Toronto eco accommodation doesn’t have to mean staying in an expensive hotel, since putting together an eco-friendly place to stay isn’t as difficult or as costly as it used to be.
And more travellers are stopping to consider their carbon footprint and making decisions to travel a little more eco-consciously.
A survey performed by travel accommodation and flight website Booking.com in 2017 found that 68 per cent of responders from across the world would prefer to stay in eco-conscious accommodation. The Sustainable Travel Report showed that many travellers are willing to give up perceived luxury to make less of an environmental impact.
- 94% would be happy with energy-saving lightbulbs
- 89% wouldn’t mind if the air conditioner or heater only ran while they were in the room
- 80% don’t mind low flow showerheads
- 79% are fine with using recycled toilet paper
I found my own Toronto eco accommodation on a recent trip to Canada and loved it. It was cheap, cheerful, had all the amenities I needed, while still being environmentally responsible.
HOW TO FIND TORONTO ECO ACCOMMODATION
Finding an eco-friendly place to stay might seem a little daunting, but there are a few places that will help your search.
The Ecobnb website allows you to research and book hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts and bio hotels. It also ranks the accommodation by its level of eco-friendliness. It then lists the criteria that your chosen place meets.
In the US, you can go to the Green Hotels Association website to find a list of green accommodation. Be mindful that the website is mostly geared towards hoteliers who want recommendations on making their business greener.
Look out for the Hotel Association of Canada’s Green Key Global eco-rating for accommodation as well. It has properties in more than 20 countries and basically certifies that a place is eco-friendly.
There are lots of different “green” certifications in use across the world. If you’re serious about staying somewhere with good credentials, don’t just take the word of a logo on a website. Research the certification the accommodation has and what it means first.
PLANET TRAVELER HOSTEL
It’s not a surprise that Toronto is an expensive city – it’s one of the most popular destinations in Canada, and even living there can be pricey. At least if you believe my Uber driver, who had some interesting thoughts on a variety of topics.
While searching for a place to stay that would fit my somewhat meager budget, I stumbled across Planet Traveler Hostel*. Despite the fact that it spells “traveller” the American way, I liked the look of it from the get-go.
It’s located in the Kensington Market area of the city, which is home to a tonne of great restaurants and bars, and some funky street art as well. There’s light rail that runs right into the heart of the city if you’d like, or if you’re more of a fan of wandering, you can walk around to get places like I did.
Toronto Eco Accommodation Credentials
Let’s begin with Planet Traveler Hostel’s environmental credentials. Planet Traveler Hostel ticks a lot of green credential boxes.
Geothermal heating & air conditioning: Consists of a system of pipes throughout the building, which run in a loop in the ground below the building. The fluid absorbs heat or coolness from the ground and distributes it through the building.
- Solar panels: Help to offset the use of mains electricity by capturing the suns rays and turning them into energy.
- Solar thermal water heating: Once solar panels absorb the sun’s energy, a pump is used to heat water storage tanks and the hot water is used in the building.
- LED lights: Are about 80 per cent more efficient than other types of lighting because only 5 per cent of the energy is wasted in heat. The rest is directly converted to light.
- Wastewater heat recovery: All that hot water used in showers and baths is used to help heat the mains water coming into the building.
- Recycling: Is a big eco-friendly feature at the hostel. The kitchen holds bins for garbage and recycling that are pretty closely monitored. When you check in you get a little tour that includes recycling information (more on that later).
I stayed in a 6-bed female dorm, which is the largest number of room mates you’ll have at Planet Traveler Hostel. Of course there are male and female only dorms to choose from and you can also select a mixed room if you’d like.
Rooms range from the aforementioned 6-bedders (bunk beds), four bed private rooms, and private rooms with a double or single bed. As you’d expect, the dorm rooms are the cheapest and the private rooms more expensive.
I slept on the lower bunk, which is good for keeping the morning light out if people don’t want to close the shades. It included a personal lamp, an electrical socket for charging phones or plugging in your laptop. And a little tray to store little things like glasses and watches while you sleep. The bed was comfortable and none of the bunks in my room were squeaky. Very important when you’re sharing a room with multiple people – you don’t want to be woken up every time someone rolls over. I stayed in the middle of winter, when it was decidedly chilly outside, but I was never cold at night (or at all in the building).
My favourite bits about the room was the little ante-room you walk into from the hallway. It’s where you keep your boots/shoes so that you don’t traipse mud or snow etc into the bedroom. It also contains lockers that are free to use. You don’t even need to bring your own padlock, keys are provided. I used it to store my purse but also for my next day’s outfit and toiletries. That way, when I inevitably woke up earlier than everyone else, I didn’t have to disturb them by rummaging around in my suitcase to find stuff.
