Our (Not So Nice) Hostel

You know when you go onto booking.com and you see all these great hostels at a great price? The location is perfect and it looks like a nice place to stay? Reviews are very good with only a few bad ones? Well sometimes it’s too good to be true.

We were going to stay in Madrid for 10 days as my fiancés Mum and Dad were visiting his Aunty, so we decided to stay longer than usual in order to visit a few places with the parents and also his Aunty.

Well, the hostel wasn’t great to be honest. There was problem after problem with this place, and I was pretty happy to have left!

Usually there might be maybe a few minor problems with hostels. But with this one there were tonnes.

1. No lock on the door.

This means that everyone can just go into your room. This is unusually strange. So then of course one night I hear someone enter the room, hear some footsteps, realise that it’s pitch black and they can’t see anything…. so they decide to leave…..and surprise they leave the door open. So I had to get up and close it then.  I really wasn’t impressed with this at all. It’s really not hard to get locks for the doors.

2. You can’t turn on/off the lights.

Room related again. Another surprising thing is that the only people that can control the lights in every dorm room is the receptionist. So they decide the time. It depends on who is working during the night shift, but the lights could turn off at 9:30pm, 10:30pm, 11:05pm or even after 12:00am. In this case the receptionist actually forget they were on……

I can’t understand why we don’t have control of the light swtich?

3. No control over the air-con

Another room one for you! Once again the receptionist is in charge of the air-con. Every night we have to go and ask them to turn it on. The third night we were there I woke up at 5am literally sweating! I was wondering why I was so hot. Sure enough I saw that the air-con was off. We asked the receptionist and they said “Sometimes we turn it off in case the people get cold”.

Mmmmm I’m sure. After that night the air-con was left on. Again, why can’t we decide if we want it on or off?? Do they think we are going to steal the remote or something?

4. Noises everywhere

Because our dorm room was literally, and I mean two steps away from the common area, that meant we could hear every type of noise; chatting, cutlery clattering, the washing machine, the people washing their dishes… everything. Another one that was added was the recent addition of the squeaking of the mens toilet door every time it opened. So that was a new one. I thought ‘they may actually fix it’, but no, it was still squeaking when we left. I’m so thankful that I had my earplugs with me, or else they all would have driven me mad.

5. For the smokers, the entrance of the hostel was the smoking area… which of course means that all the non-smokers  and the people checking in have to walk through the cloud of cigarette/ marijuana smoke to enter. Because it was sort of inside, the smell just lingered in the small area which wasn’t very pleasant.

6. Cold showers

In the ladies toilet there were 3 showers, and 2 of them I liked more than the other one. So the first shower which I had was lovely and hot! No problems! The next shower was also fine. The third one was getting cold just after I put shampoo in my hair, but it wasn’t too bad. It was luke warm. The next one however was absolutely freezing! As soon as I turned it on it went straight to icey cold. I thought maybe it would heat up but no, it just stayed cold. That was a very tough shower as I can’t cope with the cold!  After that one I asked could I have a shower in my fiancés aunts house, I just didn’t want to have another cold shower like that. I don’t even think I rinsed all the soap off my body it was that cold! I just wanted to get out!

So my last shower we were supposed to get up at 8am as we were checking out at 10. I ended up waking at 7:20am and decided to go for one them, hoping the water would be fine.

There was nobody in the bathroom when I entered and I switched the shower on to make sure it got hot. And it was!  My last shower was as good as the first! I’m guessing maybe the other girls use up the hot water, but there should be at least warm water for everyone.

7. Weird people

There was one particular person there that kind of creeped us out while we were there. While we were in the common area, this girl would be walking around with a big fluffy coat on her…. by the way the weather was 30+ degrees, so she looked totally odd wearing this in the hostel. I’m pretty sure everyone was looking at her wearing this big coat.

Also there was something sort of just ‘off’ about her. (The coat didn’t exactly help either)  She would just be walking about the common area, going to the bathroom, walking a bit more…. that was pretty much all we saw her do in the hostel.

Until one night….

So I was in my bed and had to go to the bathroom. It was around 1am I think. I get up and open the door. I walk past this girl and she nearly bumped into me. I wasn’t really paying attention to her or what she was doing, but I was wondering why she was so close to me. I realise that she’s swaying and making a “huh” sound every so often. I realise she’s high as a kite. On what I have absolutely no idea, but she was definitely high. I quickly went to the bathroom and when I come out she has moved over to the fridge and is swaying and doing god knows. I didn’t want to continue watching her.

