their results.
- If the result of the test is negative, the traveler will be able to continue the remainder of their 14-day quarantine period at home, performing a second take-home Covid-19 test on the 10th day of their quarantine. If it is positive, they will need to quarantine in a designated government facility to ensure they’re not carrying a concerning Covid-19 variant.
- Travelers will need to book their 3-day stay before they depart for Canada (they can provide proof of the booking through ArriveCAN), and must be able to provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken no more than 72 hours before their departure. The inability to prove that such a test was taken could be met with penalties including fines of up to $3,000.Travelers are required to cover the cost of their stay in the quarantine hotel, as well as any other costs associated with food, security, transportation, and infection prevention.
- 14-Day Self-Isolation – While not part of the government-mandated 3-day quarantine stays, many quarantine hotels have expanded their services to include options for 14-day quarantine stays. Travelers may opt for a 14-day quarantine stay in a hotel if they are unable to isolate separate from at-risk family members, or if they are embarking on or returning from an inter-province trip.
Are There Exemptions for the 3-Day Quarantine Period?
The only individuals exempt from the 3-day mandatory quarantine are unaccompanied minors or dependent children, diplomats, consular carriers, children aged 4 or younger, National Interest persons, or travelers with molecular test proof that they had a positive Covid-19 test up to three months earlier (specifically, 14-90 days before travel).
What Happens After Leaving a Quarantine Hotel?
Once you’ve completed your 3-day mandatory stay, you’ll need to continue to quarantine in another location for another 11 days to achieve the recommended two-week isolation period. You can usually do this in your own residence, but if you’re traveling on a business trip or for another reason, you may need to identify a second location.
If you have completed your 3-day quarantine stay in the Toronto Area, you can take advantage of Urban Flats Toronto’s minimum one-month stay in a comfortable, fully-furnished apartment that allows you to:
- Work safely and remotely in a great downtown location with free, high-speed Wi-Fi
- Receive food deliveries from local restaurants directly to your door
- Cook meals to your preference in a private, full-size kitchen
- Do your laundry in-suite for zero-contact cleaning
- Adjust the length of your stay according to your needs with flexible scheduling options
- Get the best value for your money with affordable rates
How to Book a Quarantine Hotel Stay
You can book a stay in a government-approved quarantine hotel either by visiting the hotel’s website (a few offer online booking) or by using one of the two toll-free numbers set up specifically for booking by GB Travel Canada Inc.:
- Booking for Travelers Within North America: 1-800-294-8253
- Booking for Travelers Outside North America: 1-613-830-2992
The numbers are operational between 8 AM and 11 PM EST.
If you’re booking a 3-day quarantine stay, you’ll need to pay for all three nights, even if you receive a negative test result and are cleared to leave earlier than expected.
What Information Do I Need to Book a Stay?
You’ll need the names of all individuals requesting a stay along with their dates of birth, genders, the date and location of their arrival in Canada, information for the credit card being used to book the hotel, any special requests or accessibility requirements, pet information if they are traveling with you, and an email address where you can be reached.
To prevent overloading phone lines or tying up rooms unnecessarily, you’ll only be eligible to book a quarantine hotel within 48 hours of your arrival in Canada.
Government-Authorized Accommodation (GAA) in Canada
There are currently 42 hotels that have achieved GAA status to function as quarantine hotels. Be sure to check the official Canadian government listings for an up-to-date list when you’re ready to book.
- Acclaim Hotel – Featuring sophisticated Euro-modern style, an on-site Italian restaurant, and a 2020 Travelers’ Choice award from Tripadvisor. Online bookings are accepted.
- Best Western Freeport Inn at Calgary Airport – Guestrooms are sanitized with Electro-Static technology before every new check-in, and they feature specially-designed accessible rooms for guests with disabilities.
- Marriott In-Terminal Hotel at Calgary Airport – Located only steps away from the airport baggage claim, the Marriott also has pet-friendly rooms available for quarantine stays.
- Hampton Inn by Hilton – Less than 10 minutes away from the airport, the Hampton has a 24-hour shuttle service to ensure you can arrive or depart precisely according to your schedule.
- Hyatt Place – This hotel is also pet-friendly, with 127 rooms (including accessible roll-in showers) and panoramic views of the city.
