For those looking to visit Toronto on the cheap, the city offers a wide variety of hostel accommodation with easy access to major Toronto attractions and public transportation.
The majority of hostels in Toronto are found in the downtown area near King and Queen Streets. There are also a few more scattered elsewhere in the city, still not far from downtown, and usually along the subway lines.
Prices for a shared room at backpacker hostels in Toronto tend to range from $25 a night on the cheap end of the scale to $35 on the higher end. The main hostels also offers private double rooms for about $80 a night, but these are harder to get so book ahead.
All the major downtown hostels tend to offer wireless internet for laptops, 24-hour reception, secure luggage facilities, kitchen facilities, and coffee & tea. Breakfast is also usually included in the price, although in the cases where it costs extra it is rarely more than a few dollars. Pancake breakfasts are popular with guests, but make sure to ask for real maple syrup.
Toronto hostels are a great starting point for touring the city and other nearby attractions. Most hostels organize daily tours and activities, such as trips to museums, sporting events, and regular pub crawls. They also organize tours to more distant attractions, such as Niagara Falls, and at cheaper prices than tours organized elsewhere. Employee and other guests are also great sources of information on the city.
Arguably the most well-known hostel in the city is the Canadiana Backpackers Inn, located in the Entertainment District. Regularly voted one of the best backpacker hostels in Canada, the Canadiana is what you could call a 'themed' hostel. Every room is named after a famous Canadian, and they generally focus much of their energies into providing an 'authentic' Canadian experience. They also provide access to a wide range of activities and tours, including daily trips to Niagara Falls.
Clarence Castle, located near King Street at Spadina Avenue, is one of the best rated hostels in Toronto. They were voted the #1 hostel in North America in 2008 by Hostelworld, and #3 in 2009. Although a smaller facility, they have the advantage of a quiet location which is also right in the heart of the downtown core. Among the amenities they provide are cheap bicycle rentals.
Also in the King and Spadina area, the Global Village Backpackers Hostel is one of the bigger hostels in the city. In the mid-2000s they were regularly rated one of the best hostels in Canada, but they have slipped somewhat in recent years. Travellers here tend to enjoy the lively nightlife of nearby King Street West and Queen Street West, and the hostel features a pub on site as well as a large outdoor patio.
On the east side of downtown on Church Street, Hostelling International Toronto is another spot that organizes a lot of tours and activities. They also have a café on site, as well as a rooftop patio that hosts regular barbeques in the summer. Prices are also cheaper for Hostelling International members.
Outside of the downtown core, there are a few hostels near the neighbourhood of Kensington Market. Located on College Street just west of Spadina Avenue, Planet Traveller Youth Hostel bills itself as "Canada's Greenest Hostel." This brand new hostel was built in what was until recently a derelict building, and is instantly recognizable due to the large solar panels located on the roof, which actually encloses a stunning rooftop bar.
Another option in the summer is to stay in the dorms of one of the city's universities. From May through August, the University of Toronto and Ryerson University open up dorms to travellers. The advantage in these cases is that travellers can get private rooms for cheaper rates that at other hostels or hotels. Bookings for these accommodations are generally done online.
Further north on Eglinton Avenue West, the Sage Wellness Hostel features somewhat different accommodations than the backpacker hostels of the city. This spot is a female-only hostel run by a "holistic practitioner and chef," and is geared towards a spa-type environment. Although more expensive than the city's backpacker hostels, this spot features yoga, organic food, and access to other spa services.
Other hostels around the city include the All Days Hostel and City Guest House, both near Bloor Street and Sherbourne Street, as well as the City Guest House II, which is located on Bathurst Street near Queen Street West. When looking for and booking hostel accommodations in Toronto, the best resource to use is the Internet.