Then as I walk toward my dorm room she begins to (try) to walk towards me. i rush to my room and  look over to her as she began to bump into the mens toilet.

At least I’m back in bed. Until….. that was the night someone walked into our dorm room. I’m guessing it was her. So of course I was scared then to go back outside as she could be outside being zombie-like.

But the drama doesn’t stop there! I wake up again at 5:30am with someone in the common area shouting! I was half asleep at this stage so I wasn’t really paying attention, but my fiancé also woke up and he heard it. He said that someone from the hostel was shouting at the girl in Spanish and in English. “Get out!!!! You are drunk! You are high! You have to leave!”

Do you think she left? Nope……we get up around 8:30 and guess who we see… the girl with the black coat. She was no longer high, but now she had her pink bag with her and was (yet again) walking around the common area. I’m guessing she was awake for the whole night.

There was another female worker there and she went up to the girl and in English said “You have to leave now. Get your things and go.” The girl started saying that she wanted to speak to the manager as at 5:30am the guy that she was talking to was very rude to her.

“I want to know why he was so rude to me, I was only smoking inside”. (which she clearly wasn’t)

The lady said “He was the manager!”

“Ok, then I need a refund”.

“Fine, we’ll give you your refund but then you have to leave.”

“How much would it be for another night?”

“No, you are not staying another night! There is a hostel across the street, you can go and try to stay there, but you are not staying here”.

“I want to use the bathroom.”

“Again??? This is the second time you have to go to the bathroom”

So she went to the bathroom and came back out. She walked a bit more and then FINALLY she left the building.

The drama was over and there was peace at last! I kind of felt sorry for the girl but at the same time it’s not on getting high or whatever while in a hostel full of other people. She was travelling alone so god knows what bad things could have happened to her. She shouldn’t get herself into a state like that, especially when she couldn’t even speak Spanish. (She tried but the the lady told her to speak English as her Spanish wasn’t very good)

So yeah, it was eventful staying at the hostel. If any of you want to know the name of this delightful place, it’s called the d’hostel.

Would I recommend it? No…. it needs upgrading and looks kind of shabby. Plus all of the problems  mentioned above, there are a few more that I won’t mention as the ones here were the most annoying for me. Although the location was great as it was in the centre and only 5 minutes walk to the metro. So it’s very centric.

Would I stay here again? NO WAY.

Aisling.

Hostels We Stayed At In Japan

If you are thinking of visiting Japan, here are the hostels in which we stayed at!

Tokyo

bnbplus Ninjadojo Ueno

Good: The location of this hostel is great. It’s about a 10 minute walk to Ueno train station where we could take the JR trains with our JR Pass. We actually had another hostel booked but we decided to stay in this one longer because the location was so good. Also there is a great street about a 5 minute walk with lots of bars and restaurants.

The showers were fine and there was shampoo and conditioner. Also the bathrooms were ok. It’s also very convenient to get to Haneda airport.

Bad: It’s a bit difficult to find, and also it’s very very cramped. I think there were about 22 beds in it and it’s just too small. There’s nowhere to put your bags so you’re constantly stepping over everybody else’s. Also the host wasn’t really there at all, and if we had any questions for him, it was very hard to get in contact with him. He’s also not the most friendliest of people! It can be very hot in the capsules because the curtains don’t allow air to flow in them.

It’s not really a hostel at all, just a room full to the brim with beds.

Would I recommend? For location, I would definitely recommend it. If you plan on staying just a few days, then this hostel is ok. I think for longer then no, it’s too cramped and sometimes quite noisy (apparently it’s ok to talk loudly at 2am).

Would I stay here again? I think for the location alone, yes I would. But If I had more money I think I would choose to stay in a different hostel but in the same area.

Kyoto

Kaede Guesthouse

Good: I think this was my favourite hostel. The staff were very helpful and the common area was really nice. Free tea and coffee was available all day with free bread for breakfast. The location was also very good as it’s only a few minutes walk to the centre of Kyoto. Also you can wash your clothes and hang them on their balcony which they have. The dorms were big and clean, and the bathrooms were good too!

Bad: Honestly I can’t think of any bad things to say about this hostel.

Would I recommend? 100% yes! We loved it!

Would I stay here again? Again, yes!