- Abercorn Inn – Centrally located with Scottish-inspired ambiance and decor, quarantine rooms are separated from non-isolation guests for optimal health and safety.
- Coast Vancouver Airport Hotel – The air travel 3-day quarantine stay for returning flyers at Coast includes a meal plan, provided by the hotel’s White Spot Restaurant. Online booking is available.
- Days Inn by Wyndham – This non-smoking hotel is located just ten minutes away from Vancouver International Airport.
- Executive Hotel – Their 3-day quarantine stay plan includes three meals, pickup from the airport, and accommodations in one of their 290 rooms.
- The Fairmont – The only hotel within Vancouver Airport, the Fairmont’s quarantine stay package includes three meals and a snack every day in one of their soundproofed guest rooms. Online bookings are accepted.
- Four Points by Sheraton – Providing accessible guest rooms, local restaurant dinner delivery, and available on-site parking for guests.
- Quality Hotel by Choice – Guests here will have the option to receive a free weekday newspaper, indoor parking, and will enjoy rooms sanitized by enhanced Commitment to Clean protocols.
- The Radisson Hotel – With modern colour palettes and special rates for residents of BC, The Radisson offers kitchen and laundry facilities in their apartment suites for extended stays.
- Sandman Hotel – Select rooms are pet-friendly, and guests aged 55 years or better can save up to 40% on room rates.
- Travelodge by Wyndham – Another pet-friendly option, the Travelodge also has cribs available for families with young members.
- The Westin Wall Centre – Rounding out the pet-friendly hotels in BC, The Westin provides signature sleep amenities and senior discounts. Online booking is accepted.
- Alt Hotel – With pet-friendly options, rainfall showers and easy access through the airport terminal link train, the Alt Hotel is close and convenient with contactless check-in and departure.
- Comfort Inn – The Comfort Inn is 100% smoke-free, environmentally friendly, and includes a free weekday newspaper to guests.
- Crowne Plaza – Fresh off the heels of a multi-million dollar renovation, the Crowne Plaza offers a special rate for long-stay isolation guests, which includes three meals daily in addition to accommodation.
- DoubleTree by Hilton – Located five minutes away from Toronto International Airport, DoubleTree offers a variety of accessible rooms and suites for quarantine or self-isolation.
- Embassy Suites by Hilton – Offering 255 guest rooms and less than 3 kilometers to the airport, Embassy Suites has a variety of room types and suites to choose from.
- Fairfield by Marriott – Recently renovated and recipient of TripAdvisor’s 2020 Travelers’ Choice award, Fairfield provides local restaurant dinner delivery and suites with kitchenettes.
- Four Points by Sheraton – The Four Points is pet-friendly, provides local restaurant delivery, and includes feather pillows.
- Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton – The Hampton Inn provides free 24-hour shuttle service to Toronto International Airport and includes accessible rooms to accommodate guests.
- Hilton Garden Inn – With an on-site restaurant and a variety of rooms and suites, the Hilton Garden Inn offers a free airport shuttle both when you arrive and when you depart.
- Holiday Inn – Holiday Inn’s 3-night mandatory stay package includes meals and business amenities in the room for simplified remote working.
- Sheraton Gateway Hotel – Located inside the Toronto Pearson International Airport, the Sheraton Gateway provides double-paned windows, signature bedding, and pet-friendly options for travelers.
- Sheraton Airport Hotel & Conference Centre – Rooms at the Sheraton Airport Hotel & Conference Centre come complete with in-room safes, mini-refrigerators, and free Wi-Fi.
- Toronto Airport Marriott Hotel – With pillowtop beds and work desks in each room, the Toronto Airport Marriott Hotel provides suites and complimentary shuttle services to guests.
- Baymont by Wyndham – With a free 24/7 shuttle to and from Montreal-Pierre Elliot Trudeau International Airport (YUL), Baymont provides guests with free Wi-Fi and mobile check-in.
- Comfort Inn Aeroport – Located right next to the airport, this Comfort Inn includes premium bedding and a 100% smoke-free environment for travelers.
- Comfort Inn Montreal Aeroport – This Gold Hospitality Award Winner includes multilingual staff to welcome you and a flat-screen TV in every room or suite.
- Crowne Plaza Montreal – The Crowne Plaza Montreal offers 3-day mandatory stay packages, which include meals and accommodation for your stay.
- Days Inn by Wyndham – With free Wi-Fi, multilingual staff, and a free airport shuttle, the Days Inn is only minutes away from the airport.
- DoubleTree by Hilton – Enjoy non-smoking rooms, a digital key security system, and free Wi-Fi at DoubleTree.
- Embassy Suites by Hilton – With 162 guest rooms and free breakfast, Embassy Suites is conveniently located next to the Trans-Canada Highway. Online booking is accepted.
- Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton – Pet-friendly rooms and free breakfast are just a few of the amenities at the Hampton Inn & Suites.
- Holiday Inn Express & Suites – The Holiday Inn’s 14-Day Quarantine offer includes breakfast and parking supplemented by affordable rates on lunch and dinner, delivered directly to your room.
- Courtyard by Marriott – With an airport shuttle and plush bedding, Courtyard by Marriott is conveniently located near the airport. Online booking is accepted.
- Residence Inn by Marriott – With suites and studios outfitted to include kitchenettes and full kitchens, the Residence Inn is another 2020 Travelers’ Choice award-winning hotel. Online reservations are accepted.
- Marriott In-Terminal Hotel – Located in the U.S. departures terminal of Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, the Marriott includes recently renovated rooms with soundproof windows for a peaceful stay.
- Ramada Plaza by Wyndham – The Ramada Plaza offers early check-in, an on-site sauna, and late check-out to visitors.
Further Reading, Links, & Resources
- Updated List of Authorized Canadian Quarantine Hotels – The number of GAA hotels is increasing as the program becomes better refined and hotels are able to make the changes they need to qualify. The Government of Canada maintains an updated list of authorized hotels, as well as whether or not you can book them online.
- Frequently Asked Questions About Staying in a Quarantine Hotel – We like to think we’ve done a decently thorough job with this guide, but there will always be questions we didn’t have time to cover. From sharing accommodations between individuals traveling together to how to change your reservation date, the Government of Canada has a page dedicated to frequently asked questions about quarantine hotels.
- Requirements & Responsibilities of a Government-Approved Quarantine Hotel – Did you know quarantine hotels are actually required to provide you with access to a functional TV and radio? This page details the requirements a hotel has to meet (and maintain) to gain GAA status and operate as a quarantine hotel.
- Details on Reserving & Booking Your Hotel – Booking a hotel room under regular circumstances can be an ordeal, and the process can be even more complicated during a pandemic. This page has the official details from the Government of Canada on who to call, what information you’ll need to provide, and how to find out whether or not you’re exempt from the three-day quarantine requirement.
- Updated Canadian Travel Restrictions & Advice for Travelers – From new federal policies to the province-specific protocol, you’ll find all the latest information on travel restrictions for entering Canada, traveling across provinces, or traveling abroad here.
- What Quarantine Hotels Look Like in Other Countries – Canada isn’t the only country to create hotel quarantines as a way to help curb the spread of Covid-19. New Zealand, Australia, and the United Kingdom all have similar policies in place.
- Traveler Expectations During a Quarantine Hotel Stay – While you’re in a quarantine hotel for your 3-day stay, you won’t be allowed to leave your room for any reason – even to refill the ice bucket – unless it’s a genuine emergency or unless you have authorization from a government official. This page has more information about what you can expect and what your obligations are as a guest in a quarantine hotel.
Are Quarantine Hotels Here to Stay?
At this point, it’s hard to say. It’s a fairly safe bet that quarantine hotels will remain the standard for international travel in Canada throughout the summer, and will likely be the go-to method of controlling the spread of Covid-19 among travelers until widespread vaccinations have been successfully implemented. We can expect to see more Canadian hotels added to the list of those with GAA status (remember to check the Government of Canada website for the latest updated list).
Navigating a world with changing restrictions and a daily reset of what the “new normal” is can be frustrating – and that’s okay. We hope that we’ve helped you make a bit more sense of Canada’s quarantine hotels and rules for traveling so that you can stay safe and understand more clearly what to expect from them in the near future.
At Urban Flats Toronto, you’ll find fully-furnished, comfortable apartments where you can enjoy a minimum one-month stay and work safely and remotely in downtown Toronto. Discover your ideal home-away-from-home today and take a look at what’s available right now.
Updated March 1, 2021