After announcing my trip to Prince Edward Island, a friend I met in Cape Breton recommended that stay in HI-Charlottetown Backpackers (she volunteered at that hostel). I followed her recommendation and stayed there for a week.
HI-Charlottetown is located downtown and has easy access to restaurants, shops, and museums. From the airport, you can either drive your own vehicle or take a City Taxi (CAD$14 one-way).
I booked a bed in a six-bed female dorm. My room was on the first floor, next to the receptionist area and close to the lounge, which meant that it was a bit loud during the day. Getting enough sleep was not a problem, as the hostel is quiet between 11pm and 7am. The receptionist area is closed at 11:30 pm, and there is no curfew.
The lounge area is where volunteers and guests chill and watch movies. There is a wide selection of old movies such as I am Sam and American Beauty, but we do not mind. There are also seats on the front porch to relax outside the hostel, and a small park nearby to take a short walk.
Passing the lounge area is the kitchen, where I ate my complimentary breakfast every morning. The banana bread the volunteers spend their afternoons making is among the tastiest I have ever had. A selection of drinks and plates of fruit are offered. I was happy to try everything.
May in PEI is a low season to travel and my room was never full. The first three nights I shared the room with a Toronto resident (I do not remember her name). She invited me and some travelers next door to have dinner at the hostel the next day. The following day, we brought back a huge pack of live mussels. After spending time washing and sorting the mussels, we cooked them with garlic sauce and top them on the pasta. The third day a volunteer brought oysters. He shucked them and asked us to try them with fresh lemon. His told us to “just swallow it.” From my experience, live oyster does not taste that bad and you just have to rally your guts to try it. Other seafood, such as mussels and lobster, taste incredible, and the chatting and laughing at the dinner table makes everything perfect.
Despite the wonderful time I had in the hostel, my favorite part is the killer team consisting of wonderful staff and volunteers. Everyone there made an effort to welcome me and made me feel at home. Not only does every staff member remember the name of each guest, but each of us remembers the name of each staff member and the volunteers.
My last day happened to be the ten-year anniversary of the hostel and everyone was invited to the potluck celebration. During the party, a scrap book was passed around detailing the founding of the hostel and the interesting stories were shown in a photo essay format. We read the book, had some laughs, shared happiness and joy, and were proud to be members of the hostel family.
Every evening, I took five –minute walks to the waterfront, smelt the salty air from the ocean, listened to the waves batter the shore, and felt the Atlantic’s cool spring breeze. The sunset was exceptionally beautiful. Many said that, in order to watch the best sunset on the island, I had to head to the west. I went to the west and did not have an opportunity to see the sunset, but I enjoyed every moment in Charlottetown with my new hostel friends, and watched the sun setting on the ocean, which was an excellent closing for my day.
If you are looking for budget-friendly accommodation in Charlottetown, I would recommend that you go with HI-Charlottetown Backpackers. It has a prime location, great service, a relaxing environment, and, most of all, a sense of community that makes you fall in love with Charlottetown and PEI.