Tag Archives: luxury hostels
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.


March 9, 2013

Wombats City Hostel Naschmarkt, review

Great location in the Naschmarkt, excellent facilities allied with a cool design & superb value for money breakfast make Wombats City Hostel Vienna Naschmarkt,  the perfect base for exploring Vienna.




Wombats City Hostel Vienna, Naschmarkt  is in a great location overlooking Vienna’s biggest market. It’s also a short walk from the Hofburg, Secessionhaus and the Vienna State Opera, making it ideal for those looking to soak up some culture while in the city.



Dorm rooms, Wombats City Hostel 'Naschmarkt' Vienna

Dorm rooms, Wombats City Hostel ‘Naschmarkt’ Vienna. Image courtesy of Travellerspoint


Rooms and Bathrooms


All of their rooms come with comfy wooden beds and ensuite bathrooms.

The girl rooms have full-length mirrors and come with a blow dryer in the bathroom, but you can also borrow one from the front desk

Cleanliness is next to godliness for the hostel staff-they take it very seriously here and have won the Hostelworld award for the Cleanest Hostel Chain Worldwide twice to show.




Hostel is very secure with smartcard access for the front door of the hostel, each floor, the rooms and your locker.

Free Wi-Fi  access in the common areas is excellent and at the time of this review, they have started trialling it in the guest bedrooms which is great news.

Linen is included plus they have free luggage storage to store all your stuff  which is handy.

They offer a free drink on arrival which you can enjoy at excellent womBar on site which runs special drinks offers like 1 euro beers between 6 and 8pm everyday.

Hostel is well stocked with lots of brochures, travel guides and maps of the city and other onward destinations to help with your trip planning.

There is a small kitchenette for guests to use. There is a string of supermarkets along from the hostel so perfect if you are looking to cook and save money.


Excellent fruhstuck at Wombats Vienna Naschmarkt

Excellent fruhstuck at Wombats Vienna Naschmarkt


Hostel offers one of the best breakfasts I had while interrailing across Europe. The all-you-can-eat breakfast does costs an extra 3,80 euros but offers a very generous spread which include coffee, bread, selection of cheese and cold meats like prosciutto and salami, yogurts, fruit cocktail, honey, cereals and lots of Nutella.

Other facilities include an on-site laundrette which costs 5 euro for a wash and dry plus you can hire for free hair dryers from reception for a refundable 10 euro deposit.



Great location in Naschmarkt , top notch facilities, cool design & the superb value for money breakfast make this the perfect base for exploring Vienna. Highly recommend.


How to get there

The center can be reached within in minutes by foot and the nearby U4 (at underground station Kettenbrueckengasse) provides a short connection between Schoenbrunn palace and the city center.



Cost of a bed in a 7/8 bed dorm starts at just 12 euros a night while a double room costs costs just 29 euros, per night.


wombats CITY HOSTEL Vienna


Rechte Wienzeile 35,


March 4, 2013

Lisbon Calling Hostel review


Part of a 250-year-old building Lisbon Calling Hostel is another stunning Lisbon hostel , overflowing with beautiful period features and vintage charm. It’s also home for the owners and their friends so staying at this hostel really feels like you’ve been welcomed into someone’s home.


Lounge. Lisbon Calling Hostel

Lounge. Lisbon Calling Hostel.  Note: All photos in this review are courtesy of Lisbon Calling Hostel




Situated just a short walking distance from the city centre (Chiado) and the city’s nightlife hotspots of Bairro Alto and Cais de Sodré , this hostel is in a fantastic location.


1812 , lisbon calling hostel

’1812′ room , Lisbon Calling Hostel


Rooms and bathrooms


Staying here is an experience. With quirky interior décor, stone walls and wooden floors , all the rooms here have a nice rustic charm, filled with light and very spacious.


If you are looking for romance and something exclusive- stay in the doubles room section which is a separate section of the building and almost akin to the experience of having your own apartment in Lisbon.





You get your own keys to come and go from your room as you please. There are only four rooms, each one with a cool theme. I stayed in ’1812′ -charmingly furnished with vintage retro pieces. The rooms was huge with tall ceilings and large windows that offered me great panoramic views of the square below and the beautiful church of Sao Paolo. You share a very clean, well maintained bathroom and kitchen with the other residents here but it’s not much of an issue.


dorm, lisbon calling hostel

FRESCOS : 10 Bed Dorm, Lisbon Calling Hostel


Dorms -4, 6 and 10 bed dorms are excellent value and comfortable- the beautiful wooden bunk beds are custom made and raised so you can catch views of the church square while the ceilings are adorned with frescos.




