Sunday, March 09, 2014

Top Five Backpacker Sleeps - Europe

Today I start a series of tips on backpacking accommodation across the world. I will look at different regions of the world and talk a little about the best places I have stayed - mind you they will all be budget options! They certainly won't be four or five star hotels, but instead hostels and budget digs I have personally stayed at in my travels. Where possible,  I will give a link to the place, and talk about why I liked it so much.
Hostels and backpacking accommodation is a real adventure, you never quite know what you're going to get (a little like a box of chocolates). You can be surprised by how brilliant a place is, or dismayed that you paid twenty pounds for a bed-bug riddled bed in a massive dorm that smelt exclusively of feet. So perhaps there will be a follow-up worst of at the end of the best ofs! We will see.
Please remember that I am only comparing places to other places, in the same region, that I stayed in.

Regions I am going to cover:
North America
South-East Asia
Indian subcontinent & Iran
Central Asia & China

Today I start with Europe, because it seemed the easiest to get my head around. For my tips on getting started backpacking, plus tips on hostels and hostel stories, please check out my ebook : Backpacking Basics.

Honourable Mention: Vienna City Hostel, Vienna, Austria. Great bar, good rooms! 

5. Pretty much all hostels in Iceland

The Hostelling International chain have many hostels through Iceland and they are all, at least the few I stayed in and I have every reason to believe that most are the same, superb. They are spotlessly clean, generally the rooms don't have 100 dorm beds but more like four, and they usually have a great kitchen to use for self-catering. If you are headed to Iceland there is no reason to fork out for a hotel, the hostels have all you need!

4. Hostel Mostel, Sofia, Bulgaria

When approaching Sofia from Plovdiv, I had someone recommend this hostel to me. The name put me off straight away, it sounded... well ridiculous. But it was the only recommendation I had, it was a new hostel at the time and the price was right at less than 10 Euro a night.
Well, it was a great place with a friendly and chatty owner. It was clean and the breakfast was excellent with a wide selection of meats, breads and cheeses. Full of information about Sofia and other parts of Bulgaria as well. When I was there a Russianb Aerobics team was also staying there. So it was a memorable stay.
Hostel Mostel does seem to have moved location, however I am seeing that reviews are still extremely positive for this one and the new building looks better than the original!

3. Ace York Backpackers, York, England

In the north of England, York is a brilliant town with amazing architecture and streets, and the quaintest and fondest museum to Richard the Third. Ace York Backpackers is housed in a big building, the dorm rooms are big but airy thankfully, the kitchen could be a little bigger but there is a great bar and on the basement floor there are several excellent rooms for recreation including a great TV room. They have movie nights as well. The bar is the perfect place to meet people as well and is very well appointed. It's relaxed there and there's plenty of room over the various floors. The building itself, I think, is of historical importance and is very regal with real character. A great place to stay.

2. The Riverhouse, Cardiff, Wales

Cardiff is an incredibly underrated city to visit as a traveller. This hostel was well positioned near the river, spotlessly clean, relaxed, great common areas and an excellent kitchen too. Friendly people around every night, TV and dining room, outdoor area to chill and relax, small dorm rooms (I stayed in one with four beds) that were kept clean. It looked modern, very comfortable. Highly recommend this place. Lots of books to look through as well. They also do a mean breakfast.

My e-writings on Bulgaria - Dhaka to Dakar Chapter Seven: Bulgaria

1. Retro Hostel, Cluj-Napoca, Romania

This hostel was without a doubt the friendliest I have been to. I met great people here that I am still in touch with and Cluj itself is actually a really nice city, well positioned for day-trips and jumping off points to nearby areas and such.
The breakfast was the BEST hostel breakfast I have ever had (just beating out Hostel Mostel), the same sort of deal but also cereal as well, and you eat it in the cellar! Yes the building has a cellar! Very atmospheric. Any info needed the staff bent over backwards to help. Exemplary stuff. I was in a 10 or 12 bed dorm on the top floor yet had good nights' sleeps there. I will always remember my stay from ten years ago now at 'Retro Hostel'.

My e-writings on Romania: Dhaka to Dakar Chapter 8: Romania

Also, including Romania and Bulgaria (the chapters linked above) and more, the second book:

Dhaka to Dakar Book 2: Europe

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