I stayed at HI-Banff from July 27 - 31, 2014 and was traveling by myself. I want to preface this review by saying that the location of the hostel was ideal for my purposes, the facilities were clean and well maintained, and I had an overall awesome time exploring the Banff area. I didn't mind the fact that the hostel was located a little far outside of town as I enjoy walking and was able take the bus whenever I didn't feel up to it. The free bus pass was a major bonus, by the way. Just a $5 deposit that was returned to me when I checked out.
However, I would like to echo a number of the other reviewers here by underling my severe disappointment with the quality of customer service by at least *some* of the staff. My initial booking was made over the telephone before I left Nova Scotia during which I made it quite clear that I wanted to book straight through from the 27th to the 31st. When asked if I would be willing to switch rooms if things got too busy, I replied with something to the effect of "Yes, if the need arises." Nothing more specific than this very general exchange was said to me about what all a room change would entail and I didn't another thing about it until the evening of the 30th.
It was this night that I returned to my room, as I had done the previous 3 nights, after a long and tiring day of exploring Rat's Nest Cave in Grotto Mountain just outside of Canmore. But this time something was different. After trying my key numerous times to no avail and being quite bewildered as to why, a tall, bald, and tattooed man with what sounded like a rather thick Germanic accent came up behind me and told me that I obviously had the wrong room. When I told him this was the room that I had been staying in for the previous three nights, (Room 506. I knew it for an absolute fact.) his response was "that's impossible" and he then told me he was one of 5 people currently staying in that room.
When I went to explain the situation to the receptionist, she didn't seem to recall who I was (She was the same person who checked me in upon my arrival.) After reminding her of this fact, she did a computer search and eventually explained to me that I actually wasn't checked in for the night of the 31st and that, when I had agreed over the phone to switch rooms if necessary, this was treated as a separate booking that I still had yet to make. This, of course, was *after* having made it clear over the phone that I wanted to book straight through from the 27th to the 31st and nothing was ever said to me to indicate that this wouldn't be possible.
Why in the world they weren't able to treat it as a single booking and just discreetly switch me over to a different room rather than locking me out of my old one without my knowledge is truly beyond me. To be fair, the receptionist told me that they had posted a notice on my door that morning indicating that this was the case but, considering that I had been away from my room for nearly 12 solid hours, I don't know why they just assumed I'd be around to see it.
Add to all this the fact that, after a very long and tedious exchange with the receptionist trying to explain to her exactly *why* I was upset, she tells me that they had to cut the lock on my locker in order to move my stuff to the new room. This was under the assumption that the lock belonged to *them* when, in fact, it was mine (which, upon hearing, the receptionist suddenly became very apologetic). Granted, it was ultimately replaced with a significantly cheaper lock but there is something about having my privacy invaded in this fashion that doesn't quite sit well with me.
As I said at the beginning, this hostel *does* have some positive things going for it and, being the sort of person that I am, I did not let this one negative experience ruin my entire trip. My qualm is not with the fact that I had to switch rooms or even with the fact that my personal property was deliberately (albeit unknowingly) damaged by the staff. My objection is that my willingness to switch rooms in order to be accommodating was met with an administrative screw-up that treated what should have been a single booking as two different ones without my knowledge. Not being a lawyer, I'm not as informed as I should be on the legality of a hostel breaking into a guest's locker but it would certainly be an interesting subject of research.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Are you looking for an place to stay in Banff? Seeking the Canadian Rocky Mountain experience? HI Banff Alpine Centre Hostel, has a more than just dorm beds, this Banff hostel also has many family and couples rooms available to book for your holiday in Banff. Looking to make a reservation? * Cougar Pete's on site restaurant * The Storm Cellar Pub and Gamehouse * Free guest use Wi-fi through out * Two spacious guest kitchens, * Two cozy lounges with fireplaces * Lookout deck with spectacular views of the mountains. * Internet kiosks to send a message to your friends at home. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Hi-Banff Alpine Centre Hotel Banff