“ Address: Seecorso 37 - 39, A-9220 Velden, Carinthia, Austria „
I have spent a lot of time at this youth hostel over the last few years so I thought I would share my experiences of it. I spent two weeks there this August and I also stayed there for six weeks each summer in 2007, 2008 and 2009 so I have spent 4 or 5 months there in total.
=== Location ===
This youth hostel is in Velden am Wörthersee which is in the region of Carinthia ("Kärnten" in German) in the south of Austria. The hostel is not quite in the centre of the town. It takes about 20 minutes to walk into the centre (a bit longer to the train station). I don't find this distance too bad. Alternatively it is a short taxi ride. You generally pay about Euro12 to get into the centre by taxi.
The town of Velden is directly next to the Wörthersee, one of Austria's most popular lakes. It is the largest lake in Carinthia and also the warmest. The best thing about this hostel is that it has its own direct access to the lake. You can walk down the steps to the lake from the hostel grounds and be in the water within seconds.
Velden is near to the city of Klagenfurt (capital of the region) and it takes about 10 minutes to get there by train. It is also near to the town of Villach. It is close to the borders with Italy and Slovenia and it is easily doable to make day trips from Velden.
The easiest and most direct way to reach Velden from the UK is to fly from London Stansted to Klagenfurt. Ryanair seems to be the only airline which offers this route, which means you can get the flights quite cheaply. If you don't want to fly Ryanair you would have to fly to Vienna, Salzburg, Graz, Munich or somewhere else and then travel for a few hours by train/car etc.
=== Booking ===
I have never had to make a booking myself as I have always been there with a summer camp where I was working, and my room was provided, but this is a Hostels International (HI) hostel so you can book on the HI Hostels website, other general hostel websites such as Hostelworld.com or by phoning the hostel on 004342742646.
It is always very busy as the location is so popular, so I would definitely recommend booking in advance. People who just turn up and hope for a bed are likely to be disappointed.
=== Prices ===
Bed and breakfast is Euro26 per person. Add Euro6.40 if you want lunch included and another Euro6.40 for full board with lunch and dinner.
=== Staff ===
Staff are mostly friendly. Unfortunately this time I stayed I had to complain about one member of staff who was consistenly rude and innappropriate, and kept pestering me and my colleagues while we were working. When I spoke to someone from reception about this, they were well aware that he was a problem and they apologised about it. This is quite a new member of staff and I don't think he will be staying long!
=== Rooms ===
The main hostel building has three floors of bedrooms and most rooms accommodate 2 or 3 people. Each room number actually has two rooms in it - the A room which has 3 beds and the B room which has 2 beds (bunkbeds). There is a bathroom to share for the A and B room together.
The A rooms are much nicer than the B rooms in my opinion, as they are much larger and airier. They have bigger windows with space to hang up wet towels or swimming stuff. However, the third bed in the A rooms is a bit smaller. The B rooms are fine, but when two people are staying in them they can be a bit cramped. There are a couple of larger rooms with more beds, and also at the weekends the hostel sometimes turns classrooms or common room type areas into dorms and put a lot of beds in them.
You are provided with bed linen but you have to put this on your bed yourself, and at the end of the stay you need to remove it and leave it in the corridor. Cleaners will come during your stay and empty bins, hoover etc if you stay long enough.
Rooms have storage cupboards which can be locked to keep your valuables safe.
=== Bathrooms ===
The bathrooms have cubicle showers in them and no bath. This is fine for me as I always prefer to shower than have a bath anyway, and obviously if up to 5 people are sharing the bathroom you don't want them to hog it for ages having a bath! The shower has always been fine for me - fairly powerful and never had any problems with adjusting the heat etc. There are loads of hooks to hang up things to dry in there, and there is a sink with a shelf to keep any toiletries.
You have to bring your own toiletries and towels as nothing is provided. If you don't have a towel, you can rent one for Euro1.50. You can buy a few toiletries from the hostel but I never have done as I just buy from the supermarket in the town (Billa) or the drug store (BIPA).
=== Sports Facilities===
The best facility is the direct access to the lake. This is brilliant, especially as at most places in the town all the lake access is privately owned by hotels and there is only one public beach, which you have to pay for. It is just brilliant to be able to go down to the water any time. There is a large wooden jetty there with two ladders down into the lake, and you can also jump off the jetty into the water. It can get very slippery when a lot of people have been running around on it wet, but it is not dangerous as long as you take care. There are also a couple of other smaller wooden platforms giving lake access in slightly more secluded spots around the grounds. There is a large grassy area for sunbathing and relaxing next to the lake too.
On the lake you can do a lot of watersports including waterskiing, wakeboarding, sailing, surfing, going on an inflatable banana or inflatable tyre (not sure what it is actually called in English - in German "Reifen").
