Banff is arguably one of the most beautiful places in Canada, which also means it’s a very popular destination to visit, and, unfortunately, that can mean expensive accommodation.
As digital nomads and travellers, we tend to look for more affordable options but also options where we can meet other like-minded people.
Hostels are such great options for this – but since we are working and in our late 20s, we won’t just stay at any hostel.
There are a few boxes we tend to check off when searching for the right type of accommodation, and HI Banff Alpine Centre checked all those boxes off perfectly for us.
In this post, we’ll share our full experience of staying at the HI Banff Alpine Centre, and why we loved it!
Disclosure: This post has been created in collaboration with HI Canada. Everything in this post is based on our personal opinions and experiences. This post also contains affiliate links which means if you decide to use the links and make a valid purchase, we will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.
What it’s like staying at HI Banff Alpine Centre
It’s crazy to think it’s been our first hostel stay in Canada together. We used to always travel in hostels when the two of us first met (we actually met in a hostel!).
Hostels are a fantastic way to meet people and to really get to know the area you’re travelling in. Since most hostels have daily events, it’s an awesome way to make the most of your experience.
HI Banff Alpine Centre caught our attention right away because of the awesome reviews and the beautiful location.
We travel with work and have to work pretty much wherever we go. So we tend to look for more chill hostels that aren’t all party and have areas where you can sit and work or relax as well.
Don’t get us wrong, we love to have a good time but we don’t want to be up until 3 a.m. because of drunk people coming into the room or running around in the hallway!
HI Banff Alpine Centre very much has that relaxed yet fun hostel vibe.
Most people who are staying at this hostel are here to explore and experience Banff while also meeting other travellers and backpackers. For us, that was perfect and exactly what we were hoping for!
Fun fact: Did you know that the HI Banff Alpine Centre is the largest hostel in Alberta?
HI Banff Alpine Centre’s facilities and amenities
The things we tend to look for when finding the right hostel are cleanliness, good facilities and amenities, and location.
We loved the fact that HI Banff is located more up the hill towards Tunnel Mountain and not right in the town centre of Banff.
As for cleanliness, this was also pretty spot on! All areas of the hostel were kept very clean and this actually reflected in the guests’ behaviour as well…
Everyone seemed to be cleaning up after themselves and even the kitchen (which, let’s be honest, tends to get pretty dirty at most hostels) was very clean.
So what about the facilities and amenities at HI Banff?
Check-in and front desk
We actually arrived early for our check-in but it wasn’t a problem at all.
We weren’t able to get into our rooms yet but we got our key cards so we could access the kitchen. They also gave us our free Roam Passes (more on this below) so we could go explore while we were waiting to check in.
The staff was super friendly and suggested a bunch of different things we could do in the area and told us about some of the hostel activities that were going on during our stay.
The different rooms
There are 5 types of rooms at HI Banff Alpine Centre:
- 4-6 Bedroom Ensuite WC
- 4-6 Bedroom
- Private Cabin Suite
- Private Queen room Ensuite
- Private Double Room
You can see all the different HI Banff rooms here too.
We actually stayed in one of the 4-bed dorms (privatized) and it was great. The rooms were spacious enough for a hostel room.
Each room has lockers where you can lock up your stuff when you go exploring for the day.
Next to each bed, you’ll also find a night lamp and an outlet where you can charge your devices.
In general, the rooms are pretty quiet and there isn’t a whole lot of noise.
Of course, if the hostel is busy and people are a little loud then you can’t avoid that. Overall though it was quiet at night and we had some pretty good sleeps there.
It is nice though that they have a variety of priced rooms depending on what you’re looking for.
If you want something more private you can pick between the private rooms and if you’re just looking for somewhere to sleep at night the 4-6 dorm rooms should be perfect.
Hangout and workspace
If you’re a digital nomad like us or working remotely, you can easily find a spot in the hangout area upstairs, the lounge area, or even grab a seat at one of the picnic tables outside.
We didn’t work a ton while staying at the hostel since we wanted to hike, explore the town, and hang out with the people at the hostel. But we easily could have if we wanted to!
The wifi at HI Banff was great both inside, outside, and in the rooms – and there’s enough space to sit and get work done. We also saw other people working from their laptops which was fun!
The outdoor area was one of our favourite things about HI Banff. First of all, it’s so beautiful! I don’t think we could ever get tired of looking at the mountains.
Second of all, we appreciated how quiet it is for being in Banff. There is a road close by but it’s not busy at all, and you won’t find a ton of tourists walking around either.
