Torontoans and Montrealers - what hostels should we avoid?

We’re going to honeymoon in TO and Montreal, traveling by train, in the middle-late August. The hotel prices are uh, prohibitive, and I’ve been looking at hostels. Many have private rooms and we’re not fancy folks either, but I want to avoid The Place Locals Know To Fear. Help! We’re not partiers and we’re old so we need our sleep.

In Toronto there is a very scary place at the southeast corner of Church and Dundas. Do not stay there. It looks like a shithole. The neighboring buildings are abandoned storefronts in which there was a murder a few months ago. And the other building next to it is a burnt out, boarded up building. Raccoons live in the roof. (They were very cute when they were babies.)

There is a very cheap hotel on Bay St. within walking distance of the bus station (just north). It doesn’t actually look half bad. They advertise rates starting around $50 a night. It’s surrounded by some hospital buildings, a parking lot and one of the big major hotels (the one with the indoor waterslide) across the street. Since it’s not near any bars or real nightlife, there’s no real allure for seedy elements it seems quite benign. I’d stay there if I didn’t live in the city.

I’ll check out the name on the way to work tomorrow. It has a very generic name like “Dsiscount Hotel”.

I’ve stayed at both Global Village Backpackers and Canadiana Backpackers in Toronto, and while they were both OK for a single traveler, they tend to cater to young and party-oriented folks, and I’m not sure that’s quite the atmosphere you’d want on your honeymoon? Canadiana is quieter, for what it’s worth.

The HI on Rue Mackay in Montreal ought to be fine, though, and they do have private rooms.

A friend of mine lives across the street from that hotel. I can’t understand how it can be so cheap considering it looks rather nice from the outside.

I’m going to throw out a bit of a general recommendation for Toronto. Don’t stay at any hostels east of Yonge. Church/Jarvis/Sherbourne/Parliament. I’d just stay away. Any hostels in this area will not be in a good location in terms of safety and distance to where you want to be.

I live in the Church/Jarvis/Parliament area you’re referring to. Being right in the heart of dowtown, it’s actually agreat location for most of the places you want to see (I can walk to the Distillery district, the Eaton Center, the Canon and Elgin theatres, the Art Gallery, the ROM and Kensington Market, all in one afternoon). The neighbourhoods are actually safe and have an undeserved bad rep. HOWEVER, there are also several men’s shelters in the area (Queen and Dundas between Parliament and Yonge). In the months when there are a surplus of homeless folks, the shelters fill up and other really cheap accommodations then get quite a bit dodgy.

There are some great bed and breakfasts in this area, and the moderately priced major chain hotels (Ramada, Best Western etc.) are perfectly safe. But probably outside your price range (around $140 a night).

I don’t recommend any of the cheap hotels in this area. But the Ramada, Carlton, Primrose, Grand etc. are good hotels, safe and centrally located in the downtown area, if your budget permits.

I’m not sure Torontonians and Montrealers are gonna have good recommendations concerning hostels in their own towns. I’ve lived in both cities, and, predictably, never stayed in a hostel in either one.

On a couple of occasions in Montreal, however, I stayed in the McGill University residences for a week or two during the summer. It was very cheap (about a hundred and something for a week, fifteen years ago – sure to be more now, if they still rent out rooms for the summer). The residence was partway up Mount Royal, so it meant a bit of a hike to get back “home” each evening, but it was quiet and calm. The residences were not air-conditioned at the time – don’t know about now. They were bare bones rooms with no frills. Some floors were co-ed. Not exactly honeymoon lodgings, but it’s the best I’ve got. Anyway, things have probably changed a bit. McGill University is very close to downtown.

I’ve stayed in university residences in a few Canadian cities, including Halifax, but not Toronto. Certainly University of Toronto has plenty of residences, right downtown. Maybe there’s space in the summer. I really don’t know.

There were plenty of older people and travelers in the residences I used during the summer. There were also plenty of empty rooms, which generally meant quiet. But, as I say, this was all a good ten to fifteen years ago.

That’s actually a really good idea, Lunar! It looks like McGill does still rent out rooms in rez - including in New Rez, which is a recently converted hotel right downtown.

Well, if you want to go that route in Toronto as well, I just remembered Glendon College, which is part of York University. York is way up in northern Toronto (Keele and Steeles), but the Glendon campus is in a swank, leafy part of the city (Lawrence and Bayview). That’s not exactly a central location (you’ll need bus or cab to get downtown), but if they rent out residences in the summer, I’ll bet they’re nice.

