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February 12, 2014

Hoax Hostel, Liverpool review

Hoax Liverpool is one of a few brand new, purpose built luxury hostels that are cashing in on the trend of ‘luxury hostels’ ( or ‘poshtels’ ) across Britain.

 

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Location

The hostel is just a 10 minute walk from Liverpool Lime Street , just around the corner from the Cavern and just off Matthew Street, the birthplace of the Beatles and the heart of the city’s party zone. Not ideal if you are a light sleeper.

 

Double  ensuite room, Hoax Liverpool

Double ensuite room, Hoax Liverpool

 

Rooms

I stayed the first night in their private ensuite double room.  The room is stylish and comfortable, on par of what you would expect in a 3 star hotel. Bed has a quirky base made from beer crates. On my second night of my stay, I switched to their 4 bed ensuite dorm. The room was clean. Each guest has access to their own locker. ( Note: Bring your own lock ) The 2 tiered bunk beds were more than comfortable, each equipped with a private light and power socket.

Free computers for guests to use in the lobby of the hostel.

Free computers for guests to use in the lobby of the hostel.

 

Facilities

The building has a rich history- it was formally a tea and grocer’s warehouse back in 1829 and a century and a half later you would have found the Robert Wade Smith department store here. This is the place where the 80’s casual trend began.

 

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Nowadays, the building has still retained a bit of that edgy street vibe which is reflected in it’s graffiti art walls daubed with murals of local icons like John Lennon. Staff were helpful with lots of suggestions for places to eat and bars to checkout. There is free excellent wifi available throughout the building.

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The star feature of the hostel is their very cool restaurant/bar called the ‘Hopskotch’ which attracts a nice mix of locals and guests. You can enjoy craft beers here on tap or choose one of their excellent cocktails ( Snoozeberry is the best) and soak up the booze with the help of their tapas style international street food menu ( starting from £4.75. They are currently running a promotion where you get 3 items from the street food menu for £10 from 12-7pm ) . You can choose from a wide variety of tasty international bites-from All American Ribs to Shredded Beef Tacos to ‘Palak Chole’- a spinach and chickpea curry served with naan bread. If you’re looking for bigger portions, you can go for their excellent Yeti Burger or try their delicious goat curry served with rice, peas and fried plantain ( £12.95 ).

 

The Hatch. Hoax Liverpool

The Hatch. Hoax Liverpool

 

Downstairs, they have a common room which is a bit quiet and lacking in atmosphere during the day but at night ‘The Hatch’ comes to life as a live music venue. You can expect to see a lot of emerging talent from Liverpool’s vibrant music scene at the ‘Hatch.’ On Wednesday’s if you fancy a go yourself, they have an open mic night. On Tuesdays, they have an excellent quiz night where the grand prize is a crate of beer and £20. The questions are tough, so come well prepared.

The Hopskotch breakfast!

The Hopskotch breakfast!

 

Other key facilities- there is a common kitchen that guests can use. At the moment, it lacks a bit of character but I hear there are plans to improve this. All guests get a free continental breakfast which is your basic affair of tea, coffee, toast, cereals and jam to start your day. If you fancy something more filling, I definitely recommend upgrading to their fry-up breakfast for £3.95 which is served at the Hopskotch.

 

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Verdict

Loved the design, layout and facilities like the Hopskotch bar. It’s a hostel with great promise. Sure it is a bit on the noisy side so if you are a light sleeper then avoid. However if you are here to have fun, then I can’t think of a better place to stay in Liverpool.

 

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Essentials

Book at hoaxliverpool.com

Hoax

54 Stanley Street, Liverpool

L1 6AU

0151 908 0098

Dorm beds from £14.50 B&B, doubles from £54

February 5, 2014

Luxury Hostel review: Lisbon Central Hostel

Welcome to Lisbon Central Hostel: your home away from home in Lisbon and home to the  best hostel pancake breakfast in the world.

 

The Cinema Room, Lisbon Central Hostel

The Cinema Room, Lisbon Central Hostel

 

Location

Lisboa Central Hostel is in an excellent location in Marques de Pombal just across from Lisbon’s grandest boulevard, the stunning Avenida da Liberdade. Just around the corner is the Marques De Pombal metro station which is on the blue line that takes you straight to the airport. Baixa and Bairro Alto is just a 20 minute walk from the hostel or a few stops on the metro.

Facilities

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The staff here ( Ricardo, in picture cracking a joke with one of the guests ) are warm, welcoming and from moment one, will make you feel like you’re being welcomed into someone’s home. They really go the extra mile here to help you with any of your queries like finding the best restaurant, mending a torn pocket in your trouser or even helping you out with your laundry. After a few days living there, I felt like I had known the staff for a long time. It’s that kind of place.

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TV Lounge with DVD player. They have a great selection of DVD’s and toy soldiers.

 

Hostel has a daily roster of activities to keep guests entertained. It has a dedicated cinema room complete with projector where they host their weekly film nights. They also host the quirky ‘Milkshake Monday’ where each guest get a free milkshake. On weekends, Ricardo takes guests out for his legendary pub crawl across some of Lisbon’s best nightlife hotspots.

 

In the summer, they have a nice enclosed courtyard where guests can congregate and chat into the late hours. They have a cool mini refrigerator in the reception area where guests can help themselves to ice-cold beers for €1. Please keep in mind that this is not a party hostel but still a sociable one where you easily meet fellow guests.