There are three beach volleyball courts near the lake and it is possible to borrow volleyballs from reception if you don't have your own. The only annoyance with this is that sometimes there are beach volleyball camps in the hostel and they reserve the courts for themselves, so others get kicked off to accommodate them.
There is also another net on the grass at the top of the stairs near the main building, and this can be used for volleyball or badminton. There is a large football pitch with goals at the back of the building. There is a table tennis table inside in the basement.
There is an indoor swimming pool but this is currently being renovated, so was not available for me to use this summer. This was a shame as sometimes I find it more convenient to just go for a quick swim indoors in the early mornings rather than the lake, but then again the weather this summer was so amazing that I could always go in the lake and was never prevented from outdoor swimming.
You can rent bikes from the hostel.
=== Other Leisure Facilities ===
There is a TV in the communal lounge area and a few computers for internet access, although this is quite expensive. You can also buy a password to use the hostels WIFI.
The hostel has some games available for everyone to help themselves to, such as UNO, Scrabble and various other board games. Some of these will only be of use to you if you speak German, such as the board game Activity (combination of pictionary, taboo and charades) where all the cards are in German only.
There is a bar which sells a few hot food items such as hot dogs, pizza and toasted sandwiches. It also sells soft drinks, ice creams, snacks such as donuts as well as alcoholic drinks. The beer they have on tap is Villacher, a local Austrian beer from Villach which is near Velden.
=== Facilities for Camps and Large Groups ===
Lots of camps and large groups go to this hostel because it is so big and in such a brilliant location. There are a number of classrooms available for rent - the main ones are named after the continents and I have always used these to teach English. They vary in size but you can comfortably fit groups of up to about 15 in the bigger ones or 10 in the smaller ones. They all have white boards and some have TVs.
There is also a large office at the front of the hostel which we always used for our camp. This can be a bit confusing as guests often saw us using it and assumed it was a communal area and tried to come in, which they weren't allowed to. Various other rooms can also be rented, such as a large hall.
=== Atmosphere ===
As there are often large groups in the hostel, it can feel a little bit rowdy at times with so many excitable kids. You also often get large groups of people in their 20s who are there to drink and go out, so occasionally this can cause problems if they are shouting and waking people up in the night. Last week a drunk guy just walked into my bedroom in the night, so I would definitely recommend locking doors as you never know if someone will come in accidentally or just to try and chat etc when drunk after a night out.
The atmosphere on the whole is friendly and relaxed. There are also lots of families there including people of all ages, from older people down to tiny babies.
=== Disabled Access ===
Disabled access is good and you often see groups of wheelchair users in the hostel. There are large disabled bathrooms and toilets on every floor, and there is an alternative path to the lake which is down a gradual sloped path rather than taking the steps.
=== Food ===
There is a water machine which provides cold water on tap for free at all times throughout the day until the kitchen/dining area is locked at about 10 pm. This is great because as it can get really hot there in the summer, I like to drink a lot of water and I don't want to constantly have to buy it.
Breakfast is included in the normal room rate. Breakfast takes the form of a buffet and I have always been happy with it. There are various cereals and muesli, yoghurt, fruit, bread rolls with various fillings of jam, cheese, ham, nutella, marmalade etc or toast. I always have muesli and yoghurt there every day and I really like it. There is also coffee, cocoa, various types of tea. The only disappointment is that no proper fruit juice is provided, only a weird squash type drink.
Lunch and dinner is not included, but meal tickets can be purchased for Euro6.40. The food for the day is always written on a blackboard in front of the dining area and there is a meat or vegetarian option. You need to say which you want when you buy your ticket. I find the food is generally okay - sometimes you get really nice food, other times it is a bit plain or too stodgy, but it is certainly edible. They do go in for quite a lot of carbohydrates and sometimes when staying there for weeks my friends and I would start to joke that we would be getting "pasta with potatoes and bread" but it is not really that bad!
At every meal there is a large salad buffet and a soup to help yourself to. I have never tried the soup as hot soup doesn't really appeal in hot weather, but loads of my colleagues love the soups. The salad buffet is great as there is always something good to eat even if you don't like the main course. At most meals there is also a dessert of some form - often yoghurt, some kind of mousse, custard, fruit, cake or sometimes I have had tiramisu.
I do think it is good that food is available if you want it, as if you are in the hostel to relax, swim and sunbathe you might not always want to head into the town to a restaurant, as it is a bit further away.
=== Over all ===
I love the location of this hostel and I think the range of facilities it has is very good. It is a bit basic in some ways, but then it is a hostel and not a hotel, so that is to be expected.
If you want sun, swimming and sports on a budget then I definitely recommend this hostel to you. It is a great place to go if you want a cheap get away, e.g. it would be great for students.
If you want to know anything else about this hostel or Velden, feel free to ask me.