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HI Ottawa Jail Hostel
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All reviewsfree tourbed dormghost storiescell doorsolitary confinementshared roombring earplugsbyward markethard boiled eggslight sleepertop floorfree breakfast islocation is amazingparliament hillstayed here for one nightcommon areasshort stay
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269 - 274 of 537 reviews
Reviewed 13 September 2013

I am a teacher and have stayed at this hostel many times with my students. It was okay in the past (clean, interesting for the students). This past May, we stayed there for the last time. There was a mix up with our reservation (we had asked for girls on one floor, boys on another which we didn't get) and not even enough rooms for our entire group ! One teacher had to sleep on the floor of a boys room because they wanted him to sleep on another floor !
Then, there was the problems with the fire alarms ! They rang 3 times in 1 day ... once in the morning, twice at night. The staff was NOT trained to react in these types of emergencies.
They even told our students to stay inside ... that it wasn't a big deal ! Then, they blamed us ... said we had taken too many showers and the steam was the problem. Some of the staff started insinuating that our students had pulled the alarm !
When we discussed it with them ... one employee was rude. Not all the staff ... management seemed nice but the staff on-hand wasn't properly trained. We had to explain what to do in case of an emergency ! We have strick rules when responsible for children !

Anyway, used to be a good hostel. But the management needs to train their staff better and update the kitchen (very dirty).

Room Tip: Not all rooms are as shown in pictures ! Rooms on the «Lounge-Bar» side of the building will give you music and noise most of the night !
  • Stayed: May 2013, travelled with family
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Thank jazzfang
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
traveller315, General Manager at HI Ottawa Jail Hostel, responded to this reviewResponded 17 September 2013

Dear Jazzfang

Thank you for your feedback. All feedback is important as it helps us improve our services to guests. I am sorry to hear that your stay in Jail did not meet all of your expectations. We work very diligently to meet the needs of all of our guests and it is troubling to hear that we did not meet all of yours – even four months after your stay with us.

As you may remember, the hostel is a very unique property in that it was designed in a particular way, and not with the needs of modern guests in mind. It is one of the endearing features that make it as popular with travellers of all ages as a one of a kind experience, but it also creates a fair number of challenges other more modern properties are able to deal with easier. All room assignments are based on the needs of the group and what is available at the time the booking contract is received. I am sorry if we were unable to accommodate your group on two separate floors as you had requested. At the time of booking, we gave the best rooms that we had available. This information should have been shared with the main group leader dealing with us at the time and confirmed in writing.

I know the issues you raised with regards to our fire alarm and how my staff dealt with said alarms. We take fire alarms very seriously and in fact, we review the procedures at the start of every staff meeting as required by the Worker Safety Insurance Board (WSIB) of Ontario. The cause of the alarms was a malfunctioning sensor and we dealt with it as fast as possible. However, with our state of the art alarm system, we were quickly able to identify that said fire alarms were not in fact actual fires, but caused by the malfunctioning sensor. We ordered a technician in to fix the problem as quickly as possible, which they did, however, it did take a full day for them to arrive. As you can guess, it would be better not to turn off our alarm system, but rather apologize to guests as to the nature of the alarm ringing by letting them know it was not an actual fire, but a malfunctioning sensor and turning the bell off as quickly as possible and informing the fire department as to the nature of the alarm and that it was in fact false. My night staff made an executive decision not to vacate the building and not to implement our fire evacuation procedures as they knew the nature of the problem and had already implemented the procedures for fixing the errant sensor. I am sorry if you disagree with that decision of my staff, but they also had to weigh the impacts of implementing the full evacuation procedures on the rest of our guests. Perhaps they could have communicated the situation to you better.

We take great pride in delivering the best possible service and experience to our guests at the best possible price and if we have failed, we do apologize and hope that you remember all the great experiences you and your students have had in the Jail.

