For any backpacker visiting the Canadian Rockies, a stop-off in Banff is a must.
Banff is the gateway to some of North America’s best hikes found in Canada’s oldest national park: Banff National Park.
In between hikes you will need a place to rest up and recharge your batteries.
Banff is in such a special part of Canada that I want you to stay in a place that is as beautiful as the surrounding mountains (without spending to0 much cash).
That is exactly why I wrote this guide to the best hostels in Banff for 2020.
Get insider tips regarding the best hostel for solo travelers in Banff, best hostel for digital nomads, and my top pick for the best cheap sleep in town.
By the end of this guide you will have a proper idea of what all of the best hostels in Banff are about.
The town of Banff is the perfect base in which to explore the wilds of Canada. But before you start thinking about mountains and glaciated lakes, let’s think about cheap, comfortable beds for just a minute…
Here we go…
Quick Answer: The Best Hostels in Banff
- Overall Best Hostel in Banff – Samesun Banff
- Best Hostel for Solo Travellers in Banff – HI Banff Alpine Centre
- Best Cheap Hostel in Banff – HI Whiskey Jack
- Best Hostel for Digital Nomads in Banff – Banff International Hostel
- Best Hostel with a Private Room in Banff – HI Lake Louise
The 10 Best Hostels in Banff
We said it before: if you’re backpacking Canada, there’s no way around Banff. The charming gateway is a little paradise for all nature enthusiast, hikers, and backpackers that want to see something else than just skyscrapers and cement.
To make sure you find the right hostel for you, do some research on where you want to stay in Banff before you start your travels. This is especially important if you want to be close to certain attractions or trailheads – no need to travel for hours if you look it up beforehand!
Overall Best Hostel in Banff – Samesun Banff
- Free Breakfast
- Self Catering Facilities
Just because it’s the overall best hostel in Banff doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be the cheapest. But no matter: Samesun Banff is also the most centrally located hostel in the area, which is good news if you don’t want to hire your own wheels to zip around. The hostel itself features clean and spacious dorms, a pretty authentic looking bar area, a decent kitchen to cook your own meals in, and general sorta rustic-yet-contemporary lodge-esque decor. It’s nice. The staff is helpful and friendly and the free breakfast is great – what’s not to like? (Well, except the price – but this is the best hostel in Banff 2020).
Best Hostel for Solo Travellers in Banff – HI Banff Alpine Centre
- Towels Included
- Self Catering Facilities
- 24-Hour Reception
With its variety of activities and friendly staff, and the general vibe of the place (when there’s not a large group of ski-schoolers taking over this youth hostel in Banff), this Hostel International lodging is a cool place to meet people. There’s a decent bar area and a general cosy vibe of looking exactly like a log cabin in some of its common areas. Because of the decent vibe here we’d say it’s the best hostel for solo travellers in Banff – you gotta have a go at karaoke night on Friday for a good laugh. If only AT everyone trying to sing. Slightly pricey though; you do get a free bus pass to get to and from (and around) Banff, however!
Best Cheap Hostel in Banff – HI Whiskey Jack
- View of an actual waterfall
- Linen Included
- Outdoor Terrace
The quite nicely named Whisky Jack Hostel is a Hostel International-approved lodging that’s set in the wilderness of Yoho National Park, just 27km to the west of Lake Louise – but much quieter as a result. This youth hostel in Banff (or the Banff area) is a very affordable option and, considering that the vista from the hostel deck is pretty much a private view of the literally stunning Takakkaw Falls (one of Canada’s five highest), it’s easily the best cheap hostel in Banff. It’s not luxury, but flushing toilets, running water, shelter, and a great atmosphere is all you need in a place that is this amazing, seriously.
Best Hostel for Digital Nomads in Banff – Banff International Hostel
- Free Breakfast
- Free Tea & Coffee
- Free Laundry
Surprisingly NOT a “Hostel International” budget hostel in Banff (a lot of them are HI-run), the oppositely named International Hostel is a great place to stay if you got some work to do. Laptop-wise, that is. There are plenty of nice little places to work in the glassy cafe/lobby area of this hostel, plus a load of computers you can use if you don’t fancy being tracked one day. We’d say it’s the best hostel for digital nomads in Banff because of that nice space for laptopping, though the price – not as expensive as others in the area – is also acceptable. The many free perks – breakfast! espresso machine! laundry! – make staying here even better as a long-term traveller.
