If you are travelling to the West Coast, the first thing you may realize when you’re looking for the best hostels in Vancouver BC is just how expensive Vancouver is. Real estate prices are sky high, which makes the property in Downtown Vancouver basically gold. Like seriously, there has to be gold under there somewhere. Or oil.
These immense real estate prices mean that cheap hostels in Vancouver are not all that easy to come by. Those folks need to pay their taxes after all! But have no fear! There are still some great hostels in Downtown Vancouver, that will not break your bank. I actually have no idea how they survive…
What to Look for in Vancouver BC Hostels
Location is not the only factor that makes some of these Vancouver hostels amazing. We all know I have some pretty specific ideas about what makes a hostel a winner, even when you’re in a city like Vancouver. Sure, the city is great, but it can make up for faults in the hostel?
No! Do not settle for crap!
Despite the high costs of Vancouver, I still want a good, clean hostel, with some sweet perks, a wicked West Coast vibe, and all for a price that won’t bankrupt me and force me into some sort of underground vegan cult for broke travelers.
(For the record, I do not believe said cult exists, but if it was to exist, it would exist in Vancouver!)
So, there are some standards to meet in searching for the best Vancouver hostels, and not every hostel makes the grade 😉 Because, and this is some insider Vancouver trading, some hostels that advertise themselves as hostels, are really just super run down old hotels, where low-income folks live. Sure the rooms they are renting as hostels may be ‘alright’, but the neighbourhood is rough and your neighbours may not be altogether savoury. Please, trust me on this. In Vancouver, if the price is super cheap, that hostel may be only one step up from a homeless shelter.
The Cambie – One of the Original Youth Hostels in Vancouver
The Cambie is your quintessential backpackers hostel in Vancouver Canada. It really is one of the original youth hostels in Vancouver, and is SO VANCOUVER! There are actually two Cambie Hostels now, the original is the one located in Gastown, at the corner of Cambie and West Cordova. The newer version is on Seymour street above Malone’s Bar.
The Cambie Bar, which is the entire ground level of the hostel, is one of the oldest bars in Vancouver, and is a classic backpacker bar set up. Long sturdy tables, with initials carved into them, flags draped from the rafters, and jugs of free flowing beer at every turn.
The location of the Cambie Hostel is killer. Right in the heart of Gastown, it’s an easy walk to most bars and clubs, excellent restaurants, transit, and attractions. The vibe is classic backpackers with good common areas, making the Cambie a perfect place to meet up with other travelers. There are also female only dorms and the security is serious.
The downsides to the Cambie are pretty clear. It’s located above a popular bar, so bring your ear plugs. Because of the bar, the age restriction to the hostel is 19+, and the extras are pretty minimal. No free breakfast, the washrooms are known for being pretty bad, and it does not have a 24 hour check-in.
But the Cambie is a bloody Vancouver landmark, so even if you don’t stay there, you should go for a party.
Samesun Backpackers Hostel – Sweet Location, Sweet Amenities!
Samesun is a chain of budget hostels all along the West Coast as well as into the interior of BC and the Rockies. The Vancouver iteration of Samesun is a pretty great choice. Located on Granville street, Samesun is definitely where the action is. I had a couple of beers at Samesun during the rush of the Olympics when some friends were staying there. The epically named Beaver Bar had great vibes, solid security, and cheap beer. All good things!
Additionally, Samesun boasts some of those awesome amenities that make a budget hostel go from good to great: reading lamps, 24 hour reception, discounted attractions and hostel activities, free breakfast, free wifi, and female only dorms! Scores high all around!
HI Vancouver Downtown – A ROOFTOP!!!
We all know how much I love a good rooftop, so as they say ” You had me at rooftop”. The HI Vancouver Downtown is another gem. Well located on Burnaby Street between Thurlow and Bute, this hostel is steps away from the prideful West End hub of Davie street. Free breakfasts, free wifi, a comfy library, free linens, solid security, and… well that rooftop, make this HI location a true contender!
Parking is available at this HI, which is a real blessing in the West End (OMG don’t get me started trying to park in the West End of Vancouver! ), while the 24 hour reception make arriving and departing at potentially weird hours convenient.
I love the West End, I even lived there for a year. The leafy streets make the city seem actually quiet, while you are still very easily within walking distance to most places you will adore. English Bay beach, Stanley Park, False Creek and Gastown are all within reach, while the nightlife of Granville Street and Davie Street are right there too.
As with most Hostelling International facilities, the place can feel a bit big, so definitely make use of those common areas to meet folks. Children may also appear at any HI, so if you’re allergic to kids, stay away.
The St. Clair Hotel- Nautical Heritage Hostel?
The St. Clair Hotel is another great location. Located on Richards Street between Dunsmuir and Pender streets, this place is a heritage building (c.1911) turned into a nautically themed Vancouver hostel. Getting great reviews, the St Clair has free WIFI, very cheap laundry service ($1 a load!) and even has female only dorms. Towels and linens are included, which is always nice!
The one common area is pretty small, so The St. Clair might not be a great option for solo travellers. There is no onsite restaurant or bar, but the location means there are ample eating opportunities very close by. Unfortunately the bunks are metal, but the place is clean and actually has some character.