Lisbon Central Hostel- Expects lots of happy people to look after you here

Lisbon Central Hostel- Expects to meet lots of happy people

 

Expect random acts of kindness: Hostel owner, Miguel’s mother ‘Odete’ will often treat guests to dinner for free. When I was there she prepared for me and fellow guests a delicious traditional Portuguese soup called ‘Caldo Verde.’ There is a large common kitchen with plenty of crockery for guests to use. There is a supermarket just a few minutes from the hostel.

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Best feature of this hostel…?

…is without a doubt, their amazing FREE pancake breakfast. Every morning, mother Odete or one of the members of staff will rustle up the best pancakes you have ever tasted. They make the pancakes flavoured with cinnamon with an apple or banana stuffing. The recipe and technique is a well guarded family secret. It’s delicious and very filling- sets you up for the day nicely.

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Rooms

I stayed in one of their private doubles on the 2nd floor. Very comfortable bedding. Big wardrobe. Ensuite bathroom was small, shower was powerful and excellent.

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My room had a private balcony with a hanging basket chair. I spent there a few hours there with a book and happily lost track of time.

If you’re on a budget, you can choose to stay in one of their mixed dorm rooms.

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Bunk beds looked nice and sturdy and there were lockers in the room for valuables. Each bunk has its own power source and private reading light.

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Verdict

Portuguese are renowned for their hospitality and this is a key feature of any hostel I’ve stayed in Lisbon or Portugal. Lisbon Central Hostel upholds this wonderful tradition and has created a truly amazing, home away from home experience for their guests. No wonder, they are the number 1 hostel in Lisbon on Tripadvisor. I recommend it highly to anyone visiting Lisbon.

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Essentials

You can book a private rooms from around the €40 mark while a bed in a 10 bed dorm starts at just €10 a night.

Address Rua Rodrigues Sampaio n0160, Lisbon 1150-282, Portugal

Website  www.lisboacentralhostel.com

 

 

 

 

 

January 30, 2014

The Fort Boutique Hostel, York review

 

Another luxury hostel to add to your collection.

If you haven’t visited the beautiful historic Roman town of York yet….I strongly urge you to make a point soon of visiting this dreamy city that looks like something straight out of a Harry Potter novel. If you do visit, definitely recommend staying at the stunning Fort Boutique Hostel. Here is my review.

 

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Location

The Fort York Hostel has a dreamy location, right in the heart of the historic city centre off the Stonegate. It’s a 10 minute scenic walk from the railway station that takes you past the city’s ancient Roman walls and the beautiful York Minster.

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Facilities

Guests can help themselves to free tea, coffee, chocolate drink, and juice in the communal kitchen/common room.

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Kitchen has lots of food storage space, fridge and freezer, microwave , toaster plus plenty of pots and pans to cook with. There is excellent wifi available throughout the building. Next to the kitchen there is a laundry room that is free for guests to use.The shared bathrooms are clean, plentiful and separate from one another.

A huge asset of the hostel are its warm and welcoming staff. Upon check-in at the excellent Kennedy Restaurant downstairs, guests are shown around and given a thorough induction of the facilities.

Breakfast of kings-Eggs Benedict at Kennedy's. Guests get 20% discount on all food and drink at Kennedy's.

Breakfast of kings-Eggs Benedict at Kennedy’s. Guests get 20% discount on all food and drink at Kennedy’s.

 

The Kennedy Restaurant and Bar is in itself a great place to come and have a bite or just to relax with a book during the day with a coffee or a glass of wine.

I had dinner there on the first night and enjoyed a delicious Malaysian chicken curry with rice.

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Another great feature of the hostel is their basement Sotano Charcuterie & Bar which serves wonderful cocktails, craft beers, great wines and delicious tapas. It’s a very cosy, stylish affair in a candlelit atmospheric cellar. You can choose from an inventive selection of tapas dishes like their griddled picante chorizo served on cider poached green apples or choose to have a plate of their finest charcuterie that includes some of the best serrano ham I have ever tasted. On weekends they have guest DJ’s spinning everything from hip hop to funky tech and latin beats.

(Cocktails- Recommend the Herbal Elixir- Genepi, Chartreuse, Vert, Zubrowka, Lemon and Chamomile syrup )

My double ensuite room at the Fort Boutique Hostel

My double ensuite room at the Fort Boutique Hostel

 

Rooms

The Fort York has five rooms in total- ranging from 8 bed and 6 bed deluxe dorms to private ensuite rooms. They were individually designed by young local artists who were winners of a competition launched by the hostel’s owner, Karen Waugh in collaboration with the Creative Protégé design agency.

I stayed in their stylish private twin ensuite room, walls graffitied with deep sea creatures which give the room a cool, calming effect and then you have this great view.

Stunning York sunset, viewed from my bedroom.

Stunning York sunset, viewed from my bedroom.

 

I witnessed this spectacular winter sunset over the rooftops of York and dreamy spires of the Minster from my room on my first evening there. The bedding was very comfortable. Ensuite shower powerful and excellent.

8 bed dorms at the Fort York with their stylish pod beds

8 bed dorms at the Fort York with their stylish pod beds

 

If you are on a budget, I recommend booking a bed in the 8 bed dorms at the Fort York with their stylish pod beds. They come equipped with a reading light and power socket. At just £18 a night ( linen, towels included) this is true luxury on a budget.

 

Any drawbacks?

On weekends, thanks to the popularity of Sotano and Kennedy’s with guests and locals alike, it can get a bit noisy. So if you are a light sleeper, please keep this in mind. I managed to sleep through it thanks to a good nightcap at the bar on both nights. The hostel offers free earplugs also. Just ask.

