Toronto is famous for plenty of things – multiculturalism, the CN Tower, Drake, the list goes on – but hostels aren’t one of them. As more backpackers head to The Six, more and more hostels are springing up across the city.
Unlike most cities of a similar size, Toronto doesn’t dish up dozens of dazzling hostels. This fact only makes your decision more important, to make sure you don’t end up paying a fortune or spending the night in some dirty, dingy, dodgy hostel on the outskirts of town. From eco-friendly dorms to space-age pods, there are plenty of affordable places to stay in Toronto.
HI Toronto offers private rooms to 14-bed dorms | Courtesy of HI Toronto / Hostelworld.com
Solo travelers will have no problem making new friends at HI Toronto, a lively hostel in the thick of Downtown. Tuck into free breakfast at the on-site bar and restaurant, The Cavern, and then head back for dinner and some live music. HI Toronto also offers daily activities such as city tours, a barbecue and fully equipped kitchen to prepare your own food, and a rooftop terrace that’s practically begging you to take a selfie with new travel pals in front of The Six’s skyline. HI Toronto is part of Hostelling International Canada – a non-profit with more than 50 hostels in everywhere from Vancouver Island to the Maritimes – and members save at least 10 percent on their booking.
Forget the name – you’ll get to enjoy an entire pod all to yourself. Unlike those cramped coffins you sometimes come across, these roomy pods feature privacy curtains, reading lights, USB plugs and even a small flat-screen smart TV with headphones, as well as a memory foam mattress, eco-friendly bamboo pillows and access to glam communal bathrooms. Two Peas also offers loads of great communal spaces, including the free breakfast lounge, glitzy café, ultra-convenient convenience store, a Toronto-themed gift shop, small movie theatre and an al fresco patio in summer. It also benefits from an excellent central location that is close to Chinatown and Kensington Market.
Another one of the exciting new crop of hostels in Toronto, Planet Traveler has breathed new life into a century-old building in Harbord Village, squishing in more geotechnology than Captain Planet himself could have thought up. It has geothermal heating, solar panels, water recycling, motion-sensor LED lights – the list goes on. Situated smack bang in the middle of the fashionable Kensington Market, Annex and Little Italy neighborhoods, this eco-friendly hostel doesn’t compromise quality and comfort in its bid to save the globe. Jump into nightly activities such as bingo, karaoke, movie nights and a free barbecue on the weekend, or spend the evening sipping wine on the rooftop terrace overlooking the CN Tower. The personal power outlets and reading lamps in every bunk are a nice touch.
The Clarence Park owes its appeal to three things: location, location, location. Sandwiched between the ultra-upscale Ritz-Carlton and Thompson hotels in the shadow of the CN Tower, this property is one of the most convenient hostels in Downtown Toronto. Pops of lime green light up the chic charcoal decor throughout the dorms and deluxe double rooms, while the huge rooftop deck makes the most of its supreme city location.
Bring your earplugs because The Only Backpacker’s Inn isn’t just one of the top hostels in Toronto – it’s also one of the city’s premier beer destinations. The downstairs bar curates a mighty collection of 200-plus craft beers, which guarantees a party atmosphere at this laid-back hostel. With a quiet suburban location near the East York and Greektown neighborhoods east of the city center, this hostel’s dazzling mural facade sticks out like a sore thumb; the splash of color stretches inside, from the hodgepodge furniture on the bright graffitied rooftop to the simple yet comfortable dorms.
You’ll always spot a crew of digital nomads beavering away on their laptops in the common room of Höstel Toronto, taking advantage of the generous desks and chairs, a supply of free tea and that all-important razor-sharp Wi-Fi connection (free, of course). Located in the historic Cabbagetown neighborhood northeast of Downtown, book one of the premium single, twin or queen bedrooms stocked with a personal fridge, microwave and TV, or save a few bucks in one of the economy rooms, which have between one and six beds.
Taking its name from the University of Toronto St George campus, which is just a short stroll away, College Backpackers is surrounded by the bars and eateries of Kensington Market and Chinatown – the perfect place to spend all that money you’ll save by staying in a hostel. This property has modern dorms and singles, as well as a plush TV and games room and a huge kitchen.
This no-frills option might be one of the cheapest hostels in Toronto, but it still earns strong reviews for its low prices, friendly service and range of rooms – from singles to four-bed dorms. Sitting between bustling Yonge Street and the parks snaking along the Don River near upscale Yorkville, All Days is a popular choice for budget travelers thanks to its welcoming common room, two quality kitchens, self-service laundry and shared computers – all the essentials on which old-school backpackers depend.