Living area

Living area


This place is a living exhibition of eclectic furniture pieces and fittings that the owners have procured from Portugal and Europe to give the place a unique charm and feel. There is everything from an antique bathtub coverted into a table , 1950′s Rock and Roll memorabilia to outlandish kitsch decorations that create a very colourful vibe.


kitchen lisbon calling hostel

Shared Kitchen space for the ‘Doubles’ apartment


One of the great features of staying in the doubles is the very cool free breakfast There is no fixed breakfast hour. Fresh breadrolls are kept in an embroidered cloth bag which is hung on your room’s door handle in the morning. Whenever you’re up and running, you take them to the common kitchen and make coffee or tea, help yourself to orange juice from the fridge, have muesli and toast the bread enjoy with butter or delicious fruit jam. Given that you are sharing with three other couples you have a good chance to having the kitchen to yourself.


The kitchen area in the main part of the hostel is a very cool, social space where the owners encourage guests to use their fridge and often invite guests to join them as they cook lunch or dinner for no extra cost-really feels like you are visiting a friends or relatives home.

The free wifi is excellent and the staff here are friendly with lots of great tips to make the most of your stay here. Also for free here….

Secure Storage (individual lockers, locks & keys)
 plus in the words of the owners :), All day-do-it-yourself coffee and tea (coffee machine and kettle)


Top tip

Across from the hostel is Rua de Nova Carvalho, formerly the ‘red light’ district of Lisbon. There are some cool bars here but the pick of the joints is Pensao Amor , once a cheap pension with rooms rented by the hour to prostitutes. Nowadays the place functions as a bar, venue for concerts and also has a leopard and gold decorated pole dance room which is used for pole dancing workshops.





Choose from a…

BLUE WITH A VIEW – 4 Bed Mixed Dorm
(2 on platform + 2 down)

THE NEST – 4 Bed Mixed Dorm (2 bunks)

PLATFORM – 6 Bed Mixed Dorm
(3 on platform + 3 down)

FRESCOS – 10 Bed Mixed Dorm
(5 bunks)


Room prices start from just 16 euros for a room or just 50 euros per night for staying in the ‘1812’ room.


Rua de Sao Paulo, 126 – floor 3D

1200-429 Lisbon, Portugal


+351 213 432 381


To end… a cool video from the owners welcoming you to their cool hostel.



January 23, 2013

Dream Hostel, Tampere reviewed



A perfect blend of blue and white , warm hospitality and Finnish design philosophy makes in my opinion Dream Hostel the best hostel in Finland and possibly the rest of  Scandinavia.




The location

Just a few minutes walk away from Tampere train station, the Dream Hostel is in a great location near several well-known local landmarks like Tampere Hall, Tampere University, Pakkahuone and the Sorsapuisto park. Situated in the university neighborhood area Tulli,  hostel is in the hub of the city’s nightlife- trendy bars, local restaurants, outdoor market, second hand stores and a grocery store are just stone’s throw away.




Rooms and bathrooms

The rooms are airconditioned , spacious with beds nicely spaced out. Big heavy doors and thick walls means that it’s quite peaceful. Beds are sturdy and come equipped with discreet reading lights and power points to juice your gadgets. Whilst the rooms are not ensuite, toilets and showers facilities are plentiful and cleaned on a regular basis. Probably one of the powerful hostel showers I’ve ever experienced in a hostel-awesome.





Centrepiece of the hostel is the kitchen which also doubles up as a social space. Lots of boardgames to play, great selection of books to read and also there is bunch of maps and guides to the local area for you to get inspiration for your trip. Guests chill out on their tablets or laptops using the hostels excellent free wifi.



Dream Hostel Tampere


Help yourself all day to unlimited refills of top notch Columbian grinded coffee from the filter coffee machine.  Other perks are free pea soup on Thursday and free popcorn when it rains ( which it does a lot in Tampere, so your chances are good) or on a Friday night. The hostel does not offer breakfast but there is a supermarket nearby and the hostel has a nice arrangement with the local café where for as little as 5 euros you can enjoy a hearty breakfast.

For around 10 euros you have the option of renting bikes for them to explore the city and the great Finnish outdoors.

Ville and the rest of the team at Dream are very enthusiastic and passionate about the city and the beautiful surrounding countryside –feel free to ask them for any tips and recommendations plus check out the noticeboard for the staff’s daily tips. The hostel has excellent connections with local adventure sports tour operators so if you’re looking to go mountain biking, hiking or canoeing-there is a great variety of cool things to do here.


What makes this a luxury hostel

Excellent design, great hospitality and comfortable rooms make this a very cool luxury hostel. No surprise that it has been voted the best hostel in Finland.


Top tip

For privacy and comfort choose one of the twin rooms.

One of the great Finnish traditions is to visit the sauna and Tampere has 3 public saunas to choose from. Costing as little as 5 euros, it’s a fantastic rejuvenating experience.


The Journey 

I flew from Berlin to Helsinki with Finnair . From Helsinki you can take the train to Tampere ( 1 hour ) Pay as little as 16.20 euros if you book 2 months in advance via http://www.vr.fi compared to paying 32.38 euros on the day. I also recommend using the bus connection that runs between Tampere and Helsinki-Vantaa airport.



A perfect blend of blue and white , warm Finnish hospitality and design philosophy makes Dream Hostel a perfect base to explore Tampere and its great outdoors.



Guests can choose from choice of Twin, 4 bed Private rooms, 4 bed Female only Dorms, 4 Bed Mixed Dorms , 10 bed Mixed Dorm and 16 Bed Mixed Dorms.

Twin room prices start from 69 euros per night, per room going down to 23 euros for a bed in the 16 bed dorm.

More information, check: http://www.dreamhostel.fi/


Tampere Dream Hostel 

Åkerlundinkatu 2

33100 Tampere



Disclaimer: My stay was sponsored by Dream Hostel but the views here are entirely my own. Thanks Ville  and the ‘Dream team’ for a great stay. I’d also like to thank Virpi and  Visit Finland  team plus Visit Tampere for supporting my trip. 



June 25, 2012

Generator Hostel, Copenhagen : Reviewed



Few weeks ago I had the pleasure of visiting the beautiful city of Copenhagen and staying at the brand new Generator Copenhagen hostel

Here is my review of the hostel as part of my Luxury Hostels project- feel free to leave your comments and thoughts below.



Generator Copenhagen




The Generator hostel benefits from a superb central location in Kongens Nytorv the main square , just a few hundred yards away from the metro station.

The hostel is just off Stroget which is the high street  and main artery of Copenhagen so you’re well located.


How to get there


The metro station is on the M2 line which connects directly with Copenhagen Airport- Buy a 3 zone ticket which costs 36 krones.


The hostel


A signature of the Generator brand is the flexibility of choice: you have the choice of privates, 6-8 bed dorms and also girls-only dorms so the hostel caters really well to both to the needs of female solo travellers, couples and larger groups.


The Generator Bar, Copenhagen.



On the first floor, you have the hostel bar which is huge and almost size of a full size football pitch!


Towards the rear, it has lots of comfy chairs and beanies to lounge in and relax while to the front, it has a bar and seating area which converts into the dance floor at night.


Ladies Night. Bring some pink clothes with you when you visit :)



Hostel has a busy schedule of activities to keep guests entertained- from bar crawls, famous ‘Pink’ Girls night on Friday where everyone dressed pink gets cheap drinks plus a ‘Hangover Movie’ night on Sundays where you can watch a movie on their giant projector screen.

For 35 krones you can load up on coke and popcorn.

The bar is pretty reasonable  priced with pints of Carlsberg around 35 krones mark.


Best feature of the hostel…


The wooden outdoor patio -especially coming into the summer season, guests were flowing out with their drinks and often they’ll have DJ sets here so there’s no shortage of partying options at this hostel.


One half of my private twin ensuite room at Generator Copenhagen


In terms of your stay I highly recommend the private ensuite rooms on the 6th floor.


You get great views of the city skyline, it’s peaceful plus you can insulate yourself from the partying crowd downstairs and get a good nights sleep.



Great view of the Copenhagen skyline from my 6th floor room



Room comes with a separate shower room , toilet cubicle plus a washing basin in the room.


Beds are very comfortable and also have conveniently placed reading lamps and plug point to charge your smartphone and gadgets.




Rooms start at around 800 krone mark- around £80 which is pricey but represent a good deal for Copenhagen.

More economical options include a choice of 8 bed dorms (ensuite bathrooms) where prices start around the 150 krone mark (£15)


You get free bed linen included in the price.

If you’re in single or private rooms, towels are free.

If you’re staying in the dorms you have to pay an extra 50 krones.

So good idea to come armed with a towel if you’re thinking of the dorm option.


There are locker facilities in the dorm rooms so don’t forget to bring a padlock with you to secure your possessions.

This hostel does come with free wifi and signal strength is best in reception and the bar but kept jumping in my room on the 6th floor.


If you don’t have an internet device, the hostel has a few desktops at the reception to check your emails.


Overall… I really enjoyed my stay here.

A very cool hostel with the perfect location for exploring Copenhagen.

Highly recommend.


For details of special offers check out the Generator Hostels website and also their Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/GENERATORhostels


May 31, 2012

Equity Point Hostel, Lisbon – Reviewed



So I’ve professed my love for Lisbon.

It’s pretty much a perfect city.

Confession: One of the reasons for me planning the Luxury Hostels project was so that it would give me the perfect excuse to come back to Lisbon….

easyJet, one of the sponsors for my Luxury Hostels project kindly obliged with sponsoring my flights to Lisbon.


Why Lisbon though?

Lisbon wears the crown for the city with the best luxury hostels- it is the indisputable queen of hostelling across the world

I had 4 days in Lisbon which allowed me to explore and check 2 of the city’s finest hostels- Equity Point Lisbon and Oasis Backpackers, Lisbon.

Over the next few days I’ll be presenting a review of both, starting with Equity Point Lisbon.


Equity Point Lisbon- The Review


Cool reception cum bar at Equity Point, Lisbon



In a great location near the Praça dos Restauradores, right across from the Hard Rock Café, Equity Point is in a central location and the perfect base for exploring the nocturnal delights of Bairro Alto.

Converted from a 18th century villa, Equity Point Lisbon is in a beautiful building , blending it’s old traditional features with modern design and some of the comfiest beds you can sleep in.

The hostel is halfway up a steep travessa so negotiating your way up is a bit of a challenge.

However, on the top of the travessa you have the stunning Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Alcantara where you can enjoy great views of the city.

Once you get there you can relax in the hostel’s stunning outdoor terrace where guests can congregate and sip on beers or wine ( available to purchase from the hostel reception , beers for as little as 1 euro a bottle)


The lounge at Equity Point, Lisbon- Super chic and cool


The hostel has a very cool lounge- lots of plush sofas and beanbags to lounge in, a few computer terminals to check your mail.


The hostel has a nice sized kitchen where you can cook – note: just around the corner from the hostel, there is a grocer where you can buy veggies, pasta at very low prices.


There is a wee open courtyard facing the kitchen which they have plans to develop and convert into a nice outdoor eating area.


The hostel offers a range of accommodation –from dorm rooms to double beds.


So depending if you’re in a group or travelling as a couple- this hostel offers a variety of options.


Double Rooms at Equity Point- preserving the old stonework of the building, they’ve made a grand job of these rooms. Loved the floral wallpaper, very snazzy



I stayed in the double room- very snazzy and chic as you can see from the picture above.

Not ensuite though.

On the plus point they were three power showers right next to the room so it wasn’t a great inconvenience for me.

If you’re travelling in a group they have a 4 bed mixed dorm option

Being a large hostel, it doesn’t have the cozy, intimate nature of the smaller boutique hostels that have figured prominently in my travels so far.

Still, even if you are travelling solo, there are opportunities to bond with fellow guests thanks to the hostel’s busy, packed evening schedule of daily events: from nights out in the local bars to walks to places of historical interest.


So the verdict


A great all rounder for staying in Lisbon : Great location in Lisbon with the nightlife hotspots located nearby plus with great facilities like free wifi, comfy lounge, outdoor terrace and good range of activites make this a fun hostel to stay in.

Providing ensuite facilities would a big bonus plus but with new developments like an outdoor eating area being planned, there’s plenty more to come from this hostel.




I flew to Lisbon from Edinburgh courtesy of easyJet

Looking at flights, currently you can fly for as little as £26.99 one way from Edinburgh to Lisbon in September.


The twin rooms at Equity Lisbon comes in at 70 euros a night and bathroom facilities are shared.

If you’re travelling in a group they have a 4 bed mixed dorm option with prices as low as 24 euros.

At the bottom scale, a bed in the 10 bed dorms can come in as low as 15 euros a night.

May 8, 2012

Video Review: Gallery Hostel, Porto


Earlier last month, I got the chance to stay at the amazing Gallery Hostel in Porto.