Verdict

The Fort York Hostel is one of the best luxury hostels I’ve visited. I love the location in the heart of the historic core of York with a bunch of cool shops, bars and cafeterias on your doorstep. Staff are welcoming and make you feel at home. I loved add-ons like the excellent Kennedy’s restaurant and the super cool Sotano. Rooms are comfortable and excellent value. It’s a tad noisy at weekends but otherwise there is little to fault with this hostel. Visit soon.

Stonegate, York.

Stonegate, York.

Essentials

1 Stonegate, York YO1 8AX, United Kingdom

+44 1904 639573

Book at http://www.thefortyork.co.uk

Dorm rooms are from £18pp , doubles start at the £35 mark. Two-night minimum stay at weekends.

January 10, 2014

Home Hostel, Lisbon -a home away from home

I’ve visited a fair number of amazing hostels now thanks to my Luxury Hostels of Europe project.

What I love about the luxury hostels project is the amazing diversity of cool hostels that exists out there. Each hostel is unique, has it’s own quirk that makes them memorable.

There are however a few key, defining characteristics that bind them all together under the umbrella of being a ‘luxury hostel. The most obvious one is the style and design aspect.  Comfortable rooms. The other key characteristic of all the luxury hostels that trumps the rest for me is the ‘home away home’ feeling. From the first moment you walk in there is a familiarity that is comforting.  I was privileged during my recent Lisbon jaunt to stay at not 1 but 2 unique ‘home away from home’ hostels in Lisbon recently.  Home Hostel Lisbon and Lisboa Central Hostel. Just when you think that Lisbon could not have anymore amazing hostels….

Here’s my review of the first hostel I stayed in- ‘ Home Hostel Lisbon’

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Location

Location of this hostel is fantastic. It’s in a cracking location right in the middle of the Baixa district.Several of Lisbon’s key sightseeing attractions are within walking distance plus there is a clutch of fantastic, moderately priced restaurants and bars nearby.

Lounge, Home Hostel Lisbon

Lounge, Home Hostel Lisbon

 

The hostel

Home Hostel is one of those hostels where from the moment you step in you feel a warm blanket of happiness around you. Every member of staff I met was friendly and helpful. Even the team of cleaning ladies I would meet in the morning would wish me. The staff make a real effort to know each and every guest.

Besides the cool staff, the colourful ambience of the hostel’s common, social spaces makes this a unique hostel.

The lounge here is my dream lounge. Lots of plush comfy sofas that you just sink into and can happily fall asleep on. During the day I would happily be sitting on the sofa, checking my mails on my laptop using the hostel’s excellent wifi connection. You have the biggest widescreen TV you can imagine with a DVD library of more than 150 films. The interior decor is a pleasing mix of vintage and contemporary minimalist.

Another shot of the perfect hostel lounge. Home Hostel, Lisbon

Another shot of the perfect hostel lounge. Home Hostel, Lisbon

 

They have a very cool, well stocked bar which also doubles as the reception desk. In the evenings, the small intimate bar area with a few long tables becomes the meeting point where guests congregate and get to meet each other. In the mornings, they serve a simple but nice breakfast that consists of bread, cereals, jam, nutella and coffee. Don’t forget to try ‘Mamma’s homemade pumpkin and nuts jam’- I think I must have wolfed down 5 slices of bread pasted with that delicious stuff.

Other few cool features to point out:there is free wifi available in the common room areas and it is excellent. There is a common kitchen for guests to use.

Genius idea

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Share a Ride!- Genius idea

 

They have a blackboard in the common room called ‘Share my ride’ where guests share details of their rides to the airport and pick-up times allowing fellow guests to share their ride & save money.  Every hostel should have a board like this. Brilliant idea.

The outstanding feature of this hostel? Mamma’s dinner

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Mamma’s amazing dinner- Home Hostel, Lisbon.

 

My personal highlight was the hostel ‘mamma’s’ superb 3 course meal. For just €10 you can book a place at one of ‘mamma’s’ legendary dinners where you are treated to a delicious three course authentic Portuguese dinner with wine or beer or sangria. Nothing breaks down barriers amongst strangers like good food, company and nice wine and all these three ingredients are available in abundance in at Home Hostel. Plus you have the warmth and magnetic personality of ‘mamma’ who really makes you feel like you are a guest in her ‘home.’

 

Cheers and a toast to the 'Hostel Mamma'- one of a kind mum.

‘She’s the one’ : a toast to the ‘Hostel Mamma’, a one of a kind amazing mum.

 

The dinner ends with a toast where guests get a small shot of ‘Ginjinha’, the excellent local cherry brandy or a small glass of Madeiran Port Wine.

My bed in the deluxe 4 bed dorm, Home Hostel Lisbon

My bed in the deluxe 4 bed dorm, Home Hostel Lisbon

 

Rooms

Guests can choose from a choice of 4, 6 and 8 bed dorms. Rooms are spacious with each bed having a huge secure storage locker – large enough for a big backpack to go in. Bunk beds are custom made wooden beds, very sturdy and don’t creak and are very comfortable to sleep in. You have a private curtain so you have your own privacy. Each bed comes with a private light and power point. Rooms are air conditioned so it’s easy to get a good nights sleep. The bathrooms here are all shared but of a nice standard. Clean and 2 on each floor so it never gets too overcrowded.

No ensuite bathrooms or private room? How can this hostel qualify as a Luxury Hostel….

I hear you screaming at me from behind your computer screen. I know. I am breaking the rules here.

