“ Address: Costanilla de San Vicente 4 / Madrid / Spain 28004 „
The Living Roof Hostel, Madrid.
For our summer holidays this year we decided to embark upon a 2 and a half week trip around Spain. Obviously we wanted to do this in the most economic way possible with regards to places to sleep so we decided that hostels were going to be our best option.
Why The Living Roof?
After searching the hostelbookers.com website The Living Roof hostel came up as one of the cheapest and after reading a few reviews from previous guests everything seemed pretty positive and the location also looked quite good too.
The Living Roof is located on Costanilla de San Vicente 4 in Madrid, Spain. The hostel is about a 20 minute walk from the main city centre area and it is located directly between 2 of the city's Metro stations which is a bit of a pain if you don't want to walk far in the heat. We arrived in Madrid at about 10pm and we decided to follow the directions from the airport which were given by the hostel on the Hostelbookers website. The directions were perfect and we arrived at the hostel within about 40 minutes of leaving the airport by Metro, the Metro ticket to get to the hostel was around 4 Euros.
Making the Booking.
As I mentioned earlier we used the hostelbookers.com website to make the booking with The Living Roof hostel. Making the booking was really easy, we simply selected the date we wanted to stay and which room we wanted to be in. We chose the 10 bed dorm with private bathroom at a cost of £10.44 per person per night including breakfast! I then entered my card details on a secure page to pay a 10% deposit. There was no booking charge for using my card and hostelbookers.com didn't charge any fees for making the booking on my behalf. The remaining amount payable needs to be paid upon arrival in the local currency, which in Spain is Euros.
The Living Roof doesn't have a car park so if you arrive by car you will need to be prepared to park on the streets. These did seem quite full though so I think you may struggle to find a space nearby.
We arrived at The Living Roof just before 11pm after following the directions given by the hostel on Hostelbookers website. The entrance to the hostel is quite easy to find as there is a large banner hanging near the door. Upon entering the hostel we were greeted by a really friendly guy who took our name and asked for our passports so he could prepare the paperwork. While he was doing this he told us to take a seat and help ourselves to tea or coffee if we wanted.
The reception area was quite large and had around 4 sofas, a couple of coffee tables and a small set of tables and chairs to sit on. There was also 2 drinks and snacks vending machines and a small selection of books on a window ledge which you were welcome to read or swap with. While we were waiting we sat reading the guestbook which was on one of the coffee tables, it was quite interesting and almost all of the comments were positive, well, the ones which were written in English were at least!
After about 5 minutes we were called back over to the desk where we had to read a small agreement which basically said that we agreed to treat the hostel and other guests with respect, that we would be quiet after 11pm and that we wouldn't drink in the rooms. I presume this part meant alcohol though as almost everyone had a bottle of water in the room. We were also told about the free Wi-fi and the code to use it on our own laptops and phones or we could borrow the guest laptops for use in the common areas if we wanted.
We were then given our bed linen, locker keys and key cards for the room and told we were in room number 5 which is just through the courtyard area and next to the kitchen.
Room Number 5
For our 4 nights at The Living Roof we were staying in room number 5. This room is located next to the kitchen on the ground floor which is the communal area in the form of a courtyard with a few tables and soft fake grass as the floor, kind of like astro turf but not as spikey. The room itself was quite large and laid out reasonably well. There were 5 sets of metal bunk beds around the edge of the room. There were 2 sets of lockers in the room, one set by the bathroom door and the other in the middle between 2 sets of bunk beds. The room appeared to be clean with tiled flooring in both the room and the bathroom.
The room has quite a few small windows which look out onto the communal area and as there was no air conditioning in the room the windows were open all of the time. They do have ceiling fans and these helped quite a lot and thankfully they were quiet so we could leave them on while we slept.
The bunk beds were rather scary and I noticed a lot of them had screws or bolts missing! As I had chosen a top bunk I had to climb up the ladder which, rather alarmingly, wobbled and made some rather scary noises! Once I had reached the top bunk I found it to be very unstable and at first I was a little worried that if I moved too much then the whole thing would collapse! Thankfully it didn't though and I managed to get used to the wobbliness but the squeaky noise it made every time I moved was very annoying and often woke me up in the night. We discovered all of the beds in the room were like this and from what I heard people saying, I think it was actually all of the beds in the hostel!
We were given bed linen when we checked in and this consisted of a bottom sheet, a pillowcase and a top sheet, obviously we had to make the bed up ourselves, but this was fine and once I was used to the wobbly bed it didn't take me long to make. The bed linen provided was nice and clean.
Our room had a private bathroom containing a bath with shower, toilet and sink. It wasn't too big and upon first glance it appeared to be very clean. Upon closer inspection and having a shower though, I could see that the floor could have done with a good scrub and so could the walls, especially between the tiles where mould and mildew was beginning to form. Also the shower curtain was very tatty and quite torn at the top although it did seem to be the cleanest part of the bathroom.
The shower was easy to use and the temperature was very easy to adjust. The water was nice and hot and I can honestly say I did enjoy my showers here but I would have preferred the bathroom to be a little cleaner.
There was a medium sized bin in the bathroom which was half full upon our arrival and during our whole stay it was only emptied once which I think is a bit ridiculous when up to 10 people are sharing the room and the bin was overflowing!
