Reviews: Hostels in Scandinavia

When I went on a whirlwind vacation through Scandinavia (Copenhagen – Oslo – Stockholm – Helsinki) in 2015, I decided to stay in hostels. I’d stayed in hostels in Amsterdam and Seattle previously and I’d always had delightful experiences. Plus: they’re cheap and when you’re traveling for almost two weeks, cheap is appealing. The big difference this time: I was traveling solo. I didn’t take this into account when I booked the trip and since the two other hostels I’d stayed in had 24-hour security, I figured they all did! Well, I was wrong and I learned that when I got to my hostel in Copenhagen.

Woodah Hostel: Located in Copenhagen, Denmark, this was listed a “yoga hostel” online and it looked to be in a pretty convenient part of town – not too far from the train station. I’m also a yogi so the offer of free yoga classes seemed pretty cool. Copenhagen is a really confusing city to get around (IMHO) because it’s not a grid. It’s basically like Boston where they don’t want you to find your way around. (Kidding, sort of.) The main common area where people hang out was cozy but nice. They offer 6, 10, and 12 bed dorms and I was in a 6 bed dorm. The rooms were tiny and the beds were more like caskets than actual sleeping spaces. I believe I had to back into mine laying down. The downsides to the Woodah Hostel was that there were only two common bathrooms in the entire place and there was no security after 10pm and you had to take a key if you were going to be back after that. Copenhagen, I believe, is a pretty safe city, but since this was the first time I was traveling by myself in a few years, and I’d seen Taken a few too many times, I freaked out. I never had a problem getting a shower in the morning (probably because I’m an early riser), but the unmanned front desk and the coffin-like sleeping arrangements left much to be desired. The free yoga was at 8am every day as long as at least 3 people signed up. I don’t think anyone ever signed up during the four days I was there. The daily morning breakfast was nice here though. Needless to say, I wouldn’t stay here again. 1 out of 5 stars.

The view of the really, really small sleeping space and the view out while laying in the bed.

Anker Hostel: Located in Oslo, Norway, a 5-10 minute walk from the train station (this walk in semi-questionable at best as the street is busy, but sorta run down and I didn’t feel the safest at dusk alone), this hostel was much, much larger and had 24-hour secure front desk. There were lots of people in the common area and bar area when I got there and it seemed pretty fun. I was in a 4 person room and it had its own bathroom! Hooray! BUT the shower was totally weird. It was basically a handheld shower head over the toilet and there was a drain below. Now I know this is typical in hostels and some European hotels, but I was not playing this game. I immediately found a drugstore and bought dry shampoo. The only other problem with this hostel was that there was nowhere to lock up your luggage in your room. They had a large room full of lockers off the main lobby for an additional charge, but who wants to deal with that? I carried my wallet, camera, passport, headphones, and anything valuable (which wasn’t a lot because I don’t carry valuables when I travel) with me when I was out during the day and I just had to hope that my dorm mates didn’t steal my dirty clothing. (They never did, thankfully.) My dorm mate for one night in the bed across from mine was a pretty loud snorer (it was at this hostel that I learned the beauty of ear plugs) but the next night a nice guy came in who was arriving to Oslo early before studying at the university for the semester. He was from California shockingly enough and had just done a semester in Finland, I think. Overall, I liked Anker WAY better than the Woodah Hostel. But I’d probably only stay here again if I knew my other dorm mate. 3 out of 5 stars.

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I didn’t take any photos of the room at Anker (at least none that I still have) but this is a photo of the busy street it’s located on. 

City Backpackers Hostel: Located in Stockholm, Sweden, City Backpackers is a short 5-10 minute walk (depending on how fast you walk) from Gamla Stan – aka the Old Town, which is accessed by walking over a bridge. On your walk from City Backpackers to the Old Town, you’ll pass the shopping district in Stockholm (including one corner with 3 H&Ms – one of which is the flagship H&M), a park, and the convention center. The walk to the hostel from the train station was a little confusing but not bad at all and it felt totally safe. The hostel was bustling and hip with an awesome lobby and you could tell this was a place where real backpackers came to stay. They had a huge communal kitchen area where they offered free pasta so I ate that for a couple of meals (after exploring for 10-12 hours a day, a big bowl of pasta is what you need, right?) and I met some fellow backpackers who were much more intense than me. They’d been on the move for months and had bulging journals recording their days. They were also from places like Australia and other European countries that have much more generous (aka ANY) paid time off policies than the United States does. City Backpackers was huge on security. You had to enter codes to multiple doors to access your room (those codes changed daily, too) and the front desk was manned 24/7. I met some cool people here (including one of my roommates that was from Poland!) and I wish I kept in touch with them, but alas. 4.5 out of 5 stars for City Backpackers Hostel.

The lobby of City Backpackers and a shot of the communal (and awesome) kitchen area.

I’d canceled my hostel reservations in Oslo for my hostel in Helsinki, so I can’t review that. I stayed in a cheap hotel near the city center named Rivoli Jarden. It wasn’t a fancy hotel but it was definitely an upgrade from a hostel.

I’d definitely stay in at least one of these hostels again, but I’d fork over the cash for a private room. My favorite was definitely City Backpackers hands down.

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