If there was one area this hostel could improve on , is the availability of private rooms and ensuite bathrooms in some of the dorms. ( Plus wifi in the bedrooms) I had a chat with one of the owners, Andre and this is an area he is keenly looking to address in the very near future. The hostel would be then perfect for me..

For me, the hospitality along with the design, character and facilities is what makes this a true luxury hostel. No wonder Hostelworld users voted Home Hostel Lisbon as the best medium sized hostel in the world.

It’s not a hostel I’d personally recommend for couples but if you are travelling in a group or going solo and looking to meet people, then Home Hostel is your perfect home away from home in Lisbon.

 

Mamma's amazing pumpkin and nuts jam-one good reason to visit Home Hostel Lisbon

Mamma’s amazing pumpkin and nuts jam-one good reason to visit Home Hostel Lisbon

How to book

Book directly via the Home Hostel Lisbon website http://www.homelisbonhostel.com/

Room rates in low season range from €10 for a bed in a 8 bed dorm and €14 for the 4 bed dorm, prices doubling in peak season ( August)

Disclaimer: While my stay at Home Hostel Lisbon was sponsored, the views represented in this post are entirely my own.

August 29, 2013

Where to stay in Interlaken? Check out Backpackers Villa Sonnenhof Hostel

Review by Larissa Olenicoff aka the Blonde Gypsy

 

A mishmash of modern design and old-school Swiss comfort, Backpackers Villa Sonnenhof provides the luxuries of top-notch service and all-inclusive perks in the adventure capital of Europe.

 

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Location

 

Backpackers Villa is conveniently located directly behind the Höhematte, Interlaken’s famous green space where paragliders land, and right in between the town’s two train stations.

 

Rooms & Bathrooms

 

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The hostel is split into two parts: the historic Chalet side and the modern extension that opened in 2009. On the modern side, you find Comfort Rooms, which are the newest in the hostel and have an ensuite toilet and shower. These rooms have one to six beds.

On the historic Chalet side, there are either the cheap Eco Rooms, which have two to six beds, private lockers, and a wash basin, or the Jungfrau Rooms, which have four to seven beds with a balcony and view of the mountains.  All rooms on the Chalet side have shared bathrooms.

Power adapters and hairdryers are available at reception.

Common Room

Common Room

 

Facilities

Though the hostel is quite large and can accommodate up to 200 backpackers at one time, it still feels intimate. Whether you want to relax on your own or hang out and be social, you will be well accommodated. The common room was cosy and inviting with gorgeous parquet flooring, big screen TV and more than 100 films on offer.

 

Meditation Room

 

For those who want some Zen, there is also a great meditation room on the top floor of the Chalet with a wide selection of spiritual books and religious texts in several languages.

The kitchens are incredibly well kept and large, which is great because cooking for yourself is a surefire way to save money while in expensive Switzerland. There is technically a kitchen in each building, but they’re adjoined. You’ll find extensive dining space downstairs, upstairs, and on the patio when the weather is nice.

There is also a nice-sized garden with an outdoor pool table and excellent view of the mountains.

With so many things to do in Interlaken, you don’t have to worry about getting overwhelmed – the staff are there to advise you and make bookings, whether it’s adventure sports or day trips. Free guided walking tours of Interlaken are also offered three times a week during the summer season, and upon check-in you are given a card that entitles you to complimentary use of public buses, entry to nearby swimming pools, mini-golf, and discounts at a few local restaurants.

If there’s one drawback to this hostel, it would be the selection they have for breakfast. Though it is ‘all you can eat’, they just serve basic cereal and slices of white bread with jam, butter, and cheese spread. Considering that this is an adventure town, it would nice to see the hostel offer a breakfast that provides people with the fuel they need for adrenaline-filled days.

That said, there is a Lidl about a seven-minute walk away where you can stock up on groceries of your own.

 

TOP TIP: If you don’t drink much tea or coffee, you can use the two daily coins they give you for hot drinks to do your laundry. It costs two per load to wash and using the dryer is free. It gets busy down there, especially at night, so try to get your laundry done in the morning.

 

Verdict

The quality and atmosphere at Backpackers Villa is that of a clean and modern hostel for independent backpackers and families alike – but the element of luxury is evident in the service they provide for their guests.

Factbox:

Address: Alpenstrasse 16, Interlaken, Switzerland

Phone: (+41) 33 826 71 71

Website: www.villa.ch

Prices

Eco Rooms from 37 CHF (€30) per person, Jungfrau Rooms from 41 CHF (€33) per person, Comfort Rooms from 45 CHF (€36) per person.

Getting There

From each train station, the hostel is a 10-minute walk away.

 

 

August 20, 2013

Where to stay in Reykjavik? Choose the stylish Kex Hostel

 

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By Kate McCulley, Editor AdventurousKate.com

 

Looking more like a retro hipster lounge in Brooklyn than an Icelandic abode, Kex Hostel is one of the most stylized hostels in Northern Europe.

 

Location

Reykjavik is a small, colorful, and very walkable city.  Kex Hostel is located right on the water at Skúlagata 28.  Cafes and shops can be found within a two-minute walk; the epicenter of the town is a 10-minute walk away.

 

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Rooms and Bathrooms

My private room was simple but had everything I needed: two twin beds with chubby pillows and big, fluffy duvets.  Out the window is a view of the water and the distant mountains.

Nearly all of the rooms use shared bathrooms; a few doubles have ensuites.  Many of the showers and toilets are private, rather than a large room filled with showers.

