- Written by Dan
Hostelling Canada and the World!
Unique Hostels in Canada and All Over the World
Many of HI’s hostels stand out from the crowd and offer more than just a cheap bed for the night.
Some offer fantastic locations, like right on the beach or half way up a mountain, while others are housed in amazing properties such as castles, forest cabins and historical buildings. Keen hostellers already know how special hostels are—they know they have more character than a stark motel room, that their occupants usually have a few tales to tell, and that you’ll find them in the places that you should be exploring, on and off the beaten track. Over the following pages you will find a few (of the many) hostels around the world that have that something special!
From coast to coast, Hostelling International in Canada has an array of hostels that come in all shapes and sizes. Here are a few of the more unique ones.
You’ll savour true silence, night skies bursting with stars and the knowledge that some of the world’s most magnificent landscapes are, really, right outside your door, when you stay at HI-Mount Edith Cavell. Evenings are spent chatting to fellow travellers around the hostel fire pit, or cozied up in the communal cabin. Power is generated by solar panels, there is no running water—drinking water is obtained from a well, and bathrooms are outhouses. Rustic is how they are often referred to, and this rustic charm adds to your Rockies’ experience. HI-Mount Edith Cavell is one of the 10 Wilderness Hostels that are located throughout the Rockies.
How about a spooky hostel stay? HI-Ottawa Jail was formerly the Carleton County Jail. It operated as a prison from 1862-1972, and held the last public hanging in Canada in 1869. Patrick Whelan was hung for the murder of D’Arcy McGee, and apparently, his spirit is still hanging around. Many guests have reported ghostly sightings and strange noises. Accommodation is in shared and private jail cells; but if you don’t feel like spending the night in a cell, there are also traditional shared and private hostel-style rooms!
Vancouver is not just about the downtown core, it has a whole bunch of colourful neighbourhoods. Vancouver’s West Side, along the south shore of English Bay, is home to the laidback beach neighbourhoods of Jericho Beach and Kitsilano. The summer-only hostel, HI-Vancouver Jericho Beach, is located steps from the beach in Jericho Beach Park, and gives guests an alternative Vancouver experience. The hostel is close to Kitsilano, which has a heap of cool places to eat, drink and shop at, and if the sun is out you can hang at the beach or take a dip in an outdoor pool. Staying at Jericho Beach means you get all of this on your doorstep and are just a short bus ride from downtown—meaning you really do get the best of both worlds staying here.
For more info on Canada's Hostelling International, see hihostels.ca
And some around the world
Discover a land of high mountains, fertile valleys, deep clear lakes, enchanted forests and amazing hostels. Hostelling International has a whole host of hostels that are sure to give you an overnight with a difference!
Nuremberg is a pulsating city with half a million inhabitants, but at the same time is a romantic and beautiful spot. History-charged and vibrant, it is a city conscious of its history, but also marked by a dynamic atmosphere of advance.
HI-Nuremberg is currently under renovation and reopens its doors in spring 2013. The hostel is housed in a former stable and an impressive castle in the centre of Nuremberg. Imagine staying in a place where medieval German emperors once resided!
The story of Trausnitz Castle began in medieval Times, circa 1200s. Primarily, the castle is famous because of the House of Habsburg’s Frederick the Fair from Austria. The later emperor of Bavaria, Ludwig kept him imprisoned here for 28 months after the Battle of Ampfing in 1322. Both were fighting for the crown imperial. Since 1830, Trausnitz Castle has been in full possession of the Bavarian sovereign as well as used as a youth hostel. After a substantial renovation it was reopened in 1993. Since then, the adjacent castle called Feldschlössl is also part of the hostel. The hostel connects historical flair with modern comfort, offering a really special stay. What can you do in Trausnitz other than admire the historic buildings? Well, there’s a variety of sporting activities: climbing, canoeing, angling, horseback riding or different kinds of winter sports
The Saldenburg Castle was built by Heinrich Tuschl von Söldenau in 1368. It was constructed at the behest of Count Hals to secure the road in order to back up the trading. Since 1677, the castle was in possession of the nobleman Graf Preysing. Finally, in 1929, the castle was expanded and rebuilt as a youth hostel.
The Saldenburg Castle is commonly known as the “Waldlaterne.” The building, with its tent-shaped roof, is like a huge beam of light in the heart of the countryside of the “Dreiburgenland.” A wooden bridge across a moat provides access to the youth hostel. Despite the extensive renovation, the castle still glows with historical charm.
