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“A great atmosphere should followed by (at least) good service”

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HI Ottawa Jail Hostel
Vancouver, Canada
Level Contributor
44 reviews
19 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
“A great atmosphere should followed by (at least) good service”
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 25 June 2014 via mobile

This is our first visit to Ottawa after 30 hours of flight. When we saw there's an old jail turned into a hostel we booked it in excitement. The room was as expected for a hostel, but we found it a bit confusing to find the numbers (management should really change the room numbers) even the staff said it's a bit confusing.

Don't expect a window when you stay here but at night it's getting comfy with the cold air or the old jail walls. The sound of doors banging from other rooms are quite a disturbance. Wear an earplug when you sleep to make it work.

There was this busy Monday morning packed with guests for breakfast but no milk, no coffee, no egg and no staff. Seriously?

The worst thing is there's only one men's washroom all the way in the other alley (our room was in 408 on the other side and it only have girls washroom). Very unpractical when you really need to pee in the middle of the night. Especially with the lights on the alley turned off. And always check the flush before using because sometimes it doesn't work.

And maybe Matt could use a smile and loose the attitude once in a while when serving his guests :)

  • Stayed June 2014
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Rainer O
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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442 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    3 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    3 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
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English first
Level Contributor
38 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 16 June 2014

Should have listened to the reviews rather than trying it for myself first. Poor decision since it is everything the reviews say.

We arrived to receive a room on the 5th floor and I tell you the smell was bad even while we were waiting outside to check in. I saw the reviews said that its an old jail but the smell was outside as well so I'm not sure. We nearly didn't check in. As far as it being a part of hostelling international, it is by far the worst hostel I have stayed in and I have travelled a fair bit. I think HI would do better dropping them from their website since it brings nothing but bad reviews.
The room was extremely hot and after awhile and a strong husband we were thankfully able to open the windows. Because they didn't stay up we stuck a garbage bin and one of the side lamp tables under the windows to keep them open. I would assume if they could get all the furniture and bath/showers into the rooms they could fix a few windows. The showers were tiny and water poured out of both the shower door and the bathroom door which is why they probably have the bedroom entry tiled because they are aware of the problem. We weren't, until we showered and found the puddle of water to the entrance of the bathroom.

The next night we went down for dinner around 6pm as we had things we had planned for later in the night to which we were rudely told by one of the staff due to his incompetence and lack of organisational skills that maybe we could leave and come back a bit later on because he was running 40mins late for a group of kids that weren't staying in the hotel and he was making dinner for them. To which I replied with no because it was a communal kitchen and we had our own plans. He also told some other people who tried to use the kitchen to come back later. Between that and the girl at the front desk we were pretty much over the service there, and even standing back while waiting for service the girl clearly needed a new job since she treated most of the customers the same.

The worst thing about the whole stay was 2nd night in no one bothered to tell us there was a live band playing in the arts centre next door which was right beside our room which we did not find out about until the music started booming in our room. When we went downstairs to ask if we could maybe just relocate to another room we were told that the music would be done by 10pm and we were offered earplugs. Disgusting since earplugs would do nothing, it was close enough that the mirror in our room shook when they played. At 10pm the music did not cease so we went down stairs to ask again when it would be done to which the young man said it was 11pm now. When my husband said you told us 10pm he rudely replied with "Why would I say 10pm when it finishes at 11pm that would be stupid". To which we replied with well you said that they would be finished at 10pm in line with local laws and the move inside and why would I make that up when I don't even know what your laws are. How difficult is it to just let people know that there will be a live
band blasting in your room until 11pm. A little bit of a heads up would have been nice. Unable to find anywhere else to stay we checked out the next morning with still 2 nights left in ottawa.

Honestly it is not worth even staying the night for the experience because its not really an experience anyway. You can have the same experience sleeping in your closet at home and save the money or for a real experience sleep in your bathroom with your dirty laundry beside you for the smell. If your really desperate you can go on one of the crappy tours where they talk generic about the history from phamplets and its about 15mins of nothing. More money for generic history. I am sure every old jail has the exact same stories. People are
all saying its an experience but its really one everyone can do without. Listen to the reviews!

I understand its an old jail but none of the stuff that happened would have been part of the old jail experience so really its there to collect money and give nothing back. It is really just a bit of a joke and extremely disappointed with the whole experience. Really will be passing on to anyone who goes to Ottawa
to be bypassing here because its not worth 2 mins of your time.

  • Stayed June 2014
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Jess'ca M
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 review, 20 June 2014
Thank you for your review of the HI-Ottawa Jail Hostel. We take all feedback very seriously as it identifies where we have to improve our guest experiences.

I am sorry we did not meet your expectations. We try very hard to identify to all guests that the HI-Ottawa Jail Hostel is a 152 year old heritage building and it has a different set of challenges than most other buildings. As a heritage designated structure any renovations or repairs of any sort have to be approved by the municipal heritage building committee and the process is very long and expensive. We are working on a long-term development plan for the hostel where our windows among other things will be replaced in the not too distant future.

