HI’s Ottawa Jail Hostel

HI’s Ottawa Jail Hostel

formerly the Old Carleton County Jail
The Ottawa Jail Hostel offers you a chance to spend a night in jail–without committing a felony. The Hostel is located at 75 Nicholas Street, within easy walking distance of Parliament Hill, Byward Market and all major downtown attractions. It offers 110 beds in the hostel, a unique blend of shared and private jail cells as well as traditional shared or private hostel style rooms. You can even rent the former “Warden’s Quarters”–a two bedroom unit with ensuite bathroom. The Hostel is open year round.

HI's Ottawa Jail Hostel or Carleton County Gaol

HI’s Ottawa Jail Hostel or the Old Carleton County Gaol
Photo by Jeff Johnston, 2007, commons.wikimedia.org


The Ottawa Jail Hostel offers choices of rooms from private single bed cells, a cell dorm of 6 beds, a large dorm of 8 beds, twin cell with 2 single beds, a private double room and a quad shared. The rates will cost you between $29.00 – $96.00 depending on if you are a member or non-member of HI, the type of room and the time of year. They take Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Cash and Debit cards.

HI means Hostelling International

An Adult membership (18 years and older) is good for 2 years and costs $35 + tax, or lifetime membership for $175 + tax. A membership is free for people under 18, and also free for organized groups of 10+ people.

The membership gives you preferred rates at all their hostels worldwide. It will also give you access to travel-related goods and services, including savings on admission to some attractions, discounts on restaurant meals and bus transportation. For the Ottawa area, this means deals with Haunted Walk, Greyhound Canada, and a discount at the HI Ottawa Jail Hostel


The hostel features phone, free wi-fi for people with laptop, and pre-paid access terminals, air conditioning, parking, bicycle storage, laundry, library, linen (bed linens, blankets and pillows included), lockers, luggage storage, meals available or fully-equipped self-catering kitchen with large walk-in fridge that has separated storage spaces (bring a lock), tourist info, 24-hour TV lounge, an on-site pub (called Mugshots!), bbq, and backyard. Prison inmates never had it so good!

All the accommodation options have shared bathrooms and showers. The showers are in private cubicles and/or have lockable changing space. For the most part, mens’ showers and ladies’ showers are on different levels so you won’t share with the opposite sex.


The tours of the Jail are presented by The Haunted Walk of Ottawa. Please note that these may be frightening for small children. The tours are offered to a minimum of 20 people.

Crime and Punishment Jail Tour–60 minutes
Ottawa was once considered to be the most dangerous town in North America. The tour of the Old Carleton County Gaol will teach you about early prison life. You will see the jail cells, death row, and the gallows where the last Canadian hanging took place.

Ghosts and the Gallows Walking Tour–90 minutes
This tour visits death row and the gallows inside the Old Carleton County Gaol and other haunted locations while the Tour Guide shares some spine-tingly ghost stories.


The Carleton County Heritage Centre is located on Level 8 of the hostel. This heritage centre opened in 2007 and covers early crime and punishment in the area. Displays of photos, information panels, artifacts and activities are located throughout the buildling. Admission is free–level 8 is open daily to hostel guests from 9 – 11 a.m. Artifacts include “The Drop Table”: used to calculate proper noose rope lengths, handcuffs and restraints used in the gaol, the official registry from 1889-1898, and other items.

Return from Ottawa Jail Hostel to Ottawa Accommodations

Return to Ottawa Home Page

Did you like this? Share it: