Losing My Hostel Cherry
35 years old and I’d never stayed in a hostel before but with recent house renovation bills coming in and two weeks in Europe already booked I was feeling poor and hostels were cheap. “It’ll be an adventure!” I told myself though I wasn’t sure I really believed it. Wasn’t I too old to be getting on with this foolishness? “You’re booked into a four star hotel in Paris and now you’re looking at a hostel in Barcelona? And a dorm room no less! Foolish.”
But you know, curiosity (and my wallet) got to me in the end and that’s how I became a first time hostel guest – booking myself into an 8-bed female dorm at the St. Christopher’s Inn in Barcelona for two nights. I researched hostels carefully and shuddered when I’d see photos of open bunk beds in a room. The thought of sleeping in an open room where everyone could see me horrified me, but a private room was the same price as a budget hotel so it was going to have to be a dorm. Thankfully, every bed at St. Christopher’s has a privacy curtain (as well as a reading light and outlet) so I could pretend I was in my own little (so not soundproof) capsule hotel. That little piece of fabric was the main reason I thought I could hack it in a dorm and booked where I did.
I emailed and asked about the size of their luggage bins and made sure to let them know that I wasn’t travelling with just a backpack – I had a 25″ suitcase and a carry-on messenger bag. They couldn’t give me dimensions but they assured me that I’d have no problem. I was a little skeptical.
I didn’t need to pack anything extra for my hostel stay even though hostels aren’t known for their amenities. Since I was already packing for the beach, my shower flip flops and travel towels were on the list. And since my apartment in Paris didn’t include a hair dryer, that was already in the suitcase. The only extra thing I’d need was a lock for the luggage bin.
After checking out of my lovely room at Hotel Praktik Bakery I wheeled my bag down Passeig de Gracia and checked into the hostel near Placa de Catalunya. First off I was impressed that they assigned beds so that I wouldn’t have to just find an empty one. I also really liked that they had electronic key cards (just like a hotel) not only for the rooms but for the floors as well. I really wouldn’t need to worry about any of my stuff being stolen. I went up to my floor and gingerly opened the door. Thankfully, I had the room to myself for a little bit while I got settled in. I can be a little shy with strangers at first.
True to their word, the luggage bin was large enough for all my stuff. It was the width of a twin bed and half the length. The bed itself wasn’t anything to write home about – a rubberized mattress with a thin sheet, pillow, and duvet. The bathroom was a three stall deal which looked clean enough. The shower room was down the hall and appeared to have lots of stalls, though only two outlets. Hmm…
Getting ready for bed that night kind of felt like summer camp. The girls in my room weren’t out partying and we were all lights out before midnight. I didn’t have the best night’s sleep, but that had more to do with the fact that rubber mattresses don’t breathe and make you sweat, than any noise from my dormmates. We were a quiet bunch.
I made a mistake in the morning, not getting to the showers early enough. I had no trouble finding an empty stall (I had the whole shower room to myself), but I did have trouble finding hot water. Seriously? Bad enough that the shower was the push button kind that only dispensed 15 seconds of water at a time but there was no temperature adjustment and the building seemed to be all out of hot. I didn’t make this mistake twice and was there first the next morning.
Breakfast was included in the cost of the bed but was very basic. Since this was my first time in a hostel I can’t compare it to others but we could have our fill of sliced ham, baguette, juice, coffee/tea, cereal, and apples. All dished up on plastic plates and mugs. Hardly the gourmet fare I’d had the two mornings pervious, but it kept me full until lunchtime.
When asked about my hostel stay now I generally say, “Eh, it was alright.” All in all, I don’t think hostels are really my thing but I’m glad I decided to check it out and who knows, I may choose to stay at one again for a night or two down the road.