When you search for a hostel in Toronto, you’ll find the good, the bad, the ugly, and the uglier. So, if you’re planning a visit, you’re best bet is to settle for a hostel in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). As they say in the real estate business, “Location! Location! Location!” So without further adieu Weekendtrips highlights the top four hostels in the Greater Toronto Area; delivering you, “Location! Location! Location!” You know, the good stuff!
Trumpeted as North America’s greenest hostel, Planet Traveler is famous for their million dollar green renovation. The century-old building now leverages geothermal heat transfer, photovoltaic electricity, solar thermal hot water, waste water head reclamation methods; knocking down 3/4s of its original carbon footprint.
Pros: Located at 357 College Street, Planet Traveler guests are plotted right in the thick of college dorm room shenanigans. Walk five seconds to the east and guests will find Kensington Market – a vibrant ‘boho’ street market filled with grocers, street acts, cafes, bars, and more. To the west, guests will find a long line of popular college pubs and restaurants that sell both exotic and traditional dishes along with $10 pitchers of beer. Private rooms or group private rooms are available as well for the same rate. As for the cherry on top, guests can enjoy a rooftop bar and patio; rendering an excellent view of Toronto’s skyline. Dorm rooms and private rooms go for $30 a night.
Cons: Unfortunately, both front doors and front desk shut down at 12a.m. If you check-in anytime after 12a.m., you’ll have to come back the next morning — so be sure to call ahead of time — perhaps you can arrange something with the front desk.
Hailed as the “best run hostel in North America,” Canadiana Hostel Inn is known for its immaculate all-around customer service. Guests love its rustic interior design filled with character. Located at 42 Widmer St, Canadiana is only a skip and a hop away from the CN Tower and entertainment district. If you’re ever short on company and traveling solo, Canadiana offers a seven-day plan where random hostel guests meet and go out together in groups. Rooms go for $64 a night.
Pros: Easy to book and find a bed. Tenants are awarded a free pancake breakfast and a choice of tea or coffee every morning. The hostel also offers 24-hour reception, air-conditioning, free Wi-Fi, a large outdoor patio, an 18-seat cinema, a fully equipped kitchen and day trips to Niagara Falls.
Cons: Expensive for the average backpacker. The hostel is filled with party animals and college folk. So if you’re looking for a quiet hostel and place to hang your hat, this is not the place.
Winner of 2009 Hoscar Award for the best hostel in North America, Clarence Castle renders a one-of-a-kind atmosphere fit for the mature traveler — a perfect headquarters for those who appreciate peace and quiet — it’s still close enough to the downtown core on 7 Clarence Square, seconds away from Spadina Ave and King St. Private rooms start from $40 and dorms at $20.
Pros: Tenants have free Internet access, coffee and tea (all day), and personal lockers. Guests will also have free linens and towels, same-day luggage storage along with free breakfast with available swimming pool. It also provides a relaxing and quiet atmosphere.
Cons: Last time we checked, this Toronto hostel has received a lot of complaints and problems with bed bugs. There are also concerns of its laid back owner who may not be as concerned about particular issues as his guests. It’s $46 bucks per night (not the cheapest) and if you’re looking for a private room, it’s an extra $10.
Housing International Canada a.k.a. HI-C has over 75-years of hostel experience. Their goal? To make traveling more affordable, especially for young folks and students. HI-Toronto is located in the heart of downtown on 76 Church Street. Rooms go for as low as $33 a night.
Pros: Highly accessible. The front desk is staffed 24 hours a day. All guests will have free wireless Internet, and computer terminals are available for Internet use and printing. Lockers are free and all guests will have a bed, desk, chair, full service guest kitchen, air conditioning and central heating, pool table, convenient onsite laundry facilities, TV room with cable TV and DVDs to borrow, rooftop patio, in-house payphones, and more.
Cons: Pillows and beds are old and worn out. Their staff may come off as condescending, which have annoyed a few travelers. There is also a huge concern amongst foreign travelers and their demand for price transparency and additional taxes.