Last Updated: 03/03/20 | March 3rd, 2020
Vancouver is one of my favorite cities in the world. It’s filled with delicious food (there’s lots of amazing sushi here), spacious parks (don’t miss Stanley Park), and is close to both the mountains and the ocean. The city consistently ranks in the top five best places to live in the world — and it’s no surprise why. It’s a wonderful, wonderful city that I’ve loved ever since I first visited in 2004 with my family.
Since then, I’ve come back a handful of times to explore it on my own. I’ve seen the city change a lot of the last fifteen years — and one of the things that has changed for the benefit of us travelers is that there are a lot more hostels. Vancouver now has one of the best hostel scenes in Canada, and you won’t be disappointed with what you find here.
That said, there are a lot of things to consider when selecting a hostel. The top four when picking the best hostel in Vancouver are:
- Location – Vancouver is huge and it can take some time to get around. Pick a place that is central to the sites and nightlife you want to see. All the hostels listed here are in central locations.
- Price – In Vancouver, you really get what you pay for, so if you go with a really cheap one, you’re probably going to get a hostel that is small, cramped, and doesn’t offer great service.
- Amenities – Every hostel in the city offers free Wi-Fi, and most have a free breakfast, but if you want more than that, be sure to do your research to find the hostel that best meets your needs!
- Staff – All the hostels listed here have amazing staff! They are super friendly and knowledgeable. Even if you don’t end up staying at one of the places listed below, be sure to look up reviews to ensure you end up somewhere where the staff is helpful and friendly! They can make or break a hostel!
To help you plan your trip, here is my list of the hostels in Vancouver that I like the most. If you don’t want to read the longer list below, the following hostels are the best in each category:
Best Hostel for Budget Travelers: Vancouver Backpacker House
Best Hostel for Solo Female Travelers: HI Vancouver Downtown
Best Hostel for Families: HI Vancouver Central
Best Hostel for Partying: Cambie Hostel Gastown or Cambie Hostel Seymour
Best Hostel for Digital Nomads: HI Vancouver Downtown
Best Overall Hostel: Samesun Vancouver
Want the specifics of each hostel? Here’s my comprehensive list of the best hostels in Vancouver:
Price Legend (per night)
- $ = Under $25 USD
- $$ = $25-30 USD
- $$$ = Over $30 USD
1. Cambie Hostel Seymour
Cambie Hostel Seymour is located in Gastown, a hip area of Vancouver loaded with bars and restaurants. This hostel is pretty basic and small (dorms are two or four beds), and the hostel itself doesn’t have much ambience: expect bare rooms and bathrooms in need of a refresh. But guests don’t stay here because of the property; they stay because of its prime location and easy access to other destinations in the city and to the airport. But there is a common area and a “chill room,” which comes complete with its very own hostel cat.
If you’re cooking, the kitchen isn’t huge and seating is limited, but the hostel also makes it easy to go out and dine. They offer $5 off breakfast at the popular Cambie Bar, a part of the Gastown sister hostel a quick walk down the road (see below). Below the hostel is the popular Malone’s Social Lounge & Tap (the reason for the late-night noise) and Chihuahuas Mexican Grill, so you can eat and drink without going far. Because of its proximity to the bars, it gets loud at night. If you want a lively hostel, stay here.
Cambie Hostel Seymour at a glance:
- Bar below the hostel (with discounts)
- Lively social atmosphere makes it easy to meet people
- Laid-back common areas for hanging out and relaxing
Beds from $25 USD, privates from $55 USD for the night
2. Cambie Hostel Gastown
This Gastown hostel offers comfortable beds, a small common room to meet and mingle in, and access to Gastown’s restaurants and bars. This includes The Cambie, the hostel’s bar, which draws in crowds of locals. It can get incredibly loud, so bring some noise-canceling headphones because basic earplugs won’t cut it. Like its sister hostel a few blocks away, there’s also a housecat to keep you company (if you’re allergic to cars, bring allergy meds).
Housed in a building dating back to the late 1800s, it’s in need of a little renovation. The hostel has a small kitchen and the showers are close to the toilets, which makes it cramped. Its location is its main selling point, though, so if you’re not expecting anything special other than direct access to Gastown and all it has to offer, this is a good place for you.
Cambie Hostel Gastown at a glance:
- Great place to meet other travelers
- Central location right downtown
- Bar on-site for hanging out and mingling
Beds from $23 USD, rooms from $53 USD a night
3. HI Vancouver Central
Like many of the other hostels in town, HI Vancouver Central is an old building, which means the property could use a little love. Fortunately, the rooms here offer comfortable beds and every room has an ensuite bathroom. Choose from two-bed or four-bed dorms or private four-bed rooms. Located on Granville Street, it’s in the heart of the action, with many pubs and clubs around, making it noisy at night (but lively and fun too).
