There is no better place to truly dive into the history and culture of Canada than in its gem in the crown: Ottawa! With its wide-open public squares, lively markets, massive museums, and warm smiles, Ottawa is the kind of place where you can’t help but feel right at home. With everything from art galleries to science museums, you will never be lacking in things to explore in the city. With festivals and events happening nearly every weekend, there is always something going on in Ottawa!
The only thing that may give you second thoughts about traveling to Ottawa with all of its life and history is the lack of budget hotels in the city. While you may find a couple of hostels that fit the bill, there are few places that will have you living that classic backpacker’s experience!
That is exactly why we made this complete guide to all the best hostels in Ottawa! Now you can book with confidence that you will be staying in a hostel that fits how you like to travel!
Pull out your cameras and slip on your walking shoes, your adventure to Ottawa awaits!
Quick Answer: The Best Hostels in Ottawa
- Overall Best Hostel in Ottawa – HI Ottawa Jail Hostel
- Best Hostel for Solo Travelers in Ottawa – Ottawa Sleep Inn
- Best Cheap Hostel in Ottawa – Ottawa Backpackers Inn
- Best Hostel for Couples in Ottawa – Motel Montcalm
- Best Hostel for Digital Nomads in Ottawa – Danielle’s BnB
The Best Hostels in Ottawa
Let’s kick off the list to all the top hostels in Ottawa! Each hostel and guesthouse has something that makes it special, so keep your eyes open for the one that fits how you like to travel!
Best Overall Hostel in Ottawa – HI Ottawa Jail Hostel
- Breakfast Included
HI Ottawa Jail Hostel is one of the few places in town where you can enjoy all the perks of staying in a backpacker’s hostel and hang out in a social atmosphere. Situated in a 150-year-old jail, this piece of local history has transformed the jail cells into the coziest dorm rooms in Ottawa. You won’t only be getting a cheap place to sleep at this youth hostel, they also offer movie rooms, a terrace, and even a cafe serving up breakfast. What will really win you over is the movie nights and pub crawls which will really have you out and enjoying Ottawa to the fullest!
Best Hostel for Solo Travelers in Ottawa – Ottawa Sleep Inn
- Breakfast Not Included
If you have been on the road for some time you will eventually be wanting to check into a hostel that will have you out and chatting with the other travelers. As a solo traveler, there is no better place to call home in town than Ottawa Sleep Inn! At this budget backpacker’s hostel, you will be lured in with some of the cheapest dorm beds in town, but you will stay for the laid back vibes and cozy lounges that are perfect for mixing with the other guests. Top it off with a cafe serving up breakfast every morning and you will feel right at home in Ottawa!
Best Cheap Hostel in Ottawa – Ottawa Backpackers Inn
- Shared Kitchen
If you really want to feel like you are moving right into Ottawa, Ottawa Backpackers Inn is a hostel that is located right inside of a traditional townhouse! Each of the rooms has been converted into lounges, a kitchen, and dorm rooms so you can get all the comfort of a house but the vibes of a backpacker’s hostel. When you are ready to start exploring, you will find that Ottawa Backpackers Inn has you just minutes away from the downtown, making it one of the best places in Ottawa to base yourself out of!
Best Hostel for Couples in Ottawa – Motel Montcalm
- Swimming Pool
- Breakfast Included
You may not think a motel sounds very romantic, but Motel Montcalm opens up into some of the coziest and modern rooms you can find on a budget in Ottawa! As a couple, you will eventually be wanting some much needed alone time. So ditch the hostels for a couple of nights and book yourself into Motel Montcalm. Here you will not only be getting a cheap private room that fits the budget of your average backpacker, but you will also be staying just a short walk away from many of the top places to visit in Ottawa. Complete with a swimming pool and a cafe serving breakfast every morning, this is one stay that will exceed your expectations!
Best Hostel for Digital Nomads in Ottawa – Danielle’s BnB
- Shared Kitchen
There is no better way to get in touch with local culture in Ottawa than by checking into a BnB. For about the same price as a dorm bed in a hostel or a budget room in a guesthouse, you can be checking into your own private room in this BnB and get the chance to see Ottawa through the eyes of a local! With a shared kitchen, lounge, and even games to pick up when you are bored, you are sure to feel right at home! Keeping the downtown at an arms-length distance, you will have all the peace and quiet of the suburbs while still enjoying all the nearby sites, restaurants, and bars!
