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5 Go Mad In Dublin
Isaacs Hostel (Dublin)
Member Name: zoe_page_1
Isaacs Hostel (Dublin)
Date: 06/04/04, updated on 23/04/06 (337 review reads)
Disadvantages: Not cheeful
I flew in alone from Blackpool, landing a couple of hours after the others who had all travelled together, and immediately hopped onto an airlink bus. These run at regular intervals and cost ?5.50, but I had a multi-day rambler ticket, so was able to use this instead. There are various drop off points in town, the nearest of which is the bus station when staying at Issac's. The hostel is a mere 2 minutes walk away, and easy to find down a little alley parallel to the river.
I was not impressed with the reception staff for the most part. Whenever I needed to speak to them, I had to wait for quite a while, and at times when I reached the front of the queue, they would disappear off for up to 5 minutes into the back office away from view. One girl working there was great - efficient, friendly and accurate in her information. Unfortunately, the guy there most of the time was not - he was slow, spoke quite bad English and never quite seemed to understand what we were saying. Reception is manned 22 1/2 hours a day, with half hour breaks at 7am, 1pm and 6pm, or thereabouts, for staff changeovers.
The night staff were better, but prone to chatting to each other at 2am (how rude!), and because there was no doorbell this left us prancing around outside the panel windows next to the huge oak door, trying to get their attention so they would come and let us in.
On out first night the eight of us were split into 2 rooms - one for 4 people, and one for 14, with the remaining beds taken by other people. The next day we moved to our own room, where we took up 8 of the 10 beds, and we stayed here until we left. Several other groups had to move rooms during their stay too, which seemed very unorganised to us. The rooms were bare, with literally nothing but bunk-beds and a bin. We had one plug socket in ours which caused some panic thanks to the 6 pairs of ceramic straighteners and 7 phone chargers that all needed power time each day. For the record I took neither of these with me, and still managed to survive for our 5 days. Funny, that. None of the rooms were ensuite - instead each of the 3 inhabited floors of dorms had communal facilities - namely 6 showers and 6 loos, split into male and female bathrooms. These were not the most pleasant places on earth and though cleaned daily, were in almost constant use thanks to the number of guests. The showers varied from semi-ok pressure to a tiny trickle, and in temperature from tepid to freezing, as they lost 'hot' water for 2 days of our stay. For somewhere that sells its rooms based on "a bed and hot showers" I'm sure there could have been a case for demanding half our money back for those nights... The corridors had a rather rank smell to them most of the time, and it seemed more down to lack of ventilation than sub-standard cleaning. Our room had one tiny window we had to leave shut when we went out as we were on a low floor, meaning that our room wasn't any way near aired enough most of the time given the 10 people sleeping in it.
On each floor there were two rooms with patterned glass panelling instead of solid walls, which allowed almost complete views in when the lights were switched on. I don't suppose the people in them got a say in the matter, but I certainly would not have chosen to sleep in them. All rooms had ceilings that were lower than normal - and rather dangerous given the height of the top bunks. Thank goodness I'm an 'ickle un.
The rooms were noisy thanks to a distinct lack of carpeting on the floors - all were wooden, meaning you not only heard people walk about in your dorm, but also in the rooms above you. For one night we had a group of 12 year old boys who seemed to think it fun to jump off the bunks for hours on end, and it sounded as if they would fall through the ceiling at any moment. We went to complain the next morning, to be told they had already be reprimanded, and were moving out that day anyway. We also complained after an obnoxious 20 year old from Essex who was either extremely mentally subnormal or extremely stoned played with himself in the girls loos for quarter of an hour and later came to annoy us for ages while we were in there straightening hair (the only other place in the hostel with available plugs - and not very safe ones at that, since the single plug socket had a multi-socket expander dangling from it, moments away from the showers).
The doors opened with keycards that had to be reprogrammed by reception every day. There was a lockout from 11am - 2.30pm for dorm cleaning, but though this bothered some people who hadn't intended getting up that early, I wasn't around the hostel at those hours anyway. There was no curfew, but after 11pm entry to the hostel was limited to guests who could provide their receipt (a scrappy little paper ID thing they provided).
Meals & Facilities
'Breakfast' was provided, but it was hardly a substantial meal - the same every day, it included tea or coffee in a polystyrene cup, and a 'muffin' (actually a muffin sized plain sponge cake). For other meals, a kitchen was available, but it was usually crowded and a hassle to use as crockery and cutlery had to be hired from reception. Fridges were provided but these were usually full, and though there were hobs and microwaves, I never found any ovens.
Reception doubled as a meeting / eating area, complete with long wooden benches and tables. There was a TV on here most of the day, and travellers would congregate in an effort to meet people, though usually not getting very far since most of the guests knew each other through bouncing - none bouncers didn't have a chance.
Drinks vending machines were available, as was an "internet café" (3 slow PCs that allowed 15 minutes access for ?1). Luggage storage lockers cost ?1 / day for padlock hire (compulsory as you were not allowed to use your own). This was annoying since we had to leave our bags there on the first day after being shifted from one room to another. From then on we left our stuff in our rooms since we trusted the only 2 people with access to it who were not with our party. It just seemed cheeky that they made us pay to store luggage we would not have needed to, had they not moved us from one room to another during our stay.
Issac's is nicely located, in a quiet enough area, close to the centre of town. Supermarkets (Dunnes, Spar and Aldi) are all nearby, as are numerous shops and cafes. The river is minutes away, and Temple Bar is walkable in less than half an hour, even in heels. The bus station next door is handy for coach tours of the city and beyond, and the airport links.
The hostel has rooms that cater for between 1 and 16 people, and you can choose to book the entire room or just a bed or too. While we were there they were booked solid every night (Bath, Leeds, Bristol, Middlesex and several other unis all had bouncers staying there), so booking in advance is recommended. Prices start at €11 / night up to €32 / night and depend on room size and time of year.
I wasn't impressed with the hostel, but I suppose there's not much more you could expect for that price. It was safe enough and clean enough without being extremely safe or clean, and for 4 nights we coped, though as luck would have it, I'm off in 2 hours for a week of well-deserved recovery in a 4* AI hotel. A budget hotel would feel good after the last few days, so I'm expecting this one to feel truly luxurious. I didn't like it, but I'd still recommend it if you need a cheap place to stay, because to be honest I don't think I'd like any hostel...
tel: (01) 855 6215
fax: (01) 855 6574
Summary: A cheap hostel near the centre, but lacking a certain je ne sais quoi.