The hostel has a free breakfast serving bagels and other baked goods, as well as some fruit and cereal. It has a small common room and basic kitchen with only a toaster, microwave, and kettle. HI also offers tours daily, to destinations around town as well as a pub crawl.
HI Vancouver Central at a glance:
- Organizes lots of activities (walking tours, pub crawls)
- Large private rooms (great for families)
- Free breakfast
Beds from $29 USD a night, rooms from $52 USD a night
4. HI Vancouver Downtown
Tucked into a quieter part of the city, HI Vancouver Downtown is a good spot for heading out to explore popular Granville and Davie Streets, which offer plenty of cafés, restaurants, and shopping. It’s also a quick walk to the beach and ferries to Granville Island (where you’ll find lots of shopping), as well as walking distance to the beautiful Stanley Park.
The hostel itself isn’t all that impressive: the dorms don’t have enough outlets to accommodate every bed, the bathrooms are old and can be a bit musty, and the Wi-Fi doesn’t work very well. But the hostel does have a free continental breakfast, a game room with foosball and pool, a library, and a TV room. It also runs tours and has bike rentals so you can easily explore more of the city.
HI Vancouver Downtown at a glance:
- Lots of common areas so it’s easy to meet people
- Free breakfast
- Organizes lots of activities
Beds from $29 USD, rooms from $71 USD a night
5. Samesun Vancouver
The Samesun chain of hostels consistently ranks as some of the best in the cities where they are located. Samesun Vancouver is no exception. My favorite feature of this hostel is in the six-bed dorms, which offer cozy pod beds and give you a bit more privacy than normal bunks, as well as your own light, shelf, and outlets. The bathrooms are clean, and there are plenty of them, so you’re not left waiting in line.
There’s a lot to love at this hostel. It’s has a decent free breakfast including eggs and hot cereal, a full kitchen, common areas for meeting people and relaxing, daily hikes, and even the Beaver Bar, a lounge serving food and beer with a daily happy hour.
The only real downsides of Samesun are the small rooms (it’s hard to maneuver in the four-bed dorm), the lack of elevators (so you’ve got to haul your belongings up flights of stairs), and Wi-Fi that doesn’t work well, if at all.
Its location is excellent, however: it’s in the Granville district, which is loaded with bars and restaurants, and near historic Gastown. Like most other hostels in the city, it’s located in an area where the bars are open late, so if you’re sensitive to noise, bring earplugs.
Samesun Vancouver at a glance:
- Bar on-site for hanging out and meeting people
- Convenient location in Granville (lots of bars and restaurants nearby)
- Free breakfast
Beds from $27 USD, rooms from $75 USD a night
6. Vancouver Backpacker House
The Vancouver Backpacker House is about as barebones as it can get — it has only a self-check-in so you have to contact the staff in advance, it does not accept credit cards without a huge fee, the rooms don’t have enough lockers, and its location is not in the city proper. It also has some interesting house rules, like not all of the bathrooms are open to use all of the time. The 10-bed dorm room is in the basement, and, oddly, the private rooms have interior windows. Depending on the room you book, you may have to walk to another building once you’ve checked in.
But if you’re on a tight budget and the other hostels are packed, this place works. It’s near public transit that takes you into the city in about 15 minutes.
Vancouver Backpacker House at a glance:
- Super affordable accommodation
- Laid back atmosphere
Beds from $22 USD, rooms from $41 USD a night
While the hostel scene in Vancouver may not be as extensive as other parts of the world, you’ll still find lots of suitable options here. In an expensive city like Vancouver, hostels are your best option if you’re on a budget — especially if you’re looking to enjoy the city’s rambunctious nightlife.
Just make sure you have some good earplugs or noise-canceling headphones if you’re a light sleeper. This is a lively city, after all!
Book Your Trip to Vancouver: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight
Use Skyscanner or Momondo to find a cheap flight. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned. Start with Skyscanner first though because they have the biggest reach!
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the biggest inventory and best deals. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
- World Nomads (for everyone below 70)
- Insure My Trip (for those over 70)
- Medjet (for additional repatriation coverage)
Looking for the Best Companies to Save Money With?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use to save money when I’m on the road. They will save you money when you travel too.
Want More Information on Vancouver?
Be sure to visit our robust destination guide on Vancouver for even more planning tips!