We have stayed at numerous hostels in Canada and Europe, and Ocean Island Inn Backpackers rates as one of our top 5 hostels to stay at. The hostel occupies a historic building in downtown Victoria. Originally built in 1891 it is considered important to the city’s heritage because it is representative of the development patterns of the late nineteenth century, which saw the expansion of Victoria away from the commercial core and the waterfront. Ocean Island is located 3 ½ blocks from the ocean and historic centre of Victoria with its many shops, bookstores, and cafes. Straight down from Ocean Island is Bastion Square and Monroe’s Bookstore for those of us who are bibliophiles. Ocean Island was originally designed as a hotel with commercial spaces at street level, which are now the common gathering area, the pub, communal kitchen, and cafeteria eating space. In 1944 it was converted into war-time housing, and through to its present-day use as a backpacker’s hostel (since 1999). Check out our video of Ocean Island Inn Backpackers here.
The lobby and common area at Ocean Island Inn. The staff are friendly and quick to get people registered or checked out. It is a busy hostel, so they may not always have time to chat, but do when they can.
We stayed in a private room on the 4th floor with shared bathrooms. The bathrooms are always clean; you never have to wait as there are five washrooms per floor. The bed is one of the most comfortable we’ve ever slept on. We’re both well into our 50s, and the bed, noise from our neighbours and outside was not an issue. We had the window open all night to let in the fresh air, and our neighbours were courteous throughout our stay. The staff at Ocean Island Inn Backpackers are first rate – very friendly, efficient, and professional. The staff cooking the meals are decent chefs in their own right, and breakfast was a smorgasbord of fruits, toast, waffles, yogurt, porridge, cereal and hard-boiled eggs for those wanting a little more protein in their mornings. Dinners in the evenings change during the week, but range from curried lentils, pasta, corn chowder on rice (that was delicious), Moroccan Stew, and various other dishes. The meals are largely vegetarian, and guests are invited to supplement their own meals as they see fit. A few of our fellow travellers were cooking up sausages to add to the pasta one night, and a few were frying their own eggs to supplement the morning breakfast gathering (if you’d rather not have hard-boiled eggs).
We appreciated that dinner wasn't a free-for-all. Staff dish out the food to residents - helps with not transmitting COVID, colds and the common old flu.
We fell in love with this kitchen - and because the hostel feeds everyone so well, we were a little disappointed we didn't have a good reason to get in here and do some cooking.
The staff at Ocean Island Inn do a good job of creating a relaxing, inviting atmosphere – one in which you feel like you belong there and can easily meet new friends. During the day you can check out the many sights in, and around Victoria, B.C. If you love books like we do be sure to stop in at Monroe’s Bookstore, as well as Russel’s Bookstore – both are two of the best curated bookstores we’ve been in, and we have had the privilege to peruse The Strand in New York, as well as Hodges Figgis in Dublin.
These may be the most comfortable beds we've ever slept on.
This photo taken from the cafeteria/shared eating space looking to the pub and beyond the pub is the lobby/common area.
Ocean Island Backpackers is a unique, whimsical space to spend some time meeting others, and as a base for your adventures in Victoria. We highly recommend this hostel for all ages. Just an FYI – this is an old building from the late 1800s, so there is no elevator – pack accordingly.