Timisoara, Romania – Hostel Costel
Price: 45 Romanian Leu (Pronounced ‘lay’) or £9
How To Get There: Despite being a 45 minute walk it’s not that difficult to find. Turn left out the train station and keep going straight until the road bends. Go straight into the town centre (leaving the road) and turn left when you see the McDonalds. Now keep walking for about 2 minutes until you see the tram lines then turn right, and walk beside the tram lines – just keep following them – until you’ve crossed the bridge and turn left directly after the bridge. Now follow the road along the river and it’s either the second or third turning on the right. You’ll see the ‘Hostel Costel’ sign as you look down the road so if you can’t see it you know it’s the next road.
About The Hostel: It’s an old Romanian house converted into a hostel. It looks quality from the outside and is quite far from the town centre, but the centre is easy to get to. There’s also a supermarket nearby if you fancy grabbing something cheap and cooking at the hostel, but to the honest the kebabs are outstanding here and cheap. Chicken is exceptionally cheap in Romania as well, so don’t feel guilty about gorging on KFC for next to nothing here…
Also there’s a dog!!! (Not to eat, but to pet…) Not for everybody I’m sure but I was sold as soon as I saw the dog.
Selling point: The owner. There seems to be a pattern with hostels that didn’t happen at the start of my trip, but the owner was a real cool guy. We ended up drinking the first night I was there but after having issues with the punch to the face in Serbia I stopped drinking and took things very easy until I recovered. The chill out room with all the bean bags was a nice touch as well. There was an X-Box here with some games, one of them was a Pro-Evo game from 10 years ago that had Roberto Carlos and Paolo Maldini playing. I would say to invest in a new Fifa or a GTA game but it was actually fun to play a game that old.
Oh, and unlimited hot water in the showers
Overall Rating: 7/10
It was good, but not great. Part of that may have been because there was hardly any guests there after the first day. I got the distinct feeling that this hostel is far better during the high season with a lot of energy going on and multiple rooms to chill out/talk/play games/mix with people.
Bucharest, Romania – Friends Hostel
Price: 30 Leu a night, 35 on Fridays and Saturdays
How To Get There: Turn right out of the train station and keep going straight until you can’t go straight any more, then turn left at the end of the road and take the first left. The hostel will be on your left. It’s about a 5 minute walk…cor, I love it when it’s nice and easy to explain!
About The Hostel: Cheap and cheerful! Like most capital cities in Easrern Europe the hostels are cheaper for some reason. There’s a sitting room upstairs that is probably packed in the high season but no one used it while I was there. They used the smaller one downstairs where the kitchen was
Selling point: The staff – which seemed to be every person that was staying there. Nearly every person I spoke to said they were volunteering there. So at least they had no excuse when it came to customer service! I needed to chill out and this was the perfect hostel for it, but to be honest it was very basic. I was happy with the place because of the price but if it was any more I would have been disappointed…
Overall Rating: 7/10
Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria – Hostel Mostel
Price: 22 Lev (£10) or 24 Lev. I can’t remember, so let’s say 22…
How To Get There: The fuck if I know! Fortunately I got a bus and a local showed me the way, otherwise I would have never made it…
About The Hostel: A cool chill out vibe, which was more down to the guests. The owner was friendly enough but I felt much more of a connection with the group of Romanians, Germans and English that had grouped together and formed a super group McBusted would be nervous about…
Selling point: Hmm… This is a difficult one as I was only here for 1 night, but the sitting area was cool and spaced out in a way people could gather together and mix. Now I have developed anxiety, I get anxious sitting very close to new people and like my personal space, especially if it’s a girl in case they think I’m being creepy sitting mega close to them, but most people who travel would like this kind of layout, and so would I once I felt relaxed around everyone.
Overall Rating: 7/10 – Our room was nice and warm, but the other room was complaining that they were freezing all night. If I was there the rating would have been a LOT lower. Breakfast was good, but I think the 7/10 is a fair rating with everything in consideration.
Istanbul, Turkey – Harmony Hostel
Price: 22 Turkish Lira or €5
How To Get There: Wow… Fuck off Istanbul! OK I don’t know exactly how to get there from the bus station, but if you can get to Mehmet Akif tram stop which is about a five minute walk in a direction I’m not particularly sure about, then take the tram until you get to Sultanahmed or Gulhane. Gulhane is pretty much by the hostel but the Sultanahmed stop is much easier to spot. From Sultanahmed follow the tram lines in the same direction, and when you see the Gulhane stop the road bends to the left. Follow the road along the tram lines and you’ll see the Harmony Hostel sign on your right.
About The Hostel: It’s above a shop, so you can use this if you need to buy some cheap souvenirs for family members and pretend you were thinking about them. It’s on multiple floors and has a terrace area at the top, which is nice, but I’m sure it’s much nicer in warmer weather.
Selling point: The owner is a genuinely nice person who you can’t help but like. At this hostel the owner also offers to cook Arab style cuisine for a small price, which is a quality idea as it keeps people in the hostel, gets them together and helps them to mix in a family style situation where they wouldn’t do so otherwise. Plus it generate a small extra profit for the hostel whilst creating an experience for travellers to try a different cuisine they may be too scared to try otherwise.
Overall Rating: 7/10
If you asked me 10 minutes after arriving here I would have said 2/10, and that was only because it was so cheap. (Find out why by clicking here) but once I was settled and found out more about the hostel the more it grew on me. This is not a perfect hostel by any means and it does need some TLC, but for the price you can’t fault it. I was debating whether to give a 7 or an 8 (Mainly because every review this time has been a 7 so far) but an 8 would be unfair on the others as It wasn’t that much better overall.
Dubai, The UAE – The Emirates Hotel
How To Get There: Make sure you miss your connecting flight, then a shuttle bus takes you to the door from the airport.
About The Hostel: OK, it’s not a hostel, it’s a hotel with fricking sofas in the rooms. But they don’t do things by halves in the Middle East! There’s an all you can eat buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Also it’s pretty much like a resort, like a swimming pool, multiple bars and restaurants and 24 hour service at reception for anything you need.
Selling point: Did I mention it is in Dubai…?
Overall Rating: 9/10
OK, you may be wondering why this place didn’t get a 10. This is only because my shower attachment didn’t work. It didn’t matter as I had a bath instead, but I let reception know when I left so I’m sure it’s been sorted out by now…