A few days later, I moved on to the six-bed mixed dorm, which happened to be all-women at the time.  While the design in the dorms is basic, they have enough space for all guests.  Lockers are provided — though they are tall and skinny, I can fit my valuables but not my whole backpack.

 

Facilities

Travelers to Iceland most often spend their days chasing adrenaline: climbing glaciers, rafting, hiking through the volcanic landscape, snorkeling in near-freezing water.  At the end of a day in the chilly outdoors, all you want to do is curl up with a book or your computer.

Kex understands that, and their hostel is outfitted perfectly.  The massive common room is filled with hammocks and comfy couches.  Vintage maps dot the walls, and a library with leather chairs and dozens of books takes up one wall.

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Vintage pieces are blended with a modern aesthetic.  One wall is covered with magnetic letters for instant poetry.  In another corner, you’ll find a 1940’s-style barbershop!

Free wifi is available in the common room only.

If you’re stumped when it comes to the dozens of excursions on offer in the Reykjavik area, the staff at Kex serves as a travel agency and will help you choose and book them.  Nearly all excursions will pick you up and drop you off at Kex.

While Kex has a bar and restaurant and often hosts events for outside organizations, I don’t find there to be a community spirit amongst the travelers.  Most of the guests here keep to themselves.  I think it’s because travel to Iceland isn’t spontaneous – most people arrive here with flights booked and activities scheduled, leaving little time for serendipity.

 

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On my final night, I decided to try out Kex’s restaurant and order the roasted bone marrow, served with crostini and a salad.  It was fantastic.  Never did I imagine I’d be eating bone marrow at a hostel!

Dessert is Icelandic-style tiramisu, made with layers of tart skyr yogurt instead of mascarpone.  As picky as I am about my tiramisu, it’s strangely delicious.

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Verdict

This is one of the absolute best styled hostels I’ve ever seen.  It’s fun and offbeat with loads of retro charm.  While the rooms themselves don’t have the same style factor as the common room and the hallways, Kex is a welcome respite from run-of-the-mill hostels.  The location is convenient and the prices are very reasonable for this expensive country.  I’d love to see them put on activities for the hostel guests and foster some community spirit.

 

Factbox

Address: Skúlagata 28, Reykjavik 101

Phone: (+354) 561-6060

Website: http://www.kexhostel.is

 

Prices

Dorms from 2300 ISK (€14), singles from 8400 ISK (€53) per room, doubles from 9400 ISK (€59) per room.

 

Getting There

 

The Flybus from Reykjavik Excursions offers airport transfers to the BSI bus station for 1950 ISK (€12) one-way or 3500 ISK (€22) round-trip.  Booking Flybus + includes a transfer to a number of hotels and hostels in town, Kex included.  One-way transfers on Flybus + are 2500 ISK (€16); round-trip transfers are 4500 ISK (€28).

TOP TIP: Splurge on the Flybus +.  While most of Reykjavik is walkable, the bus station is a bit further away and it’s a 20-minute walk to Kex — a bit long when you’re carrying luggage!

If you are interested in discovering more Luxury Hostels in Europe, the e-book containing reviews for 40 Luxury Hostels is now free to download from the blog. Just enter your mail address on the right hand side banner to sign upto the newsletter and receive your free copy of the e-book.

Note: All images are courtesy of Kate McCulley. 

 

June 20, 2013

Review of Bus Hostel in Reykjavik

Bus Hostel Reykjavik

Bus Hostel in Reykjavik

 

Bus Hostel Reykjavik is a friendly, fun and super affordable place to stay while exploring Iceland’s capital or beyond. With welcoming and helpful staff and lots of vintage style and quirky details, quite unexpectedly Bus Hostel in Reykjavik became a home from home in one of the world’s coolest cities and we mean that in terms of both the weather and the lifestyle on offer there.

 

 

Review of Bus Hostel

The bar inside Bus Hostel

 

It says something about me and my usual mode of travel that when Kash asked me to represent Budget Traveller on a “Volcano-hopping tour of Iceland staying in a hostel” the bit I was most worried about was staying in a hostel. Volcanoes? Yep, all good, bring those deadly dangerous magma chambers on. Staying in a hostel? Well, that was when my knees started to shake and my palms moistened a little.

I needn’t have worried.

I needn’t have been so opinionated for so many years.

And perhaps I needn’t have spent so much money on hotels…?!

 

 

Review of Bus Hostel

Bus Hostel’s Vintage Decor in the Lounge

 

Bus Hostel in Reykjavik exceeded all of my snobbishly low expectations and then some.

With vintage decor filling the large open plan lounge and bar area, a fully-equipped kitchen close to the bedrooms and several separate bathrooms in which you are encouraged to indulge your inner rock star or opera diva as you sing in the shower, this is a hostel that wants to make its customers happy.

 

Review of Bus Hostel

Where you can find the bathrooms in Bus Hostel… I can’t argue with this!

 

Formerly used as the office of a bus company (hence the name), Bus Hostel opened its doors in May 2013 and it has welcomed a wide range of guests since then, from a globetrotting pensioner backpacker to a couple of newly-weds who asked staff members to be witnesses as their wedding.

Of course, there are the bits I’m still not sure I’d do in a hostel, like sleeping in a communal dorm or living off noodles for weeks but for those with sturdier sleep patterns than I, you can find a couple of large mixed and single sex dorms. But I was naive to think that that’s all a hostel has to offer. Bus Hostel also has rooms with just four or six bunk beds, ideal for those preferring a little more privacy and three “Ritz” rooms cater for couples who want a double bed and some privacy.