Each room has its own bathroom as well, so you’re not sharing one with the entire floor. My room included a shower, toilet, sink and mirror. I had no issues with the shower or hot water – it’s easy to use, which is more than I can say for some hotels. There is also a separate toilet on each floor that you can access in an emergency situation.
A hostel is only as good as its kitchen. I will stand behind that claim 100 per cent. There’s nothing worse than trying to cook in a kitchen with broken utensils, on stove tops or ovens that don’t work properly or in a dirty space.
From my pictures you can see for yourself that none of the above is the case at Planet Traveler Hostel. Everything is relatively new and in good working order. There are plenty of utensils, crockery and pots and pans to go around. And if cleanliness is your bugbear, you’re going to love it here. No matter what time of day or night that I showed up to make a cup of tea (tea, coffee and hot chocolate are free) or eat the kitchen was pretty much spotless.
The breakfast selection is not to be sneezed at either. I don’t think I’ve seen that many different cereals in one spot, outside of a supermarket. There’s also bread for toast, butter, jams and peanut butter, and fresh fruit. Did I mention that breakfast runs ridiculously late there, so even if you get up at midday, there’s still free food waiting for you to snap it up. Also, if you’re really strapped for cash, there’s nothing wrong with coming back from your adventures at lunchtime for a bit of “second breakfast”.
Depending on whether you visit in summer or winter, Saturdays are “Free BBQ or Pasta Night”, which is a great opportunity to get together with other people staying at the hostel for a free meal and a little chat. I met some very interesting people – from two guys who were moving to Toronto from a less populated part of the country and were still looking for a place to stay, a doctor from Brazil who was moving to Toronto to work and a Polish expat who was seeing the east coast before settling down on the west coast.
There are spaces for groups to hang out at either end of the building. By either end, I mean the basement and the roof. The rooftop affords the best view of Toronto – you can see the CN Tower and surrounding city buildings. I’d say the view is better at night, as long as it’s not too foggy, in which case you’ll see nothing. There’s an outside and inside rooftop space that you can take advantage of depending on the weather. If it’s ultra-busy downstairs, it’s a good place to retreat to. At least in the wintertime.
The basement level is where you’ll first check into the hostel. It’s where there will always be a staff member to answer questions and help you out. It’s a big open-plan area that includes a wrap-around couch for TV viewing and a little bank of four Mac computers that you can use to check your email, write three-page diatribes to friends and family back home or book your next trip leg. Otherwise just bring your laptop down and take advantage of the WiFi and bench tables to get your internet fix.
There’s a little library of books to peruse, some flyers of things to do in and around Toronto and two phone booths. Yes, they actually still exist and they’re for making local calls if you need to do some organising and don’t want to deal with global roaming charges.
Behind the kitchen is the laundry room with coin-operated washers and dryers. I didn’t need to use the washers but the dryer came in handy after I walked back in a downpour.
It can all depends on the personalities of the people who are staying at the hostel at the time, and how long they’ve been on the road as to whether you want to hang out with them or not. I had no trouble while I was at Planet Traveler Hostel though, everyone was friendly and willing to chat.
As a solo female traveller, it can sometimes be a little daunting to be put into social situations that you’re worried about not being able to control, so I understand that the organised group activities aren’t for everyone.
Planet Traveler Hostel offers a pretty wide array of activities though, so if you are sick of your own company, there are a few ways to meet other people.
- Monday: Trivia night
- Tuesday: Bingo
- Wednesday: Pub crawl
- Thursday: Movie night
- Friday: Karaoke
- Saturday: Free BBQ or pasta night (depending on the season)
I’m usually partial to a bit of trivia, but I was soaked through from the aforementioned walk in the rain so I missed it on the Monday I was staying there. If you look on the cork board in the kitchen though, each day has a few events and activities listed, so if you’re at a loss for what to do or just at your planning-wit’s end, you can use their ideas.
Planet Traveler Hostel is smack-bang in the middle of Kensington Market, where you’ll never run out of places to eat, day or night. There are some great dessert places as well that I’ll write about in a separate post so look out for that.
I was able to walk up to the University of Toronto, the Art Gallery of Ontario, Grafitti Alley, Chinatown and the Bata Shoe Museum. I also walked over to Younge Street (the main shopping street) and down to Union Station, but they are quite a ways away so I would probably recommend public transport. You can catch buses or light rail over to Younge Street (which takes about 16 minutes) or the same down to the waterfront and CN Tower (which will take about 30 minutes).
*Disclaimer: While all opinions in this post (and all others) are honest and my own, it was sponsored, in part, by Planet Traveler Hostel.