Whistler’s budget accommodation options are about to get better. On July 1, Hostelling International opens the doors to its new hostel, which will exponentially increase the number of inexpensive beds in the area.
HI has been in Whistler since 1969, with a 25-bed hostel on Alta Lake. “It’s always been known that something bigger was needed,” says HI spokesperson Heather Cleland in a phone interview. She notes that even in the ’70s, the organization was talking about expanding in Whistler; however, once the resort area and real-estate market took off, financing stalled.
Now, HI has converted Olympic athletes’ housing into a hostel. The four-storey building lies near Function Junction, seven kilometres south of Whistler Village, and is connected to the town centre by a new public transit route. It has 188 beds, including 14 private rooms with ensuite baths. The shared rooms are all four-bed dorms, and one set of bathroom facilities is used by two dorms. The hostel has a café, a kitchen for guest use, a dining room, decks with barbecues, a TV lounge, and a games room.
Rates vary by season. Until September 30, dorm beds run $35 per person per night and a private room for two for is $115 for HI members. Nonmembers pay $39 and $123, respectively. Reservations are now being accepted. As of July 1, the Alta Lake hostel will be closed.
Budget travellers heading south of the border can bed down at the HI Seattle (520 South King Street). After several years without an HI hostel in the downtown core, the American Hotel heritage building was renovated and opened last July as a 314-bed hostel. It offers over 20 private rooms, and most dorms are quads. The hostel is located in the Chinatown/Japantown area, just east of Pioneer Square and two blocks from the Amtrak train station. It has a kitchen for guest use, and Uwajimaya, an Asian supermarket, is a block away.
Further afield, a new hostel in Sydney, Australia, is now open. The Sydney Harbour YHA (110 Cumberland Street) is located in the Rocks tourist district. Options range from private rooms to six-bed dorms. Notably, the building has a rooftop terrace with a view of the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. New Year’s Eve alert: it’s the perfect vantage point for watching the bridge light up with fireworks. The hostel is already selling tickets for its rooftop party, limited to those staying at the property.
But the hostel at Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport may just be the coolest of them all. Recently acquired by the HI network, this 76-bed hostel is situated in a converted Boeing 747-212B aircraft that’s a 15-minute walk from the terminals. The jet has been stripped of its seats and given a new interior kitted out with a retro café that harks back to the golden age of flying. Guests bunk down in cozy dorms with up to four beds per room; rates start at 350 kronor ($47) per person. Best of all, there’s a luxury suite in the cockpit, with views of the runway. It may be beyond the means of most budget travellers at 3,300 kronor ($430) per night, but it sure makes joining the mile-high club easy.
Images from Stockholm's inside-a-plane hostel: