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Global Village Backpackers shuts down

Posted by Staff / January 18, 2014

Global Village backpackersGlobal Village Backpackers, Toronto's popular hostel (in business since 1997) at the corner of King and Spadina, abruptly announced to staff yesterday they are closing. We're told the decision was made by the owner of the business and management were informed by phone. Current guests have been given to Monday to find alternate accommodations.

The news was greeted with shock and disappointment among the community of former and current (now out of work) employees and officially became public today around noon with postings to the hostel's Twitter and Facebook page. No reason was given except that it's "due to extreme unforeseen circumstances." We reached out to management (who also lost their jobs) for more information but were told any additional details would be unavailable until Monday.

Condolences and remembrances of good times past reined in on Twitter and Facebook as well as at least one personal blog. The adjacent bar, the Departure Lounge, is also closing while the sister Kensington Hostel continues to remain operational under new ownership. It's unclear what will happen to Moose Travel Network which operated out of the building for many years.

The owners of Global Village do not own the property so any decision what to do with the building will be made by the landlord.



J / January 18, 2014 at 06:00 pm
Torotnto HI-Hostel at Church and King is far superior than this shite hole. I only stay with HI accredited hostels when I stay in hostels, guaranteed to be clean, have amenities, and a lot of activities.
hmmm / January 18, 2014 at 06:02 pm
whatever will go in its place?!?

a) a condo
b) a condo
c) mixed use retail + condo
d) a condo
neonshaun / January 18, 2014 at 06:12 pm
"due to extreme unforeseen circumstances"

(a condo developer just passed us a few million)
Niklas Agarwal / January 18, 2014 at 06:14 pm
It is such a nice building. PLEASE NO CONDOS
ayayayyy / January 18, 2014 at 06:14 pm
@hmmm ..missed one..

e) all of the above
Tiina / January 18, 2014 at 06:22 pm
Now Planet Traveler on College will be even busier.
moonshake / January 18, 2014 at 06:29 pm
Turn it back into the Spadina Hotel!
Good / January 18, 2014 at 06:30 pm
Get an actual hotel room, not some filth room like this.
Jeremy / January 18, 2014 at 06:38 pm
@Good: Some of us prefer to travel cheaply and enjoy the more open atmosphere of a hostel. Not all of us have the $100 required to get a hotel room downtown. It's a shame this is closing up. Toronto needs to step its game up with respect to low-cost accommodation.
chester / January 18, 2014 at 06:51 pm
A prime piece of real estate right there. It's probably gonna be condos. I hated the hostel idea. They're cheap and disgusting plus I'd rather stay through Air B'N'B. I've met so many nice cool people around the world through air bnb who actually help you and make you feel welcome.
mattmovies / January 18, 2014 at 06:56 pm
Isn't that what airbnb is for now?
chester / January 18, 2014 at 07:02 pm
A prime piece of real estate right there. It's probably gonna be condos. I hated the hostel idea. They're cheap and disgusting plus I'd rather stay through Air B'N'B. I've met so many nice cool people around the world through air bnb who actually help you and make you feel welcome.
Rora / January 18, 2014 at 07:06 pm
Well that's horrible news for travellers who are currently on the road and expecting a place to stay when they hit Toronto...
Sam / January 18, 2014 at 07:39 pm
I would have been sad this place was closing until I had friends from overseas stay there last year only to hear their horror stories of rats chewing their backpacks and leaving feces in their beds- time for this place to go and stop taking advantage of budget travellers
Jordan / January 18, 2014 at 07:42 pm
That's a shame - this place was awesome. For all the haters out there - maybe try staying there a night. Though, from the looks of the outside - I'm guessing the building's on the verge of collapse.
@djjeffbutton / January 18, 2014 at 08:09 pm
We used to throw some serious parties at that spot....
Will be missed!
Kat / January 18, 2014 at 10:14 pm
I am Canadian. I worked at this WONDERFUL hostel for a few years on-and-off. It was an AMAZING place to work and make friends. It wasn't filthy. It was on-par with the MANY other hostels I had traveled to (in Europe & beyond).
It's a SHAME it's closing. It offered travelers a great, affordable place to rest their heads & explore our city.
I will miss seeing the colourful building as I drive up Spadina.

gl / January 18, 2014 at 11:19 pm
would bet a pretty penny that the 'unforeseen circumstances' are a higgh $$ offer from a developer
Josh / January 18, 2014 at 11:26 pm
Obvoiosly that corner is worth millions and your not gonna make that charging people 30-40 a night. The LCBO across the corner must make millions.,,
bradlambisthedevil / January 19, 2014 at 12:46 am
Just some history for the debt-happy condo set about to call it home.
The Spadina Hotel's south side bar was a gorgeous wood-panelled bar-fly heaven. The Cabana and Subway rooms were live music staples. Also, Jack Nicholson's "The Last Detail" was shot there, when T.O. stood in for Norfolk, West Virginia.
Steven / January 19, 2014 at 01:00 am
Eric / January 19, 2014 at 02:01 am
Airbnb strikes again! It will put all of these shit holes out of business within the next few years. / January 19, 2014 at 02:18 am
One of the best hostels on earth.
Spike / January 19, 2014 at 06:16 am
More condos, yet again.

Any way that these can be built in the suburbanized parts of Toronto?
Robert / January 19, 2014 at 06:59 am
Whats wrong with condos? People got to live some place. Businesses need people to by their stuff. What should be built if not homes and businesses?
Spike / January 19, 2014 at 08:55 am
@Robert: How about the fact that there are too many of them, and they're turning Toronto into a shithole, and making it lose its soul? Can you understand that?
Ryan / January 19, 2014 at 09:06 am

This is a great documentary providing a lot of surprising insights into the Condo Market in Toronto and its many shortcomings....Educate yourself.
GoodGuyCP / January 19, 2014 at 09:13 am
A bit filthy, yes. But, to put GVB in the same category as Air BnB is to compare Robin Williams with the writers of 'Full House'. A classic edifice and business, its redeeming qualities outnumbered its shortcomings.
Those that ignorantly dismissed it in these comments, well, you won't be getting a call from me for pints any time soon. #DullsVegas.
Yardl / January 19, 2014 at 09:47 am
I am sad to the see an international hostel of its 'character' go, but it was far too valuable a site to be used for some bawdy, poorly-repaired, and lets-face-it architectural eyesore. I know that the 'occupants' are international travellers looking for a cheap, downtown location. But your under-performing and transient life doesn't deserve to have that good of a location. Of course- the dumb-dwat response would be to put up a condo with nothing or a franchise coffee/ fashion/ upscale-market at the base. As much as I would pick a Starbucks (with its fake happy-to-see-you persona) over an authentic indie cafe (with 'authentic' condescending and snarky persona) 8 times out of 10, that is also wrong. Its time to think about having key retail sites given 'affordable' temporary sites. 'Character' stores, hostels, and restaurants given 3-year subsidized rates under newly gentrified sites. Maybe 10-20% of all new street-level commercial space. The City already asks for many new construction sites to contribute a certain portion of the construction cost to an on-site or local park, art, or community-project -- such should a portion of the cost of the added wealth be partly re-plowed into temporary 'affordable' (mostly pity) retail projects. Who knows? If 10% of these are commercially sustainable they may actually be a net benefit to the city rather than just a 'character' or 'soulful' gesture. It must always be ruthless capitalism over character, but sometimes capitalism has to have some element of livability - if just to rejuvenate the status-quo.
JDough / January 19, 2014 at 09:54 am
I always fund it amazing that the storied and venerable Spadina Hotel turned into this mess. Happy to see it go but sad to think of what's next.
Jamie / January 19, 2014 at 11:08 am
Before people make too many negative comments, one of the owners recently passed away suddenly, and it may simply be too difficult for the family to continue to run the hostel without that key stakeholder around. Our thoughts go out to the family, staff, and friends that lost a great man.
Goulet / January 19, 2014 at 12:26 pm
Well then to Planet Traveller! Super cool hostel....and super clean!!!! :)
Taylor / January 19, 2014 at 02:47 pm
Theres plenty of smaller thrift hostels popping up, for example: I'm sure its current occupants will find another place.
Sylvia / January 19, 2014 at 04:04 pm
Between the patio and the bar and the dance floor - this place rocked! Not too many places in this city that you can go to and relax and get to know people from the rest of the world without a worry of pretension. Nobody bothered about what I did for a living or what I had. I used to live down the street from this place and frankly would go to this patio quicker than I would any of the other King West joints. Stayed there once. Simple, well run and fun. "Easy to do business with". I appreciated and appreciate that!
m / January 19, 2014 at 06:10 pm
The real reason it is shutting down is much sadder than just a condo in it's place. Which anyone who isn't brain dead knows that condos are not "abrubtly" sprung up from bussinesses that possess a "lease" on the property. Thay are bought then allow the lease to expire then start breaking ground.
The real reason is this
Richard was the owner of Global village.
While he and I had our differences when I worked there, I will say this. He was a man of compassion and integrity and the world is a much poorer place without him. My condolenceses to his Family and friends.
BOB / January 19, 2014 at 06:51 pm
Its disgusting how many condos are being built all over this city.
Not Bob / January 19, 2014 at 09:51 pm
Do you condo haters ever go to Manhattan and say "ugh, condos", not everyone wants to live in their parents basement while being a "barista" on Queen W. And most people can't afford a house, so Fuck off with all the condo hate and appreciate all the property tax and density it brings to this great city.
Josh / January 19, 2014 at 11:22 pm
I don't own a god damn thing! I dont give a shit about taxes and what you bring to the area.
el convento steve-o / January 20, 2014 at 03:06 am
The Melody bar on a snowy evening was pure magic. Also, Jack Nicholson's "The Last Detail" was shot there, when T.O. stood in for Norfolk, West Virginia.
Spike / January 20, 2014 at 06:00 am
@Not Bob: the young people you're referring to can't afford to live in any of the condos being built, either. So most likely, they're living in their parent's basement(s) because of it. And the only thing these condos are doing is making Toronto look crappy and cheap.
Condoman / January 20, 2014 at 09:32 am
Take a look down Queen in the beach. Looks like St. Jamestown. Or a futuristic prison. Great planning! Not exactly Paris or San Francisco.
MrsPotato / January 20, 2014 at 11:06 am
This building is falling apart.

