English Français Español Italiano Deutsch 日本語 Português

HI - Ottawa Jail Hostel

Check all of the
booking sites at once!
 
Description & Photos

Hostelz.com's Review
HI - Ottawa Jail Hostel has to be one of the coolest hostels in the world! Who doesn't want to sleep in their own jail cell? The formerly condemned Carleton County Jail used to house petty offenders, those on death row, mental patients, and other random guests. Since being condemned, the building has been converted with minimal renovations to the building structure into a hostel.

The Location

Right opposite the Rideau Center and close to Parliament Hill, Byward Market, and most of the museums, the location of this hostel is perfect. It is close to everything you need.

Rooms and Bathrooms

The rooms are converted jail cells equipped with their own bars on the doors, with the exception of a couple of floors (the top floor has dorm rooms converted from the part of the prison where the women were housed separate from the men). Here the rooms are fairly standard, normal dorm rooms, but with a few bars on windows and a sink in the corner. If you have your heart set on sleeping in an actual cell with bars on the doors, then make sure that you double check when booking.

The bathrooms are also converted jail cells. You can shower with your own view of the bars on the windows. Toilets are separate from the showers. They are all clean and well-maintained.

Common Spaces

The hostel is equipped with a very modern and clean kitchen with all facilities, including a coffee machine. Mugshots Bar is downstairs -- you can go and socialize over a drink or two and have your photo taken on the lineup. They also have books and games in these common areas for people to use as well. Free daily breakfast is served in the bar also.

he hostel also offers laundry and overnight parking (for a per-night fee, you can park your car out back in the old exercise yard of the prison, so that you don't have to worry about the hassle of downtown parking).

Summary

The hostel runs nightly tours of the closed-off eighth floor of the building, where you will find cells of many of the inmates still in their original condition, shackles and all. You can get tickets from the front desk and it is well worth the trip through the prison to hear about the prisoners, the escapes, those on death row, and all of the stories of the "weird" stuff that happens in the hostel (some people believe the hostel is still inhabited by the ghosts of those who have passed). You can also do ghost tours around the city of Ottawa, too. Ask the staff at the front desk -- they are super polite and helpful.

Definitely stay here. The place has an amazing vibe and as far as cool hostels and different experiences go, it is at the top of the list!

by Globetrotter
Hostelz.com Staff Reviewer
May 2012

Photos taken by the Hostelz.com reviewer — Genuine photos you can trust.
Map
Location/Contact
How is HI - Ottawa Jail Hostel rated on other websites?
 OverallCleanlinessStaffLocationAtmosphereSecurity
Hostelworld  
79%
75%
78%
92%
76%
82%
Hostels.com  
75%
64%
76%
90%
71%
80%
HostelBookers  
84%
73%
85%
98%
84%
86%
HI Hostels  
80%
70%
87%
91%
71%
82%
HostelsClub  
Not listed on HostelsClub.
Average  
80%
71%
82%
93%
76%
83%
Hostelz.com Guest Reviews
4   An experience! I enjoyed staying in a former jail cell though it won't suit everyone (especially if you have a lot of luggage). The music from the bar can be pretty loud although it didn't really bother me. All the facilities were fine. The staff were friendly and helpful, and I met some good people there.  , age 45, UK ()
1   Dirty and disappointing I stayed in a private room with my gf on the 9th floor. I must say that this is the filthiest HI I have ever stayed in. There was one bathroom on the 9th floor and that was always dirty with water on the floor and always busy. I have to say I am not picky and I have vast experience hosteling, but this one was REALLY bad. If you choose to stay here use the showers on the 4th floor at 6am or earlier. I tried every other floor that had showers but were busy or under construction. So in summary NOT ENOUGH SHOWERS. As for the bathrooms, well lets' just say I had anxiety of not being able to find a clean toilet to use so much that I decided to use public washrooms in the shopping centre next door. Same situation with the toilets NOT ENOUGH and dirty. I also wanted to comment on the 7am fire alarms. They were false alarms (twice) thank goodness, because if they were real I doubt we would have gotten out alive. There is one way out here and room had bars on the windows (it was a jail after all). The staff were unapologetic and really not helpful. All in all, I'd rather save up for a hotel then stay here. Or try some other hostel in Ottawa. It's a shame to have HI brand associated with these people.  , age 36, Canada ()
5   Perfect location, clean, comfortable I stayed in one of the male dorms for 4 nights; couldn't have hoped for anything more. Knowing it's a haunted old jail make me expect dark and worn out rooms, with spiderwebs and bloodstains but I was nicely surprised. The entire building is perfectly clean by any standard. The beds were comfortable, although a bit noisy when you move around. The lockers in the room were a good size, and there were larger ones in the hall (but only some of them seemed to be free). The bathrooms are more modern than the cell, and were also clean. I think this is one of the few hostels I've seen that has a dry place outside the shower stall with enough hooks and shelves for clothes and getting changed. The only downside to the building could be the noise; the design of the building forces noise to travel so that prison guards could hear inmates whispering quietly in their cells. The door is solid, but the space above is just open metal bars. There was a background noise of what I guessed was distant water dripping and something like footsteps. It's really just a bit creepy at worst, and in the end, its much better than many other hostels (and hotels) with heavy doors that you hear slamming from everywhere in the building all night long.  , Canada ()
1   Poor customer service I did not stay over night. however my friend was trying to plan a stay over for her birthday. they said that they would rent her a room, and that it wouldn't be any problem. however when she tried to call the manager back to finalize the booking, he wouldn't answer, so she kept calling, till eventually she called the front desk and asked when he would be in, they said that he had been in a lot of meetings all week and that was why he hadn't been answering. a couple minutes after getting off the phone with them she got a text telling her that they were no longer able to host her party and to stop calling. very rude, couldn't even call her and tell her.  , Canada ()
2  Visited with my boys for one day March Break 2009. The experience of the tour was so so. The tour guide was a bit creepy and kept looking at my 2 and half year old when he was fussy. All in all I got and gave the kids the experience I intended.  , Canada ()
4   Different Nice, clean hostel and the location is perfect. They have a big kitchen to cook for yourself and a cozy bar. No lockers in the room though and only one light in the cells. But the fact that you sleep in a cell makes it worth to stay there. I can only recommend it.  , Switzerland ()
3   Well, good but I have seen better Wireless internet access service not reliable, breakdown attends internet service. Clerk was a bit rude with me when I ask her to change bunk. I requested for a lower bunk and someone took my bed. The only one available was the upper one. I asked "Do you mind to give me back my bed?" and she said "Well, I have to!" Bunks are to change, too small and squeaky. Free walking Tour of Ottawa twice a week, very interesting.  , Canadian ()
4   Interesting We only did the tour here, but it is definitely somewhere that I would consider staying for one night, as it does have a strange atmosphere to it. Those who are into seeing hosts would enjoy this, as I myself, did in fact see a ghost in a picture one of my friends took. It was very real, and very interesting. Something to look into if this is what you're into. It's also an interesting history lesson if you just wanted to know a little about the history of the jail.  , Canada ()
HI - Ottawa Jail Hostel Reviews from the Web

Have you visited this Hostel? Rate it and post your review here.