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It's kind of like if you gathered up all your friends who actually care to hear about your endless travel plans, put them in a building with comfy couches, a fully-equipped kitchen, a nice place to sleep, and ran the whole show by people who live and breathe travel. Also, there's usually a shelf of free food in the kitchen.
Hostels are primarily a place of accommodation, so they have from a handful to hundreds of beds, sometimes in dorm rooms, sometimes in private rooms, often in both. Beyond a place to sleep and shared or private bathrooms, you'll almost always get access to a kitchen with room and equipment to prepare your meals and store your food as well as common areas where you can hang out with fellow hostellers. Plus, they're staffed by people who can give you advice about the area or help you book activities, tours and onward travel.
They're fun, casual and communal places, and at HI they adhere to universal quality standards so they're safe and clean too.
What does this all mean exactly? Take a look at this video of a backpacker travelling the country and staying in hostels.
They're nothing at all, not even close, like the movie Hostel, Part I or II. If you see Eli Roth on your travels, tell him thanks for nothing.
We haven't been calling them youth hostels for many, many years - that term has long-since been retired. You can be any age to stay in a hostel and guests range from kids (and their parents) to grandparents, and everyone in between. In some hostels, most guests are between the ages of 18 and 30, but in others you'll find a decidedly older crowd. Regardless of their ages, hostel guests always share a passion for travelling well and meeting others.
You can do it! Introducing kids to the hostelling life is a wonderful thing, and hostels offer up a lot of kid-friendly amenities so it's a great way for the whole family to travel You can prepare your own meals when you want and how you want, which makes mealtime a breeze. Plus, a lot of hostels have laundry facilities, too.
Some hostels have family rooms available (i.e. with a double bed and some bunks for the kids), so ask about those when you book and steer yourself towards those hostels for guaranteed family-friendliness. When in doubt, call or e-mail the hostel you plan to stay in to ask about the suitability of the hostel for children.
And while you're at it, get your kids a free junior membership that'll last until their 18th birthday.
If it's 6:30 p.m. and you're in Canada, check the TV room. They're watching Coronation Street. If you're in Argentina, they're out flamenco dancing in the streets. If you're anywhere else, they're in the common room chatting with an Australian guy with dreads about surfing and they're seriously considering giving it a whirl. You're welcome.
Like the eternal chicken vs. egg debate, this is a deeply philosophical and personal question that will go down in history as forever unanswerable. There are merits to both, but no one will ever be able to determine, objectively, a clear winner. The bottom bunk grants you easy access to the floor, which simplifies the midnight snack process. But the top bunk offers immediate King of the Castle status, which is a respected status in all dorm rooms of the world. You're the only one who can make the call for yourself. Take a moment to reflect on your priorities, and the answer to this difficult question will present itself to you when the time is right.
We know there are other hostel booking sites out there, but booking direct at hihostels.ca guarantees you the best rate. We don’t add booking fees or take a deposit, and you’re guaranteed to find the best selection of available rooms and special offers right here. We also know plans can change, so we make it easy to cancel or change your booking directly.
HI hostels generally require up to 48 hours notice if you need to cancel or change your booking. Each hostel sets their own policy so get in touch with the hostel you’re interested in staying at to learn more.
Even though we love flying by the seat of our pants, we can tell you that especially in high season, hostels do fill up, so your best bet is to always book early. Keep in mind that some destinations have two high seasons, like Whistler, which has a high season in summer and again during ski season in winter.
You may be able to wing it and still find a bed by just showing up, but it's not something you can count on and it can really mess with your plans, especially if you're planning to visit a remote area with few alternative accommodations.
We love a good long visit in a new place, but because our hostels can be in high demand, some of them have maximum stay lengths in place, anywhere from one to three weeks. Get in touch with the hostel you’re interested in staying at to learn more.
If the online booking system shows no availability, you may not be totally out of luck. Cancellations do happen, and sometimes not all available beds are listed online. Try calling the hostel to see what's available - even on the day of arrival. You might luck out, but this is less likely during high season. Sometimes there is more than one HI hostel in a city, so use the map function to broaden your search to include nearby hostels.
HI hostels cater to travellers. As an accommodation property for travellers, many hostels do not accommodate locals to stay with us. Policies can vary by hostel so please get in touch with the hostel you’re interested in to learn more.
Some hostels do not allow residents of the destination to stay since their mission is to provide accommodation to travellers. These policies vary from hostel to hostel. Contact the hostel you are interested in to find out more.