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Clarence Castle

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Hostelz.com's Review
If you looking more for a quiet and homey place in a stressful and hectic city like Toronto, then the private-owned Clarence Castle Backpacker is an excellent place for you to stay, whether for a couple of nights or for long-term. It's a small place where about thirty people can stay. The owners and their staff are very friendly, they help you out with all your little problems -- it feels like home.

The Location

The hostel is situated on a park area just opposite a small and quiet street. It will take you about a five-minute walk to go down to the Toronto's waterfront. Shops, bars, restaurants, and clubs on King Street can be reached within five minutes and there is a gas station right next to the hostel. From St. Andrews metro station you will need about fifteen minutes by foot or you can take the streetcar (506, 504 -- west) on King Street to Spadina Street and there just around the corner is the hostel.

Rooms and Bathrooms

The dorms sleep five to six people -- they have mixed rooms as well as rooms only for boys and girls -- and come with their own bathroom (shower and bath) and a lavatory. There is plenty of space in the rooms and the beds are in a high position so that you can store your luggage underneath. It is all very clean and tidy. You get free linen, sheets and towels during your stay. Security seems very good with locking doors for each room and even to get into the hostel you need a key.

Common Spaces

The common area on the ground floor is next to the office which is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. (if you call them you can arrange earlier or later check-ins). It's got chairs as well as couches to relax and a big flat TV. They do have a book shelf for book exchange and there are as well games which you can use for free. They do have an outside area (balcony) on the second floor where you can make a BBQ, enjoy the view of the CN-Tower, or just relax in the sun. The kitchen is on the first floor and is very clean and with everything you need (there aretwo fridges and a cooler as well as foot lockers). They provide free tea (different flavors) and coffee the whole day, as well as various cornflakes. There is a TV with DVD player between the first and the second floor. As well there is free wireless internet (very good connection all the time) but you can use the computers from the hostel too.

Summary

This hostel is the best hostel we stayed in so far. You do not feel like you're in the middle of a big city -- it's quiet and there are easy people around -- you can have a nice evening in front of the TV or a have a party or BBQ on the roof. It is very clean, tidy, secure, and in a great location -- everything you need in a hostel really. It has been rated the best hostel in North America in 2008 and we can agree. But be aware -- since there is just room for about thirty people and they are outstanding, you should book early to stay in that hostel.