 

Review of Bus Hostel

I loved the long dining table at the back of this picture to work on

 

All the communal bedrooms have spacious lockers for valuables and if you do choose to have the bed linen they offer at a small additional cost then you will be guaranteed a cozy night’s sleep on a perfectly plump pillow and cotton fresh white sheets. All the bedrooms are wonderfully minimalist in a way that only Nordic countries can achieve, though do expect the odd quirky detail.

 

Review of Bus Hostel

Bus Hostel Wall art and a twin bedroom

 

Bus Hostel is located less than ten minutes walk from the city’s BSI central bus station and you can find yourself in the centre of Reykjavik at the foot of the impressive Hallgrímskirkja Cathedral within fifteen minutes walk. The bar serves cheap beer and wine and I warmed to the additional touches that I didn’t know hostels were known for like the book swap cupboard, free wifi, free luggage storage and the free food shelf in the kitchen.

 

Review of Bus Hostel

My favourite wall in Bus Hostel, Reykjavik

 

Sounding good? Well, I haven’t even got to the best part of Bus Hostel.

The staff there are exceptional. They are warm, welcoming and ready to help you get the most out of your stay with budget tips or trip planning. SAD Cars, a budget hire car company is also based in the same building and I can’t emphasise enough how amazing it is to see Iceland by road; less than an hour away you can find yourself surrounded by the landscape of a lava field or watching plumes of steam rise in the air from the geothermal springs and spas that are dotted across Iceland (you can see some photos of our adventures in Iceland here).

It was hanging out with Bus Hostel’s staff that made me realise that I’ve been missing out on a certain camaraderie among travellers that you don’t often enjoy when staying in hotels. Also I happen to know that Kristin – Bus Hostel’s manager – knows the best vintage and thrift shopping places in Reykjavik so be sure to ask her about them.

 

Review of Bus Hostel

Bus Hostel’s “Rules” – Good rules for life, i think!

 

A notoriously expensive country and city to travel in, Bus Hostel is currently the cheapest hostel and budget accommodation available in Reykjavik. Prices for a bed in a dorm start at 2800 ISK (£15) a night in low season and 4750 ISK (£25) in high season. A double room is 9100 ISK (£50) in low season and 12990 ISK (£70) when summer rolls around and this includes towels and bedding. Get to Reykjavik and the Bus Hostel by hopping on the FlyBus from Keflavik Airport. If you buy the Return+ ticket it includes a drop-off and pick-up from the hostel.

The only problem that Bus Hostel left me with was wondering what I do now when I travel? After ten years of avoiding hostels, my eyes have been opened and while it does mean I have more options to trawl through when I plan my next trip, I see this is as no bad thing.

 

Review of Bus Hostel

Another cool quote from Bus Hostel (and spot the Frankie!)

 

Bus Hostel Reykjavik, SKÓGARHLÍÐ 10, 105 REYKJAVÍK, Iceland. (Tel. +354 535 0350) www.bushostelreykjavik.com.

Frankie was a guest of Bus Hostel Reykjavik and SAD Cars and her flight to Iceland was sponsored by Icelandic budget airline Wow air (who probably have the best crew uniform I’ve seen). Her opinions – both snobby and otherwise – and her journey to hostel happiness are completely own and no-one could be more surprised than Frankie to find that she really did.

 

June 11, 2013

Granada Inn Backpackers Hostel, Granada review

By Ed Rex

Granada Inn Backpackers is certainly a hostel with luxury and affordable for the common backpacker. Spacious, mellow, charming and influenced in Moorish styling, you aren’t far away from the top places to visit in Granada from this central and accessible luxury hostel.

 

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Location

Only a few steps away lies the Cathedral, City Hall, the old Albayzin Quarter, the city’s biggest nightlife spots and especially the best tapas zone around in Spain. Plus Granada’s best attraction, the Alhambra is only 30 mins walk away or an easy 5 min bus ride away.

 

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Rooms and Bathrooms

You are spoilt for choice at this hostel- you can choose from an apartment that you can hire out with friends or bag a simple dorm room bunk.

In the apartments, there are double and single beds for use, along with a private kitchen and ensuite bathrooms.

2 apartments have 8 beds each that half are split off from the other. The apartments are located on the ground floor, 1st floor and 2nd floor.

 

 

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There are 3 dorms rooms on the third floor (8, 10, 12 bed respectively) and each room is split off to create a feeling of your own personal and private space in rooms of 3 or 4 beds.

The linen is crisp , comfy and there are blankets as well should you get cold. For those long, balmy summer days in Granada there’s also air conditioning within each room to cool down.

Each bed is assigned to a personal big locker, which you will need to bring your own padlock for.

There are several power points dotted around the room but you do not have a personal one with your bed.

The bathrooms are cleaned regularly every day and are spacious enough. The showers hot and powerful and you can eat your dinner off the toilet…

 

 

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Facilities

Perhaps the best feature of Granada Inn Backpackers is its fully refurbished open air patio. Creating chances of socialising to the maximum, you can either chill out on the armchairs or eat the plentiful and FREE Breakfast on the tables outside.

Rooms come with lockers plus there are safes in the patio that guests can use and are regularly watched by the fully manned 24hr staff that work on reception.

There is also a fully stocked Kitchen that you can use to your heart’s delight. Coffee, Tea, Biscuits and even fresh milk are free for guests.

There is a small washing service that you can use.