Best Hostel with a Private Room in Banff – HI Lake Louise
- Outdoor Terrace
- Hot Showers
- Luggage Storage
With a feel that looks closer to authentic lodge than youth hostel in Banff, the unfussy and charmingly rustic decor of HI Lake Louise gives this place a really nice cosy feeling. And we like feeling cosy especially when visiting Banff in winter. The private rooms here are… expensive, but given the quality of the facilities, the location to the lake itself, and the general feel of the place, we’d say this is the best hostel with a private room in Banff. You’ll also find the staff to be super helpful here in giving up-to-the-minute info about trail accessibility and all that important stuff you need when escaping to nature like you do in Banff.
Psst! Heading to a hostel? Don’t forget to pack a padlock! It’s well worth having one so you can secure your locker and protect your stuff!
More Best Hostels in Banff
Oh yes, there’s more! If you’re not happy with the selection of accommodations so far, check out more of the best hostels in Banff.
- Free Parking
Very much a wilderness hostel (yeah – we’re talkin’ no showers; and only outhouse toilets, which means no flush) HI Mosquito Creek is the sorta place you come to if you want to enjoy a camping trip-type vibe, complete with sitting around a fire. It’s pretty much right next to the creek but is a little difficult to find. Oh and if you thought you’d be Instagramming your pics from here, think again: there’s no internet, so you’ll have to save ’em all up for when you’re at the next destination, just like the Kardashians do so people don’t know where they are- errr, we mean, if you like roughing it in nature, this youth hostel in Banff is 10/10.
- Fire Pit
It’s another Banff backpackers hostel smack bang in the middle of nature – and, funnily enough, another one that’s also right next to a creek. This one’s called Rampart Creek, though. No flushing toilets, no internet, no showers, no electricity even. Solar-powered lights guide you to three outhouse toilets that are surprisingly clean. It is, however, incredibly cheap and – especially if you WANT the whole cut-off-from-civilisation deal – a great shout for a budget hostel in Banff. The warden will even let you connect to his WiFi if you ask nicely – when it’s on, that is. Whatever you have planned on your Banff itinerary, this is a good solid base.
- Bar & Cafe
- Tour/Travel Desk
- 24-Hour Reception
Located just across the river from Banff proper, YWCA Banff Hotel (definitely a hostel though – it’s got dorms) is a nicely affordable top hostel in Banff – especially given its great location, tasteful decor, helpful staff and generally great facilities. One thing that might be annoying for some people is single-sex dorms only – too bad if you’re in a couple. But they also have private rooms. Whilst this recommended hostel in Banff does have WiFi, we regret to inform you that it isn’t the greatest… and the common rooms shut at 11pm. So no partying and no Twitter stories. It isn’t to far to central Banff and all of the restaurants and things to do in town.
More good stuff…
Feeling like a hostel just isn’t for you? Too much wilderness? (Yeah, us too…) Well, there are loads of hotels in the much-touristed town of Banff for you to choose from, so we’ve narrowed it down to just two contenders. Peep ’em below.
Best Budget Hotel in Banff – Homestead Inn Banff
- Free Tea & Coffee
- Pool/Hot Tub/Sauna
Though it’s supposed to be budget, it’s not EXACTLY what a backpacker would call budget. However, compared to many hotels in the area, this one is a good bet for someone on a budget. Featuring decent facilities (again, for a backpacker) like an indoor pool, hot tub and a sauna, plus spacious comfortable rooms with TVs and mini-fridges, Inns of Banff is our choice for the best budget hotel in Banff. There are three onsite restaurants for your gastronomic exploration and the style of the place is boutique-lodge-ish. It’s a good choice if hostels ain’t your thing.