I hated watching the guys standing on a wobbly latter trying to pick ice off the roof ... throwing it down onto the sidewalk (!!!).
The eaves troughs were always falling off and apart .. What an eyesore. They couldn't even maintain the front entrance, by shoveling and keeping the ice away.

If anything, it was a huge liability.

I hope it's bought by someone who can actually afford it's upkeep, rather than keeping it together with elastic bands, scotch tape and string!
Rosco / January 20, 2014 at 02:03 pm
I stayed here for about 6 weeks back in 2006, when I first arrived in Toronto on a working holiday visa. In addition to providing visitors to the city with a safe, affordable, conveniently-located place to stay, it was invaluable as a resource for finding work, understanding Canadian employment and immigration law (they had free seminars on both topics), making friends, and meeting the locals (plenty of Torontonians spent time on the patio in summer).

I've moved on to a happy and successful life in Canada, but I wont forget my first few weeks here and the need for places like GVB.
Not Bob / January 20, 2014 at 05:14 pm
@spike, so what would your solution be for people looking to own a property, build equity and live downtown at a fair price?
Lloyd Jones / January 20, 2014 at 06:40 pm
Richard will be missed. Perhaps someone else will rent the space for a hostel. Condolences to the family in Ottawa.
PHunter / January 21, 2014 at 04:09 pm
@Not Bob, point taken. Replace those basement-living baristas with responsible, equity-building automatons. We'll start at King and Spadina, move up Chinatown, and take out Kensington Market next. Then, we'll move on the last bastion of those hipster folk who ruin the downtown area: Trinity-Bellwoods. Let's just expand Bay Street. Toronto will prosper and we can pave the streets with gold. Then we can bring in tourists by the boatload to look at the pretty condos, like they do in Manhattan.
Rosco / January 21, 2014 at 05:04 pm
@NotBob "Fair price"? Perhaps if they move to Saskatchewan...
Mi / January 21, 2014 at 11:39 pm
omg... I stayed here. Met amazing people. Loved the hole-in-the-wall bar they ran. Damn, GVB was the shit. I remember meeting a sexy Asian girl who was coming out of a King West club, next thing I know I was piggybacking her up the stairs to my room. I distinctly remember her asking me 'what is this place?' - if you only knew my little rice noodle... if you only knew.
backpacker accommodation perth / January 22, 2014 at 05:17 am
“To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.”So move out from your places and enjoy some vacations..
Alex / January 23, 2014 at 04:41 pm
It's a heritage property protected by the city. So I'm guessing arson then condo, or a big renovation and re-opening as an expensive hotel/restaurant/bar. / January 23, 2014 at 09:58 pm
I hope the city doesn't allow this building to be torn down. But like another person said, "arson" will likely fix that, and if it does the city should force the owners to rebuild it the way it was.
nocondo / January 24, 2014 at 12:48 am
Hope it's not a condo! A nice idea would be an affordable, super spicy indian restaurant which is more Queen Street than King Street.
Spike replying to a comment from Not Bob / January 24, 2014 at 08:51 am
I can think of some doozies:

1) Raise the minimum wage to about $20.25 or $20.95 for starters: that will allow people to be able to afford clothing, food, rent, bills and to save money

2) Build MORE, not LESS, social housing, so that younger people and others can afford to live on their own, and NOT these overpriced crappy condos

3) Tax most of the wealthy and corporations and make them pay their fair share of being in Canada, and get them to stop paying the executives of these companies such big salaries

4) Limit the building of these things to places in Toronto that need the density and can support them (Victoria Park Avenue in North York has a few spots, as does Sheppard Avenue, for example)-they're destroying the specialness of old Toronto

5) Related to (3)-have these corporations pay people enough to live on, save, pay bills and buy whatever's in stores, so that the recession is halted or mitigated.
elizabeth / January 24, 2014 at 09:43 am
Thank you to all that have given a piece of themselves in making GVB a wonderful and safe place to stay while visiting Toronto. Knowing first hand that the owner of the hostel, gave his heart and soul into making it what it was. NO condos only the sad passing of Richard. Perhaps stepping back and seeing what he did to make it a wonderful place, rather than jumping to the fact it was only more money he wanted. R.I.P big brother your sadly missed everyday.
perth hostel / February 11, 2014 at 07:57 am
If you are looking for some quality and cheap rate hostels in Australia then there is no other place then Perth.
Perthhostel / February 21, 2014 at 01:50 am
Good article.If you are looking for some cheap hostels in Perth then backpackers is the best place for you.
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