Horrible security ruins any charm this hostel might otherwise have.
I stayed at the Ottawa Backpackers Inn hostel in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada for a little more than a week in the fall of 2009. While I greatly appreciated the cheaper rate that they offered when compared to Hostelling International Ottawa’s prison hostel, there are certainly some problems I need to report with the Ottawa Backpackers Inn.
Firstly, the hostel is a little understaffed, which has a couple impacts.
Notably, they do not clean the hostel very well at all. They go around and empty the garbages and they do laundry of course but the common areas are not kept tidy. Also, the reception is not open after midnight which is bad for late arrivals and even for security.
As I work online at night I noticed three security breaches while staying at this hostel for a week and half. First, someone stole a chair off of the front porch which, I guess, is only the hostel’s loss.
More importantly to guests however, someone was peering in a flimsy window at 2:30am one night with a flashlight. When that prowler became aware of my presence he or she bolted away. However the very next night at 4am, I heard a loud noise come from the kitchen and upon investigating I saw that the window was left wide open. I suspect that the same person returned, at a later hour than the previous night, but fled when his attempt to enter the building was louder and more difficult than expected.
When I informed the staff of the hostel of what had happened, including the manager, no serious effort was made to mitigate future security breaches and this hostel does NOT have good security at all. All they did was put some elastic bands on the window which does little to prevent a determined intruder from entering. There were other serious security problems with this hostel, which is located near a couple homeless shelters I am told, and I can’t recommend this place.
There are a lot of scumbags that like loitering around the hostel at night. They try to get in, they harass guests, and they seem dangerous. Anyone sleeping here is not safe at night because they have no one guarding the door or windows and there are loads of people in Ottawa who know that it’s a poorly secured hostel. Besides the break in attempt, I prevented several drunk students from trying to get inside the hostel and who knows what they would have done once inside.
Also, their website is www.ottawahostel.com and they have pictures there allegedly of the hostel. After staying in the hostel for more than a week I cannot verify that any of the pictures they have posted there are actually from the hostel. As I stayed in a specific dorm room for my entire stay I didn’t see all the rooms so maybe the pictures are of rooms that were off limits to me, but the renovated, clean, and modern look depicted in the website photos do not accurately reflect what this hostel is like.
Additionally, they have an orange cat that freely roams throughout the hostel. It sleeps on couches and leaves its fur everywhere it goes which further adds to the cleanliness problems of the place. If you are allergic to cat hair then you might have to consider simply skipping this hostel.
Lastly, the hostel does a bad job of keeping out Canadian homeless/transient types. There were a few guests that came to stay at the hostel that were transient Canadians that really ruined the vibe of the place. They arrived unkempt, unshowered, and were often sick with hacking coughs. The hostel employees did make some efforts to keep away transients but they were not quite strong enough in my opinion. Canadians that are not backpackers, but unemployed drifters, comprise a very low percentage of the guests here but if they are allowed to stay you might not like having one sleep in the bunk above you. They are more prone to steal, they are unhealthy (shared bathrooms remember), and they are more likely to be just plain grumpy.
Overall score: 4/10.