In 2016, I decided to take a slightly shorter trip, only visiting three cities, all in the same country, Poland, but despite my less-than-awesome experience in hostels in 2015, I decided yet again to give them another go. EXCEPT I’d shell out the extra cash for private rooms and make sure that all of the hostels had 24 hour security.
Hostel Brama: I think I took a cab from the airport to the city but I can tell you that it’s a 10 minute walk from the train station if that’s how you’re arriving. I arrived at the Hostel Brama in Krakow on my first morning in Poland. I was shown up to my room on the second floor and it was HUGE. I mean, it was really massive. You could’ve slept 20 people in this room easily. It was old though, obviously. I pushed the two single beds together and watched a little bit of Polish dubbed TV every night before I went to sleep. The room set up was a little odd – though I guess it’s normal by European standards. You walked into a little vestibule that had a door to the room in one direction and a door to the bathroom in the other. There was no elevator but that was fine since I was on the second floor. I double checked that there was someone downstairs 24/7 and there was. The Hostel Brama was located right inside the northern wall of the Stare Miasto (Old Town), a dozen feet from the Barbican and St. Florian’s Gate.
I also learned on one of the walking tours that I went on that the McDonalds located directly next door was the first McDonalds to open in Poland in the 1980’s and it signified that communism was over. Although it could feel like it was far from everything, it really wasn’t. Krakow was insanely walkable and a short 3 minute walk down the street was the Main Market Square and St. Mary’s Basilica. My only complaint with this hostel was the noise level. At night I’d hear literally every person walking up and down the stairs because the stairs were really creaky. Oh, and breakfast was included which included some pastries, cereals, meats, and cheeses. For $150 for three nights, not too shabby. All in all I’d give this a 3.5 out of 5 stars.
St. Florian’s Gate and the famous first-ever Polish McDonalds in Krakow and the street sign for the Brama Hostel; and a photo of my huge room.
Hostel Safestay: I ended up taking a cab from the train station to the Dream Hostel in Warsaw because it was a beast of a walk, especially with my backpack. But the US Dollar to Zloty exchange rate was AMAZING so it cost less than $5 to get to the hostel. The Hostel Safestay was literally a dream. It was everything I could’ve asked for in a hostel. This was a brand new (or new as in a year or two old) hostel so everything was pristine. There was a check in desk on the second floor where you received your key and were shown to your room. I had booked a private room with private bathroom.
The hostel was in an ideal location – quite literally a hundred or so feet from the Royal Palace, another couple hundred feet from the Old Town, and I was across the street from a music academy, I believe, or it was a library. I can’t remember. Anyways, my room was amazing. The bed was super comfortable and I had a lovely view of the music academy from my window, outside which there were often street urchins playing music below. The bathroom was pristine and even had a heated towel rack (!!!!). Now in Poland in late October, this is extremely important. One night while I was here I took a pierogi making class. It was awesome. It has an awesome lounge, too, complete with food and drink. Families and solo travelers alike were staying here. Three nights here cost me around $175 USD. Needless to say, the Hostel Safestay gets 5 out of 5 stars.
The last hostel that I’d made reservations in was called Hostel 22 in Gdansk and I didn’t technically end up staying here. I’d made the mistake of arriving in Gdansk after dark so when I arrived by cab to the hostel it looked less than inviting. There was lots of construction around the main entrance and it didn’t feel totally safe. The room was nice enough, totally, but the hallways were dark and rest of the place seemed pretty empty.
So, you gotta love that exchange rate, I made a reservation in the Hotel Artus which was literally across the street from St. Mary’s Church and in the center of town. Now I have to say, I will never again arrive in a new city after dark because in the days after that I spent wandering around Gdansk, I passed by Hostel 22 multiple times and the area it was in was COMPLETELY FINE during the day. Was I happier in my hotel/spa? Sure, but in the light of day, I’m pretty sure Hostel 22 would’ve been completely fine, too.
Basically: If you’re in Warsaw, stay at the Hostel Safestay. In fact, I’d recommend going to Warsaw just to stay there. (Just kidding. Kind of.) The Dream Hostels also have locations in a few cities in the Ukraine which I’m sure are awesome, too.
Leave me a comment if you’ve stayed in any awesome hostels in Poland that I missed!
The main photo is a photo of yours truly on the street where the Brama Hostel is located in Krakow, Poland.