Saying goodbye to HI Vancouver Central
After 18 years of welcoming hundreds of thousands of travellers from around the world, HI Vancouver Central has left the HI family.
In March 2020, the pandemic surprised and paralyzed the travel industry, and by March 26th, HI Vancouver Central was closed, along with the rest of HI Canada’s hostels across the country. With tourism at a total standstill, HI Canada leased the building for use as housing for vulnerable individuals. One year after the hostel closed its doors to travellers, the building was sold to BC Housing for the continued support of those in need. We are happy to know the building will continue to serve the city and its residents in such a positive way.
But while we say goodbye to this building, we’re not saying goodbye to Vancouver. The sale of the hostel is part of HI Canada Pacific Mountain Region’s long-term strategy to strengthen its presence in the Vancouver youth travel market. For a number of years, one of the Association’s strategic goals has been to replace HI Vancouver Central and HI Vancouver Downtown with a large, modern flagship hostel. The sale of HI Vancouver Central is an important step toward achieving this goal.
Vancouver is the kind of place that normally likes its beauty sleep. Not on Granville Street. Under the neon lights, amid the aromas of pizza and poutine, sushi and shawarma, and to the tune of bass beats and debauchery, Granville Street seemingly never sleeps. And HI Vancouver Central was, well, in the centre of it. The hostel welcomed hundreds of thousands of travellers from around the world for nearly 18 years, offering them an affordable place to stay in the heart of one of Canada’s most expensive cities.
But it was more than a party hostel and more than an affordable bed. A fresh and free breakfast was served every morning in the modest kitchen, fuelling backpackers as they set out to explore the city’s unmatched combo of urban adventure and natural beauty. Daily activities were always on offer and constantly refreshed. Any day of the week you could find something to do and someone to do it with. From pub crawls to comedy shows, cut-rate NHL hockey tickets, Stanley Park bike tours and, of course, Erik's legendary walking tours.
Did you ever meet Erik? Originally from Denmark, Erik Graff ran full-day tours twice a week in the summer months, taking groups of hostellers from HI Vancouver Central and HI Vancouver Downtown on a walking tour of downtown Vancouver and onwards to either Lynn Canyon or the Capilano Suspension Bridge on the city's North Shore. He did it all as a volunteer with an enduring spring in his step and love for this part of the world, gaining accolades from Lonely Planet and the BC Tourism Industry Association over the years. You'd be hard pressed to cover as much ground and learn as much in a day without Erik as a guide.
HI Vancouver Central simply would not have been the place it was without the many staff and volunteers who made this hostel what it was—many of these valued colleagues were there from its opening day to its closing day. Their hard work and commitment to sharing their city with the world left a lasting impression on so many travellers.
Much thanks also goes to everyone at both operational and governance levels who have fully supported this strategic decision. As we begin to look forward to the end of the pandemic, we can do so with the prospect of a brighter future for hostelling in Vancouver with contemporary facilities that will advance our non-profit mission while better meeting the needs of today’s hostellers.
Our other two hostels in Vancouver—HI Vancouver Jericho Beach and HI Vancouver Downtown—are still here.HI Vancouver Jericho Beach is scheduled to reopen to travellers in June. HI Vancouver Downtown will reopen in the spring of 2022. We’re looking forward to welcoming travellers from across Canada and around the world to this city as travel resumes and continuing to provide them with excellent and affordable accommodation and experiences.