The Veste Oberhaus is a fortress located at the left side of the river Danube, opposite the historic city centre of Passau. It was founded in 1219 and used as the residence of the baronial Bishop of the diocese Passau for most of the time. Between 1250 and 1482, the fortress was beleaguered five times, but the sieges were always unsuccessful. Twice, in 1298 and 1367, the citizens of Passau tried to revolt against the Bishop. During the secularisation the bishop lost his ownership. Napoleon the First occupied the Veste Oberhaus during his expedition against Austria. In 1805 the fortress had to capitulate to the Austrian army. After the Congress of Vienna, the building was used by the Bavarian Army as a fortress but also as a prison. In 1932, the city of Passau became the official owner of the Veste Oberhaus and established the “Oberhausenmuseum.”
The youth hostel is located in the former fortress tavern as well as in the building of the generals. In both buildings, the guests are offered an unbelievable view even as far as Bohemia and Austria. In 1998, the hostel was rebuilt and modified.
Turkey is a country with a whole heap to see and do—from its beaches to its cities and historical sites there is sure to be something to interest everyone. But something you may not expect in Turkey is a tree house hostel! Located in Olympos, the hostel in some ways is what draws travellers to this area; but so too does the beach, ancient ruins, rock climbing, scuba diving, mountain biking and hiking.
The hostel has three types of accommodation—dorms, bungalows and the tree houses. Dinner and breakfast are included in the price and are served buffet-style in the restaurant. The hostel also has three bars to relax and/or party in, and to meet your fellow guests.
YHA Bay of Islands, The Rock, is the largest houseboat in New Zealand, that provides her guests with a fantastic overnight experience, Kiwi-style! A stay on The Rock is more than just a comfy bed—once aboard you’ll have 22 hours to soak up this beautiful part of NZ. The boat departs Paihia at 5 p.m. First up is dusk fishing for snapper, followed by a BBQ (hopefully cooking
snapper you caught), then a moonlight kayak. After that, sit back, relax and enjoy the company of your fellow guests under the starlit sky. The next day you’ll explore the many islands, both on land and at sea; island walks, snorkelling and kayaking are all activities on the agenda. Arrival back in to Paihia is at 3 p.m.
So what makes the Bay of Islands such a popular part of NZ? Clear blue waters and white sandy beaches are definitely part of the appeal! The view you get from the shoreline at Russell and Paihia is picture-postcard perfect, and when you start exploring the islands by boat, you’ll discover secluded coves, untouched beaches and an abundance of marine life. This area is also rich in history and was the site of the earliest contact between the European settlers and the Indigenous population.
Perched on a bluff overlooking the Pacific, the historic Point Montara Lighthouse Hostel is set against the dramatic and breathtaking scenery of the California coast. Just 25 miles south of San Francisco, this hostel is both an idyllic retreat and a convenient base for exploring nearby Half Moon Bay.
Explore the coastline, and watch annual gray whale migration (November-April). Visit the nearby James Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, a four-mile stretch of tide pools full of starfish, crabs, mussels, abalone, and sea anemones. Enjoy beaches, swim, surf, kayak, jog, horseback ride, windsurf and bicycle along the shore—there is an abundance of things to do in this area.
Originally established in 1875 as a fog signal station after several ships ran ashore in the late 1860s, this historic lighthouse is still an operating aid-to-navigation maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard. The hostel has been in operation since 1980 through a partnership with California State Parks. Guests are accommodated in both shared and private rooms in former Coast Guard quarters and the historic fog signal building.
The Jumbo Stay hostel in Stockholm offers you a unique hostelling experience. Located at Stockholm's Arlanda Airport, this fully refurbished Boeing 747-200 offers dorm, private and family room accommodation and even the chance to upgrade to the luxury suite right in the cockpit with views of the airport runways.
The jumbo jet was built in 1976 and flew under the care of Singapore Airlines, Pan Am and Transjet until 2002. In 2008, the airplane was stripped of its 450 seats, sanitized and retrofitted as a hostel. The hostel was towed to its current home at the entrance to Arlanda airport that summer where it was placed on a concrete foundation.
There a few places that are a must when visiting South Australia, and the main must is Kangaroo Island. It is an amazing location from which to see Australia’s native animals in the wild—from its namesake, the kangaroo, to koalas, echidna and little penguins, you’ll find them all here. Kangaroo Island YHA hostel overlooks beautiful Hog Bay in the town of Penneshaw. The hostel has a garden with sea views, onsite laundry, light airy rooms, friendly staff and is a two-minute walk to the beach and ferry. You don’t have to go far to see some of the wildlife, penguins are often seen in the hostel garden!