Hostels: Fun Places to Stay When Traveling, No Matter What Your Age (Hostelling International-Montreal)
Before you say, "Not me!" think again. Why not stay in a hostel? Whether you’re 18 or 60, it can be a wonderful experience.
“We were 63 and 74 when we stayed at the hostel in Montreal, our first hostel experience. I think some of the young people took note of our age, but we enjoyed their company, and they seemed fine with us. And we weren't the only 'seniors' there, either.
"We did climb three flights of stairs to reach our room each time, make that four flights from the basement café/kitchen. Think of it as good exercise!”
Perhaps there are two times in life to be the most adventurous...when you are very young and before you get too old!
Auberge du Jeunesse (HI-Montreal)Click thumbnail to view full-size
AccommodationsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Cheap and Fun
Keeping expenses down is a major reason to hostel. In Montreal, a private room with two twin beds and a private attached bath (en suite) is listed for $80 Canadian per night per room. (If you really want to save money, stay in the male or female dorm rooms with 4-10 sleep mates and shared bath for as little as $25 CAD.) All prices are even lower if you become a member of Hostelling International.
Towels and made-up beds with sheets, pillows, and blankets are included.
The private room and bath were extremely clean, if plain, but brightly painted yellow and orange, and quite cheerful even with a window view of another window and a brick wall. These rooms are comfortable for sleeping and dressing, but are not for spending a lot of time. The lobby and the café/kitchen, however, are other matters entirely.
Besides who would want to stay in the room? C’est Montreal!
The basement café serves coffee, sweet rolls, scones, muffins, cereals, yogurt and milk, plus made-to-order eggs dishes for breakfast and sandwiches and other fare. Breakfast buffet prices at $6.95 CAD. Light meals are served other times and the café stays open until midnight.
It’s a great gathering place any time of day. A spot to sit and plan your day, catch up on TV news, or people watch, which we enjoyed immensely.
At night, the cafe becomes a bar, serving wine, beer, and more.
A Sweet Location
Another top reason for staying at a hostel is location, location, location. We walked the short few blocks to the Museé des Beaux-Arts for a day at the museum, then down Crescent Street to find some of the best sidewalk cafes and pubs in the city. We enjoyed our favorite meal in Montreal—a terrific late lunch of pasta carbonara at Dundees. (New Town and the pub by Sir Winston Churchill across the street were pretty good, as well. We tried one each day.)
Close to PlacesClick thumbnail to view full-size
Since we drove to Montreal, parking was a big concern. But the hostel has arranged for $10 per 24 hours parking just a block and a half away. We parked our vehicle for three days, and used our feet and the very close by subway to get around the city.
The only time you might want a vehicle is to make it to the top of Mont Royal. It's Montreal's version of New York City's Central Park...except it's a mountain! However, this is Canada, and most people hike up the trails to the top rather than driving.
Communal KitchenClick thumbnail to view full-size
How to Save Even More
The best part of hostelling in Montreal, though, is that for this sweet location, you just won’t find a better price.
And if you’re really up for saving money, cook your own meals. The café is combined with a communal kitchen and dining area. You can buy part of what you want at the café and cook the rest or just do all your own meal preparation. We brought along our homemade granola, and just bought milk and yogurt at the local store.
This is a good place to use Starbuck’s Café Via. Although instant coffee may not sound appealing, Café Via actually tastes quite good compared to the more expensive and somewhat weak $1.50 coffee from the café.
The kitchen is a marvel of communal efficiency. Three stoves and three or four sinks with plenty of work areas and a wall of cubbyholes for storing dry goods. Commercial sliding glass door refrigerators lining another wall are for common use. Forms, pencils, and tape are provided to identify belongings. It’s all on the honor system. Every Thursday, mystery bags without ID are discarded.
The kitchen is also fully equipped with cooking pots, pans, eating and cooking utensils, plates, bowls, cups, saucers, glasses. Everything you really need and enough for 15 or 20 people at once to be served. You use what you need, wash it and put it away. It has the pleasant feeling of recalling college dorm living or ones salad days.
The Lobby at the Hostel
The young people we encountered were so courteous, the energy infectious, the staff extremely cheerful and helpful. The lobby is filled with arrivals and departures, backpacks and chatter. It has great sources of information by just asking or browsing the seemingly hundreds of tourist brochures.
Remember, Montreal is French speaking. But they also love their tourists. Hostellers come from all over the world speaking many languages, but it's easy to find people who speak English.
Whether for budget, location, or just for the experience, try hostelling...no matter what your age.