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Picture this; breathtaking mountain scenery, the Rockies in all their glory, stunning waterfalls and lakes, incredible wildlife such as elks and bears and finally the magnificent Banff National Park in Alberta. There’s so much to do in this Canadian region that you’ll need a good night’s sleep and this guide to hostels in Banff details where you can get it.
» Don’t miss our guide | Banff versus Jasper!
Affordable Banff Accommodations
HI Mosquito Creek Wilderness Hostel – 9.7 Review Rating on Hostelworld $
Blissful peace and quiet with fantastic views, this is how to describe HI Mosquito Creek in a nutshell. Located 29km north of Lake Louise and 6km south of Crowfoot Glacier – it’s practically in the middle of Banff National Park.
The cabin – which is exactly what this hostel can be described as – is ideal for nature lovers and outdoor adventurers. In the summer, you can indulge in biking, climbing, and hiking. In the winter; skiing and snowboarding. There’s even ice climbing for the most adventurous!
The hostel states it is ‘off the grid’. There are no phones, no electricity, and no running water. This means no showers or flush toilets, although there are outhouse toilets available. Be prepared for basic but clean accommodation, making it one of the most unique places to stay in Banff.
The hostel has a communal kitchen and living room with a cozy wood burning fireplace to socialize around. There is purified water for cooking and propane lights and heating. There is a sauna provided for the ultimate wind down after a long day exploring.
Night skies are a must see out here.
- Pros: clean rooms, all linen provided, free guest parking.
- Cons: hostel reception closed during the day, not suitable for disabled travelers.
- Best for budget backpackers and outdoor types.
- HI Mosquito Creek Wilderness Hostel Address: Highway 93, c/o PO Box 1358, Banff, Alberta.
YWCA Banff Hostel – Excellent Location $$
YWCA Hostel is inclusive of all travelers – not just women. The hostel warmly welcomes families too.
The hostel is only a 15-minute walk from the Greyhound bus station or a $6 taxi ride. It is very central to Banff for organizing car rental and tours.
The hostel is located right on the Bow Valley trail; a beautiful walk around the river to some waterfalls. I wholeheartedly recommend this walk, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
A clean and comfortable range of rooms from privates to dorms, with a ‘home away from home’ feel.
There is a large communal kitchen, living room with a roaring fire and shared dining area. Kitchen and laundry are both well equipped. There is even a book exchange too.
The views from some of the rooms are simply spectacular with the mountains looming in the landscape.
[x_icon type=”bolt”] Don’t forget an extra memory card for your camera!
- Pros: central location, all linen provided, free guest parking.
- Cons: guest complain of mattresses too creaky, the blankets provided were too thin, reports of free wifi being intermittent.
- Best for families and travelers.
- YWCA Banff Hotel Address: PO Box 520, 102 Spray Ave.
» You may also like: our guide to hostels in Vancouver
Samesun Banff Hostel – Helpful and Sociable Hostel $$
Samesun is a chain of hostels in Canada known for its fun factor and this hostel is no different. The guest ratings for the Samesun Hostel are exceptional with compliments about the staff, cleanliness and the great location.
There are superb views of the Canadian Rocky Mountains within the heart of Banff.
The hostel has roomy female and mixed dorm rooms.
The onsite Beaver Bar hosts nightly events, karaoke, live music, and quizzes so you can socialize easily with your new found friends.
The staff are happy to help travelers with ski lift passes in the winter and transportation for local favorites such as Lake Louise, Emerald Lake, Banff Hot Springs and more. With so many outdoor activities, it will be hard to choose how to plan your vacation!
An absolute bonus to this hostel is the free daily breakfast with eggs, pancakes, pastries and fresh fruit available. Stock up on food fuel for your busy day ahead.
There is a fully equipped guest kitchen, laundry room, TV room and lockers available for each guest.
[x_icon type=”bolt”] Pack a padlock.
Guests cannot praise this hostel enough and it’s very easy to see why.
- Pros: central location, free guest parking, free wifi, free breakfast.
- Cons: must be over 18 to stay here so not suitable for families, can be a bit noisy.
- Best for young/socializing travelers.
- Samesun Banff Hostel Address: 433 Banff Avenue.
» Click here to see our Whistler budget accommodation guide
HI Banff Alpine Centre – Simple and Clean Hostel $$
HI Banff Alpine Centre has a stunning exterior log cabin feel to it. It is located close to the center of Banff with free bus passes available to explore the local areas.
With onsite pub ‘The Storm Cellar’ there are events on each night such as Jam Night, karaoke and of course cheap beer! There is also free pool, foosball and darts to help you meet other travelers.
Each dorm bed has a locker with outlets inside to lock and recharge your device. There are two commercial kitchens, both fully equipped for guests to use with ample seating and even a walk-in fridge.
There’s free wifi that is promised to be super fast.
HI Banff Alpine Centre offer a job seekers package for people wanting to stay in Banff long term – including 14 nights shared accommodation, bus pass, and a free Hostelling International membership.
