At first glance, the SameSun Backpacker Lodge in Vancouver might seem like a great place to stay with kids. The youth hostel is cheap, even for the private rooms, and it provides free WiFi, inexpensive meals, and both laundry and kitchen privileges.
But there are even more good reasons to not take the kids:
Hotel Gym. If you’re looking to train for a Himalayan expedition, then SameSun has got a workout for you. Their “stairmaster” is an old school multi-level program that’s especially beneficial when carting heavy luggage, but might be less doable for short legs.
Kitchen Privileges. You might be tempted to bring your family just because of the kitchen access, but keep in mind that it’s shared by very friendly, generous young people who are quietly working on computers. Quietly. Inquisitive, and possibly loud, children would not be welcomed.
Communal Bathrooms. The single-sex bathrooms on each floor are not luxurious, but they are clean and the hot water is plentiful. Parents with very young children may, however, be stressed by the lines that form during peak hours.
Private Room. My room was spacious (for one person) and adorned with architectural details of a bygone era: foot-wide baseboards, embossed radiators, and deep windowsills. The huge window adds a welcome dose of fresh air and light, but it’s not safe for those traveling with young children as the hanger used to prop the window open will not keep intrepid toddlers from tumbling to their doom. And while the view of the Penthouse Nightclub might add a certain tawdry charm, parents may want to avoid those sticky questions.
Surrounding Delights. Speaking of awkward questions, parents may also want to avoid these on the road to the hostel. Granville Street offers a variety of venues that might entice young ones – from the video arcade with Girly Show to the bargain-priced 25 cent Peep Show. And that’s not to mention the many bars and impromptu 420 hangouts found on the block.
Cheap Meals. Travelers will do well to dine onsite at the Beaver Restaurant. The free continental breakfast, with $2.00 upgrade for eggs & sausage, can’t be beat; and $5.00 spaghetti dinners are a bargain. In this setting, it’s easy for lonely travelers to meet new friends. But the raucous bar setting with its cocktail-of-the-day is no place for impressionable children.
I commend this hostel’s adult-only policy. Sometimes even loving parents need a little time to themselves, to interact with other adults or for creative, quiet contemplation. Both options are readily available here. For those looking for budget travel accommodations for families – Hostelling International is across the street.