The hostel scene in Canada has been growing these past few years and with all the added competition hostels have had to step up their game. In the process, they’ve realized that a good bargain doesn’t only appeal to university students on spring break or summer vacation.
Here are six of our favourite hostels for those among us who’ve outgrown beer pong but not saving a buck or two:
HI-Banff Alpine Centre. Photo © Hostelling International Canada.
1. HI-Banff Alpine Centre – Banff, Alberta
Wraparound porches have epic Rockies views at HI-Banff Alpine Centre. It feels more like a hotel than a hostel, with room options to fit all budget types, a cozy cabin-style restaurant and a stone fireplace in the lounge. The staff are some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet. It’s on the outskirts of downtown Banff, but city bus passes are included in your stay—and besides, that means better wildlife sitings! Fair warning: the on-site pub is fun, but can get raucous.
WHAT WE LOVE: private cabins (with fireplaces!) and private rooms with en-suite bathroom, free Wi-Fi, Cougar Pete’s restaurant, an ice wall for climbers in winter
COST: shared dorm from $34, private room from $102 (non-members)
2. HI-Lake Louise Alpine Centre – Banff, Alberta
Like its sister hostel in downtown Banff, the HI-Lake Louise Alpine Centre is a cozy country-cabin-style collection of shared and private rooms. The best feature might be its cozy common area where you can lounge by the massive stone fireplace. It may not be right on Lake Louise (to get that prime location you’ll have to spend an arm and a leg—or maybe two of each—at the gorgeous Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise), but it’s not far from it, and it’s right at the start of the Icefields Parkway.
WHAT WE LOVE: best budget restaurant in Lake Louise, on-site sauna, free Wi-Fi, private rooms with en-suite bathrooms
COST: shared dorm from $31, private room from $98 (non-members)
Rooftop patio at HI-Vancouver Downtown. Photo © Hostelling International Canada.
3. HI-Vancouver Downtown – Vancouver, British Columbia
So we happen to like Hostelling International properties! HI-Vancouver Downtown (STAY WYSE Member) is perfectly located on Granville Street in the heart of the city, but is a much quieter, more mature alternative to the busy Samesun across the street. The roof-top patio is a great place to enjoy stellar views of the city, or a mojito or two.
WHAT WE LOVE: rooftop patio with a view, free breakfast, free Wi-Fi, one private room (but no en-suite bath), attractive deals—i.e. book for seven days, pay for six
COST: shared dorm from $33, private room from $84
4. Auberge de Paris – Montreal, Quebec
One of the pioneering hostels in Montreal, the Auberge de Paris is in a convenient location near the Sherbrooke Métro and on the fringes of the trendy Plateau neighbourhood and the Latin Quarter. In a historic building, it has a bright and clean contemporary decor and 24-hour reception.
WHAT WE LOVE: bike rentals, free Wi-Fi, on-site bistro, good location, prices stay the same year-round
COST: shared dorm from $23, private room with en-suite bathroom from $84
Auberge du Château Bahia. Photo by vitch.
5. Auberge du Château Bahia – Pointe-a-la-Garde (Gaspésie), Quebec
A mini-castle with four towers and seven turrets, Auberge du Château Bahia is one of the Gaspé Peninsula’s most unique properties—and it just happens to be one of the most economical as well. The list of atypical activities—especially for a hostel—include candlelit dinners, berry-picking excursions and hiking trails with poetry excerpts.
WHAT WE LOVE:family packages, campsites, it’s a castle
COST:shared dorm from $24, private rooms from $33, family package $75, campsite $15
6. Clarence Castle – Toronto, Ontario
Despite the name, there’s nary a parapet or rampart to be found at Clarence Castle; nevertheless, it has been North America’s top-rated hostel for three years in a row. The rooms, in particular, are some of the least hostel-like we’ve seen, with wooden bed frames and hardwood floors, and a clean, light-filled private double room. In Toronto’s downtown core it has a rooftop patio with a view of the CN Tower and is within walking distance to plenty of restaurants, shops, theatres and the lakefront trail.
WHAT WE LOVE: central location, free coffee and tea all day, $2 breakfast, lounge with a big-screen TV, quiet reading room overlooking a park
COST: shared dorm from $27, private room from $40