HI Ottawa Jail Hostel – 7.5/10
75 Nicholas Street
|Length of Stay||2 nights|
|Room Type||Private room|
|Cost||$100 per night|
The HI-Ottawa Jail Hostel stayed true to the concept and original history of the jail. It was very creepy… in a good way! The daily morning tour was very informative and interesting, offering insight into the reality of a prisoner’s stay.
The main downside was that the bar crawl and BBQ which were meant to be organised by the hostel had been cancelled due to lack of staff. The bar was also closed during our stay for the same reason, which left nothing to do at the hostel in the evenings.
The hostel was as clean as they could get a jail to look, without losing its authenticity. The bed sheets smelt fresh, no visible dust or hair in the cell. The communal areas were kept tidy, and communal bathrooms were satisfactory.
Other than the morning tour, the other excursions or in-house events hosted by the hostel had been cancelled due to lack of staff. Wifi was adequate but cut out in different areas of the building. Toilets and showers were vacant when needed. Breakfast was pretty good, with a wide selection fruit, cereals, bread and hot/cold drinks.
The hostel had a great location, right opposite the Rideau Centre Mall, and just a short walk from Byward Market and Parliament Hill.
We would highly recommend the private double room experience. The room itself is a cell, with a double bed, bedside table, small cabinet and shelving space with coat hooks. It was actually really cosy in there and included information on the wall, of the prisoners that had stayed in your specific cell. The door was the original metal bar cell door but had been filled in to give the occupants a bit of privacy. However, there was still about a 1ft gap in the bars at the top and bottom of the door, so people walking by could easily peek in, if they wished.
Being a jail, you would expect the security to be pretty tight…and it was. The front door took you through to the reception area, and there was then a heavy door with a keypad lock to get through to the main staircase. The code to the keypad was changed at 11am every day. The rooms themselves were cells, with a key to open and locked from the inside. Each door was heavy!
Unfortunately, the hostel was very understaffed at the time of our stay, and the team seemed stressed. The receptionist who checked us in was friendly and kind, but the staff member who led our guided morning tour seemed rushed and uninterested.
Listed as one of the spookiest places to stay in the world, we would highly recommend checking out the HI Ottawa Jail Hostel. If the infamous bar, Mugshots, had opened and the hostel was able to lead its organised activities, our overall rating would have been higher. You won’t regret spending a night here!