Osaka

The Dorm Hostel Osaka

Good: The location of this hostel was very good, just a few minutes walk to the centre. The width of the capsules were big and inside you had your own little shelf to put things on. The hostel itself is very nice and clean! They also provide free tea and coffee.

Bad: I’ve read reviews from this from other people and they said there is a lack of atmosphere, and they are right. I think the staff need to learn how to communicate better. When we arrived we had to sort our bags out and they just stood and looked at us while we were doing this, so it felt a bit awkward. Also there’s nowhere to put our bags before we check in. We had to leave them in the main common area, which we didn’t want to do.

Another thing is that at night there is a bar downstairs which plays loud music, so when you’re trying to sleep you can hear it, which is very annoying. For me, I can only sleep when it’s quiet, so I was quite annoyed by that. So if you are like me and can’t sleep with loud music, buy earplugs!

Finally, the top bunks are extremely difficult to get in and out of.  As you can see from the picture, the opening is too small. At one point I thought I’d never be able to get out of my capsule, as it’s too narrow! Ask to stay in a bottom bunk!

dorm

Source: booking.com

Would I recommend it? No, I wouldn’t. I like to know that I would have a good sleep, but here I knew it would be noisy at night from the bar downstairs. Also the lack of energy in the common room isn’t very good.

Would I stay here again? No. The reviews on booking.com are good, but for me, not being able to get out of my capsule to go to the bathroom at night is a no no. Plus the music at night does not lull me sleep!

Koyasan

Sekisho-in

Good: This is a buddhist temple that allows tourists to stay. It’s extremely expensive but it’s not very often you can stay in a temple. The location was perfect, with the main road right outside. Our room was very nice and the monks were also helpful.

They also had an Onsen which at first was very very intimidating (I thought there were showers) but I took the courage and went in anyways, which I was very happy I did! If you don’t like having a bath with others, then this may be a problem.

Bad: The dinner and breakfast wasn’t the greatest. It was just too different for me, plus there was lots of seaweed and tofu which I don’t like. Also we thought it was a tad too expensive.

Would I recommend it? If you want a different experience, then yes!

Would I stay here again? No. Once was enough. It’s very expensive and I think it’s only a one time thing.

We used booking.com to book these places, so if you thinking of staying in Japan these could be options for you!

Aisling.

Vietnam: Hanoi (Part 2)

We heard in Hanoi that there was a show called the Water Puppet Show that was supposed to be good, so we decided to find out where it was showing. We found a place opposite Hoan Kiem lake. And it was really worth it!

There are certain times that it’s on, so we decided to buy tickets for the 4:10 one. We went for a walk and a beer until the time came to go. We entered and we had tickets with the seat numbers. However then a lady working there said we couldn’t sit there (I don’t really understand why, maybe they doubled booked those seats) so we ended up right at the front row. So in the end we got perfect seats!

And you definitely cannot go to Hanoi and miss Hanoi Train Street. The train tracks run though the city, and you can wait for the train to pass you by. We were walking about and we just stumbled upon it! We then found out that the train would be coming in 10-15 minutes, so it was perfect timing! It was so exciting seeing the train coming ahead, and you really need to squish yourself to the wall, it’s very close!!

I really enjoyed it! I saw this on TV years ago but I never thought I’d experience it myself!

What else is great about Hanoi is just the different types of buildings that you see. Most people stay around the Old Quarter as it’s the main tourist area. I love the buildings and there’s so much culture about! It’s crazy busy, but I found the area really interesting!

Where we stayed:

The Daisy House Hanoi

Good: The bedroom was nice and the location was great. It was only about 1 minute walk from Hoan Kiem Lake. There are food places nearby and things to do.

Bad: The owner spoke very little English, so sometimes it was hard to communicate to her. Also there’s no lobby area, as the lady owns a salon downstairs and rents rooms upstairs. The place is also a little difficult to find, we walked past it without realising.

Would I recommend? Yes

Nam Phuong Home

Good: The location was very good. Literally in the heart of Old Quarter. Very easy to get about! Also the shower pressure was unbelievable; it’ll definitely get the dirt out of your hair! We stayed in the Daisy Room (Economy Double Room)

Bad: It’s ‘Economy Double Room’ for a reason! The room itself is too small. If you are 5 feet 8 or over you’re going to be hitting your head off the ceiling. One wall wasn’t a wall at all, merely a plastic partition with a plastic door. So we really felt we weren’t safe at all. Plus the window in the bathroom faces windows the opposite way, so I constantly felt they could see me showering. As you can see, the stairs from outside are literally outside the partition, so we didn’t exactly enjoy it when people were walking upstairs to their own rooms.  Finally, to allow the others to carefully walk up to their rooms upstairs, a light was placed outside, so of course it was never dark. That picture below was how dark the room was at night.

