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Samesun Banff 2.0

Banff, Banff National Park, Canadian Rockies

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Review Summary

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Pros

  • Walkable location four blocks from downtown and close to grocery store
  • Spacious dorm rooms with en-suite bathrooms, lockers, and gas fireplaces
  • Fun and rowdy bar with nightly activities, happy hour, and dinner specials
  • Free continental breakfast with make-your-own pancakes
  • Contemporary kitchen with cookware, large refrigerator, and pantry
  • Common area with couches, large flat-screen TV with cable, books and games
  • Free or inexpensive daily and nightly activities
  • Luggage storage and coin-operated laundry machines
  • Free limited parking, ski waxing station, plus bike and ski storage
  • Free and fast Wi-Fi that reaches to the rooms and patio

Cons

  • Party atmosphere is loud at night
  • Visible wear and tear
  • No private rooms available
  • One bathroom per dorm with up to 14 beds

Bottom Line

Samesun Banff is a dorm-only backpacker hostel with an extremely walkable location right on Banff Avenue. It targets young, social travelers on a budget and is known for getting rowdy, though there are enforced quiet hours. Each room has an en-suite bathroom, gas fireplace, and lockers, and thanks to a clever design, even the 14-bed rooms don't feel too packed. This hostel gets a lot of traffic, especially in high season so there's noticeable wear and tear and upgrades can't always keep up with the crowds. The free breakfast with make-your-own pancakes, stocked kitchen, daily free (or cheap) activities, nightly specials at the bar, and bike/ski storage make this spot a good bargain. The town's only other hostel with a bar is the HI Banff Alpine Center, and it has a more natural setting. 

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Scene

A well-worn hostel for backpackers who like to explore and party hard

Samesun Banff is a fun and laid-back backpacker hostel that encourages guests to party and be social. The overall lack of style and visible wear and tear reflects the high foot traffic the hostel receives, especially during summer months. Every year the hostel does upkeep (in 2017 they upgraded the kitchen by adding an island, new cabinets, and pantry shelving), though it hasn't been officially refurbished since it originally opened around 2008. During our visit we noticed a general "used" feeling to the space, especially in the emerald green carpets and thin motel-like comforters, though the IKEA-style bunks and beds seemed fairly new. Compared to its direct competitor HI-Banff Alpine Center, the Samesun feels more like the transient home it is for most guests. Nights here get pretty wild in the small pub-style bar, though there's an enforced quiet time between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. 

Location

Great location off Banff Avenue close to downtown and shopping

Samesun Banff has an excellent location within four blocks from Banff's main drag of Caribou Street. You'll be able to reach restaurants, bars, cafes, tour operators, bike rentals, and shops within a 10-minute walk. Tunnel Mountain is further afield at a 20-minute walk away. For those who'd rather take the bus, there's a stop just two minutes from the hostel. Daily excursions through the hostel include transportation, giving easy access to the hot springs, caves, hikes, and other points of interest. There'a also a free shuttle that leaves from the local high school (a five-minute walk) to Lake Minnewanka. Canmore is a 25-minute drive south and Calagary Airport is a 90-minute drive east. 

Rooms

All-dorm accommodation with en-suite bathrooms, fireplaces, and mostly bunk beds

If you're looking for a private room, you won't find it here. All 15 rooms at Samesun Banff are done dorm-style with six, 10, or 14 beds. Luckily, rooms with 10 or 14 beds are sectioned off into connecting rooms with no more than five beds to a section. There are lockers (locks are sold at the front desk), carpet that could use replacing, windows, and working gas fireplaces. The downside is that there's still just one bathroom for everyone to share, and sometimes it's got the shower, toilet, and vanity all in the same room. On the whole, rooms are surprisingly spacious with enough room to not feel cramped. 

Features

Rowdy bar, (mostly free) organized activities, storage, free parking and Wi-Fi, and updated kitchen

Samesun Banff is housed in a small building, limiting the space for features, but it still manages to pack in a punch -- especially when it comes to fun. A standout feature for the hostel is its Beaver Bar, one of the two hostel bars in town (the other is on the other side of town). Though it's a relatively small space for the amount of beds in the hostel, the bar has happy hour specials, a shot wheel, nightly activities like trivia and karaoke, plus affordable dinner specials. But light sleepers beware, things get rowdy and being social is encouraged by staff. On the other side, there's also a quiet time enforced by the hotel staff. Every morning the hotel has a different organized activity ranging from yoga and rock climbing to hikes and caving. They are all either free or inexpensive and transport is provided in the hotel's van. 

Guests have free use of a contemporary kitchen stocked with lots of cookware, a four-top range plus two single hobs, a microwave, four-slice toaster, and kettle. There are also deli-style refrigerators and a large pantry. Next door there's a common area with a couch corner facing a large wall-mounted flat-screen with cable. In the other corner, there's a bathroom with shower and corner shelf stacked with games and books. 

The hostel has free and fast Wi-Fi. There are 10 free underground parking spaces, plus the parking area also has bike, luggage, ski and snowboard storage, and a table for waxing skis and boards. 

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Things You Should Know About Samesun Banff

Address

433 Banff Avenue, Banff, Canadian Rockies T1L 1B4, Canada

Also Known As

  • SameSun Backpacker Lodge

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