Choosing my accommodation.If you have been to New York City then it will come as no surprise to you to hear that it is expensive. Accommodation in NYC is expensive too in line with everything else. I knew this before I went. As a solo traveller it would mean that booking a nice hotel room would cost me the same as a couple. So bearing in mind that I only had 10 weeks till I was going, I started searching the internet for elusive bargains. I went to the usual sites;
- Trip Advisor,
- Hotels.com and so on.
I even tried to find out what Priceline was all about but found that to be too much like hard work! Maybe next time?
I guess I should tell you that I am not that precious when it comes to where I lay my head. Not because I dress or look like a tramp but because I know that I will be out all day and only be in the room for sleeping. So as long as it is clean it doesn't matter how stark or lacking in amenities (TV, Coffee maker, trouser press etc.) that it is.
I searched daily, and came up with nothing! That's not entirely true, I came up with a few , I struggled to decide. I kept reworking my budget and then telling myself that I would only be going once, so I should pay up. But I also had been recommended the Hostelling International Hostel by a friend. The friend had stayed there a few years ago, she said it was near a metro station and was easy to get around from, not far from Central Park and had been OK. It was also cheaper and it would mean I could use the money I would save to go and see some shows. I have stayed in Hostels, in the UK, Israel, Jordan, and Egypt and so I had a good idea as to what to expect. I also thought that I had more chance of sparking up a conversation with someone in a Hostel.
Now, I am not as young as I was when I last stayed in a Hostel *cough*, but when I had been before I remembered seeing older travellers and I decided that I would give it a go. I booked it through Booking.com but I could as easily have booked through the Hostelling International website.
In total for 5 nights it cost me approximately $250 in total. Bargain!!
What I expected.
I actually had very few expectations of how the Hostel would be, and it is a pattern with me, that when it comes to accommodation I choose to not expect anything or to expect the worst in the hope that I will be pleasantly surprised.
The only research I did was to read Trip Advisor reviews. I have done this in the past and have learnt that for every person that hated it, another would love it. So I took a pinch of salt with every review. I checked the bad reviews to see what they didn't like;
- some had experienced mice in their room and had even posted pictures of mouse traps and dead mice
- others said that it was noisy
- others complained about the level of cleanliness.
I vaguely recall complaints about the left luggage fee and waiting to be checked in. On the other hand people had said;
- it was in a great location,
- that it was cheap,
- that it was clean.
I am sure some of you are wondering why I didn't cancel my reservation after i saw the mice pictures but I figured that I would risk it. I almost forgot, but I did expect, towels and sheets to be provided.
What I experienced.
When I went in the room, the first thing that I noticed was how clean and tidy it was! In the room there were 8 bunk beds, 4 on each side of the room so at full capacity there would be 16 of us. Something that people who don't stay in hostels don't think about is that the people are always changing, some stay one night, some three, some are in groups or solo travellers. They are all ages with all kinds of sleep patterns and from all different countries. I had forgotten that there would be a fair few Europeans there (myself included, lol!). But that will be covered later in Part 9. The room was all female, and I had a great spot. I was in a corner, on the lower bunk, by the window.
The bathroom was clean (and one of two on that floor) and I would recommend going earlier as it as very busy between 7.30-8.30. When I went in I was surprised, it was nicely decorated and in each cubicle there was a shelf area, a hook on the back of the door and two on the wall, a shower caddy in the shower to hold your soaps etc. BUT they also had a soap dispenser. It was a very well thought out cubicle, because there is nothing worse than only having one hook for all your things, or not having a shelf (see Photo 5 & 6).
I was very happy with it, but the one thing I would say is that, it might not be suitable for light sleepers. I cant say for sure because I sleep like a log and can fall asleep in a heartbeat but I heard some people complaining about people jumping off of the top bunks (on the floor above) and running up and down the halls. Its because there was a school/youth group staying at the same time, quite possibly more than one. It didn't bother me though but its worth knowing.
Thursday night the room was not full but Friday, Saturday and Sunday it was. When I returned from a full day out on Monday, the room was empty except for me and three others. It was blissful like that, there was less luggage to move around, less trying to be quiet and the like. Another perk was when my feet felt like they were going to fall off, i rested them on the folded up fleece blanket and it was like resting them on a cloud. Also, the time that I was there it was glorious sunshine for the whole 6 days! They also have a large blackboard in the reception area, where you can pose to have photo's taken with new friends - it has the location and the date so that you won't forget! See photo 8. I would definitely stay there again :)