This is the first in a series of posts reviewing the hostels I call home for my first few months on the road!
Finding the right hostel for *you* is always an adventure in and of itself. During my first travels, I quickly learned to pay attention to the way hostels portray themselves online. I like to have fun, but I am not a party girl, so an obvious choice is for me to avoid the ones that clearly state on their site “If you don’t want to party, this is NOT the place for you.” Moving beyond “Captain Obvious”, I also need to look out for those hostels that try to present a more relaxed, “you can actually get some sleep here” vibe but post photos of drunken hostel-goers all over the site.
I enjoy getting up (relatively) early, grabbing breakfast and a shower, and heading out to see the sights on foot. Much later, I enjoy returning at night and actually being able to sleep. Granted, that’s sometimes a tall order in shared accommodation, but there are some hostels where a decent night’s sleep is more likely than others
What else do I look for in a hostel?
I like ones located in the CBD so I can walk pretty much everywhere. They may cost a few dollars more a night than ones on the outskirts, but then I’d have to pay to take a bus or tram to the city!
With the exception of Barcelona, I’ve always stayed in 4-person rooms. Katie and I opted for a coed 4-person room for our first hosteling experience, and our two slightly older and significantly more experienced roommates recommended that we never go larger than a 4-person room if we could help it. Little did I know at the time I’d take that advice for years to come. I’m a budget girl (just ask my Barcelona travel partner Nicole!), but a priority for me is not to stay in a room with tons of other people even if it costs extra. I’m a light sleeper and have to use ear plugs. Fewer people means less coming and going, less turning on the lights in the middle of the night, less likelihood of snoring — you get the picture!
Free breakfast is a huge draw for many people, but since I’m sensitive to gluten and dairy, I could really care less, as it’s almost always bread, butter, jam, cereal, and milk. Only one has had free wifi, so unless you’re ready to pay (and I have so far), head to the library or McDonald’s to get online for free.
Most include free linen, but you’re probably going to have to pay to use a towel. Very thankful for my ultra thin, quick drying travel towel, which also saves me from “hiring” a towel at each place.
There are more things ones should look for in a hostel, but without further ado, let’s move on to my thoughts on Nomads Industry in Melbourne.
Nomads is on a tiny, quiet street, just around the corner from Queen Victoria Market. You can easily walk to one of Australia’s main grocery chains (Coles or Woolworths, aka Woolies), the free tram, several bus and train stations, gardens/parks, Etihad Stadium, and much more. Gets an A+ for being so centrally located.
I opted for an all-female 4-person room and opted to skip the ensuite option and use the toilets and showers on the hall.
After sleeping on the top bunk for the first night, the girl in the bottom bunk checked out, so I snagged the DOUBLE bed and kept it for my 2-week stay. I thought I had struck gold, but later found the mattress to be less than desirable. At least I had space…
The other set of bunks:
Locker to keep smaller valuables — having some sort of locker system is always something to look for! If I know all of my roomies I don’t always lock it, but it’s nice to have that option.
The staff did a pretty good job with keeping it tidy! Just about every day someone was in our room with the vacuum cleaner (“hoovering”), and the wheelchair accessible bathroom (had both a toilet and shower) was spacious (obviously) and I always used it when available. While the kitchen was TINY, it was kept clean as well.
I was on the 3rd floor and it was as quiet as can be! The only noise issues I had came from the outdoor patio where smokers and drinkers congregated each evening, talking loudly and into the night — the patio was directly below the window by my head. Thankfully after 30 minutes or so with ear plugs, the noise faded away.
The lounge was large enough that folks who wanted to use their laptops or read a book instead of go to the bar had space.
The lounge was also insanely loud at most hours of the day, with music constantly pumping through, getting louder as the day goes on. At one point, my roommate and I couldn’t hear each other speaking.
As the hostel has its own bar, you’re not allowed to bring any alcohol in, and you have to pay their bar prices for everything. This wasn’t an issue for me as I don’t drink often, but I can see that being a drawback for many.
The kitchen was tidy but small. In fact, a sign on the kitchen door said something like, “We know have a small kitchen for such a large hostel. Please enjoy the free coffee, tea, pasta, and rice.” The cubbies for our food were super small but I didn’t need anything bigger since I don’t cook, and the fridge had limited space as well.
Like most hostels, it’s difficult to get a shower, get dry, and get dressed in the small shower space provided. That’s why I tried to use the wheelchair accessible one!
The washing machine did a fine job getting my clothes clean. The dryer failed to perform. After $3 and a complete cycle, my clothes were all very damp. So up they went on the railings of the bunk bed to dry.
Not the hostel’s fault, but I had a really hard time meeting people here. My roommates tended to be in pairs already and left before I woke up and returned after I was in bed. The rest of the hostel-goers seemed to be intact groups of 4-6. I took to downloading and watching season 1 of Glee via iTunes in the evenings (why hadn’t I been watching all along?!) if I didn’t have plans with James, Darren & Cherril, or Dan.
Would I stay there again?
Absolutely. Maybe there are better hostels out there, but “quiet” and “clean” and “centrally located” go a loooong way in my book. In fact, if I head back to the city for a quick weekend trip later, I’ll most likely stay here.
If you’re a traveler, what’s essential to you in a hostel and are there ones in Oz you’ve absolutely loved? I’m still on the move and looking for recommendations, especially in Queensland.