- Pros: central location, child-friendly, no curfew, free basic breakfast.
- Cons: complaints of private rooms being very small with thin walls.
- Best for socializing travelers.
- HI Banff Alpine Centre Address: 801 Hidden Ridge Way.
HI Lake Louise – Ideal Hostel for All Travelers $$$
This HI hostel has everything you need with its great location, helpful staff, and superb cleanliness.
The hostel is situated minutes from Lake Louise Mountain resort offering world-class skiing. I can personally recommend skiing, it was out of this world!
There are many hiking trails close by from full-day hikes to short walks along the Bow River.
The hostel offer trips to the Kicking Horse River to experience the rapids or activities to guests in the summer include horse riding and biking.
There is something for everyone to take part in.
The hostel has an outdoor patio for the summer months. When it gets colder, there are indoor open fires. There is also a relaxing sauna to wind down in after your explorations.
There is a fully equipped kitchen or you can enjoy on-site Bill Peyto’s Cafe serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A sure hit with the locals.
A variety of private rooms, family rooms and dorm rooms are available to guests with a maximum of six people to a dorm.
- Pros: good location for sports, family-friendly, no curfew.
- Cons: complaints of no power points for top bunks, the restaurant can close unexpectedly.
- Best for couples and outdoor types.
- HI Lake Louise Address: Village Road, Box 115 Lake Louise.
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HI Rampart Creek – A Real Wilderness Hostel $
HI Rampart Creek is another ‘off the grid’ hostel. Please don’t let the no electricity, no phone, and no running water put you off.
There is so much to see in this area of Banff, the stunning scenery is definitely worth it.
There is real wilderness with hikes to canyon waterfalls or cliff top edges with a chance of seeing the grizzly bears roaming the forest areas closeby.
Incredibly, during winter there are 150 ice climbs within a 30-minute drive of the hostel. Even if you are not an ice climber yourself, it is worth seeing the landscape for yourself.
The rustic hostel offers a full communal kitchen, communal living room with a wood-burning fireplace and a sauna. A perfect way to end your day.
Purified water for cooking and propane lights and heating are provided. All bed linen is supplied too.
The hostel is very popular in both winter and summer so best to book ahead to avoid disappointment.
- Pros: good location for hiking, free parking, friendly atmosphere.
- Cons: complaints of beds being too short, not suitable for disabled people, check-in not until evening.
- Best for travelers and outdoor types.
- HI Rampart Creek Address: Highway 93, PO Box 1358.
Banff International Hostel – Located in Downtown Banff $$
The Banff International Hostel is situated only three blocks from the downtown area and is convenient for visiting Banff attractions, bars, and restaurants. Ideal for stocking up on supplies before any road trip.
The local bus can take you to Sulphur Mountain and Banff Upper Hot Springs for a day trip. In the winter months, there are buses running to three ski hills close by to the hostel.
The hostel caters for both short-term and long-term travelers who are wishing to work in the town. There are weekly and monthly rates in the winter season.
The lobby is open 24 hours a day with computers for guests to use at their leisure. There is a TV lounge and an outdoor courtyard to relax in when the weather is sunny.
Guests can book tours and trips at hotel reception where staff are happy to help with any inquiries.
All rooms have ensuites and there is free wifi. However, some customers state that the hostel can be quite noisy.
[x_icon type=”bolt”] Don’t forget your noise-cancelling earplugs.
A continental breakfast is also included with free tea and coffee provided all day too.
- Pros: central location, lockers, outlets, and privacy curtains were a big plus in dorms.
- Cons: can be a bit noisy, outdated decor.
- Best for travelers and outdoor types.
- Banff International Hostel Address: 449 Banff Avenue.
HI Castle Mountain – Basic Rustic Hostel $
The Castle Mountain Wilderness Hostel is located between Banff and Lake Louise surrounded by plenty of wildlife in the forest. The hostel provides nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts a base from which to delve into hiking trails or skiing.
The hostel offers a common room to meet other travelers with large windows looking out onto the scenery and a cozy fireplace. Single-sex dorm rooms are available with 14 beds in each room.
An added luxury is that the hostel has hot showers and flushing toilets which other wilderness hostels may not have.
Laundry is available as well as a fully equipped kitchen.
- Pros: clean and well organized, location ideal for exploring, the sauna was a bonus.
- Cons: Check-in only between 5-10pm, closed Wednesdays between October and April, not suitable for disabled people.
- Best for travelers and outdoor types.
- HI Castle Mountain Address: Box 1358 (Banff National Park).
There are many choices for backpackers on a budget in Banff, including within Banff National Park. We understand the choice can be overwhelming but hopefully this guide has helped you decide where to stay in Banff as I researched the best and cheap hostels.
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Author – Karen is a school teacher who enjoys both long and short-term travel. She has backpacked around Australia, lived and worked in Canada and snowboarded in Japan. Her dream trip is to visit the Faroe Islands.
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