Sincerely,

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 September 2013

I tried making a reservation on their website only to get re-directed to the home page once I put in my credit card. I figured it was a glitch with the site and since I didn't get a confimation email I guessed that my reservation didn't go thru. I tried calling and was told that they were fully booked and unable to take my reservation.
Then, I got my credit card statement. $36.13 charged to my card and when I called about it, I was told that I didn't show up for my booking. What booking? What confirmation email was sent? Did I get an apology? No.
Thanks Jail Hostel, I spent three times your cost to be somewhere that knows how to run a business and I am glad I did.

  • Stayed: August 2013, travelled with friends
    • Service
2  Thank Christina_Moorshead
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
traveller315, General Manager at HI Ottawa Jail Hostel, responded to this reviewResponded 10 September 2013

We’re sorry to hear about what happened and we’ll be looking into fixing the glitch that caused this problem in the first place. In the meantime, we will be sending you an email to obtain more information about this incident and find a solution.

Sincerely,

Greg
GM

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 7 September 2013

I stayed five nights at this place.
The sheets are clean. Personal are friendly. But, they have a lot of noise by the fan close of the dorm. The concept of a hostel in an ancient jail is very nice. The emplacement is close of most attractive thing of Ottawa. Bathrooms can be a little be more clean.
I will suggest this place to a friend.

Room Tip: Take a room far of the fan
  • Stayed: January 2013, travelled solo
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Thank Renez123
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
traveller315, General Manager at HI Ottawa Jail Hostel, responded to this reviewResponded 10 September 2013

Thank you for your feedback. I know that fan you mention. It actually belongs to the building next door that is being run by the city. We are working with them to fix that problem, but I am glad that you enjoyed your stay in Jail!

Sincerely,

Greg
GM

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 August 2013

We only stayed there 1 night, and we thought it was awesome!! We wanted to stay there because it was an old building , the history and authenticity of it!! It was also our first Hostel experience. The rooms were basic clean! We were on the 4 th floor and the showers were brand new clean and well kept!! As for the bathrooms they were clogged at times but I was able to sneak to the guys and it was fine!! haha!! Due to the bared doors and well it is a jail it was quite noisy and we were on the side of the bar Mugshots so we could here the music but for us it was no big deal for 1 night and slept no problem!! The bar is awesome really cool people, crafts being done puzzles, drink prices good!! The tour was awesome of the place!! And it is central to everything in Ottawa!! I would definately go back no problem!! Only suggestion bring eye covers if you on the top bunk like i was b/c the light comes in for he air to circulate. As well bring ear plugs if you think the music will be a problem for you!!! Hey how many times can you say I slept in Jail!!! hahah

Room Tip: The 4th floor has new showers for woman...so I would stay there again!!!
  • Stayed: July 2013, travelled with friends
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Thank Brigitte L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 August 2013

I was sceptical when I first heard about this Hostel. A Jail as a Hostel?! What about the Ghosts, the Nightmarish Conditions and the Stereotypes?! Never needed to worry. This Hostel is superb and I would recommend it to anyone who would like an experience similar to no other. The building retains the feeling of being a Jail while presenting a comfortable experience. It had all the facilities you require and I never once found myself questioning why I was staying there (that was also partly due to being part of a School Trip and it was there or nothing!) One thing, I was staying on the Ninth Floor and you get an extra contribution to your stay. The Hostel is part of numerous ghost tours and we quite frequently found ourselves interrupting but it was all done with good humour (we decided to name the staircase 'The Staircase of Doom' and although we got a few laughs, I don't think we'll be on the comedy scene for a while) Overall, an absolutely ace Hostel, a once-in-a-lifetime experience and a really comfortable place to stay!

Room Tip: If you want a unique experience, try to obtain a room in an actual cell. Some of the rooms are within the primary building and although it still feels very authentic, it doesn't match staying in a cell. The best to feel like a Prisoner without having to break the law!
  • Stayed: August 2013, travelled with friends
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Thank Graeme P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
traveller315, General Manager at HI Ottawa Jail Hostel, responded to this reviewResponded 21 August 2013

Thanks for your comments, all customer feedback is important. I am really glad to hear you had a good stay in jail. After all, how many times can you Skype home and say 'Mom, I'm in Jail!" and laugh about it?

Thanks,

Greg
GM

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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