Exclusive Hostelz.com Review
May 2009

Photos taken by the Hostelz.com reviewer — Genuine photos you can trust.
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How is Clarence Castle rated on other websites?
Hostelworld  
Not listed on Hostelworld.
Hostels.com  
Not listed on Hostels.com.
HostelBookers  
Not listed on HostelBookers.
HostelsClub  
Not listed on HostelsClub.
Hostelz.com Guest Reviews
1   WARNING! BEDBUGS! My girlfriend and I stayed at Clarence Castle last weekend. I woke up with bedbugs bites the next morning. We were staying in a dorm with a filthy grey carpet. The next day, we moved to a double room in another building a few doors away also belonging to Clarence Castle. The cleaning guy brought us bed sheets and when I unfolded them, I discovered a living bedbug in the clean bedsheet. I killed it and I brought it to the manager who told me: "I wonder where you take them from." This was very insulting. The only thing he did about the first room where I got bitten was to take out the mattress to inspect it and kill bedbugs. He did not seem to take the problem seriously. What about the remaining of the room and what about bedbugs eggs!  , Canada ()
1   Rip off After spending an actually nice couple of days at Clarence Castle in May 2012, my friend and me made a very negative discovery when we arrived home and got our credit card bill. They deducted our whole stay ALTHOUGH we paid in cash during our stay and even that we clarified in the beginning, that the credit card information would just be needed for a 10% deposit. We wrote several emails, sent the bank statement showing the amount of 510 can$ that was wrongly deducted and although promised no money has been refunded yet. Our last email is still being ignored and now, having the month of september, my friend and me are still waiting for the money to be refunded. We are very disappointed and sad, that we have been mistreated like that. Having made this experience we just can advise to be very careful and not giving away your credit card information.  , Germany ()
1   HORRIBLE place -– it’s worth the money to stay elsewhere! My experience with Clarence Castle was just outright horrible -– and I didn't even stay there. Here is what happened in August 2012. We had planned to stay at Clarence Castle, but the night before we flew to Toronto, my friend and I came across some additional reviews that had not been published through our booking site. These reviews particularly addressed the issue of BEDBUGS that Clarence Castle has repeatedly had in 2010, 2011, and the latest in February 2012. This being a REPEATED issue, we got very concerned and decided to call them up and see when they last did something about bed bugs. The lady I first spoke with used the standard excuse "Bedbugs are all over North America, they are not just here." She could not tell me a date of an extermination and passed me on to the manager. What followed now was just a disaster! I was very friendly on the phone and just stated that we have come across some reviews to that extent and wanted to know when the last time was that Clarence Castle had gotten rid of bedbugs professionally. The manager went into a long-winded spiel about how bedbugs are all over North America, and how they didn't originate there, but how travelers brought them. I said repeatedly: "This was not my question. I don't care about where they originated, I just want to know what you have done to get rid of them." He kept rambling on and ignored my question. I asked 6 times: "So you can't tell me a date?" and was simply ignored. Finally they conceded that they HAVE NEVER DONE ANYTHING TO GET RID OF BEDBUGS. After that statement, I cancelled my reservation. Then I asked whether I would get charged only the one night we were going to stay because the cancellation was last-minute, but was now kept on the phone for 10 more minutes while the lady and the manager argued in the background and had obviously no idea how to issue a refund. They then simply hung up on me and would not answer the phone when I called back. UNACCEPTABLE. If you don't care for acceptable and courteous treatment and would like to live with bedbugs, stay there by all means. Else, RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN.  , Canada ()
1   Review by older canadian i love cleanliness and courtesy. i do prefer minimal rules, the live and let live mentality. now you will understand why i felt so badly during my stay at clarence castle. i was more of an extended stay guest. still, there were many such guests at that time. the following is a list of the humiliations i suffered: i was forced to change rooms every 2 nights; i was verbally insulted at breakfast; i was made fun of while cooking dinner; i was verbally threatened by a male guest (for accidentally waking him up (yet the staff did nothing, in fact they blamed me in full); i was kicked out for accidentally submitting a large print job (30 pages); i was told that many complaints had been filed against me (a blatant lie); i was told that i was a trouble maker ... the truth was that the owners did not like me (nationality, gender, age); yes it is true and very sad. i love clean and safe accommodations, that is why i chose clarence castle but it was not worth the humiliation i suffered; spend your money elsewhere.  , canada ()
1   Very, very bad experience Got bitten by bedbugs two nights in a row, and then decided to leave. Was met by a rude sarcastic tone by the manager (I understand he was unhappy about the bedbugs, but why should I care? I was unhappy with the 20+ bites on my arms, too, but he didn't seem to give a toss. As if it was all my fault). Called the owner, who promised me a refund on the two nights I didn't spend there -- I'm still waiting for this money!! No one seems to be in charge -- there's two guys, one (during the day i guess) who seemed alright and another one who's just the owner's son (barely speaks English and spends all his time on the roof, living the good life -- I don't really like feeling like running after the guy in charge and feeling like I'm bothering hime when/if I need something). I guess that works when you don't have any problem, but should there be one they won't be fixing anything cause they plain don't know how to fix it. No ladder for the upper bunks -- yep, you have to climb to go to bed. Rooms are really small, hardly any space to put your stuff anywhere that's not in the way. Don't know about the breakfast. Seemed less lively than other hostels I've stayed in (but again, I only stayed 2 nights); cleanliness is alright except for bedbugs. Plus sides: free internet and good location, but seriously that's it. I wasn't in Toronto for long, meaning this seriously ruined my trip. Never coming back.  ()
2   Consider booking somewhere else Clarence castle really wasn't terrible. But it wasn't great. I got a taxi to 8 Clarence square and liked the living room beside the reception area. However, then I was told my room was in 10 clarence square, a separate building 2 doors down. The dorm room was a bit of a hovel with long-stay guests (one lived there for 3 months, another for 2 months). They had clothes and bags strewn all over the room and not enough shelving or storage for people staying this length of time. They worked irregular hours and made some noise when coming and going. They slept all day making the dorm room off limits for banter or recreation. The room didn't smell great and had poor ventilation as the windows could not be opened. Perfect breeding grounds for bedbugs (although luckily they had sorted that problem out before I got there). I rarely saw the manager as, being in number 10 you are pretty much forgotten about with regards to customer service. When I did speak with him he seemed accommodating if not a bit strange. Most of the other staff were French speaking. They knew nothing of "banter" e.g. "how was your trip. do you have anything planned in toronto". So they lay somewhere between glum and downright rude at times (although they seemed to be much livelier and accommodating to French-speaking guests). In a way I was happy #10 did not have a reception area. No one will ask you how your stay is going regardless of whether you've stayed there for 1 day or 2 weeks. The $2 breakfast was a joke and so badly organised most people don't bother with it. The fact it's only served in #8 meant it wasn't worth the hassle. They will also neglect to tell you of any special offers (7 nights for the price of 6) unless you enquire about the offer. On the plus side, the bathroom was kept clean (although towels were taken by staff and not replaced), the shared area was done up pretty well (even if the same dish sponges were there for months on end) and the wifi is reliable (although the PCs provided had adware installed). But at the end of the day, I don't recommend the dorm rooms & why would you pay a lot for a private room when you could book a hotel instead?  , Irish ()
1   Lame Bedbugs and also never any staff there when you need them -- need i say more!  , England ()
1   A miserable ordeal I was looking for a clean and quiet (and relatively inexpensive) place to stay in Toronto for a few days, and I booked into this place based on some of the more positive reviews here. What a mistake. Imagine the worst border/customs officials you've ever met - then imagine PAYING THEM to live in their house and under their 'rules' and 24hr scrutiny. After I'd checked in, the people who run this place made a point of repeatedly insulting me at every possible opportunity and for absolutely no reason. I also remember receiving a particularly nasty glare from one of the owners. My crime? Attempting to initiate a friendly conversation with a fellow solo traveller. This place ruined my experience of Toronto. My advice to those considering staying here would be to either pay a little more and get a proper hotel room or to stay at one of the other hostels in the city.  , UK ()

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