As some of you may know, I live in Italy. I’ve been here for a little over 3 years and in that time I’ve managed to see quite a few different areas with my husband and also with his family.
But I wanted to see more!
At the time, I had stumbled into social media managing and ended up working with (the worst) budget travel company which gave me the opportunity to explore areas like Rome, Amalfi Coast and Florence (my favorite Italian city ever).
Check out my Youtube video “Lost In Milan and other Italy Horror Stories” to hear more about Life in Italy!
Because I was working with this (awful) travel company I guess you could say I was going through a budget-friendly travel phase. Mind you, I’ve come to accept that I’m not really a budget travel kind of girl. I prefer convenience, comfort and amazing customer service over saving a few coins. I didn’t know it at the time but I guess I needed to go through that phase in order to learn this about myself.
Everything happens for a reason and some good came out of my budget travel experience.
For instance, I stayed in Hostels and kind of became hooked!
Let me tell you, my first hostel experience was during my first trip to Amsterdam. It was awful. I didn’t book the place and didn’t really get a say about it because it was a group trip and I was out-voted. But it ended up being a 12-bed room (not normally a problem) but my group of 5 (2 couples and a fifth wheel – ahem, I wasn’t the 5th wheel) had to share the room with 7 French boys. It was bad because the boys were all chronic snorers, they slept and walked around the room mostly naked and they hogged the bathrooms. We had 2 ensuite bathrooms and they hogged both and took forever getting ready.
I know these are small infractions compared to what some people have probably experienced in hostels. In fact, when I stayed in my second hostel in London (it was over a bar, never ever ever again) I had some pretty grimy experiences. But as this was my very first hostel experience I wasn’t aware that it could get worse. So it put me off to hostels.
Until I went through my budget travel phase.
For most of my travel I use Booking.com. It’s easy and convenient and I usually find what I need through the site.
I won’t keep you in suspense. I’ll start with my absolute favorite Hostel ever.
What makes Plus Florence so great?
Besides the flat screen TVs in each room, 24 hour front desk, Swimming Pool and Sauna and Private Bathrooms, this place has great energy. Whenever I visit Florence I opt to stay at Plus Florence. I usually meet new people and have a memorable time. The beds are super comfortable, which is so important to me. I always sleep very well at Plus Florence. I’ve never had rude roommates, thank goodness. There’s laundry service and breakfast available at this establishment and they usually organize some kind of fun event for people to socialize like karaoke or club/dancing.
On my 3-4 visits to this place, I’ve found that the bar staff and kitchen staff are not friendly. In fact, I had some rather rude service and almost downright nasty service. Maybe when you’re visiting they’ll have replaced the staff with more pleasant workers.
The 24-hour front desk is super convenient because you can check in and check out whenever. There’s security so you feel safe and they don’t just let anyone wander up in there. The front desk employees are usually polite and professional.
However, I did experience a bit of racism once when a front desk worker demanded to know how I got my carta d’identita. He literally held onto my card and glared at me as if he thought I was committing fraud or something. I should have reported him but couldn’t be bothered at the time. If you’re a person of color and you find yourself in a situation like this, make sure you report those employees. You’re paying money to stay at their establishments, you should not have to endure mistreatment.
Overall, I always recommend Plus Florence because of the comfortable, safe and fun environment it provides. I don’t want to oversell it but it feels more like a luxury hostel, which vibes well with my sensibilities.
Sidenote: You can find Plus accommodations in Berlin and Prague as well!
Keep reading! There are more fabulous Hostels to keep in mind!
The first thing that stood out to me about this hostel was the aesthetic. I thought it was inviting, unique and quirky. I felt right at home! My bed was so soft and comfortable I could have slept in it all day. There were also privacy curtains and a private bathroom. I liked the location of this hostel because I remember it being on a quiet road and after a 10 minute walk through the busiest area it’s a nice change of pace to turn onto a quiet road.
The one thing I didn’t like was the breakfast – it was not good. I had to go to a cafe for a coffee and brioche. But this was at least 3 years ago, so they may have improved their breakfast selection by now. Although, I believe that due to covid this hostel is temporarily closed. Fingers crossed that they will reopen once it’s safe to travel again. I booked this accommodation on Booking.com but I believe it’s available on Hostelworld now.
Anyway, when it comes to budget travel and staying in hostels, breakfast isn’t the most important thing. For me, the most important thing about budget travel and staying in hostels is safety and cleanliness. If you have at least those two things I might be a satisfied guest.
The room I chose was a 4 Bed Female Dorm. I love that this was an option. I usually try to choose rooms with 4-6 people but being able to also choose female only was a plus for me. The beds weren’t that comfortable and I had a top bunk and there was no privacy curtain. But the cleanliness of the room more than made up for that. The staff was also quite friendly and helpful. Also, if I’m remembering correctly, my room had a mini-terrace with a beautiful view. A room with a lovely window or terrace or a balcony is always a plus for me.
Overall, it’s the energy and the vibe of the city of Madrid for me. Of course, where you lay your head at night is important but it was hard to be unhappy or dissatisfied with anything because I was in a city that made me happy. I guess I’ll just come out and say it, Madrid is my favorite city in Spain. It’s probably my favorite city ever but I haven’t been to Porto, Lisbon, Havana, Osaka or Kyoto yet. So it remains to be seen.
Watch out for some of those staff members though. They can be a little too friendly and it’s mostly an ego thing for them. But other than that this place is great! I would definitely stay here again and, as Valencia is was such a magical experience for me, I would definitely go back.
Now I will say, that knowing what I know now about budget travel and my own personal preference when it comes to travel, I wouldn’t stay in a hostel in London again. London is already crowded and cramped enough and these hostels – regardless of how clean they are – will make you feel pretty claustrophic. Not just due to the size of the rooms but also the people. So many people.
If you’re a people person then this shouldn’t be a problem. But I’m a person who needs to take a break from people and have a my little bubble of space. Visiting London and living in London doesn’t really afford you that luxury. This is one of the many reasons I’m thankful to no longer be living in London. But I digress.
Safestay is clean, the beds are comfortable and there are privacy curtains!
I fell in love with Safestay for the privacy curtains alone. One time, when I was traveling in Alicante, I found out a family member had passed away and I was just gutted. I was staying in a hostel in Alicante that was nice enough but it didn’t have privacy curtains. And while I was trying to climb down from the top bunk, the wood beam broke, I fell through the hole and nearly broke my leg. The people at the hostel were really nice about it and tried to give me another room but I needed privacy. I needed to grieve. I ended up checking into a boutique hotel (which was actually so cute) where I had a room to myself and could openly grieve in peace. I probably would have gone to a private room with or without privacy curtains but having the option is a plus if you need a break from looking at other people.
And Safestay Hostels really do feel safe. I mean, there’s room to have fun, socialize, drink and eat but it doesn’t feel like it’s a place where people can get too wild or two comfortable. At least, in my personal experience, I felt there was a line that no one crossed and I didn’t feel uncomfortable. Good times.
So those are my 5 favorite Hostels. If I were going to do budget traveling again I would definitely stay at any of these places again – especially Plus Florence. Hopefully, coronavirus will go away soon allowing us wanderlusters to travel again.
I’ll be running back to Spain when it’s safe to travel again! In the meantime, I’m doing my best to stay productive at home while still creating wish list travel itineraries.
Watch more Youtube Travel Videos!
Have you stayed at any of the hostels listed? If so, which was your favorite? Would you recommend hostels or hotels? Leave me a comment and I’ll catch up with you lovelies soon. You can also check out my previous post now.