Recently, while my friend Corbin of I Backpack Canada was in town, I told him he had to stay at the Planet Traveler Hostel, the newest hostel in Toronto. This was because I had the opportunity to see the hostel firsthand at the Toronto Travel Massive tweetup, where we had our one year anniversary (Goo Toronto Travel Massive!). I will say this: it offers one of the best views of the CN Tower in the city.
I live in the city, so it was kind of a surreal experience to stay here but it was a lot of fun as a local. I got a view of Toronto looking from the inside out. The hostel is located on the periphery of Kensington Market, one of my favourite neighbourhoods in the city. It’s an excellent location and I’m surprised there aren’t any hotels in the area. It’s a real treat for visitors because they get more of a local view of the T Dot in such an eclectic neighbourhood and have the ability to do their grocery shopping if they’re cooking at their home base. Plus, it’s right near Chinatown, and a 10 to 15 minute walk to Queen and King West.
When we first came into the hostel, we were greeted by international staff member Kiwi, from England. He gave us a tour of the hostel, which is the greenest hostel in North America. As stated on their website, the hostel has geothermal heat transfer, photovoltaic electricity, waste water heat reclamation and solar thermal hot water. There are solar panels on the roof of the hostel as well. What does it all mean? It means that the warm water in your shower is from the sun and that LED lighting throughout the whole hostel is run on the same amount of energy that it takes to run a hairdryer. Pretty cool stuff!
I didn’t get the chance to get a picture of the beds because the minute I came in, I hopped on the bed, went online and then took a nap. We had a private room, which consists of a bunk –the bottom bunk is about the size of a double bed and the top bunk is a standard sized bunk. One cool feature of the room is that there are THREE PLUGS. That’s about the same amount of plugs in a standard Starbucks. Our private room was in a pod of three to four other separate private rooms which all shared a bathroom. This I have no problem with. The staff also share all duties, including front desk, washing dishes and cleaning the bathrooms. I saw our bathroom being cleaned TWICE in a day by the staff members. The cleanliness was impeccable.
The living area is a flashpacker’s dream. It’s kind of like a Canadian ipod commercial come to life. Bits of Canadiana are thrown into the decor from the snowshoe to the wooden logs that can be used as seating. The walls are encapsulated by murals of nature with the ipod-esque black/grey cutout of a person or an animal (bear/moose). It’s really interesting to see how hostel life has changed. EVERYONE is plugged in on their laptops. There were times I couldn’t get on the internet because it was over capacity. Peak times were late afternoon and around the 7 to 8 p.m. time slot. The hostel has three MACs for use in the common area. That said, I peeked out from my own laptop and made conversation. I really enjoyed seeing who actually visits the city.
The first time I was at the hostel, I met French, Swiss and Germans. This time around I met an Aussie, a Kiwi and a lovely Canadian from Victoria, BC. We all started talking about city life as well as our travels. I was surprised that a lot of visitors were in their early 30s. Though there are younger people in the hostel, I would say that this hostel has more of a hotel vibe to it if you are in a private room all for $80 a night. You don’t have to give up the luxuries of a hotel nor the social aspect of a hostel. It’s the best of both worlds. Toronto for the most part was a stopover for these travelers who were on the journey of their dreams: those making a life here for themselves or abroad as part of their nomadic lifestyle.
Ron (the Canadian) invited me out for Pho. At the suggestion of Tegan on front desk, we all went to Pho Pasteur where the others noshed on pho and I got goat curry on vermicelli. It’s $9 and lasted me for lunch, dinner and lunch the next day. It’s also open 24 hours a day. I had no idea about this place until I came here. And that’s the coolest part about travelling your own city: discovering new places from those who are also discovering them for the first time.
Oh, and the hostel offers free popcorn. FREE POPCORN. That makes me happy.
*Both Corbin and I were offered a stay free from the hostel. I am writing a review because I genuinely like the hostel and have been raving about it before even being offered to stay here. That said, my opinions are honest. Website: Planet Traveler.