YWCA Vancouver Hotel – Huge, Clean and Great Location!
What the YWCA lacks in character, it makes up for in location, price, cleanliness, staff, and amenities. Located on Beatty Street between Georgia and Robson, the YWCA is right across the street from BC Place. Book an upper room for views of the stadium and the city. There is 24 hour reception, cooking facilities, laundry facilities, and an onsite coffee bar.
Notably, this facility is wheelchair accessible, meaning there are elevators to get you to those upper floors with the better views. Also interesting, there are no dorms at the YWCA, so you’re still getting a good budget deal for private rooms for between 1 and 4 people. Maybe not the greatest choice for a solo traveller on a budget, but really awesome for families or groups.
There are 155 rooms, so the place is immense, and everywhere has air conditioning. This massive YWCA will probably feel a bit to institutional for us weathered backpacker types, but hey, being clean never killed anyone!
HI Vancouver Central – The Newest Hostel in Downtown Vancouver
Not to be confused with the HI Vancouver Downtown, this HI is located right on Granville street not far from the Granville street hub. Of all the hostels in this list, this place is probably the hippest. With free breakfast, WIFI and linens, the HI Central is one of Vancouver’s newest hostels. Great common areas, a book exchange, a basic guest kitchen, plus lockers and private bathrooms in every room make this newbie a serious threat.
The hostel also organizes daily tours and excursions to attractions around Vancouver, so this is a good option for solo travellers. Both private and dorm rooms are available, with dorm options for mixed, all male, and all female with very small bed numbers (like 2 beds). Does that even qualify as a dorm? Dorms also have only solid wooden bunks, so less chances for squeakiness in the middle of the night!
Ellison House – Hostel in North Vancouver
Not your typical Vancouver hostel, so I mention this one for a reason. Located across Burrard Inlet in North Vancouver a few blocks from Lonsdale Quay, the Ellison House is just that, a house. There is a two night stay minimum and rooms are either a single or a double, both with shared bathroom.This is clearly not the place for someone who wants to party or meet people, but if you’re in Vancouver for other reasons and don’t want to be in the thick of the action, this may work for you.
The Ellison House would be great for a couple on a road trip, as there is ample free parking. The shared kitchen is well equipped, so self-catering is no problem. Plus, North Vancouver is really nice! With easy access to the Capilano Suspension Bridge, any of the local ski mountains, and the North Shore hiking, this is a good option for those looking for a quieter stay.
Hostels to Maybe Steer Clear From…
Now, everyone is able to make their own choices, but being a Vancouver local I would feel disingenuous not warning my lovely readers about certain aspects of Vancouver locations. While these hostels may be just fine in certain ways, there are other, less obvious reasons why you may want to think twice about checking in.
As many folks know, Vancouver has a substantial homelessness problem and street life concerns. Certain streets and areas are more prone to visible urban poverty and stigmatized issues than others.
Please do not think I am being judgy, I actually work in the Downtown Eastside, the neighbourhood that is infamous for being one of the roughest postal codes in the country. There are wonderful people there and amazing social consciousness, and really the DTES is not considered very unsafe by those of us who know it.
But for the visiting traveller, what is readily apparent is the massive drug use and sex trade all happening right on the street. I have found a few of the following hostels advertising on hostel sites, all of which fail to mention that to get to their door, you may be wading through some pretty alarming scenes.
The Budget Inn Patricia Hotel
The Patricia Hotel does not look too bad on the website, but it’s location is BAD BAD BAD. The self-proclaimed ‘no-frills’ accommodation states it is “located on the edge of the downtown core, guests are only 1 block from Chinatown, 5 blocks from historic Gastown…”
What this eloquent copy writer leaves out is that those 5 blocks to Gastown are down East Hastings Street, one of the roughest streets in Canada. I have seen travellers walking down Hastings with their luggage arriving at the Patricia, presumably from the downtown transit stations.
They appeared… startled. I felt bad for them after their trek through open drug use, street trafficking, folks going through obvious mental health crisis, and probably a very strong urine odour.
Not to disparage the Patricia itself (though the reviews state it is old and musty), but be aware of it’s location.
C&N Backpackers Hostels on Main Street
C&N runs two hostels on Main street: the C&N Backpackers and the Central Station Hostel. Both are in the same block of Main Street down from the train station, in what happens to be the Downtown Eastside. One is located in the same building as the Ivanhoe Hotel, a notorious low-income single room occupancy hotel with a substandard reputation, while the other location isn’t much better.
The hostels themselves may be ok, but I would not feel right about sending my much loved folks to knock on their doors.
Finding the Best Budget Hostels in Vancouver BC
Well, I hope I have given some clarity about Vancouver BC hostels. There really are some fantastic options, no matter what kind of traveller you are and what your budget looks like. The cheaper of the dorm beds in Vancouver start at around $31 (CND) and then depending on your level of privacy, go up from there. The West Coast vibe and the Vancouver chill are definitely real things, and they are well within reach at most of these great places to stay in Vancouver!
So come to Vancouver, eat a vegan brownie, drink a Canadian 5.5% beer, go paddle boarding, do it up right! I love this city, and so should you <3
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