It was too bad there was confusion over the use of the guest kitchen on Wednesday night. My chef was working in the guest kitchen to prepare a meal for 45 hostel guests. The meal was planned as an outdoor BBQ, and as you may remember, there was excessive rain that afternoon necessitating him being forced to move inside to prepare and present the meal. As I am sure you can understand preparing a meal for 45 people then having an unexpected change like the weather can cause you some stress. When he asked if you could come back later to use the kitchen, he was actually thinking of your needs as well. He was using most of the kitchen space and most of the stovetops at that time. There was no physical space for you to do your own cooking as he was using them. Sorry for the inconvenience, he meant the best for everyone. He cleaned up quickly and the kitchen was re-opened to other guests shortly afterwards. That kind of demand for the kitchen is not a regular occurrence.

As for the noise from the event next door and letting you know, we obviously failed to communicate and we will learn from this and make sure we do a better job of letting guests know of these things. I think we may have failed because events in SAW Gallery Patio are very rare and are required to be moved indoors by 11 PM. We’ll improve our staff training on customer service.

I can’t believe you did not appreciate our complimentary orientation tour of the hostel. The intention of that tour is more to give the accommodation guests of the hostel access to the spaces they would not otherwise have. For those looking for a more historical or ghost tour, we refer guests to our tour partner, the Haunted Walks of Ottawa who provide two excellent and award winning tours of the Jail, the Crime and Punishment and the Ghost and the Gallows tours. Unfortunately, to participate in these tours guests are charged a rate of $10.75 plus tax. This does include a $4.00 discount that hostel guests receive.

I hope that this helps explain the unfortunate circumstances around your stay with us and we look forward to seeing you in our hostel network again in the future.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC

Travellers are raving about these Ottawa hotels

Shanghai Region, China
Level Contributor
26 reviews
26 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 9 June 2014

Very special hostel experience, unreproducible! Clean stay, nice breakfast, robust wifi coverage even in jail unit. Price a little bit too high though, still good for very short stay in Ottawa, with walking distance to most attractions

  • Stayed June 2014, travelled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Hao H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Ottawa, Canada
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 7 June 2014

Having just completed a long travel from BC, we were looking forward to our private room. Upon arrival, we were informed that there was no private available. Now, we understand that mix ups happen, but not once did the staff apologize. They barely looked at us once we had said that we were not interested in staying in a dorm room, which was somehow more expensive then our private!! After asking for recommendations for other hostels, the staff would not call them for us ( a local call for them, a long distance for us). They completely ignore us as we left never saying a word or even looking at us. Perhaps the worst customer service I have encountered in a hostel.

  • Stayed June 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Nick P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Australia
Level Contributor
6 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 5 June 2014

The concept of staying in a jail is quite unique and for this reason the HI Ottawa Jail is a great place to stay for a few nights. You literally do sleep in a cell. The free breakfast of bagels is good and they have a great kitchen downstairs (much nicer than any other hostel kitchen I have seen).
However there are a few drawbacks. The cells are quite basic with no window or fresh air. Because the door is a cell, it does mean that light and noise easily filter through to you. I could hear people walking past, people taking, showers etc which can make it difficult to sleep. I also feel that for the price of rooms (I was staying in a double cell (nearly $100), that a room in a nice hotel would have offered much more comfortable living, with a window and fresh air, much more space and my own bathroom.
Overall it is not a bad place to stay, but I think next time I would pay the same price for a much better standard of comfort and space.

  • Stayed June 2014, travelled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Mish_ellie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Level Contributor
33 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 4 June 2014

We stayed here for four nights and had a great time! It was my first time in a hostel, so the whole communal bathroom and shower thing was a bit strange at first, but it turned out to not be that bad. There were some school groups on our floor (4th floor) and they were a bit loud sometimes, but it's a hostel, so what do you expect. I did take some ear plugs for sleeping, but it turns out I didn't use them after the first night. The spaghetti dinner on Sunday night was great. A huge plate of tasty pasty and a pint of local beer for $5! The linens were a bit old, but they seemed clean and were comfortable. The staff was helpful and friendly. I am planning a return trip and will hopefully stay here again! The location is the best part as it's close to just about everything you could want it Ottawa. The breakfast is filling and ample--a great way to start the day!

  • Stayed May 2014, travelled on business
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Willie S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Ottawa, Canada
1 review
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 2 June 2014

Staff at the front desk were welcoming and helpful. Rooms were simplistic but fitted the rustic feel of the jail. I was on the 9th floor and the only criticism I can make is the WiFi is limited to basically non existent in the room.
However the location was great, being a 2 minute walk from byward market and overall was an enjoyable weekend at the hostel and I'll be returning.

  • Stayed May 2014
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Tom_grogley
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about HI Ottawa Jail Hostel

Property: HI Ottawa Jail Hostel
Address: 75 Nicholas St, Ottawa, Ontario K1N 7B9, Canada
Region: Canada > Ontario > Ottawa
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Suites
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 21 Speciality Lodging in Ottawa
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £
Hotel Class:2 star — HI Ottawa Jail Hostel 2*
Number of rooms: 29
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Located in downtown Ottawa, the HI-Ottawa Hostel is within easy walking distance of Parliament Hill, the Byward Market and all the major downtown attractions. We offer a relaxing, friendly atmosphere, heaps of on-site parking, free wi-fi, linen and towels. A great place to hang! ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Hi Ottawa Jail Hotel Ottawa

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