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The ‘wall’ in question

Plus, it didn’t help when he brought us to the wrong room when we arrived…. entering a spacious two floor bedroom, with a seating area and everything! Upon realising his error, we were rather deflated to be brought to this room.

Would I recommend? Definitely not. The other rooms are much better, but the one we stayed in wasn’t very good. The room itself is clean and a nice looking room, it’s just there are too many problems with it. I’ve stayed in a few hostels, but this is the only one where I really didn’t want to come back to at the end of the day.

To find out about Part One; click here:  Vietnam: Hanoi (Part 1)

Aisling

A Trip Down South

A Trip Down South

While my boyfriends Mum and Dad were in China, we decided we would take a small 5 day trip to Kunming. Kunming is just over an hours flight south from Chengdu, in Yunnan Province. We have heard good things about the city: it’s weather is much better than in Chengdu, there are quite a lot of expats living there, it’s cheaper, plus it’s a gateway to explore south east Asia.

Kunming is remarkably smaller than Chengdu, with about half the amount of people in Chengdu which has around 14 million. Not the most smallest of cities!

From the cities I’ve been to in China, I was surprised at how different Chengdu is to many others. The ones I’ve been to are in the east, and  it certainly shows how the east of China has dramatically become more ‘Westernised’, to me anyway, it seems to have lost some of it’s traditional culture.

Thankfully, much of the traditional ways of life are still seen in the West, so Chengdu and Kunming are definitely cities to visit if you want to experience a more ‘Chinese’ way of life.

Kunming very much feels like Chengdu… they both have sort of a ‘rustic’ feel. When we arrived the weather was glorious! Blue sky and it was quite hot! On our first day we decided to visit the Green Lake. We strolled around the lake and it’s surrounding area; watching people singing and dancing.

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The next day, the weather wasn’t very good. We knew from the weather forecast that rain was due, so we were definitely prepared! Although it was freezing!

We got a bus to a beautiful old temple called Yuantong Temple. Apparently it’s one of the most famous Temples in Kunming. Although the weather wasn’t the best, we still took some really nice pictures.

After this, we walked to an area near a University which has loads of stalls selling different food; I tried these spicy/sweet fried potatoes. They were really nice! Instead of putting lots of spice on them, they only put a little spice but they also add some sesame oil to them.

After that, we headed downtown and had a look in the shops and just had a nosey. The weather was becoming worse so we decided to head back to our hostel.

On Wednesday, we took a train around 6/7 hours to a place called Dali Ancient City. 大理. Dali is an old ancient city and it is a very popular place to visit for Chinese people. It was really nice, although one thing that annoyed us was that in the streets there were constant e-bikes beeping their horns and trying to swerve between the crowds of people. It was really frustrating. They should really ban e-bikes in the main area of the town. The constant beeping ruined the atmosphere a little for us.

If you plan on walking, I would recommend 2 days in the Dali Ancient City. However if you want to rent a bike, I would say one day would be fine to explore the area. We decided to walk, and quickly realised how big the area was! So I would suggest renting a bike or an e-bike.

Walking around the area, we stumbled across a beautiful small park. I have no idea what the name is, but it was really nice.

After our two days in Dali, we got another train back to Kunming. We could have taken a flight from Kunming to Dali, but it was too expensive, so it was the train for us!

We stayed one more night in Kunming and then caught our short flight back to smoggy Chengdu.

I really enjoyed Kunming, I’d I like to go back again and maybe even think about living there one day!

The two hostels in which we stayed at are:

Kunming: Kunming Cloudland International Hostel

Pros: Really friendly staff, atmosphere was nice, bedrooms were fine.

Cons: Location wasn’t at the heart of Kunming, so had to take buses to get to any place.

Dali: Dali Five Elements Hostel

Pros: Located just 5 minutes from Dali Ancient City.

Cons: Staff weren’t very friendly (didn’t smile once at us). No atmosphere in the hostel whatsoever. I didn’t like our room; the bedroom and bathroom were far too big and just had a weird feeling about it. Also, the shower pressure is literally non-existent. They gave us a bedroom with 3 beds but we only needed 2 so that’s why it felt big. I wouldn’t stay there again.

再见

爱玲