HI–Banff Alpine Centre (801 Hidden Ridge Way, 403/762-4123 or 866/762-4122, www.hihostels.ca) is just off Tunnel Mountain Road three kilometers (1.9 miles) from downtown. This large, modern hostel sleeps 216 in small two-, four-, and six-bed dormitory rooms as well as four-bed cabins. The large lounge area has a fireplace, and other amenities include a recreation room, public Internet access, bike and ski/snowboard workshop, large kitchen, self-service café/bar, and laundry.
In summer, members of Hostelling International pay $33 per person per night (nonmembers $37) for a dorm bed or $83 s or d ($88 for nonmembers) in a private room. The hostel is open all day, but check-in isn’t until midday. To get there from town, ride the Banff Transit bus ($2), which passes the hostel twice an hour during summer.
Facilities at Banff Y Mountain Lodge (102 Spray Ave., 403/762-3560 or 800/813-4138, www.ymountainlodge.com, dorm $33, $88 s, $99 d) include the casual Sundance Bistro (7 a.m.–10 p.m.), a laundry facility, and a communal area where the centerpiece is a massive stone fireplace with writing desks and shelves stocked with books scattered throughout.
Along the main strip of accommodations and a five-minute walk to downtown is Samesun Banff Chalet (433 Banff Ave., 403/762-4499 or 877/972-6378, www.samesun.com; dorm $35, private $149 s or d). As converted motel rooms, each small dormitory has its own bathroom. Guest amenities include a lounge, wireless Internet, free continental breakfast, and underground parking. Slightly further from downtown, Samesun Banff Hostel (449 Banff Ave., 403/762-5521, www.samesun.com; dorm $33, private from $89 s or d) has older rooms, but is set around a pleasant courtyard.
Thirty-two kilometers (20 miles) from Banff along the Bow Valley Parkway, HI–Castle Mountain (403/760-7580 or 866/762-4122, www.hihostels.ca, $23–27) is near several interesting hikes and across the road from a general store with basic supplies. This hostel sleeps 28 in two dorms and has a kitchen, octagonal common room with wood-burning fireplace, hot showers, and bike rentals. Check-in is 5–10 p.m.
Accommodations in this price range are limited to private rooms at the three backpacker lodges (above) and at a few bed-and-breakfasts. The best value of these is Mountain View B&B (347 Grizzly St., 403/760-9353, www.mountainviewbanff.ca, May–Sept., $95–130 s or d), on a quiet residential street three blocks from the heart of downtown. The two guest rooms are simply furnished, each with a double bed, TV, sink, and bar fridge. They share a bathroom and a common area that includes basic cooking facilities (microwave, toaster, kettle) and opens to a private deck. Off-street parking and a light breakfast round out this excellent choice.
© Andrew Hempstead, from Moon Western Canada, 3rd Edition