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 of the Best Hostels in Ottawa
- Women Only
Sorry guys, one of the best hostels in Ottawa is only available to female travelers. Challenging even the top hostels in Ottawa, Barefoot Hostel has made a name for itself with its cheap dorm beds, onsite terrace, and relaxing lounges ideal for kicking back and chatting with the other travelers. What will really have you sold on this girls-only youth hostel is the fact that you will be staying in the heart of Ottawa. With all the best museums, parks, and sites nearby, you couldn’t ask for a better place to base yourself out of. The cheap beds, clean rooms, and relaxing vibes secures Barefoot Hostel a spot as one of the best youth hostels in Ottawa!
Single-use plastic bottles are a huge threat to Marine Life – Be a part of the solution and travel with a filter water bottle.
The GRAYL GEOPRESS water bottle is the ONLY all-in-one filter water bottle setup you’ll need. Whether you need to purify the water from a hostel sink in Kathmandu or a stream trickle in the Andes, the Geopress has got you covered.
Read our full review of the GRAYL GEOPRESS!
- Shared Kitchen
Rather than staying in a hostel or a uniform budget hotel, consider a local guesthouse or Airbnb in Ottawa! There is no better place to get in touch with the culture of Ottawa than by staying in the heart of downtown Ottawa with some local Canadians! At this BnB you will have access to the kitchen, lounge, and the garden, making you feel right at home! What will really win you over about this stay is the fact that you will be right smack in the thick of the action! With the ByWard Market just a few minutes away from your door, there is no better place to base yourself out of in Ottawa!
What to Pack for your Ottawa Hostel
Pants, socks, underwear… Here are some other items you might not have thought to pack.
1. Active Roots Toiletry Bag: The Active Roots Toiletry bag keeps all of your bathroom essential items organized instead of flowing around your backpack. Having everything handy and accessible in one water-resistant bag is a bathroom lifesaver. This toiletry bag also helps from being that embarrassed person walking back to the dorm room, in a towel, to grab forgotten shampoo.
2. Universal Travel Adapter: Not every country has the same electrical plug style, so carry along a universal travel adapter. You’ll want one that covers varying voltage levels, has protection from power surges, a fried laptop is not fun, and enough ports so you don’t have to spend all day individually charging your devices.
3. Active Roots Microfibre Towel – Having your own towel is a must when traveling since most hostels don’t provide them. Plus as a backpacker, use of a towel will extend further than just showers, it’s a minimalist yoga towel and a great beach blanket/towel combo! The Active Roots Microfiber Towel is really the best solution for backpacking.
4. Sea to Summit Travel Soap – The Sea to Summit multipurpose soap leaves are the perfect hygiene travel companion. The individual, Leave-no-Trace-certified strips are great for keeping your hands clean before you eat in that dodgy but delicious restaurant. There are also little strip packs for laundry, shampoo and shaving.
5. Headphone Splitter -Don’t be those awkward people sharing one earbud on the bus, as you show off your in-depth music knowledge to your new friend. A headphone splitter is a great item to bring traveling, it works fantastic on those long bus rides or easy dorm Netflix nights when you want to relax and connect with someone.
6. Padlock – Keep your stuff safe, guys. Unfortunately not all dorm lockers share the same security standard. You’ll want a lightweight lock that can fit all the various dorm lockers you’ll clip it to. Having a padlock that is flexible and can fit a variety of locker styles is the best way to make sure none of your belongings wander away while you are out.
Why you should travel to Ottawa
From your classic hostels that are perfect for kicking back and chatting with other travelers to your guesthouses and homestays where you will be getting some much-needed peace and quiet, there are so many different ways that you can experience Ottawa! Where ever you end up booking into will set the tone for your entire trip!
We can totally understand if you are still a bit torn between two or three great places to stay in Ottawa. We can help point you in the right direction! For us, no place beats HI Ottawa Jail Hostel, and that’s why they are our pick for the best hostel in Ottawa!
Over to you
All of the history and romantic walks in Ottawa will be laid out in front of you before you know it! With all of the city’s history, culture, and beauty, don’t be surprised when you are planning your next trip to Canada even before you step back on the airplane. Of course, you will want to check off sites such as the parliament building and the national gallery, but it is the off the beaten path destinations that will have you truly falling in love with the city!
It won’t take much to get you sold on traveling to Ottawa, but finding a proper hostel to stay in is another story altogether. Even though you won’t have tons of dorm rooms to choose from, you will find that there are several great BnBs and guesthouses in town to fill the void. No matter if you are looking to socialize or get some good shit eye, Ottawa has a place for you!
Have you ever traveled to Ottawa and stayed in a great backpacker’s hostel we may have missed? We would love to hear about it in the comments below!
And don’t forget to sort your travel insurance before heading to Ottawa! We’ve put together a roundup of the best 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!
Do you own or run a kick ass hostel? Want to be featured in this list? Get in touch at [email protected]
Yay for transparency! Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you book your accommodation through the site, The Broke Backpacker will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Your support helps keep the site going.