 

 

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Granada Inn has wifi and free Internet terminals that are open until 12am every day but to receive the best wifi signal, you will need to sit in the patio.

Granada Inn also works in tandem with other hostels through the ‘Hostel2Hostel’ Service if you are looking for a great place to stay in other Spanish Cities.

 

Staff are polite and charming. Throughout the stay, the reception was manned 24hr and responsive to guest enquiries and needs.

Big added plus for this hostel is their comprehensive activities programme for guests looking to get to know more about Granada as a city. I attended the Flamenco Tour which was both educational and mind-spelling. I also took part in the Sangria Party night which went down a treat.

 

Verdict

It has potential to be the best luxury hostel in the world. Delightful staff, brilliant location, great facilities, comfy rooms, clean bathrooms and best of all, a very chilled out atmosphere.

There are a few niggles that will have to be ironed out. The wifi is not strong and should be included in all the rooms. I was surprised not to receive a towel so we had to make do with our own to which I thought a luxury hostel wouldn’t have done. Also, it would be great to have a personal power point with a small shelf next to your bed to store your phone and wares on.

However, despite that, this has been one of the best hostels I’ve stayed in throughout my time travelling in the last 18 months and I was very sad to leave.

 

Directions to Granada Inn

 

From the Central Bus Station

Just outside the terminal take the bus number 3 or 33 (1,20€) and get off at the bus stop “Acera del Darro” or sometimes called “Puerta Real”. Some buses tell you the stop, if not ask the driver to let you off at “Acera del Darro” or “Puerta Real”. (When you are at the stop you will see a big plaza to your left with a big fountain). Getting off the bus, go to the closest corner and turn down “Calle Pino”. Continue straight at the next corner as it turns into Calle “Horno Espadero”. One corner more and you will see our street “Padre Alcover”. Turn Right on our street and the 2nd door to the left is number 10 (US!).

 

From the Central Train Station

Exit the train station and go straight up one block to the main street. Turn right on the main street without crossing it and at the next corner you will see the bus stops. Take the bus number 1, 3 or 33 and get off at the bus stop “Acera del Darro” or sometimes called “Puerta Real”. Some buses tell you the stop, if not ask the driver to let you off at “Acera del Darro” or “Puerta Real”. (When you are at the stop you will see a big plaza to your left with a big fountain). Getting off the bus, go to the closest corner and turn down “Calle Pino”. Continue straight at the next corner as it turns into Calle “Horno Espadero”. One corner more and you will see our street “Padre Alcover”. Turn Right on our street and the 2nd door to the left is number 10 (US!).

 

From the Airport

Just outside the terminal take the bus called AIRPORT-GRANADA (3€), which goes directly to the city center. Get off at the bus stop “Acera del Darro” or sometimes called “Puerta Real”. Some buses tell you the stop, if not ask the driver to let you off at “Acera del Darro” or “Puerta Real”. (When you are at the stop you will see a big plaza to your left with a big fountain). Getting off the bus, go to the closest corner and turn down “Calle Pino”. Continue straight at the next corner as it turns into Calle “Horno Espadero”. One corner more and you will see our street “Padre Alcover”. Turn Right on our street and the 2nd door to the left is number 10 (US!).

 

If you want to take a Taxi, it costs approximately 25€.

 

Address

Granada Inn Backpackers, Calle Padre Alcover 10 A, Granada, Spain 18005

May 29, 2013

Independente Hostel, Lisbon review

 

 

Lisbon is blessed with the best luxury hostels in the world and the Art Deco inspired Independente Hostel, is one of its most glorious creations. The hostel is the brainchild of three brothers who envisioned a different concept in hospitality: creating a meeting point where “travelers as well as locals can come together”

 

 

Location

Overlooking the Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Alcantara , the Independente hostel, Lisbon is in a great location at the intersection of 3 of Lisboa’s most vibrant and celebrated neighborhoods: Bairro Alto, Principe Real, and Avenida da Liberdad.

 

The Independente Hostel, Lisbon

Rooms and bathrooms

In terms of design, this hostel is a happy contradiction: imagine a juxtaposition of Scandinavian minimalism with ornate architecture.

Formerly the Swiss ambassador’s official residence, in July 2011, the building has been converted into a luxury hostel with 90 beds housed within 11 spacious dorm rooms.

Rooms have preserved the original character of the building with high ceilings, ornate wall moldings and detailed wrought iron balconies that open onto the Tagus River.

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Dorms have wooden bunk bedframes that are sturdy and come with private reading lights and plug points. Each dorm has been tastefully decorated with a mix of antiques and family heirlooms alongside reclaimed furniture pieces.

Besides the 11 modern dorm rooms you have four private suites with balcony where you can linger with an espresso from the self service coffee machine inside the suite.

 

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Facilities

 

The outstanding feature of this hostel is that it also houses one of Lisbon’s most stylish and popular restaurants – The Decadente, which serves up the best of modern Portuguese cuisine using locally sourced ingredients.

 

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Outside the restaurant you can lounge with one of their signature cocktails in the outdoor beer garden which also doubles up as a live music venue on weekends. Plus the bar attracts a steady stream of trendy Lisboetas, making you feel part of the city’s DNA.

The staff are friendly, travellers themselves like you and the perfect opportunity to mingle with them is the daily “dinner with the staff” where you get to enjoy a sumptous buffet for as little as 7 euros. Free breakfast consisting of orange juice, cereals, coffee, bread, cheese and cold meats is a happy affair.

