Hostel… World

Extract from 

                                                                  November 2011

Hostel World

I’ve become somewhat used to staying in hostels. Before 2007, I’d stayed in a grand total of one hostel; a dingy affair in Perth where I tried desperately to stay in the middle of my bed and not accidentally roll over and touch the fungus-like growth on the wall.

But since then my number is now over one hundred and the gap between good and bad can’t be more vast. Some are absolute shockers; crabby staff, tiny rooms, grubby bathrooms and questionable locations. HI Paris, HI Florence… actually anything run by Hostelling International really should be avoided like the plague.

Being used to hostels doesn’t mean that they don’t drive me nuts, though. Only a month or so ago I wrote a blog entry that I never published, which was basically just one long rant about having to make up a new bed every single day.

Sometimes though, you strike it lucky. There’s hostels that just go that extra mile, making you feel welcome through comfy facilities, friendly staff, organised activities or hopefully a combination of the three. Asian hostels are streets ahead of their European counterparts, and another general rule of thumb is the smaller the better.

Next: Favourite historical sites

10. Fabric Hostel, Naples
This hostel had to be good after the adventure I had trying to find it. I stepped off my train after travelling all the way from Milan, with my directions on a crumpled piece of paper in my hand. It said, ‘Turn left out of the station, and then go along Via Liberta for ten minutes.’ So I did what it said, and then all of a sudden I came out at Via Liberta. Then I had a problem. Which way was I to turn? I decided left, as that was the only direction indicated. Ten minutes became fifteen, then twenty and all of a sudden cars were slowing down and rolling down their windows. I’d reached a tollbooth. Exasperated, I headed into the nearest shop for directions. As soon as I entered, the man said, ‘You should have turned right.’

Thankfully it did get better, and I was determined to give it and Naples a chance. It is the only hostel I’ve ever been to where the dorms were mezzanine, and massive, like apartments. It also helped that the bar served delicious food if you were too scared to venture out to Naples at night.

Well, I’ve made a long journey from Milan… to Naples… to Athens…


9. Granada B&B Homestay, Granada

This little guesthouse was what they all should be like – part of a stately apartment block and owned by a guy who had travelled the world. He made the place – best of all were his maps, marked with all his favourite free tapas bars. He didn’t let us down.

The rain (and snow) in Spain


8. Palmer’s Lodge, London

This place calls itself a ‘boutique hostel’, which I previously thought to be an oxymoron. This place is something else, though, definitely catering to the flashpacker. It’s housed in an old manor, and the bunks are great – three stories and with little curtains and everything. The common room also looks like a grandmother’s living room.

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