“ Youth Hostel International / Address: 5 Worcester Street / Christchurch / New Zealand / Tel: 0064 3 3666564 „
Rolleston House youth hostel is a HI hostel on Worcester St in the centre of Christchurch, New Zealand. It is situated close to several bus stops, including the bus to and from the airport (which started running early enough for me to get my pre-10am flight). It also has some car parking available, but most of the people who were there when I was were backpackers.
HI is more or less an international version of the YHA, so if you are a YHA member or a member of any other affiliated organisation then you get a $3 (about £1.30) discount per adult per night (with differing rates for children), but this is only really worth it if you will stay more than a couple of nights in hostels over the course of a year.
I came as a lone traveller here two years ago and found it a great base to stay. It was cheap (NZD$26, about £12 per night for a bed in a mixed dorm), clean, in a nice area, and I met plenty of like-minded travellers of all ages, so it didn't have the lonely feel that staying in a hotel by yourself can do. Most of the occupants of the hostel when I was there were in the 18-35 age bracket and were travelling by themselves, but I met some very friendly retired people there as well.
The dorm I stayed in was fairly small (8 people sleeping in 4 bunk beds) and was mixed sex. The upper bunks didn't have reading lights, which meant that an eye mask and a torch were essential items to bring if you have a different idea of bed time from your fellow travellers. And definitely don't forget the ear plugs!
Looking at the website, I see that the dorm I was in was actually the largest in the hostel. The hostel also has some smaller single sex dorms and (pricier) private rooms, some with en suite facilities ($97 per night per room, or about £45), but when I was there in summer, these were all booked up when I called a few days in advance. Like many hostels, you can book a dorm to yourself, but you would pay for all the beds in the dorm not just the ones you are using.
Other than the beds, there was very little additional furnishing in our dorm, but it also had an outside balcony with comfy chairs to sit in. Each bed had a shelf where you could leave your bag, but don't take much stuff with you as there is not a lot of space. The norm when you are stay in hostels in NZ is to just leave everything in your room and not worry too much about security, but if you are paranoid, then you could get security devices for your bag (I've seen several with a wire netting that goes around the bags) because there really isn't much in the way of secure storage here.
The showers were very basic but clean and there were too few of them (only two in the women's bathroom). The showers had a splash curtain, but no enclosed area for you to leave your clothes, so they were definitely not for the overly shy. There were toilets with wash basins on both floors, but queues in the morning were inevitable.
The communal kitchens and eating area were large and well-provisioned with pots, pans and crockery; there are several grocery stores within a five minute walk of the hostel, so you can save a bit of money by cooking for yourself. As with most hostels, there is a "help yourself" area of the fridge and cupboards where you can leave any food you don't want when you leave. Be sure to label and date your shopping bags though, as food without a recent label will be removed!
The hostel also had various other facilities that I've now come to expect as the norm when travelling - pay as you go internet connection, payphones, a good library of books and videos, a big common room with a tv area and a reading area. There were security lockers in the common area but rather too few to go around. I didn't use the laundry myself, but the other residents said it was acceptable.
This hostel is located in the city centre of Christchurch, which is quite small - it is only a 10 minute walk to the cathedral square, which is the heart of tourist Christchurch. It is about a minute's walk from the Canterbury museum and the botanic gardens, both of which are well worth a visit. Do take the opportunity to go for a punt ride on the River Avon if you get a chance.
Opposite the hostel is a restaurant/bar called Dux De Lux which I can recommend you visit if you stay at the hostel. This offers an excellent range of vegetarian and fish dishes, with some of them vegan and gluten free. I have a separate review of this establishment (which I hope to put on dooyoo soon!). For more adventurous night life, there are many bars and restaurants within walking distance, many of which have live music. You may also like to have a ride on the tourist tram that goes around the historic centre - there is a stop opposite the hostel. I've written more about the tram in a separate review.
In conclusion, my experience of the hostel as a budget traveller was an excellent one and I recommend this hostel, particularly if you are alone and want to meet other travellers.
Review will be posted elsewhere