It’s a unique hostel in the sense that it functions as a Art Gallery and has regular exhibitions for the locals every month.

I’ll be publishing a full in-depth review soon but in the meantime, enjoy the video which will hopefully give you a nice feel of what this amazing hostel is like.




May 1, 2012

The next luxury hostel? I’m off to Cocomama, Amsterdam



As some of you may know, just back from an amazing few days in Italy where I was attending Travel Bloggers Unite Conference in Umbria before heading to Bologna to launch the BlogVille project.


I’m back in Edinburgh for a few days but hitting the road on Friday, 3rd of May to spend a weekend in Amsterdam checking out Luxury Hostel No 6: Cocomama- Amsterdam’s first boutique, luxury hostel.


Next up: I’m visiting Cocomama- Amsterdam’s hottest boutique hostel


Situated in a former brothel, Cocomama offers comfortable rooms, fluffy pillows, free wifi, great kitchen, groovy music, friendly staff plus it’s own cat- Joop!


Seems like it has making of a luxury hostel- can’t wait to check this place out.


It’s been awhile since I’ve been back to Amsterdam so am excited to be going back and checking out some familiar haunts but am keen to check out some new spots so if you have any tips, please share with me here or on Twitter http://twitter.com/budgettraveller


You can follow my adventures in Cocomama and Amsterdam by simply following the hashtag #luxuryhostels and #amsterdam

Also if you’re on Instagram, follow me there : I’m ‘BudgetTraveller’ ;)



April 26, 2012

A home away from home: Palmers Lodge Boutique Hostel, London




It’s a strange sensation when you leave a place you’ve only stayed barely a few days and feel kinda as if you’re leaving home.



Maddie. Happy Bunny and Bartender Extraordinaire at Palmers Lodge, Swiss Cottage. Bring your dancing shoes with you when you meet her.



That kind of place where everyone seems to be dead friendly and you just slip into the swing of things like a duck to water.


Staying at Palmers Lodge Boutique Hostel was exactly like that- home away from home.



Palmers Lodge Swiss Cottage: Home away from Home



It’s rare to find that quality when travelling –it’s a kind of luxury for me.


The staff really look after you well-From Maddie and Andrea-cheerful bartenders of the Swiss Cottage and Hillspring Lodge Bar respectively  to  Jaime , Carmen and Fran at reception- warm, friendly people who I clicked with instantly ……


People who are just travellers like you and me and always armed with great tips.


Double Room. Ensuite. Palmers Lodge, Swiss Cottage. Price ranges from £70-£100 per night



Besides being very accommodating, both the hostels offer a great level of comfort.



Bunk Bed in a 4 bed dorm in Palmers Lodge, Hillspring Lodge Starting at £20 pppn, great bargain.



Starting with the 20 bed dorms where the bunks are built on solid oak wood, have a nice proper thick mattress which you just sink into and nice fluffy pillows. Each bunk has a curtain which offers a great level of privacy and comes with a handy reading light and plug points for charging up your gadgets.


Double Rooms at Palmers Lodge, Hillspring Lodge. Starting at £70 per room, ensuite


Moving up the scale, both hostels offer private ensuite rooms. So if you’re travelling as a couple or just want your own space- these rooms are great.


Starting at £70 a night for Hillspring Lodge and £100 mark for Swiss Cottage- these prices are on par for a budget hotel in London but still represent a great deal and far better than many 4 star hotels in the city.



Quirky and luxurious: The Lounge at Palmers Lodge, Hillspring Lodge


If you like quirky, there is abundance of character in both hostels.


Palmers Lodge Swiss Cottage is a 18th century lodge- stunning entrance with a chandelier and many original features like the oak doors and staircase.


Quirky: Here is a picture of the owners's motorcycle selection which you see from the lounge in Willesden Green

Palmers Lodge, Hillspring Lodge is filled with quirky items of furnishing like a deer rug hanging from the ceiling or a garden full of the owner’s collection of 100 odd motorcycles!


Facilities are great here- huge laundry plus an onsite restaurant that does decent pub style grub.


Both hostel have a really nice lounge area. Tons of comfy sofas which you just sink into and where guests vegetate, laptop in hand surfing thanks to the excellent wifi connection in the hostels. Which is free.


At Swiss Cottage the lounge area and the reception area in Willesden Green also has a few desktop PC’s to use for free.


They have a huge plasma screen TV plus they have a great library of DVD’s which you can borrow for free and watch a movie of choice.


Both have a great funky bar, where you can socialise and meet other hostel guests.