We sat outside downstairs and had lunch, got some work done, and after that, we hung out in the hammocks!
We also saw other travellers sitting in the big chairs or laying in the hammocks reading books and FaceTiming friends and family from home.
It’s a cool place to just hang out and chill with the other people staying at the hostel. You have Tunnel Mountain right behind you and other mountains in the distance that make for an awesome backdrop.
We love being outside and the fact that there’s a huge outdoor space at this hostel is amazing! Especially when you’re in such a beautiful place like Banff.
Cougar Pete’s Restaurant
You know Cougar Pete’s is good when it makes it to Taxi Mike’s website (a local website with awesome recommendations about Banff)!
Cougar Pete’s is the restaurant at HI Banff and it was honestly so good. We ate there for breakfast once and had dinner there twice and it was all great.
The prices are decent compared to downtown Banff and you have all the standard pub foods you could ask for.
The best part is you can eat inside the restaurant or outside on the patio and have an awesome view of the mountains!
We actually ordered coffee a few times as well (with free refills, yay!) and worked at the tables in the restaurant when it wasn’t too busy.
The Storm Cellar Bar
Yes, there is also a bar at the hostel!
This is what we meant when we said that HI Banff Alpine Centre is super relaxing and chill but there’s also the opportunity to have some fun, enjoy some drinks, and mingle with the other travellers.
There are always different events going on at The Storm Cellar!
Depending on which night you’re there, you can join the karaoke night, the pool tournament, open mike night, or participate in the pub quiz.
We joined the pub quiz while we were there and it was a whole lot of fun. Jo even won one of the two quizzes! Which meant FREE beer that we shared with some friends we met.
You can also play pool or darts and have some drinks. It’s a great place to end the night if you’re not downtown Banff (and it’s also a lot cheaper than going out downtown)!
Bathrooms, showers, and kitchen
One of the things we always look at when we stay in hostels is the cleanliness of the facilities.
When it comes to the cleanliness at HI here in Banff we were super impressed. The washrooms and showers were in good condition and you can tell they hold themselves to a high standard which is awesome.
Hostels can definitely get a little dirty at times but we didn’t have that feeling here.
As we mentioned before, even the few times we cooked in the kitchen everything was clean and organized. There were plenty of clean tea towels in the kitchen to dry and clean the dishes after use as well.
In general, all the public facilities at the hostel were in awesome shape and super clean.
For us, this is honestly one of the biggest green flags because it shows the staff and team really care about their workspace/home!
Fun events and perks of staying at HI Banff
This is another reason why we love staying in hostels… Perks and fun events!!
Free Roam Passes
There are so many perks that come with staying at HI Banff but our favourite one was the free Roam Passes.
In case you don’t know, the Roam shuttle is the public transportation service that runs in Banff. One of the lines stops just 2 minutes from the hostel and takes you downtown in just a few stops.
Who doesn’t love happy hour!? At HI Banff Alpine Centre they have a daily happy hour at the Storm Cellar and sometimes at Cougar’s Pete as well.
When we were there, they had a summer happy hour where you could get a Patio Bucket with 4 Bow Valley beers for $14!
As we mentioned before, there are events at the Storm Cellar almost every night, but there are also events during the day multiple times a week!
While we were there, there was a group hike up to Tunnel Mountain as well as morning yoga.
You can ask the front desk if you want to know what events are going on during your stay!
Discounts for HI Members
Speaking of perks!
We knew that HI Canada has a ton of hostels around the country but we didn’t know they have a membership that allows you to save a bunch of money.
Not only do you get discounts at HI Canada’s hostels but you get a minimum of %10 discount at over 3300 different hostels located in 64 different countries!
The best part is that the membership only costs $25 + tax.
You can read more about the HI membership here where you can learn about all the features and what’s included.
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Recap of our stay at HI Banff Alpine Centre
All in all, we really loved our stay at HI Banff Alpine Centre!
We spent a few nights at the hostel while exploring Banff, hiking, and trying to get some work done on our blog!
We feel like we found a great balance between hanging out at the hostel, meeting new people, working, exploring cafes in Banff, and hiking to the top of Tunnel Mountain.
The only thing we would have done differently is maybe stay for longer! 2 days simply wasn’t long enough for Banff.
With daily afternoon and evening activities at the hostel, a ton of things to do in Banff, and also getting some work done, it would have been nice to have some more time.
We’ll definitely be back one day or check out one of HI Canada’s other hostels!
Hopefully, this review explains and answers all your questions about this hostel in Banff and we hope to hear some stories in the future of your awesome stay here at HI Banff Alpine Centre.