One word that incites a myriad of mixed emotions out of travelers.
Dirty. Unsafe. A hot bed of bacteria.
Convenient. Sociable. Easy.
Hostels tend to get a bit of a bad wrap. And occasionally a good one. It's all rather ambiguous.
However no young traveler, backpacking their way across Europe can complain about a warm bed, albeit a bunk bed, for less than twenty pounds a night.
I certainly didn't.
Across the UK I stayed in multiple hostels all with varying degrees of cleanliness. Some extremely clean and some...well.
But for those traveling alone the cleanliness of your accommodations doesn't always seem to matter when a lonely soul meets other lonely patrons.
The bunk beds were always my pet hate with hostels. Some missing ladders, squeaking with every shift or turn and some just plain unstable. And for some reason I was, of course, always assigned the-you guessed it-top bunk. Every. Single. Time.
I would say you get used to it, But you don't.
I remember the excitement as a kid when the opportunity to sleep in bunk beds occurred. They were they greatest nights. Not anymore though. Don't be fooled. In a hostel it's just plain inconvenient.
Bathrooms. A place to be alone. To unwind and a place of privacy. In a hostel? Not so much.
It does take some getting use to. Walking from your ten bed dorm down a couple of corridors to the communal bathroom. Toilet stalls and curtained off shower stalls. You need to get comfortable quickly.
The term 'co-ed' can scare potential travelers when in conjunction with the word 'bathroom'. When you put it together you get 'the co-ed bathrooms' also known as heaven. I was lucky enough to stay in one hostel that was completely co-ed. Never mind the co-ed dorms, they are everywhere, its the co-ed bathroom you want. That's right. Boys and girls all using the same loos. The term co-ed bathroom means one important thing. Locks. Locks on the shower stalls. No flimsy, translucent-esque curtains. Actual wood and actual locks. It was paradise.
Two of the best. In my humble opinion.
The Generator Hostel London.
I loved it so much I stayed here on two separate occasions. Now yes, the entrance is rather creepy and foreboding. Located down a poorly lit alley, and the facade of the building doesn't look all the promising either. However as with most things in life, you shouldn't judge a book by it's alley ways. Inside it's bight, colourful and whimsically decorated. With a bar and live entertainment, movies and hot food made to order, the Generator is definitely a good choice. It won't rob your wallet either. And the selling point? Each floor allocated a whimsical theme. James Bond. Dr Who. I stayed on Mary Poppins. Twice.
|The Generator Hostel|
Nestled away, right behind Edinburgh castle, the Castle Rock Hostel was extremely pleasing. And contained those all important co-ed bathrooms. The hostel was decked out in a medieval theme to reflect the view that hits you as you step out it's doors while the old style layout and decor makes you feel warm and cosy. Comfortable. Welcomed. I slept in a ten bed dorm filled with a few American guys and men and women of a nationality that has still remained a mystery to me. (While hostels are a great way to socialise, people traveling in packs aren't always the chattiest.)
Just a moments walk from countless pubs and the Royal Mile, this hostel is in the perfect location.
|Castle Rock Hostel|
You can find hostels located in the most convenient places all across the UK, right in the thick of it or a simple five minute walk to the nearest tube station. Some with bars and live entertainment downstairs or common rooms to socialise and cheap breakfasts and other meals. Hostels especially save you a chunk of money better spent on the essentials: clothes and nick-knacks. Good food, good people and a good time.
The towels aren't free though.