The hostel breakfast is limited and basic- cornflakes, coffee ( not the best..) , orange juice and a croissant.


Also hostel offers free wifi in the lounge areas and not in the rooms- this they explained, was to prevent people who would abuse the privilege and be streaming movies or downloading massive files, draining the bandwith for everyone.


Fair enough.




Overall, I had a great stay at both Palmers Lodge Swiss Cottage and Hillspring Lodge.


It’s a refreshing alternative to the mundane, soulless budget chain of hotels in the city and offer that personal touch that you crave when you’re a stranger in the city.


It’s the kind of hostel where you become so comfortable and happy living, you could easily outstay your welcome!


For more details and booking your stay visit the Palmers Lodge site: www.palmerslodges.com

April 18, 2012

Luxury Hostel Life: Forget the smartphone dinner & sample local cuisine with the guests

Traveling solo presents a range of challenges.

Like eating dinner by myself.


I remember the first time.

I was in Inverness, Scotland on a work trip, few years ago where I had decided to check out Hootenanny- a local bar that does great live music and also serves lip smacking Thai food.

Remember: These were in the days before social media, so no phone to fiddle with and try look busy.


Just an old magazine to flick through and a dull, boring holiday cottage brochures to get me through the meal.

It do not help that the place was packed – one family and a lot of couples.


Warning: I think Wednesday is date night in Inverness.


Food got served after what seemed an eternity.


Once I could not stand looking at the pictures of the cottages, I finally looked around and everyone seemed to be looking lovingly at each other.


I felt I had stumbled into in an orgy of happiness.

I passed some of the time, people watching.


I cannot lipread but….you know that feeling when you’re in a crowd on your own and everyone looks animated, silvery sound of laughter ringing in your ears.

Everyone seems to be saying something deeply funny or profoundly interesting.


I never remember eating dinner more quickly.


Spot the single one: Smartphone at dinner


Times have changed since.

Nowadays, I have a smartphone.

I’m such a social being :)


I read football news. Watch football. Read tweets. Edit pictures.

While eating.


You can tell who’s solo/single with the row of heads, embarrased,  craning down, looking at their smartphones, trying to look busy in a restaurant.

Thanks to the smartphone, we don’t feel that lonely or embarrassed eating solo anymore I guess.

We are anti-social and social at the same time.


However at some of the Luxury Hostels I’ve stayed in: Gallery Hostel in Porto and Oasis Lisbon thankfully you don’t need the smartphone excuse at dinner anymore.

They have the wonderful tradition of cooking dinner for the guests.

Cost: 10 euros with few glasses of wine included in the price.


Dinner at the hostel : Meet the hostel guests over great food and a glass of wine


The dishes , served are typical of the region and country.


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


At Gallery Hostel in Porto, on the first night I had Caldo Verde- a wonderful, earthy traditional Portuguese soup with spring greens and some chorizo for added flavour.


Portuguese Duck- 'Arroz De Pato' was amazing


On the second night there we had ‘Arroz De Pato’ – Portuguese Duck Rice, where the duck is baked in a bed of rice with some chorizo and local goats cheese grated on top for flavour.


Not only was I eating some great food, the evening dinner offered a great opportunity to meet other guests within the hostel.


Over a few glasses of excellent port wine that was served with the meal, many new friendships were formed.


In the end, one of the lasting memorable impressions I take away from these hostels is the people, characters you meet and moments like this.


Stella: Architect, great chef and a woman of many expressions...


For example, I met Stella in Oasis Lisbon: An Puglia native who is an architect in Lisbon but comes along 3 times a week to cook in the hostel kitchen.


She cooked for us a dish of bacalhao (salted cod) in a béchamel sauce with pasta.

Was a great meal.

Given that she has a secure, well paid job, I was curious to know why she cooks in a hostel kitchen. Definitely not for the money.


She replied it was the pleasure of cooking and sharing food with the people in the hostel.

For her, cooking the meal was a social outlet and a great way to meet people.


For me food has always been about sharing and bring people together.

When you’re away from home, having a wonderful meal with lots of wine with lots of happy travellers in an a beautiful city….

If that is not luxury……..



In Porto, I stayed at the Gallery Hostel where you can get bed in a 6 bed dorm for as little as £20 per night, or a double (ensuite) for around £50 per night.

Oasis Lisboa , a 18th century mansion converted into a hostel, you can stay as little as £20 a night in the 6 bed dorms or get yourself a double room