 

 

 

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Verdict

In terms of interior design this hostel is a notch above most other hostels and boutique hotels. When you pair that x factor with a cracking restaurant, cool bar and friendly staff-you have all the makings of a great experience. A really special and unique hostel.

 

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Factbox

 

Rua Sao Pedro Alcantara 81,
Lisbon,
Portugal

1250-238

 

Prices

 

Prices for a bed in a dorm start from just €11 a night and €70 for their suites.

The hostel is currently running a promotion of 5 nights for the price of 3 and 3 nights for the price of 2. The months of  April, July, August and September are exempt from this deal.

Check theindependente.pt for details

 

Getting there

 

From Lisboa International Airport

1.By Taxi – Average cost is €15

 

2. Aerobus: (€3,50 euros)

Catch the AeroBus Line 1 (city center bound).

Stop at Restauradores and take the Elevador da Gloria (a funicular tram that costs just €1,25 + 50 cents for the rechargeable travel card, Lisboa Card, available at newsagents and at subway stations ) all the way up to the Sao Pedro de Alcantara Street viewpoint. The hostel is located at number 81.

Subway ( €1.25+ 50 cents for the rechargeable travel card )

Take the Red Line from the airport station and head to S.Sebastiao . Then change to the blue line (direction Santa Apolonia) and stop at Baixa-Chiado and choose the Largo do Chiado exit. The hostel is 550m away past the Sao Pedro de Alcantara Street viewpoint at number 81

 

From Santa Apolonia Train Station


By Taxi – Average cost is €8

By Subway €1,25 + 50 cents for the rechargeable travel card

Take the Santa Apolonia (blue line), Amadora Este bound.

Exit at Baixa-Chiado and follow the signs to Largo do Chiado. Walk up Rua da Misericordia until you find the Sao Pedro de Alcantara Street viewpoint. The hostel is at number 81.

 

From Oriente Train Station



 

By Taxi – Average cost is €15

By Subway :€1.25 + 50 cents for the rechargeable travel

Find the Oriente station (red line) and head to S.Sebastiao . Change to the blue line (direction Santa Apolonia) and then stop at Baixa-Chiado and choose the Largo do Chiado exit.  The hostel is 550m away, past Sao Pedro de Alcantara Street viewpoint at number 81.

 

Disclaimer: I was a guest of Independente Hostel but the views in this post are entirely my own.

May 24, 2013

Oasis Backpackers’ Palace, Seville review

 

With a stunning outdoor pool and terrace bar, close to some of Seville’s oldest tapas bars and cafes -Oasis Backpackers’ Palace is a great base for exploring Seville.

 

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Location

Situated in a 19th-century building near Plaza Encarnación, the hostel is in a great location with a clutch of historic tapas bars and some of the city’s best nightlife spots within a short radius.

 

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Rooms and Bathrooms

 

High ceilings, towering ornate columns, stained glass windows , marble staircase and antique furniture create a palatial sense of grandeur.

 

Oasis-Backpackers-Palace-Sevilla-photos-Interior

 

Dorms are spacious, bunk beds are sturdy with large lockable drawers beneath to store your luggage and valuables.

Private rooms are air-conditioned , very stylish and spacious with a balcony and large ensuite bathroom.

 

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Facilities

 

Guests checking-in get a free drink token which they can redeem at the roof-top terrace bar which also has its own pool.

 

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Tip: Do not come here if you are not in the party social mode.

On the first floor there is a common area where you can meet people and check your mail on the free internet terminals. Plus you have the stunning rooftop terrace with pool which becomes a party zone at night with cocktails being served , live bands performing or a DJ pumping out the tunes.

You can have dinner with fellow guests on the terrace enjoying dishes like paella and glass of sangria for as little as €5.

A late checkout of 11:30am means there’s no need to rush the free breakfast ( 8-11 am) of pancakes, toast, cereal, tea and coffee.

Staff are attentive to guest needs and helpful.  Hostel has an excellent inhouse concierge service during the daytime which offers travel advice, book tours and plan your future trips. Pancho tours  provide free walking tours which offer indepth insight into the history of Sevilla.

Free wifi is pretty good.

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Verdict

I love the interior décor and the staff are friendly and helpful. The facilities here are good and there is a great buzz around the place. Rooftop terrace is great for cooling down in the Andalusian heat and also is a great place to party. This is a very cool hostel in a great city.

 

Factbox

C/ Almirante Ulloa, 1 – 41001 Seville (Spain)

http://www.oasissevilla.com/sevilla-hostel/

 

Prices

Dorm rooms ( 4, 6 and 8 bed ensuite ) start from €13 and Doubles start from €44.

 

Getting there

 

From the Train Station Santa Justa

Exit the station through the doors marked B or C. Walk along the front of the station past the taxis, to the bus stops. Take Bus No. 32 to Ponce de Leon and get off at the last stop. From here take the street Almirante Apodaca which changes to Calle Imagen and continue straight until Plaza Encarnación.The hostel is on the left hand corner of the plaza just behind the Iglesia de la Anunciación church at Calle Compañia 1.

 

From the Seville Airport

There is just one bus that takes you to the city. Get off at the train station stop (first station after the airport: Santa Justa) and walk to the entrance of the train station. Turn left and cross the parking and you will see the Bus Stop No. 32 on Street Avenida José Laguillo. Then follow the directions above “From Santa Justa train station”. A taxi to Plaza Encarnación will cost 25 euros, plus an extra charge for luggage.

 

Disclaimer: My stay was sponsored by Oasis Hostels but the views presented here are entirely my own. All photographs used in this review are taken by Oasis Hostels.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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