Hostels: the good, the bad and the downright ugly

I had read a post on OIK Strategy with tips about hostels by @About London Laura. I found that standards in hostels (in Australia at least) can vary. I was travelling with my husband and we did some trip with groups (who chose the hostels) and some independent travel, where we got to choose where we stayed.

Until this trip with I hadn’t stayed in a hostel for over 40 years. As we were going on a RTW backpacking trip hostels were part of the deal if we were to afford to see more of this wonderful country.

The Good

This is possibly the best hostel in the world ever. Sydney Harbour YHA. It nestles in-between five star hotels and this was the view from our bedroom window.

IMG_7291This was our private double room.
IMG_7244The ensuite.
IMG_7243 On the terrace.IMG_7252 IMG_7255 Just at the front of the hostel and we can see the Sydney Harbour Bridge.IMG_7261 Barbeque night at Sydney Harbour YHAIMG_7293 I cannot see why anyone would check into a hotel in Sydney when you could stay here. There were all ages at this hostel. Families, backpackers and flashpackers. It is most definitely not a party hostel. Except at New Years Eve of course. Can you imagine the views on NYE?

The kitchens were well equipped. A team of hardworking cleaners ensured that everywhere was spotless.

This was a really good hostel. Previously we had stayed, as part of a tour group, in some absolutely dire ones. And had experienced the dreaded mixed dorm.

The Bad or not so good (yet compared to the next one it was 5*).

After a comfortable house sit in Melbourne we headed off along The Great Ocean Road to Adelaide. We were quite a big group and the guide, Pete, admitted at the end that he had concerns about the dynamics. As it was we all really got on. Never a cross moment. Mixed ages, fitness levels and nationalities. 3 days on the road.

Our first hostel was Warrnambool Beach Backpackers. Tour guide Pete advised us not to head into town where there was a carnival on as it would be full of Bogans. I am not making any judgements here, this is what Pete said. Fortunately the town has one redeeming feature. Kermonds. The burgers here are amazing.

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Yup we really got dug into probably the best burgers in Australia.

Bellies full we checked in to a packed hostel and scrambled to find beds. I tried to get in a small dorm but a group of younger girls got their first declaring it to be a female only dorm. (They obviously had more experience in grabbing the best rooms and I learned from that and kept close to them at the next hostel.

Phil and I nabbed, with another couple, 4 bunks in a mixed dorm of 8 beds, which at first didn’t seem to be too bad. We had lockers with keys and were only here one night. There was a group of boy scouts in another dorm who went to bed early. We thought we would get a good nights sleep. However we then realised that we were the entrance room to a much larger dorm full of young men who had joined the bogans at the carnival. Result, no sleep. At all.

Pete the tour guide put me in charge of getting breakfast ready. He clearly recognised my inner Monica. This meant that I was up early and had a shower in the shared facilities before the hordes formed a queue in the corridor. Good move.

It was clean, it was ok for a hostel, but large mixed dorms with smelly farty young men isn’t for me. One to avoid if you like privacy.

The downright ugly.

The next hostel was Ned’s Beds at Halls Gap.

Addendum 2016 * I have been informed that this hostel is now under new management. I visited in 2011 and this post is based on my experience then. Not now. I would advise all travellers to research all accommodation before booking (I need to take my own advice as I just checked out of the worst accommodation ever) and check if things have improved/management changed.

Possibly the worst hostel ever.

The owner had an all night orgy in his jacuzzi.

I got bitten by bed bugs.

One good thing was that I was in an all girls dorm. As I said, I kept close to those girls that had got the best room last time.

Pete did a good BBQ after the grill had been cleaned with beer and newspaper beforehand.

Pete cooking

The group we were travelling with were great.

A great group

Watching the kangaroos and the attempt to play football with them was a bonus as was the Halls Gap ice cream parlour.

Watching the kangeroos

If a tour company lists this hostel on an itinerary, don’t use the tour company. No really, don’t. It is a horrible hostel and only the fact that the location is great, our tour guide was excellent and the group we were travelling with were good, stopped it from being an experience that wrecked the trip.

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Halls Gap has better hostels and is worth visiting for many reasons, one being to climb the Grampians. Well worth the effort!

We stayed in other hostels and some hotels. In some cases hotels were cheaper. It is worth doing the research.