“ 167 Franklin St., Melbourne, Vic 3000, Australia; Tel: 011-61-3-9329 7525. „
The I.Y.H.A (International Youth Hostel Association) is the official communal accommodation chain that are sprinkled all-around the world that offer clean and secure backpacker accommodation for all ages, an alternative to the livelier independent hostels that don't have as many rules and flexibilityas the IYHA. When you think of youth hostels you normally think of bum bags, beards, woolly jumpers and iron framed rucksacks, certainly the case in England in the old days. I know when I first contemplated staying with the YHA in Australia I feared exactly that, late night curfews, women with mustaches and lentils for breakfast, lunch and dinner. But it couldn't be further from the truth, the Melbourne International Youth Hostel, which was my first night in Australia, excellent and clean and not a hippy or lentil in sight and a place to make friends quickly. This place is highly recommended to first time travelers looking for comfortable cheap accommodation in a relaxed environment over the typical rowdy backpackers you find in other southern hemisphere cities.
It's a big place for a youth hostel and the first I have ever been into this day with a lift, three floors of excellent dorm and multi birth accommodation to pick from, the best 4 door rooms you will find in any hostel, the cockroaches long since gone as they choked and skidded on the bleach and polished floors. This was the only hostel I ever stayed at on my extensive travels that didn't have roaches.
With a cool sunroof to take some legendary Aussie rays, and the most amazing view of the city skyline by night up there (a rare intimate escape from ones communal sleep and eating and lounge space for a bit of snogging if you get lucky with the continental guests), the Melbourne IYHA is the crème de la crème of this style of cheap accommodation. But if you are staying in the IYHA chain hoping to get off with the opposite sex every night remember that the official YHA hostels like to try and stick to the rules and so its no smoking, drinking or co habiting so expect your fellow travelers to be a little more reserved or conservative, which sometimes is not a bad thing as some of the more rowdy backpackers are over run with party animals and illegal substances that are not everybody's scene. If you are getting off a twenty hour flight from Heathrow and you are not an experienced backpacker/traveler then the youth hostel chain are good for settling you into the hostel lifestyle.
With lots of toilets and a spic and span male and female shower block, an in-house laundry and an excellent self catering kitchens, as well internet spaces and chill out areas, its set up perfect for the more mature or intelligent backpacker. The reason I say intelligent is because most backpacking types are graduates or young professionals on year outs and so the party crowd (drama and media studies degrees) tending to stay elsewhere with cigarette smoke and alcohol the chosen conversation of the night. These places tend to be very noisy with a swimming pool and if you also have the dreaded snorer in your room it's like being a roadie trying to get an afternoon nap backstage at the Monsters of Rock Festival! But they are cheaper and fun so very popular.
This hostel has an excellent cafeteria and most days they serve up brekies, evening meals and pack lunches for a reasonable fee. The front desk is very efficient with Fax, Internet, and phones etc with a knowledgeable staff and the building is well situated in a leafy bustling suburban area away from why trouble there is in Melbourne so you can take the bus and trains to and from the hostel hassle free 24/7, the comforting chirp of crickets chattering away in the Acacias trees to send you off to sleep on the humid nights. In fact you can hop on one of the lovely old trams and be in the city in ten minutes and on the beach in twenty. It's also comfortable walking distance from the welcoming city. The nearby Queen Victoria Street market supplies you with all your meat and vedge and great for stocking the 'barbie', of which they have a BBQ area on the roof. They don't have a garden or bar area though so if you do smoke and drink then perhaps this place will be too conservative for you.
At $30-40 Aus dollars (£17-20 quid) a night for a 4 and 8 room dorms (Weekly rates available) it's the most expensive IYHA in Australia but you do get backpacker luxury and an excellent location and feeling of safety and ambiance, again ideal if it's your first night in Australia and experience of backpacking. When I was there it was certainly the most modern hostel in Australia I experienced and a great introduction to Australia to quickly settle in to a pleasant rhythm in this wonderful city. It is expensive for a backpackers but worth that extra luxury to let you find your feet in a new country and a price that keeps the riff raff away. I believe they have a new pool table and games room with an excellent internet suite now. I was there in the 1990s and even had internet then.
If you're staying at high season around the Grand Prix or tennis its best to book ahead and you get 10% off if you are a member of the IYHA Association, a IYHA card worth investing in if you are going to stick to the chain on your trip You can also book all your trips and bus and train passes from the hostel at no extra cost and they also do day trips and themed nights and stuff.
Melbourne’s IYHA hostel where I stayed for three months in the north of the city bowl is one of the best and most modern I have enjoyed anywhere on my extensive travels, highly recommend it to first time travelers looking for luxury and relaxation over the typical rowdy backpackers after a 20 hour flight from Heathrow. Its big and equipped with a lift for the three floors of excellent dorm and multi birth accommodation with a cool sunroof for some Aussie rays and an escape at night from ones communal sleep space for a bit of snogging if you get lucky with the continental guests. Remember that the official hostels like this stick to the rules quite rigidly in most IYH around the globe so its no smoking, drinking or co habiting so expect your fellow travelers to be a little more reserved or conservative which sometimes is not a bad thing as some places are over run with party animals and illegal substances that are not everybody’s scene. Lots of toilets and showers, in-house laundry, excellent kitchen and TV, Video rooms. Its also has a cafeteria and most days they serve up brekkies and pack lunches for a reasonable fee. The desk is very efficient with Fax, Internet, phones etc and the building is well situated away from trouble so you can take the bus and trains to and from the hostel hassle free. At $20oz dollars a night for an 8 room dorm (Weekly rates available) it’s the most expensive IYHA in Australia but you do get luxury and an unbelievable view from the roof of Melbourne’s skyline and the most modern hostel in Australia is a great introduction to your “ year out”and quickly settle in to a pleasant rhythm in this wonderful city.