The Common Area and Kitchen
There are two common area's at The Living Roof. The first is the reception area with its many sofas, books and the vending machines and the second is like a large open courtyard in the centre of the hostel. This area is open air and has no roof at all. To get to the rooms you will need to pass through this area so it is a little hard to miss. The floor in this area is similar to astro turf and there are around 5 or 6 tables with chairs where you can sit and eat your breakfast or simply chill out in the fresh air.
Breakfast is served in the kitchen area from about 7am until 10am. The kitchen is next to the courtyard common area. It is quite large and contains a couple of tables as well as 2 or 3 large fridge freezers, a sink area, dishwasher and many cupboards and draws containing various kitchen items. On the work surface there is a rather dodgy looking microwave along with an equally dodgy looking plastic toaster which is melted in places. There is also only one kettle and this is so fantastic that has no lid so it never stops boiling unless you remember to switch it off!
Overall I found the common area to be pretty average. If I had taken my own food I wouldn't have wanted to use the appliances in the kitchen through fear of safety. The atmosphere was alright, people didn't seem that sociable and during the day time it was very quiet.
Sleeping in a Sauna!
As I mentioned earlier, the rooms at The Living Roof had no air conditioning, on the first night this wasn't too much of a problem as there was only 5 of us in the room and we kept the ceiling fans on and the windows open. For these two nights I slept pretty well and only woke when I turned over and the bed made a noise like it was about to collapse! However, on the 3rd night our room was suddenly to the full capacity and even with both ceiling fans on and all of the windows open it was still really hot and very hard to sleep even with no covers, this combined with 10 people moving on their noisy bunk beds made for a very disturbed sleep and a very tired Louise the following day! The 4th night was a little cooler as we were back down to 6 people, however this was only because the other 4 had gone out on the pub crawl which the hostel organises every night. The pub crawl begins in the hostel with some very noisy pre-pub crawl Sangria's in the common area, it then leaves the hostel at 10:45pm and returns at 3am, so while I was able to fall asleep quite easily I didn't manage to stay asleep as when the slightly drunk party animals returned they woke us up with the noise and the temperature in the room started to creep up again.
Fill Up with Breakfast
Breakfast is included in the price of your stay and is available each morning from around 7am until 10am. The options for breakfast are laid out on the tables in the kitchen where you will find a choice of bread, cornflakes, Frosties and Coco pops. There is butter and milk available too and a selection of jams. There are a selection of flavoured teas available as well as coffee.
So, over the four days I had a variety of mixtures for breakfast, mainly due to the fact that everything was kind of gross and I couldn't decide which was the most bearable thing to eat! I was looking forward to a nice bowl of Coco pops as I hadn't had them for ages, however when I poured the milk onto them it turned out that the milk was warm as it had been left out on the table, I thought this may have just been another guest being lazy however as it happened every morning I think it was more a case of the milk never got put in the fridge!
The other item which never entered the fridge was the butter. I discovered this after deciding that I didn't like warm milk on my cereal so I would make some toast instead, usually soft butter doesn't bother me, but this was warm soft butter which had a very nasty aftertaste to it. I don't know if it was because it was kept at room temperature or if it was simply the butter brand itself, but either way it was so disgusting that I felt rather ill after eating it. In the end I could just about stomach eating toast with no butter and a light helping of strawberry jam, it still wasn't what I would describe as tasty but it was bearable. On the forth morning I couldn't handle the breakfast anymore and opted for a simple cup of coffee which was also on the bearable side of yuk!
The hostel offers a few organised events such as the pub crawl which I mentioned earlier. We didn't go on the pub crawl, but we did take advantage of the free walking tour which was on offer. The walking tour leaves every morning and covers all of the "must see" buildings in Madrid city centre. Our tour guide was a very nice girl from Columbia named Erica. She was very funny and showed us all of the sights and buildings with some history included. She may not have been from Spain but she really knew her stuff when it came to Madrid and Spanish history.
The tour lasted around 2 and a half hours and it was advertised as being totally free. However, we were told that we could give tips if we wanted to. I have been on a walking tour before where the guides are paid only by their tips and I have given tips when I thought it was deserved. On this tour though our lovely Erica was practically begging for tips and mentioned a few times during the tour about tips, we thought nothing of it until the end of the tour when she said it was time for the tips and then came to each of us individually for her tip. Personally I felt this was not only very rude but it also made me feel uncomfortable and pressured into giving her a larger tip, although I managed to resist this pressure and stuck to my 3 Euro tip... not much I know but it is a free tour and we were told the tips were optional, even though the awkward situation made it virtually impossible not to give anything!
Check out from the hostel is by 11am and to check out we simply returned our bed linen, locker keys and room key cards to reception. Nothing more was needed and the lady on reception was happy to give us directions to the bus station where we would continue on our way to our next stop in Valencia.
My overall opinion of The Living Roof Hostel is a mixed one. For the price we paid I would say we got what we paid for, however there are a lot of improvements which could be made, for instance it wouldn't break the bank for them to buy a new kettle with a lid!
The location was good and it took us around 30 minutes to walk into the city centre. I think it would usually be about 20 minutes but in 44 degrees of sunshine I wasn't exactly walking fast! There are two Metro stations nearby and the hostel is really easy to find with the directions provided at the time of booking.
The staff are friendly and happy to help you and on the couple of occasions when my room key card wouldn't work they popped it in a machine and fixed it straight away for me.
I would just about recommend staying at The Living Roof Hostel, but only for one or two nights, we found that four nights here was too much and four breakfasts here was even worse!
3 out of 5 Stars from me.
Thanks for reading :)