â€ś Hostel International / KapuzinerstraĂźe 14 / Linz / 4020 / Austria / Tel: +43 699 118 070 03. â€ž
Due to the recent bad weather we missed our flight from Stansted to Graz and ended up flying to another Austrian city instead. Fortunately we had trudged through the snow the previous evening to my parents' home to collect an Amazon delivery that included the latest Lonely Planet Guide to Austria so when we had decided on using Linz as an alternative route into Slovenia, we were at least able to have a couple of ideas for accommodation. We'd be arriving late afternoon and did not want to have to traipse the streets looking for somewhere suitable as the weather was bad and worse was forecast.
The bus from Linz Airport deposited us at the Hauptbahnhof (main train station) and tempting as it was to simply cross the road and check into the IBIS, we decided to try the hostel listed in the guidebook which was over Euro20 cheaper - a stay in Linz was not planned as part of the trip so we didn't want to incur too much extra expense.
Before setting off we telephoned the hostel and ascertained that there was a room available. The lady I spoke to entertained my desultory attempt to converse in high German against her Upper Austrian dialect, but switched to kindly switched to English to re-iterate the directions to the hostel.
Although it didn't look far on the map (and is easily walkable in fine weather) I followed her instructions to the letter and so we made our way to the underground S-bahn station which is accessed via the main concourse of the train station (if this sounds confusing, it shouldn't be - it's mainly a tram service - the S-bahn - with a brief underground section but that doesn't necessarily make it a U-bahn). We took the tram a few stops in the direction of the Haputbahnhof (you can takes tram 1, 2 or 3) and got off at the Taubesmarkt. From here we turned left onto Promenade and kept walking, all the time keeping left until we were faced with Kapuziner Strass in front of us. Here we turned left and crossed the road; the hostel is on the right hand side of the street just a few doors along.
First impressions were not good. This is a fairly busy road and even on this drab dark evening we could see that the buildings alongside the road were rather grimy. The Youth Hostel had originally been a sunny orange colour but was now covered in dust and dirt. To be honest it looked like the place was no longer open. We wondered if we'd got the wrong place and wondered if somewhere newer had been built at the rear of the property. The place was in darkness too which did not bode well. There were notices in one of the windows which were very faded and looked ancient. There was one door which did not open and did not have a bell. Next to it was an iron gate which was locked but someone must have heard us because a gentleman came out of a doorway down the passageway and let us in.
We were invited into a tiny office and this business-like man who spoke only German (well whatever dialect is spoken in Linz, for I understood only about half of what he said) asked us to fill in a registration card while he completed some other paperwork. We were asked to pay on the spot which wasn't a problem as the hostel is not staffed all the time and we didn't want to be hanging around the next morning. We were given a key to the room which the man explained also opened the iron gate. Before we went to the room (he did not take us there but gestured to go upstairs via the steps what could be seen outside the window), we were given our bed linen.
There are several rooms on the upstairs floor, ours was the last one. Inside it were three sets of bunk beds and none of the beds were made up. In the corner was a small en suite shower room that also had a wash basin. There was a small kitchen style table in the middle of the room, on top of which were piled the chairs that went with it. On one wall were built in lockers, big enough for a rucksack. Finally there was a small fridge on top of which was a television set. The room was quite bare with off-white walls that were showing a few cracks and even some patches of flaking plaster. It was, however, very clean as was the shower room. Not surprisingly there were no complimentary toiletries here.
We really didn't want to have to share so I went downstairs to check that we had the right room and the man assured me that the room was just for our own use. I also asked for towels since we had been expecting to be in our own flat that night and hadn't packed any of our own. He gave me two tiny and partly threadbare but clean towels. Before going out to eat, we made up our beds which was simple enough even if the fitted sheets were slightly too small and caused the mattress corners to turn up in a comical way.
While we were out we'd heard patchy reports about the attack on the Togo football team and we hoped to be able to catch some television news to find out more. In spite of there being two remote controls, we were unable to find any combination of buttons that allowed us to watch any channel; this did not disappoint us too much as unless we perched ourselves on wooden chairs right in front of the set, we wouldn't have been able to see the screen anyway. We considered reading but we had both chosen lower bunks and these were in darkness as there was only one central light in the room. It would have been much appreciated if each bunk had had its own reading light to make things easier for people using the lower bunks and also to minimise disturbance when larger groups are occupying the dormitory.
Our dormitory overlooked the main street and there was very little traffic noise but our stay was on a Friday night which could account for the lack of noise the following morning. I suspect there is more noise on weekday mornings. The room was comfortably warm all night and the bedding was sufficient, neither too warm not too cool.
There were two toilets, one male, one female, in the corridor and both of these were also clean and well stocked with paper. There were only a couple of other people staying when we were there so there was never a problem with the toilets being occupied when we wanted to use them but it could be a problem when the hostel is busier.
In a cold, snowy January there was no question of us wanting to use the garden but for warmer weather there was a table and wooden benches in the small garden at the rear of the building. Breakfast is not available but when I telephoned I was told that hostel guests could get a ten per cent discount at a nearby cafĂ© that served breakfast. Unfortunately the man who checked us in did not volunteer this information and I forgot to ask. We ended up eating a huge breakfast at a restaurant at the train station which was terrific value.
I wasn't able to ascertain whether this hostel has its own car-parking space but it's possible that cars can be parked safely one street behind Kapuziner. The pavement at the front of the building is very narrow and only a short stop is permitted there.
It wasn't until I was checking details of the website on line that I learned that, officially, you can only check in between 6 and 8.00pm. This wasn't mentioned in the Lonely Planet guidebook and it was only by luck that we had arrived in Linz around this time and were able to check in. As we had telephoned in advance it's possible that we may have been able to check in a little later by arrangement but it should be noted that if you arrive earlier in the day it may not be possible to check in.
Listings suggest that this hostel has ten rooms with a total of forty-four beds. I wondered whether on this occasion, with the hostel not being busy, it was easier to accommodate all the guests in the same part of the building, even if that meant giving us a small dormitory intended for six guests. The price we paid (approximately Euro40) was for double occupancy of the room and a bed in a dormitory costs a couple of Euro less. Herberge Linz is reasonably expensive given that it is a little shabby and does not offer much in the way of additional services (for example, no internet access, no communal areas, no bicycle hire, etc). However, Austria generally is not cheap and this is not a city where lots of hostels are vying for trade.
We really only chose this hostel as it was the cheapest option in the centre of Linz. For budget accommodation Herberge Linz is adequate. However, it would benefit from a fresh coat of paint and some splashes of colour here and there, and it would be good if the front of the building could be spruced up a little, if only to indicate that the hostel is still operating.
It's fine for non-fussy backpackers but we thought it was a little grim considering that it was not especially cheap. I'd recommend it for younger travellers but, even as regular hostel customers, we found this just a little too basic.
Tel 0699 1180 7003