Tag Archives: luxury hostel
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.

 

February 20, 2013

The Beehive Hotel & Hostel, Rome review

 

 

Right next to Termini station, this eco-conscious hostel-meets hotel in Rome is an oasis of calm in this fast paced city, complete with garden and a basement organic ,Vegetarian café that offers generous portions of locally sourced, home cooked goodness.

 

Reception and hallway, The Beehive, Rome. Photos courtesy of the Beehive.

Reception and hallway, The Beehive, Rome. Photos courtesy of the Beehive.

 

Location

 

Just 2 blocks-hop skip and jump from Rome’s Termini Station lies one of the friendliest corners of Rome- The Beehive Rome.

 

double -classic- room-91

 

Rooms and Bathrooms

 

The hotel offers a choice of private rooms  ( some with the option of private bathrooms ),an 8 bed dormitory alongside guestrooms with self-catering facilities off-site – there’s an option here to suit every type of traveller and budget.

The dorm rooms are clean, with good light and spacious plus you have your own personal lockers which are sturdy and have plenty of space for valuables. Double rooms have bright colours, beaded lamps, huge windows that breathe in light,  lots of wardrobe space plus come your own private sink and locally sourced, handmade vegetable soaps.

Common shared bathrooms are plentiful, clean and well maintained.

Self-catering apartments come with a kitchen and private bathroom.

 

Garden, The Beehive Rome

Fountain in the private garden of The Beehive, Rome. Photo courtesy of The Beehive, Rome.

 

Facilities

The place is a hybrid of a hostel and a holistic retreat -perfect for unwinding after a day of exploring Rome.

 

Lounge, Beehive Rome

Lounge, The Beehive Rome

 

The common lounge has a huge mac desktop for browsing the internet plus a nice selection of travel guides and books.  Free wifi here is excellent. Steve, the owner is a keen photographer and has a fantastic collection of framed photographs adorning the walls for guests to enjoy.

 

Garden, The Beehive Rome. Photo courtesy of the Beehive Rome.

Garden, The Beehive Rome. Photo courtesy of the Beehive Rome.

 

 

The garden area is a blissful oasis of calm-the kind of place where you can linger for hours, speaking to guests drinking wine and losing track of time. Staff are friendly and attentive. Owners are passionate locals and have some great tips to share to make your stay more enjoyable ( + they have created their free guide to Rome which you can download from the Beehive website) like recommending the best gelataria in town- a subject of fiery debate amongst the Romans.

 

Organic Vegetarian Cafe, The Beehive Rome

Organic Vegetarian Cafe, The Beehive Rome

 

The real added bonus of staying here is the excellent basement organic, vegetarian café. Breakfast is not included in the room price but if you do splash out, it is a real treat where you can enjoy everything from omelettes to yoghurts and granola or organic oatmeal with apple pieces and honey- great way to start the day. Vegan chef extraordinaire, Aimee Jackson helps prepare the weekly Vegan Aperitivo Buffet where locals and guests drop in tuck into treats like homemade hummus, besan chella, grilled veggies plus within the price you are offered a glass of wine or local artisan beer. The aperitivo takes place in on Wednesday and Saturday evenings between 7 & 9:30pm and costs just 8 euros

 

Verdict

I stayed in the dorm room which is not ensuite but the shared bathrooms are plentiful and clean so I really didn’t miss not  having my own bathroom. Plus I wasn’t too fussed about not having a free breakfast. I loved the contemporary design element of the place like the Phillipe Starck inspired chairs at the reception, warm coloured interiors, Steve’s beautiful portraits and facilities like the basement organic café and their beautiful outdoor garden.  Most of all, my enduring memory of this place is meeting awesome people here like Steve and Aimee so if you like places with a personal touch and attention to detail- then Beehive is the place to stay for you in Rome.

 

To book

Book at http://www.the-beehive.com/

Beds in dorm start from £23 , Doubles from £70 per room, per night.

 

Getting here

From Termini station take the exit of Via Marghera.  The hostel is a 5 minute straight walk from that exit, just 2 blocks away on the corner of via dei Mille and via Marghera at via Marghera, 8 on the left side of the street.

 

Via Marghera 8 | 00185 Rome, Italy | tel. +39 0644704553 | [email protected]

September 6, 2012

Porto revisited + staying at possibly the world’s best hostel

 

 

I came to Porto 8 years ago.

 

It feels now like a different lifetime ago.

 

I was visiting after a friends wedding in Vigo across the border in Spain.

I had got a cheap Ryanair flight back to London from Porto.

I was staying the one night.

 

Naturally, after a crazy, big fat Galician wedding ( like all good Spanish weddings you eat, drink and dance till you burst into a million pieces ) I had little reserve in the tank.

Just enough for a ramble. No guidebook required.

I came just an hour before sunset.

Dumping my bag. I went for my ramble around the warren of cobbled streets that snake from its port wine cellars beside the iconic Dom Luis bridge and lazy Douro river.

