When I booked my first ever stay at a youth hostel, Auberge De Paris in Montreal, I was nervous and excited.
I wasn’t sure what to expect. What if the hostel was unclean? What if there were bedbugs? Would the bed be comfortable? Would my roommates be cool enough to share a room with, hang out with?
I brushed my worries aside. I needed to focus on my priorities. The whole point of this weekend away to Montreal was to practice travel “on the cheap” continuing with my mission to transform myself from a princess into a hosteling backpacker.
When my cab dropped me off at the hostel, I fell in love with the European structure of Auberge De Paris. Housed in a heritage mansion, the building is more than 100 years old.
The great part about this? I can say that I stayed in a mansion which cost a mere $25 a night!
The hostel is in a great location and within walking distance to the Latin quarter, L’avenue de Mont Royal, Ste-Catherine Street and a subway station to connect you to other parts of the city.
When I saw the sign Hotel De Paris, I was confused. I thought it was called Auberge De Paris. Turns out that the mansion is home to both a youth hostel and hotel with the youth hostel being located in the basement and the hotel on the upper floors.
The hostel also has an on-site bistro, Bistro De Paris which serves breakfast and lunch.
This is the cute little waiting area near the front desk.
The staff at the front desk were as friendly and helpful as any concierge would be at a larger, more costly hotel. They handed me a city map, provided me with detailed transit instructions and gave me great advice about a place to have brunch on Saturday morning. Moreover, they were extremely patient with all my questions about the hostel itself.
As I walked downstairs to the hostel, I came across this pile of trash and junk.
They really need to do something about this! It looks horrible. There’s no good reason that this couldn’t be cleaned up and some of the items stored outdoors. Also, the walls could use a coat of paint and the old decrepit carpet could be lifted and replaced.
After coming downstairs, you walk along this long hallway. Thankfully the trail of trash had stopped. Unfortunately, the bad smell did not.
Arriving in the common area, things started to get better.
I never stayed in residence when I went to post secondary school, but I’d imagine it to look something like this.
One of the hostel’s best amenities is the free (non-secure) wi-fi. The connection is lightening fast! A little office space is also set-up for those without laptops.
While other areas are a little run-down and could use some sprucing up, the kitchen is spacious and modern.
I woke up to the smells of other people cooking breakfast each day, making me quite hungry. The smell of yummy food would briefly replace the weird smell that overtook the hostel.
I booked an all female dorm that could sleep up to 6 people.
There are lockers to store your valuables, costing $1 per use. If you don’t have a “loonie” (Canadian one dollar coin) on hand, you can get change from the front desk.
I ended up having only one roommate for the weekend, a girl from Paris, France who was actually living at the hostel. She was quiet and kept to herself. Nice enough, we had a good conversation on Saturday night about where she was from and how she came to be living in Montreal and the hostel itself.
Other than her, the hostel was almost empty of people that weekend. I only saw one or two other men around. One said hi and the other looked right through me when I said hi to him. The social experience I had been looking forward to was certainly lacking.
Continuing with the college dorm theme, the bunk beds make you feel like a child again. I grabbed an upper bunk and slept in bed #1.
Each single bed is moderately comfortable. It comes with fresh linen, one pillow and one light blanket.
The room was simple, but clean.
My only complaint was that the room was hot. So hot that it felt like a sweat lodge, a ceremonial sauna. My first night there was a religious, purifying experience. I was in sweat pants, a t-shirt and slept without a blanket. I was still hot.
The next morning I spoke with the front desk and they advised as to where the heater’s switch was located. I turned it off and slept quite comfortably the following night.
The room had it’s own private bathroom with one toilet and a shower. I had a few issues with the bathroom.
The sink was plugged and the water wasn’t draining properly. One of the lights was burnt out. Quick fixes, I let the front desk know when I was checking out and they promised to address it as soon as possible.
The other issue is that the shower curtain isn’t long enough and when you shower, the bathroom floor gets flooded. I didn’t say anything to the front desk but my advice is to bring sandals. Not just for this hostel, but for any hostel you stay in when you’re sharing public bathroom facilities.
Other advice? Bring your own towel. I forgot to bring one and it cost me an additional $3 to rent one from the hostel.
This amusing sign provides the rules for an enjoyable stay. I personally had a really tough time complying with rule #8.
While parts of the hostel are a little bit worn and could use some updating, the good outweighs the bad. The location of the hotel, the spacious and modern kitchen, the helpful and friendly front desk staff (on duty 24/7) and the free and fast wi-fi connection make Auberge De Paris a place worth staying.
Total cost for the weekend was $56, plus taxes. $25 per night, $3 for using a locker and $3 to rent a towel. For this price, I will continue to stay at hostels.
If you’re not up to a hostel experience, stay at the Hotel De Paris upstairs offering rooms at affordable rates, starting at $69 a night.
If you are considering staying at a hostel for the first time, here’s a great article from bakpakguide.com which outlines what you can expect.