Best Splurge Hotel in Banff – Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel
- Absolute Luxury
- Historic Building
- So Many Activities
If you have the money to burn or you really just fancy splashing out whilst on your trip to Banff, we truly implore you to stay at our pick for the best splurge hotel in Banff: the literally ridiculous Scottish Baronial-style edifice that is Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. About as far from a budget hostel in Banff as you can get, this iconic luxury hotel dates back almost 150 years and features its own spas, ski shuttles, an onsite snow school, bowling, tennis, horseback riding, a large indoor pool and a smaller heated outdoor pool, a concierge service, a tasty restaurant, attentive staff… Pffft, if that’s not enough, then just look at it – LOOK AT IT! Rest up here for a night or so and get back to enjoying the best hikes in Banff!
What to Pack for your Banff Hostel
Here’s some gear our editors take hostelling.
1. Active Roots Water Bottle: Sturdy and durable, the Active Roots water bottle survives the roughest adventures while keeping your drink cold or hot for at least 24 hours. Vacuum-sealed and made from stainless steel, the bottle can fit 25oz, which is plenty to keep you hydrated. Super cool bonus: the bottle isn’t just super useful, it helps to reduce the single-use plastic waste – save the planet by filling up your bottle.
2. Active Roots Toiletry Bag: Keep your bath-and-beauty items organized and in the right place with this water-resistant bag. With large compartments, mesh and enclosed clear sections, you can fit everything you might need inside. Hang it up or let it stand on its own – this bag is a must-have for dorm-lifers.
3. Headphone Splitter: You’re the one with the Netflix account and your friend wants to watch too? But you don’t want to share headphones? And you’re good people who wouldn’t disturb your dorm mates? That’s not going to be a problem with this Headphone Splitter! Plug in two pairs of headphones at the same time, so both of you are able to listen to music or watch shows simultaneously. It comes in handy and won’t weigh you down.
4. Noise-Cancelling Earbuds: You’ll have some pretty sorry roommates – it happens from time to time. These noise-canceling earbuds help mitigate the damage. The comfortable and ergonomic design won’t hurt your ears while sleeping no matter how long you keep them in. Increase the quality of your sleep by listening to some relaxing music at night or just enjoy the silence.
5. Playing Cards: These waterproof cards are essential kit for every backpacker. Play by the pool, beach or at your hostel after a long day with travel buds, without your cards breaking or getting soaked. And once you pull out those cards, the chance that you’ll be the hero of the night is pretty high (no promises though).
6. Power Bank: Everyone knows the mini heart attack when your phone is about to run out of power. Surviving long bus rides without charging stations can be agonizing, which is why every backpacker should have this Anker Power Bank. You can charge your phone up to 5 times, or plug in two devices simultaneously. With high-speed charging and enough power to keep you going for days, you can conquer even the biggest adventures without a problem.
Why you should travel to Banff
Well my friends, the time has come to say goodbye: we have reached the end of the line for my best hostels in Banff for 2020 list.
Banff is truly located in a special part of the world and my hope is that as many backpackers as possible get to experience it. Visiting Banff isn’t super cheap, though you are now prepared to keep costs low with all of your newfound knowledge regarding backpacker accommodation. If you’re traveling with friends and can split the costs, these awesome cabins and lodges in Banff are some of the best properties you’ll find and allow a unique experience in nature.
The point in writing this guide was to illuminate all of the best hostels in Banff in a way that makes it easy for you to choose the perfect spot for yourself. If you are like me, you can agree that it is way more fun to plan an epic hike than it is to research hostels.
Good news! The hard work is now over and you are ready to book the right place for yourself, so you can focus more on the mountains and less on where to sleep in Banff.
All of the best hostels in Banff are now in your pocket. The choice of where to book is now in your hands…
In times of uncertainty I recommend that you just go with my top overall pick for the best hostel in Banff: Samesun Banff. Happy travels and even happier hiking!
Travel Safety Tips for Banff
And don’t forget Travel Insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of Travel Insurance for backpackers – check it out here, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads, our favorite travel insurance provider.
Getting an estimate from World Nomads is simple – just click the button or image below, fill out the necessary info, and you’re on your way!
More Epic Hostels in Canada and North America
Hopefully by now you’ve found the perfect hostel for your upcoming trip to Banff.
Planning an epic trip all across Canada or even North America itself?
Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered!
For more cool hostel guides around North America, check out:
Over to you
By now I hope our epic guide to the best hostels in Banff has helped you choose the perfect hostel for your adventure!
If you think we’ve missed anything or have any further thoughts, hit us up in the comments!
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