 

 

Porto- Fading but haunting grandeur makes this one of my favourite cities in the world..

 

 

There was an air of dilapidation around most of the buildings in the port area.

It was very quiet. Not a soul in sight.

 

 

The buildings had been standing silent for centuries.

The plaster was peeling off in places to expose the inner brickwork.

 

 

 

Unloved. Is the word that came to my mind.

Unloved, yet still regal, many of the buildings were proudly adorned with the beautiful ceramic hand painted tiles- azulejos.

Each azulejo, shares a story.

Each azulejo is a portal to a life of Porto’s grand past as a naval, maritime superpower.

 

Walking around Porto, bathed in the melancholy fading sun at sunset- there are fewer more memorable experiences in life.

 

8 years on, Porto still has the air of fading grandeur.

Of a city that still steals and lives off its past glories.

 

However, this time I feel there is more a sense of renewal and energy around the place.

New chic cafes with free wifi, great coffee and awesome cakes , catering to the hipster crowds.

 

 

 

Old decaying wine cellars with white marble floors, vaulted ceilings and beautiful chandeliers have become the subterranean, nocturnal refuge of the city’s young, brash and beautiful people.

 

I’m staying at the Gallery Hostel , Portugal’s hottest new luxury hostel.

 

 

The hostel is excellent poster boy of the stunning metamorphosis that Porto has undergone.

Formerly, a 18th century villa owned by a member of the local aristocracy, the place has been restored to its former glory by two friends.

 

They had the unique idea of creating a modern, design hostel that could also function an art gallery.

 

Twice a month, the hostel opens its doors to the public.

 

When I visited in April, there was an exhibition from a local photographer.

 

 

Huge, colourful prints on canvas set against the whitewashed walls, juxtaposed against the gleaming, polished wooden floors.

 

Walk with me-Let me give you a sense of orientation of the place.

The moment you walk into the building to the right is a cosy reception room.

Straight ahead is the long narrow corridor with the exhibition.

Walking through the corridor, to my right is a computer room for guests, replete with gigantic Apple Mac desktops and also a well stocked library, packed with books about the local history of the city and maps.

 

 

 

Further ahead you come to an opening with skylight- love this part of the building

To the right , you have a staircase that winds down to the lower level of the building.

Tucked beneath the staircase is this very cool, open plan bar with lots of comfy cushions and seats to sink into after a long day roaming the streets of Porto.

 

 

 

 

Beside it is a living room with huge comfy sofas and a projector screen where they show movies plus from time to time local football derbies.

Plus they have a karaoke machine. Yup. Karaoke machine. Awesome.

 

Straight on from the bar to the right is a glass enclosed seating area where smokers congregate.

Beyond that you have the kitchen cum dining area.

Beautiful space.

You get an awesome breakfast buffet spread that would not look out of place in a 5 star hotel.

 

Dinner at Gallery Hostel: Delicious Caldo Verde, perfect for a cold Spring night

 

 

Plus in the evenings, you can choose to dine with the guests and sample some great, authentic cuisine typical of the local area. The meals are cooked by the hostel’s very own Brazilian chef. It’s the kind of food your mother in law would make, that good. Meals come to 10 euros and include dessert and also copious amount of wine.

 

Beyond the kitchen, you have the hostel’s little own garden and facing them a bunch of private rooms.

Above the rooms, there is a sunlounger terrace where guests can chill and soak in the sun.

 

I’m staying in one of the 6 bed dorms.

It’s well spaced out and each room comes with it’s own ensuite bathroom ( stellar power shower) plus you even have a private balcony to sit outside and enjoy with fellow travellers and friends.

 

At just 18 euros a night, it’s a steal. The doubles come in around the 50 euro mark.

I am only here for 2 nights but I easily could have stayed at least a week.

 

When it comes to hospitality , Gallery Hostel excels.

It partly can be attributed to the owners training at Lausanne where the best go to learn the art of hospitality.

It’s one area where I know hostels excel but truly, at the Gallery, each guest is looked after with great care.

 

Being a small, boutique hostel, they can afford to offer that almost one-to-one attention.

It’s hard work but so far they seem to have managed to create a place that marries the old world charm that Porto is famous for with great, modern design and comfort plus a liberal sprinkle of charm and hospitality for good measure.

 

You leave the place, intoxicated and already dreaming of your next visit.

I loved the Gallery Hostel, probably of all the luxury hostels I have visited so far on this trip , my favourite.

 

I recommend visiting while it’s still relatively unknown and has not been discovered by the Lonely Planet….

 

 

June 18, 2012

Hostel One 80 Berlin – Review of Berlin’s hottest new luxury hostel

 

 

3 weeks ago I attended the launch party of Berlin’s hottest new hostel, Hostel One 80 in Alexanderplatz.

 

Berlin- For one night only

 

Like Lisbon, Berlin is probably the only other city I know in the world that is blessed with a range of world class hostels.

