Europe Youth Hostels International
Interhostel (Stockholm, Sweden)
Interhostel, Stockholm, Sweden. During our most recent weekend break to Stockholm in Sweden we decided to stay at the Interhostel, hostel in Stockholm city centre. This was my first experience of staying in a hostel and I have to be honest and say that apart from the mould in the microwave, it was a very good hostel and an ... overall positive experience.
We chose Interhostel simply for the fact that it was one of the cheapest hostels in Stockholm and previous guests had given it positive reviews on the hostelbookers.com website. One of my pet hates about travelling is the cost of accommodation, as for me personally, it is simply a place to sleep, wash and eat as the rest of the time chances are I will be out and about exploring the city so with this in mind I usually look for the cheapest place possible without straying too far from the area I want to visit.
The bonus of this hostel for us was not only that it was cheap, but also the location. Interhostel is located on Kammakargatan street which is pretty much in the centre of Stockholm and just off the main shopping street. The hostel is within a 10 minute walk of most central locations and around a 20 - 30 minute walk away from the Old Town.
The central train and bus station is also approximately 20 minutes away on foot.
Making the Booking.
As I mentioned earlier I used the hostelbookers.com website to make the booking with Interhostel. Making the booking this way was really easy, I simply selected the dates I wanted to stay from and the size room I wanted us to be in, I chose the 12 bed dorm as it was the cheapest they had available at just £16.51 per person per night. 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.
It is possible to simply turn up at the hostel and request a bed, however with this option you might not get the cheapest room as they might be taken and you also run the risk of there being no beds available.
Interhostel doesn't have a car park and from what I could see there wasn't one nearby so if you went in your car or rented a car for your trip then you may struggle to find a parking space as the only available space is on the street, which, seemed rather full every time we walked along it.
After arriving by airport bus transfer to the Central station at around 1am we needed to make our way to Interhostel and check in before 2am. Thankfully we had printed a map out and to our delight we found the hostel within around 15 minutes as it was almost a straight line up the road and then turn right.
When we arrived at the entrance we had to ring a bell for entry as the front door is locked after midnight. After we were let in we walked round a corner to the small reception area where we were greeted by a really friendly member of staff who asked for the name the reservation was made in and asked if we had our own bed linen, which we did, as if you want to use the hostels linen you will need to pay 50 SEK (Swedish Krona) per night. It was then explained to us where our room was and where the toilets, showers, kitchen and common area were as well as the internet and the access codes to use the available Wi-fi if we wanted to.
We then had to pay a £10 deposit for our key for the room and were given a card with our bed letters on. It is important that you take the beds that they allocate you as you can be fined 200 SEK if you take the wrong one!
During our stay we were sleeping in a 12 bed dorm. The room itself was an average sized room and contained 6 sets of bunk beds which basically took up most of the space in the room with just enough room to move between them. On the walls in-between the bunk beds were lockers which were free to use, but they didn't actually lock unless you had your own padlock with you or bought one from reception for 50 SEK.
The decor in the room was very plain with the walls simply painted white. There were some mirrors at the far end of the room and a couple of radiators against the walls behind the beds. There was a window in the room which provided light to my bed and the bed next to me, however most of the window was blocked by lockers and the beds so most of the time additional light was needed. Each bunk has its own wall mounted light and a couple of plug sockets by it so you can charge your phone or use a laptop if needed.
The bunk beds were all IKEA ones with IKEA mattresses, which did make me smile as we were in Sweden, the home of IKEA!
The cleanliness of the rooms was of a high standard when we arrived and there were a couple of small bins in the room. The floor looked clean and the beds were all clean and had a single pillow and duvet on them with no covers as you need to make the bed yourself with either the sheets you have taken with you or the ones you have rented.
Showers and Toilets
The showers at Interhostel are located on both the ground floor and upstairs. As our room was on the ground floor we had no reason to go upstairs so I can only base my opinion on the ground floor showers.
The women's shower is located just off the main corridor and is in quite a large room. There is a toilet inside the shower room as well as a sink and wooden stand to place your things on so they don't have to be put on the floor. I used the shower room each morning we were there, so 3 in total and each time I found the room to be clean and tidy, the floor had been cleaned and I didn't feel too concerned about walking on it with bare feet!
The shower itself is concealed behind a fabric shower curtain which was also clean and had no traces of mould on it, trust me, after years of camp site showers this is one of the things I always look for! Inside the showering area is a shelf, which, in my opinion is a little too high. I am 5ft 1 inch and the shelf was level with my chin. The shower is easy to operate by simply lifting the lever to start the water running, the temperature control is as easy as manoeuvring the lever from left to right until you find your desired temperature.
There is a seperate shower for men in the corridor around the corner but obviously being female I didn't use this one!
The toilets in Interhostel were a little hit and miss, but most of the time they were more hit. The toilets were always stocked with toilet paper and a hand towel as well as a bottle of liquid soap, however on the odd occasion the toilets were left un-flushed or the floor dirty, which in all fairness to the staff sometimes cannot be helped as they cannot check a toilet after each use and in general this was only the odd occasion.
The Common Area and Kitchen
The common area and kitchen area are next to each other and located at the end of the main corridor on the ground floor. The common area consisted of a large 'U' shaped bench area with around 8 round tables dotted around. The benches had seat cushions on them but in all honesty they weren't that comfy. I found the tables were quite clean as most guests respected others and nipped to the sink and got a cloth to give the table a wipe over when they had finished. This area also has a large TV on the wall with numerous channels from around the world. I think while we were there we managed to watch TV from every country except Sweden!
The kitchen area is well stocked with cups and plates as well as numerous pots and pans, 3 kettles, a coffee machine, toaster, sink, hob and dishwasher. There were 3 large fridges in the kitchen and to my delight they also had 3 microwaves which made my life easy after a quick trip to Lidl for some microwave meals! (we were on a budget remember!)
You are welcome to use any of the supplies in the kitchen area as long as you clean up after yourself and leave it tidy. Most people tended to abide by this and in general the kitchen area always seemed reasonably tidy. I used the microwaves' a couple of times and although it is great that they have them I think they need to sort out the mould issue in them! This is quite possibly my only complaint about the hostel.
On one of the work surfaces is a small basket containing tea, coffee and sugar for you to help yourself to. I thought this was great as I am really not a morning person!
Overall I found the common area and kitchen to be a nice place to eat our food and also allow us to be sociable with other guests. Most of the people in the common area were friendly and chatty which I found nice and some of the people were quite interesting too.
A Peaceful Nights Sleep
When we first entered the hostel we noticed a sign on the door stating that after 22:00 there was to be no noise both inside and outside the hostel. Due to this sign we thought we would be getting a peaceful nights sleep, however we were soon to discover that this sign is simply there for decoration as no-one was quiet after 22:00, it was more like midnight before people really started to settle down. In all honesty though this wasn't too much of a problem for us as we didn't mind being up late as we were on holiday. I can see how this might be a problem for someone who is maybe getting up extra early or is tired from a long day.
Once everyone had settled down we did manage to get a really good nights sleep and oh how comfy those IKEA mattresses were! I think they were comfier than my own bed! I found that once I was in bed I fell asleep virtually straight away and other than the noise of our room mates coming back late I slept right through the night and was so comfy that I didn't want to get up in the morning!
Check Out and Luggage Room
Check out from the hostel is by 11am. To check out you simply need to return your room keys to reception and they will give you your deposit back. There is a locked luggage room for you to leave your bags in if you wish. We chose to do this rather than carry them around for the 3 hours we had to spare before the coach to the airport. The luggage room is small and has many shelves, when we put out bags in there was enough room to walk inside, however when we returned I ended up doing a mini climbing expedition to retrieve our bags which were on the back shelf! I now know that I should always use the shelves nearest the door to avoid having to climb! The room is opened and locked by controls at the reception desk so it is pretty secure.
My overall opinion of Interhostel in Stockholm, Sweden is a positive one. I have never stayed in a hostel before this one and I don't really know what I was expecting to be honest, but I know in my mind I wasn't expecting something as clean and friendly as this. I have spoken to a few of the other guests while I was there and they also agreed that this is a really nice and well looked after hostel. The staff both on the reception desk and around the hostel are really friendly and they all speak fluent English, Swedish and Russian which made communication very easy.
I would recommend staying at Interhostel, the prices are good and the quality of the hostel is really high. We stayed for a total of 3 nights and really enjoyed it. If I visit Stockholm again I would stay here again.
Thanks for reading :)
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Youth Hostels in Cologne (Germany)
While I was living in Paris, I grew tired of the manic nature of the city- the litter, the noise and the endless crowds. I craved the organisation of the German city, with their clean streets, tranquil suburbs and cheap beer. Cologne was only 3 and a half hours from Paris's Gare du Nord on the Thalys train so I decided to pay it a ... visit.
I stayed in the Meininger hostel, as it's a well known chain and had dorms for knock-down prices (Euro11.50 when booked online). It's not a central location (even if the website claims it is!) and is a 20 minute walk from the central station, in the west of the city. You can take the tram too but as it involved changing I didn't see the point.
Arriving in the evening, I was given my room key to a 8-person dorm. Towels were also included in the price but breakfast was an additional Euro4 (I'll get to that later). The room was clean with an ensuite bathroom and was quite spacious with a mixture of bunks and single beds. Bizarrely, another guest had colonised one corner of it with boxes of his possessions, a travel fridge and piles of dirty laundry. The TV, situated right above his head was blaring out at full volume. Was he living here? He regarded me for a moment with suspicion as he chewed through a huge sandwich, as though I'd just walked into his living room. I went out to check out the city, hoping that he'd be asleep and TV off when I got back.
No such luck! I returned at midnight. Five other people were trying to sleep in their bunks while the TV still blared and the man was making a lot of noise himself. I confronted him about the noise but he wouldn't budge, claiming that he'd lived there for 3 weeks so the room was now his. The other roomies were either asleep or pretending to be. "Put corks in your ears" was his proposed solution. Luckily I had brought ear-plugs or it would have been a very long night.
The next day I was able to change rooms and had no more problems like this. While it's not the hostel's fault it did mean that my stay began on a sour note, and the hostel had clearly failed to deal with this man (who after all had probably paid them hundreds if not thousands of euros through his custom).
That morning, I took a very loud shower and moved some furniture around (for the benefit of my nocturnal room mate) before checking out the free breakfast. The choices were pretty meagre- cold meat, cheese, muesli and not much else. Oddly, the dining room was full of signs warning guests not to take food away with them, and that any 'stolen' items would be charged at Euro5 each. Why anyone would want to steal anything is beyond me. My advice- ditch the hostel breakfast then head to a nearby bakery or coffee shop for some real food (the Handwerk chain is great for cheap food on the go).
The hostel also had a 24-hour reception with internet terminals, a basement with kitchen and laundry facilities and a bar. The reception staff were very friendly- I ended up befriending some of them and we went to a few bars one evening. It certainly made up for the dormitory 'incident'. The kitchen is big enough that a few people can cook with getting in each other's way and I liked the relaxed nature of the bar. You simply go up to a fridge choose a bottle and take it to the barman who will open it for you. Euro1.80 for a beer made a nice difference from a certain French city I could mention.
Meininger is a clean and pleasant enough hostel. However, as with all hostels dormitories are a lottery and you never know who you'll end up with. I've never stayed in a dorm since, as I think it's worth the extra money to get a bit of privacy. The place also lacks character and I much prefer Berlin's range of slightly ramshackle but very friendly hostels. I'm sure Cologne has hostels that have a far more authentic German feel so next time I'm there I'll probably give the Meininger a miss.
A few key facts about Meininger Cologne:
Check in- from 3pm onwards
Check out- by 10am
Wi-fi- free in lobby, Euro3 per hour in room
Free luggage room and safety deposit boxes
Bed linen and towels included
Dorms from Euro11.50 per person per night
Private rooms from Euro33.50 per person per night (based on a twin room)
Closest tram stop- Rudolphplatz (0.25km)
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Mosebacke Hostel (Stockholm, Sweden)
I stayed at this hostel sometime in June this year when myself and a friend went to Stockholm as part of our travels. We had only intended to stay for 2 nights so had booked this in advance to our arrival, but once we got there we decided we loved Stockholm and the hostel so much that we stayed for an extra 2 or 3 nights. I think we used ... a site such as booking.com which was simple enough.
===Where is this hostel?===
This hostel is situated in the lovely Sodermalm area of Stockholm with a very central location. Sodermalm is a very well equipped area and in just a short walk you can reach shops, bars, clubs, restaurants and the lovely waterside. If you head towards town you have even more choice and I would recommend taking a walk over the cobbled streets in search for the street that gets narrower the further up it you get - I think it was maybe a foot wide at the top? Very small at any rate! There is also the subway station very close to the hostel - I would say within a 5 minute walk which is of course very useful to go visit other parts of Stockholm such as Gamla Stan (the old town). There is also a small supermarket/grocery store just across from the hostel which is very convenient.
We stayed in a mixed dorm room with 6 beds in (however there is a variety of rooms including private ones if you feel a dorm is not suited to you). You just pay for the one bed which at the time was 175 Swedish Kroner each - about £20 with the exchange rates back then. This wasn't the cheapest hostel I had stayed in, although I stayed in one at this price in Helsinki which was just awful, but I felt this was a reasonable price for what it was. I found on my travels that scandinavia is just generally very expensive and as Stockholm is the capital of Sweden I think high prices are to be expected. I was disappointed however that I was not permitted to use my lovely sleeping bag here and instead had to fork out extra money on bed linen. This really grated on me as I resented having to pay the best part of a fiver for something that I felt I did not need. My bedding even mysteriously went missing before I had finished my stay but the staff very kindly replaced this for me without adding on any extra charges. There is also a washing machine and dryer that you can use which apparently is chargeable, however when I used it I wasn't charged a thing! I was really grateful for the use of washing as I had been travelling for some time up until this point and was fast running out of clean clothes and underwear!
I can't quite remember what time we checked in, but I do remember that it was in the afternoon some time. The reception is manned by staff up until around 8pm I seem to recall, however if you are arriving later than this it is not a problem as long as you notify the hostel prior to doing so. When we arrived at the hostel I was fairly pleased with the exterior. It didnt look spectacular by any means but it looked well maintained and tidy. Lots of wood which I liked as I feel it gives more of a traditional Scandinavian feel. Walking into the hostel we were greeted by a fresh and modern looking lobby before entering the main reception area. The receptionist was rather easy on the eyes if I do say so myself which I liked after my long trip there. He asked us for our details, quickly located what room we were in and handed us over the keys. He also took for the bed linen and gave us a lovely clean ironed set of linen.
When travelling I was always especially aware of valuables I was carrying around with me - primarily my laptop and beloved GHD straighteners - and so asked about their lockers. I was told that there were lockers in the dorm - brilliant. Except...after I was told there was a locker in my dorm, the receptionist continued to tell me that there is one key for every locker. So basically there would be no point in me having a locker as anybody could open it. This annoyed me greatly as worrying about the security of my belongings puts a dampener on everything. He did however offer very kindly to keep any valuables behind the desk with him, and that I could go get them/put them away again whenever I wanted as long as the reception area was manned. We were also given a code to get in the entrance after hours which I really appreciated - this made me feel a lot safer while I stayed here.
The room was fairly small with 3 double bunk beds in, some lockers and a small night table at the end. Unfortunately there were no windows at all, but there was a rather lovely picture where a window might have been. Personally the lack of window didn't bother me too much, but it may cause other people problems e.g. if they are claustraphobic. The beds were nice and sturdy - some places I stayed I worried the bed was going to fall apart underneath me! There was an adequate amount of plug sockets in the room for everybody to use and a fan at the end of the room. This room did get quite hot but I wouldn't say that it got particularly stuffy. I had a top bunk which I love - makes me feel a little bit like a child haha, and slept really well. The walls are a little on the thin side so noise can be heard, but this isn't an overly boisterous hostel so the noise levels were very reasonable. There were some rules here such as no alcohol to be consumed on the premises (which I found disappointing!) but this is probably what contributes to the low noise levels. This was a mixed dorm and from previous experience I have found these far better than single sex ones, and in fact my friend and I made friends with some of our new roomies! The room, although small and fairly basic was very clean, and personally I am far more concerned with hygiene than things being more luxurious.
===The lobby area and other facilities===
The lobby area has a fairly decent amount of seating/tables and is very light, spacious and airy. There is wireless available here, however it was not working while we stayed which was a little annoying as we wanted to book the next places we were headed for. Having said this, finding wireless in Stockholm is really not a problem. Almost all of the cafes we went to allowed you to use their wi-fi if you bought something. There is also a cosy seating area in the lobby next to the reception if you just fancy a little sit down. There is a communal kitchen upstairs which I have to admit I didn't particularly look at this as I always ate out and found communal areas in other hostels so off putting. I therefore can't really comment too much but I would assume there are adequate facilities should you want to cook something. As i previously mentioned there is a washing machine and dryer too. I would say that is about it on the facillities really, other than the bathrooms - which are an interesting experience! Not a great deal in the way of facilities but perfectly adequate. Breakfast is also available at the extra cost of about £5 each, but we never bothered with this and so I cannot comment on this aspect at all.
===The shared bathrooms===
If you stay in a room that is not private then you will not have your own bathroom and instead will have the pleasure of using the wonderful shared one. From what I can remember there were maybe 3 toilet cubicles, a couple of sinks, a wooden bench and some hooks. Then there were the showers which I will discuss further in a moment. Some of the locks were broken on the toilet cubicles which I found annoying - nobody likes to be walked in on when theyre in the middle of something! Neither would I like to walk in on anybody else! An awkward and embarassing moment to say the very least. Having said this the toilets and sinks were always clean enough and there was always enough loo roll provided.
Now the showers...they are something else! My first experience of the shared bathroom was an interesting one. Some of our other friends were in Stockholm at the same time of us (but in a different hostel) and we were showing them around. As we opened the door and walked into the bathroom we saw a very embarassed looking lady sprinting across the length of the room before turning the corner and heading out of sight! Nakedness seems to be a big thing in Scandinavia, which doesnt bother me as I had become rather accustomed to lovely naked saunas. However, not everybody may feel this way! The showers are not to everybody's taste, because to be quite honest, they are not private in the very slightest. If you were to walk the length of the room and around the corner, you would glimpse a lot of bums! There are two sides to the shower but no door which basically leaves you with no privacy. The only place to leave your things would be on the wooden bench near the door...which means you would get naked in the shower, to then have to walk all the way from there to the bench. Not a great experience for those not comfortable with random strangers being naked and seeing them naked. But like I said this didn't really bother me too much so I don't see the lack of privacy as a problem. However I would have preferred it if there were places nearer the other showers to put your things. Another problem with the showers were that they never seemed to be at a very nice temperature - always far too hot or far too cold, so I always seemed to have a very quick and not particularly pleasant shower.
===Value for money===
I would say that this hostel is great value for money, even though i did begrudge the extra charges for bedding when I had a perfectly adequate sleeping bag! I feel this hostel was brilliant for the money as it was basic but clean, and in an excellent location for the amenities that Stockholm has to offer. I think this is even more impressive considering how expensive Stockholm is on the whole. We thought it was such good value and such a lovely place that we put off going to Copenhagen to stay here for longer. I'm really glad we did this as Stockholm turned out to be my favourite place and I really don't rate Copenhagen in the slightest.
===Would I recommend/use again?===
I would most definitely recommend this hostel, it is definitely the nicest one that we stayed in on our travels. The staff are lovely, the facilities are adequate and the location is just brilliant. I also think that it would suit many different people as different types of rooms are availabe - just in case you want to avoid that slightly awkward communal shower! If I was to go to Stockholm I would definitely look to stay here again. Although there are some slight negatives to this hostel, overall my experience of it was just fantastic and I am therefore awarding it 5 out of 5!
Thank you very much for reading 
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