When I read that the Planet Traveler Hostel in Toronto was not only an new Eco-Hostel but also in the center of Kensington Market, one of the coolest areas of Toronto, I thought that the price-tag was going to be outrageous, as it sometimes is for shared rooms in major cities.
I was delighted to find out that not only the price was on par or less than several of the major cities I have hosteled in, but also offered me some very comfortable accommodations that came with a very friendly and social atmosphere.
The smartly designed rooms are small, but visitors are automatically provided with a key to a tiny locker that not only fits all those shiny electronics that we all like to bring with us, but also includes two electrical outlets so that you can charge your gear while you are resting without worrying about someone grabbing it.
Not that I felt that was ever an issue.
When I first arrived at the hostel the room was a mess (sanitary and clean, but clothes everywhere), which made it feel very small. Once the two women that had made the clutter had left, I got to know my other bunkmates very well and we removed all of the remaining clutter the messy roommates had left behind.
From then on, our room was tidy and pleasant.
There was a steady stream of friendly travelers in the room throughout my stay. I felt my belongings were safe in the room, but sometimes outlets are at a minimum in hostels so I am grateful for the lockers with outlets at this location and that they had the foresight to include such helpful innovation.
Speaking of helpful innovation, all guests are REQUIRED to take a tour.
The owners of the Planet Traveler hostel want people to know about the ecologically friendly technology that went into the place, like the geothermal heating from the alley next door and the copper wrapped pipes that keep the water piping hot whenever needed.
Breakfast, consisting of fruit, toast, spreads and coffee, is served until 1pm in the afternoon incase visitors have a late night. I like that this hostel appreciates that people are on vacation and sometimes don’t want to get up at dawn in order to catch breakfast.
While I was there, I also attended a free barbecue on the hostel’s roof, and there were a few other social activities like trivia night and a pub crawl that I would have attended if my schedule allowed.
And about that gorgeous roof…
The roof is where they keep the solar panels that power everything in the hostel – year round.
The roof also has a gorgeous view of the city, and I spent a couple of my nights in Toronto just sitting out on the roof, gazing at the beautiful summer sunset or watching the lights on the CN Tower.
It would be freezing up there in winter, but it was delightful during the summer and had better wi-fi than in the main lobby.
And if you are looking for groceries or a reasonably priced meal, Kensington Market (which is really a neighborhood) is a half a block away and offers an overwhelming variety of food choices, and also some very eclectic clothing and shopping opportunities.
One important thing to know when you are booking is that there are only three parking spaces reserved for the entire hostel, so let them know you want one (cost $9 per day).
If you don’t get one, you can always go to a municipal lot for about the same price. You just have to walk a few blocks to your car.
This is the indoor municipal lot I stayed in for about 4 days (cost was about $35)
Carpark 68, 20 St. Andrews Street (Kensington Garage)
Remember, if you don’t have wi-fi in this country then you have to figure out directions beforehand or find open wi-fi.
I try to find local small businesses in the area for this, but if I’m not sure, my go-to open wi-fi place in Canada is Tim Horton’s, which also has good coffee and snacks that are reasonably priced.
(But if you are in Kensington Market, do your best to support the local businesses. They have had to fight to keep this area cool and unusual and to keep big box stores out, so help them to do that by spending money in the local establishments.)