 

I’ll be visiting and reviewing later this month Plus Berlin which has received rave reviews for its uber cool design and unique features like having its own swimming pool.

 

Then there is Circus Hostel which like Plus has raised the bar in terms of the modern definition of a hostel.

 

These are just a few hostels I can rave about-the competition is tough here.

 

So as a traveller, the good news is that you’re really spoilt for choice in Berlin.

 

So naturally I was curious to see where Hostel One 80 would slot in amidst the stalwarts of the hosteling scene in Berlin.

 

 

When I walked in, the hostel is clearly in a state of upheaval.

 

Last minute preparations are being made for the launch party.

The hostel has a private outdoor area where  a local band in the process of setting up their gear for the evenings festivities.

 

Hosting local acts is a regular fixture I am told by Stella, the hostel’s dedicated concierge.

It’s a way of the hostel promoting local talent , giving them a platform and also at the same time offering the guests the chance to sample some of Berlin’s upcoming acts.

 

Stella is a one ‘woman’ army.

Every week she pulls together an eclectic schedule of events in the hostel for the guests.

This could be anything from a guide to her favourite dining haunts which she goes with her friends to a special walking tour of the city’s amazing street art scene.

The idea here is to give the guests a view of the city, privy to only locals.

 

Being a large hostel with large groups often coming in, Stella also keeps an eye on the guest list for solo travellers.

Her job is to cobble together the solo travellers and make sure they don’t feel left out which is often the drawback of larger hostels compared to the smaller , boutique hostels.

 

It’s a cool idea and I’m impressed with Stella’s sense of enthusiasm for her city and energy.

 

So what’s the hostel itself like?

 

From outside the building it’s a huge concrete block and doesn’t impress.

Once you’re inside , a different story emerges.

 

Once you’ve walked in, from a design perspective you feel like you’re in the reception area of a 5 star hotel than a hostel.

 

The lounge area is filled with lots of comfy stylish sofas and has a very trendy vibe- I feel like I’ve walked into the middle of a MTV Video.

 

One cool feature in the lobby area is the hostel’s own photo booth where guests can get their pictures taken –this gets sent to your email address, uploads to the hostels’s Facebook page plus also it appears on a range of cool digital photo frames on the lounge walls. A cool piece of technology.

 

The hostel has it’s own bar which for the launch night was heaving and later guests carried on the party in the hostel’s basement nightclub- this is Berlin after all.

The rooms are bright, spotless and well maintained and you can choose from a double bed ensuite to a 4, 6 or 8 bed dorm ensuite to 6 bed or 8 dorm option with shared toilets.

The beds are dead comfy, I had a cracking sleep ( in no doubt helped by the great party)

One 80 Berlin- Wake up happy after a great nights sleep. Disclaimer: I may be still under the influence after a great night at the hostel’s bar and nightclub. Yes, that is a hula hoop on my forehead. Cheese and onion flavour

 

 

Beds have a reading light plus 2 plug points to juice your gadgets-perfect for the needs of a flashpacker.

You also have excellent storage units below the beds to secure your backpack and a smaller locker each bed to secure your smaller valueable items-excellent.

 

The showers are super- so good, you can shower with your clothes on as you can see below….

 

The shower at Hostel One 80 are so good that….

 

Some of the rooms come with their own balcony.

Price point: The 4 bed ensuite come in at the 20 euro mark going down to 14 euros for a bed in the 8 bed dorm ensuite.

For 12 euros you can get a bed in the 8 bed dorm with shared facilities- great price point.

 

Couples or solo travellers can also choose the option of a double room for around £35 but these rooms get booked out well in advance.

Breakfast buffet is a generous spread and worth the extra 4 euros.

What more?

The hostel has a great location, just a few minutes walk away from Alexanderplatz which is a great hub for connecting with the rest of Berlin’s sights and also travelling to Tegel and Schonfeld airports.

 

What could be better…

 

Few gripes.

The reception area is slightly cramped with just two people to service the needs of guests.

With this being a large hostel , I found this often lead to an overflow of guests in the reception , waiting to be checked in or to have any general issues addressed.

If they can remedy by adding more staff and expanding the reception area , this would be great.

 

The hostel offers a free wifi service which at the time of my review was a mixed bag.

I’ve found this to be a general problem in larger hostels who offer free wifi- guests start streaming movies and severely restrict the bandwidth for other guests- the way around this? I don’t know.

 

Verdict

 

In the end, I was really impressed with Hostel One 80. I like the dedicated concierge service, nice rooms , superb design plus a brilliant price point. I hope the wifi service improves but otherwise there’s little to fault.  A worthy addition to Berlin’s rich hostelling scene.

 

PS: Below is a video including some clips of the hostel rooms , reception area plus my interview on German National TV about the Luxury Hostels project. I do hope your German is better than mine….. Auf wiedersehen!

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lLeKEUqokuQ&feature=g-upl

 


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