A while back I had an overseas guest misbehaving. I had invited her for a longer stay in Canada but it turned out she had difficulties living without regular fights. I offered to make a reservation at a hostel and cover her costs at a hostel for the rest of her stay but she refused and I was eventually bribed to give in due to my membership affiliation.
If you don’t know what hostels are (common among those, who, like my friend, were born where eternity had been born as well), they are much like motels (lower end hotels) that cater to low income / student / youth travelers. They are usually full of young people from all over the world and compared to hotels / motels, are better for socializing and hooking up than they are for sleeping; rates are generally lower than what you’d pay at a hotel. As long as you don’t mind sharing your room with strangers, you might be able to get away with paying anywhere from $18-$35 / night for a room shared with 4 or even more fellow travelers. Most hostels offer also private rooms in the $100 range for those looking for the socializing factor combined with the luxury / independence of not sharing more than necessary. Finally, reservations usually require a credit card but can be cancelled with at least a 24h notice.
For the freshest info before booking I recommend using HostelBookers (linked below). Still, I’ll quickly review a few of the offers available.
1. Canadiana Backpackers Inn (web) – $30/quad, $41/double (per person)
The best thing going for it is its location (42 Widmer), in the heart of the Entertainment District, right between Richmond and Queen Street. Throw in free breakfast consisting of all-you-can eat pancakes + maple syrup, free coffee in the morning and free tea all day, free Wi-Fi, reasonably clean rooms, no curfew and you have a winning combination. Weekly rates for one person in a quad room are $180.
2. Planet Traveler (web) – $30/person in 6x dorms, $80/private room
Slightly further away from the city center (352 College St), this hostel is newer and apparently the greenest building in North America. It boasts the highest rates of customer satisfaction for mixed hostels. Their amazing technologies (geothermal, solar, waste-water recl etc.) are purposely transparent to visitors; strangely, we were not allowed to visit prior to booking which is another reason why we preferred Canadiana. Freebies: rice, popcorn, laundry detergent, power adapters in lockers, local calls, Wi-Fi, free tea and coffee the whole day. Though it has the highest reviews, it is also slightly more expensive than Canadiana Backpackers, with weekly rates in a 6x bedroom at $200 / person.
LE: During my stay at Planet Traveler, a TV crew from the Weather Channel (Plemex Media or something) interviewed one of the owners for a segment on the environment to be shown March 17-27, 2013. I might appear in the background.
3. Hostelling International (web) - $29/person in dorms, $99/private room
A more mature crowd and a Church Street location (Gay Village) make it perfect for the LGBT traveler or those seeking diversity or a more alternative experience (another one is Jacob 22 Bed and Breakfast, which boasts 80+% customer satisfaction). Very safe and secure and, needless to say, their location does not imply any exclusions.
Both get praise from guests for cleanliness, friendly staff, very low rates and free calls in North America. Located on 5 Selby, close to Bloor and Yorkville.
5. Global Village Backpackers (web) – $25/person
With 175 beds, it is easily the largest hostel in Toronto, with all the advantages and disadvantages that come from that. It has a Kensington sistah.
6. Cheapos: York University Home (M3J1A1), Toronto Travelers Home (M5T 1H5), University Apartments (M5T 1E8) and Chinatown Traveler (M5T 1C6) – starting at $18/night
These guys compete solely on price. Your best bet is to walk in and see for yourself what they have to offer. Otherwise, reservations may not be honoured and facilities and/or linen/towels are more often than not soiled / dirty; unresponsive management, poor customer service. Free Wi-Fi, no breakfast and loud music may be played late at night by students. These places get some of the worst reviews from guests.
This place gets very mixed reviews – some people are very satisfied, others not so much. It does not seem to have a webpage (at least, we could not find it). It can be booked through the HostelBookers or HostelWorld (or call 416-829-1245). Others are The Only Backpackers Inn.
Not something you can book, but if worse comes to worst, this is better than freezing on a bench. Some shelters, such as Peter St, are considered “luxury”, as they cost $11.5 millions offering 40 beds. Others are: YWCA, Covenant House, Meeting Place, Scott Mission, yws, reddoor.
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