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Choosing the
best hostel for you

Los Angeles hostel locations, including Santa Monica and Venice Beach:
1. Hollywood hostels: pros and cons
2. Beach hostels: pros and cons
3. Beach hostels: directions

Vancouver hostels: best locations

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Vancouver Hostel Tips
Choosing the Best Hostel Location in Vancouver, Canada

No large city in Canada or the U.S. offers more uplifting hostel environments than Vancouver, British Columbia, and no large city offers a worse one.

Choosing the right hostel location is crucial to your enjoyment of Vancouver, BC.

You have three choices:

  • Hostels adjacent to beaches and forests (summer only),
  • Hostels in the Vancouver city centre, and
  • Hostels in or adjacent to a skid road as bad as any in North America.

Vancouver city centre hostels pros and cons

Let’s start with these, as they’re open all year and are conveniently located in downtown Vancouver.

Very importantly, you are at the hub of both bus and rapid transit to throughout the Vancouver region and within walking distance of the SeaBus, which takes you across Vancouver Harbour. You can easily access Chinatown and Stanley Park, as well as beaches on English Bay.

You'll find nearly all Vancouver nightlife in or near the city centre. The streets near most hostels remain lively into the night, which promotes safety.

On the other hand, finding free parking can be a hassle and paid parking expensive.

Vancouver city centre hostel choices

For most, use the pull down menu to show currency of your choice on the price page. The rest show Canadian dollars only. There are no booking fees.

SameSun Backpacker Lodges – super location near Robson Square puts you in centre of entertainment district.

Very near most clubs, Vancouver Art Gallary, Vancouver Symphony, and most popular shopping. Walk to Canada Place and BC Place Stadium.

Hostelling International Vancouver Centralsame excellent location as the SameSun. New.

Hostelling International Vancouver Downtown – away from (but still within walking distance of) other hostels at the edge of a predominately residential area of the West End. You'd also be very near English Bay beaches and the indoor Vancouver Aquatic Centre.

Walk or bike across Burrard Bridge for views of city and of the mountains beyond, as well as to reach Kits Beach and its awesome outdoor pool, the longest in Canada, which overlooks bay and city.

The Cambie International Hostel - Seymour - not to be confused with its Gastown location.

Summer-only beach hostels

HI-Vancouver Jericho Beach sits in a park at Jericho Beach, with outstanding views from its grounds of city centre Vancouver and Stanley Park across English Bay and of the mountains that tower beyond these.

You’ll easily access popular Spanish Banks beach and Pacific Spirit Park for hiking. Frequent city bus service to city centre stops two blocks away.

Jericho is a well run hostel. I felt as if I was staying at an old military barracks and indeed I was!

Drawbacks? No restaurants, cafes, pubs, other nightlife, or markets in its immediate area other than a cafe at the hostel that serves breakfast and dinner.

Open May through September only.

Also open summer only but with different start and end dates, Pacific Spirit Hostel on the University of British Columbia campus offers single and double small dorm rooms, without bath.

You’re within walking distance of Wreak Beach, the most popular clothing-optional beach in Canada or the U.S., and Pacific Spirit Park for hiking.

You’ll have access to many UBC facilities, including the remarkable Asian Garden at the UBC Botanic Garden and the outstanding Museum of Antropology, as well as a variety of inexpensive dining choices and an outdoor Olympic-sized pool and indoor aquatic centre. From UBC, frequent bus service fans out to any point in Vancouver.

Drawbacks? No real kitchen and absolutely nothing done to foster friendly interaction among guests. Unlike many hostels, there are no group activities. Although you may find the staff generally nice and helpful, the feeling at Pacific Spirit Hostel is extraordinarily impersonal for a place that calls itself a hostel.

On several visits, I did like that everything was clean and the easy access to nature.

Open mid May to mid August.

Skid row or skid row area hostels

Avoid the depressing eastside of downtown, whenever possible. It’s remarkable that Canada, which prides itself on its high level of social services compared to the U.S., tolerates such an environment.

According to HDTV, in this skid road, the poorest urban neighbourhood in Canada, you'll find—

  • Some 7,000 residents are hard drug addicts
  • One in 3 residents is HIV positive
  • 70% have hepatitis C

Amazingly, in a city voted the most livable in the world, you'll have to step over used syringes on streets in Vancouver's skid road.

Skid row area hostels include those that mention proximity to Gastown, Chinatown, and the combo rail and bus Pacific Central Station (Amtrak, Greyhound, Via Rail Canada, etc.).

If a hostel or very cheap hotel sits on Cambie, Cordova, Hastings, Main, Pender, or Powell streets, it’s most likely in this area.

Public transit directions to city centre hostels

If arriving by bus or rail, you can easily transfer to a city centre hostel described above.

Use the elevated Main Street TransLink SkyTrain station that you see (look slightly to the left) when exiting Pacific Central Station. Take any westbound train to Burrard Station for the Hostelling International Vancouver Downtown or to Granville Station for the other city centre hostels and the guesthouse.

Or—slower—cross the square in front of the station to Main Street, but don’t cross Main. Board the northbound TransLink number 8 bus on Main Street to the city centre. Give the driver your address and he or she will let you off at the closest stop. Late night, when the other services don’t operate, use the N8 bus northbound.

If arriving by plane, take the Canada Line from across from the Vancouver International Airport domestic and international terminals to the Vancouver City Centre station. The airport station sits above the rental car parking area, which faces the terminals.

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