For my last night in Toronto, I stayed at Planet Traveler hostel. It’s on College Street near Augusta Avenue and just at the edge of the Kensington Market. I do recommend staying here. The shared accommodation is cheap, clean and comfortable. It has the 3 C’s of hostelling that are hard to come by. It has free WiFi and free breakfast. Hard to go wrong with free breakfast. I just needed the one night, so I only got to know my roommates for a short while.
For our stay in Courtenay, we stayed at The Cona Hostel along the river. You absolutely cannot miss the orange building sitting on the banks of the Courtenay River. It is situated in downtown Courtenay, but you don’t feel downtown at all. It’s in an old heritage building. From the outside, you wouldn’t be able to tell that it was a heritage building. Much of the heritage can’t be seen on the outside.
Just beside the hostel, is the Fifth Avenue Bridge. It’s a pretty old bridge that connects Courtenay with the rest of town that’s on the east side of the river. It’s a short bridge that is quickly crossed. Thankfully, it’s not a very noisy bridge like the metal grate bridge just downriver beside the Best Western.
On the other side of the bridge are a couple of parks. Lewis Park has large baseball diamonds. Baseball/softball seem really popular in Courtenay. Games in the spring seem to happen almost every evening and all day and evening on the weekends. I know because we were woken up at 8am on a Saturday morning to the cheering of the teams across the river. The other park is the Simms Millennium Park which a small nature park complete with boardwalks. A quick trot around the park allows you to enjoy the riverside and the tiny little forest enclave in the park.
At the Cona Hostel, there are dorm rooms and private rooms. We ended up getting a private room on the river side of the building. We had our own little balcony to enjoy the view of the river. This view was great at dusk. We also had a prime view of the baseball diamonds across the tiny river.
Sometimes, we also saw people playing in the river. Teens would cool themselves off in the hot weather. We saw one person kayaking down the river. One of the other residents said he saw a sea otter playing in the river right by the hostel.
The main floor of the Cona Hostel contains the hostel office, the living/recreation area, the dining area, the kitchen, and laundry facilities. The second floor has private rooms. The third floor has all the dorm rooms, which are separated into male and female dorms. There was talk about a suite on the top floor with its own kitchen, but I never saw it myself. I have no photos of the interior of the hostel, you can check out the Cona Hostel’s own website.
I give the Cona Hostel an enthusiastic thumbs up. The people were friendly. Brian, one of the owners, was helpful and accommodating for our stay. I got to meet people from Germany, Spain, Greece, and Switzerland. I got to practice my French a little with the Swiss girl who was there briefly. There were other Canadians also. Some had just finished their winter jobs up at nearby Mount Washington.
The hostel is relatively clean as well. It’s a hostel, so don’t expect the Hilton. But it was clean enough. There was one incident of theft, which was pinned upon a resident, but it was safe overall. It’s close to downtown so you can walk to many shops. They have a few bikes on site for you to borrow if you like. Also, Cona Hostel seems busiest in the winter when ski season hits at nearby Mount Washington. However, the ski hill is in some financial troubles now.
So give Cona Hostel a thought if you are travelling up north on Vancouver Island. I think it will be worth your time and stay.