It seems to me that Ryerson University (which used to be a downtown technical college) has made serious upgrades since it moved up to university status. Maybe there’s something there too.

My only caution is that university rooms are university rooms – there wasn’t a even a TV or phone in the rooms where I stayed years ago.

This is what I was going to recommend as well, but forgot to mention until I biked past Ryerson on the way to work. I’m pretty sure both Ryerson and U of T rent out rooms in some of their student residences in the summer. Bathroom facilities are often shared though.

And I took a detour to go past that cheap, safe-looking hotel on Bay St. It has two signs, one says it’s “The Bay Street Hotel”, the other sign (on their windows) says “Inn on Bay”. However, now that I know the hotel name, I was able to look up online reviews and they are pretty bad. Eg/ “Numbers on the door written in pen… absolutely disgusting… worst place to stay on earth.”

The Econo Lodge across the street from the “hooker Harvey’s” gets better reviews.

Pity, I was always curious about the place.

I guess I wasn’t as clear as I could’ve been. I was speaking only about cheap hostels in the area. One of my best friends lives at Sherbourne and Richmond and I’ve got no problems visiting him. But I would not stay in a hostel in the area.

The Ramada is a different story…if they can afford it.

Here is the information for Ryerson University’s Summer Residence Hotel. It’s right in the heart of downtown Toronto, right by the Eaton Centre. I pass it every day on the way to work.

I’d recommend looking into that. We had some people stay there for MeKaRo a couple of years ago, and heard no problems.

No, I didn’t mean to imply you were frowning on the area. I wasn’t referring to the safety of the area, but rather the part where you said they aren’t good as far as “distance from where you want to be.” (Although, there are youth hostels closer to the clubbing district, if that’s more your cup of tea.)

They are in a great location… but many of them are horrible.

A few of the cheap, nasty dives are interspersed between the decent hotels. There is a Very Scary place almost next door to the Grand Hotel. I think it has a hand painted sign and they advertise mailbox rentals so people can have an address where they can pick up welfare checks. Jarvis is a very weird street that way. Some part gentrified, then right next door you have the scariest of the scary housing.

I’m actually surprised to see so many good reviews for the Econo Lodge near the hooker Harvey’s. There are a few good hotels in the area nearby, and that hotel has gone through an enormous effort to renovate and clean things up. They even completely re-did the facade of the building. That place used to be really scary-looking. The worst review I’ve read online so far says there are cigarette burns on the carpet and bed cover. As compared to the Bay Street Hotel which has hysterically bad reviews despite being in a quieter and safer looking neighbourhood.

They’re rather nice. Never stayed in them myself, but I lived in the area years ago, and we’d occasionally head over to Glendon for social activities in the summertime. The residences were occupied in the summer–whether they were for students only or for anybody, I don’t know. But certainly, the Glendon residences would be worth looking into; the Glendon campus is beautiful and IIRC, fairly quiet.

To get downtown from there, take a Lawrence bus from outside the main gate over to Lawrence subway station. That’s about a ten-minute ride, then once you’re in the subway, it’s about a 20-minute train ride into downtown.

This is a prime Plateau location, and gives you great access to Mt. Royal and St. Laurent (and a 10-minute walk to the metro)

Sometimes the best deals are apartment suites for business travelers, and you don’t even need to be there for business.

My last visit to Toronto, I stayed here:

A great deal if you are staying a week or more - and you have a small kitchen, which saves you the cost of at least one meal a day. Plus it is right by a subway station which means you can get anywhere in the city in no time at all. Because it is weekly suites, they don’t change your towels or replace your soap every day, but do you really need that?

Wow, they have some really good locations there.

We’re only going to be in TO for 2 days, then off to Montreal for 2 days, then back to TO for an overnight. On the advice of Dopers and the Intarwebs, we booked the Canadiana; looks both clean and well-located along with cheaper than a hotel. We’re working on Montreal, I’ll surely check out McGill. One of my lifelong friends graduated from there a million years ago and stole a plate from their cafeteria for a Christmas gift for me. Been using it for almost 18 years.

I digress…we’ll check out McGill! Thanks for all the hints folks, you’re always so helpful and kind.

PS, it’s cute to watch Canadians argue, it usually winds up being a fight to see who can apologize quickest. :slight_smile:

Pffft! Never seen Canadians arguing over hockey, have you?

Rats, can’t do McGill, they stop summer accomodations August 15 and we’ll be there the following week.
Guess it’s back to matt_mcl’s basement dungeon and stale poutine.