It was like seeing an old friend again, for the first time in 14 months. First there was the excitement (“I can’t wait to do this!”), then the worry (“Is this the right choice? Going through with this?”), then the anticipation (“This better go well… what if this doesn’t go well?”), then the reassurance (“Of COURSE things will be fine!”). And finally when you meet again, all those feelings get mixed together like a pool of hot bubbling paint and you just gotta dive right in and hope you emerge feeling warm & colorful rather than burned & sewage-brown (because let’s face it, all those paint colors mixed together don’t always produce Majestic Mountain Purple).
Okay, maybe this isn’t a very good analogy because I’ve never encountered any pools of bubbling paint in my lifetime. Really I’m talking about booking & staying at a hostel.
For the first time in over a year, I stayed at a hostel and felt all those emotions. After some research & contemplation, my travel companion Lara & I agreed to stay at Planet Traveler during a long weekend in Toronto.
Why did we originally choose Planet Traveler?
There were a couple things that attracted us to Planet Traveler:
- Eco-friendly & New: We took that as clean and updated. We were correct in our assumptions.
- Location: In Kensington Market and within close proximity to other “must see” sights.
- Cost: Only $35 per night (including tax) is a steal
- Rooftop: Because who doesn’t like soaking up the sun and having incredible downtown skyline views?
Highlighted Features & Amenities
Rooms: Planet Traveler has two room styles: dorm or private. We opted for the dorm due to availability and the lower price point. There were 6 beds to a room, bunk-style. The room was narrow and tight, so don’t plan on doing cartwheels. What was genius about these rooms was the floor plan: when you first keyed in, there was a small hallway with the lockers. Then behind another door were the beds. This was an extra disruption-buffer convenient for the late-night returners and early-morning risers. How considerate. Linens were provided.
Bathrooms: Clean and new… and private! Of all the hostels I’ve been to, this was among the Top 2 of best in-room bathrooms. There was even a “backup” bathroom in the hallway in case any of your roommates were taking their sweet ole time in the shower when you had to tinkle. The bathroom was also mindfully located in the locker hallway.
Common Areas: There were two common areas: the basement and the rooftop. The basement had the reception desk, lounge with couches, chairs, tables, a TV, 3 Mac computers, bathrooms, laundry room, and kitchen. The basement was open, clean and bright with sidewalk-level windows. The rooftop had incredible views of the Toronto skyline. There was a covered lounge/kitchen along with outdoor tables/grill. The hostel always hosts a Saturday night barbeque. Unfortunately both common areas locked up at midnight.
Free Wifi: While wifi should be accessible throughout the building, it didn’t seem to reach my room. Could be because we were at the end of the hallway.
Other Features: Free breakfast, bikes for rent, no curfew, eco-friendly “green” building
I have to admit that the marketer in me was originally irked that before I ever committed to their hostel, I sent a tweet that flew unacknowledged on the interweb. Hello?! Potential customer opportunity! Good thing this wasn’t a deciding factor…
It took a hot minute to find the hostel and parking. Driving in Toronto is just too congested & confusing for an outsider. The driveway was a narrow stretch of concrete between the hostel & a church with a tiny 4-car lot along the side.
I immediately loved the warm welcome we received. The staff was kind and helpful, offering tips and spending time scribbling on a map to guide our days’ journeys. Impressively, they remembered who we were and what our plans were. “Hey Amanda! How was that bike ride yesterday?”
Breakfast/brunch was served every morning. I expected a typical toast & jam setup but was impressed with a variety of cereals, toast, jams, PB, bananas, fruit, etc. etc. etc.
Although there was no curfew, the common areas/reception was closed from midnight – 7am. This was a little frustrating when after a late night out we just wanted to sit back on the rooftop or check email on the computers. But I suppose it could have been worse.
Planet Traveler offered bike rentals! $20 for the whole day. They do have a limited amount of bikes, so claim yours early.
The beds were actually pretty comfortable, although my first night I was a mess. I was too focused on the strangers in the room. I wanted to be courteous to them sleeping. But… SQUEAK. Stupid. Bedframe. I’m a tosser/turner. Not good when you’re trying to be a considerate roommate. I was so conscious of everything. I’d pull my comforter up. SQUEAK. Itch my pinky finger. SQUEAK. Roll onto my back. SQUEEEEAK. And then I woke up thirsty. I laid there, trying to justify my thirst for climbing down the top bunk, causing a squeakfest and surely waking up my hostelmates. Dang it. I remained parched that night. The following night, I was smarter. I brought a water bottle to bed and shoved toilet paper in my ears. My theory that if I couldn’t hear myself squeak, I wouldn’t be so concerned about everyone else proved true. Or maybe I was just more tired on that second night. Regardless, the remaining nights of sleep were a smidge more restful.
Yes. If you’re looking for affordable accommodation in Toronto, particularly a quality hostel, Planet Traveler would be an excellent option. For someone who hadn’t stayed in a hostel for over a year, I did enjoy my time.