#HostelLife with YHA Australia
“Welcome,” said the first person I have interacted with in my YHA Sydney Harbor dorm room, “I am Brecken.”
She was reading a book on one of the top bunks. But she took the time to talk to me and introduce me to the rest of the guys. It was noon and her boyfriend, Jordan, was in front of the sink and brushing his teeth. Sophia was fixing her backpack on her bed. Faye, her friend back in New Zealand just finished showering. Then, Jake, a guy from Philadelphia, just entered the room after returning from an early class. Apparently, the dorm is full, and I just replaced a guy who left a can of Pepsi, two bags of nuts and some prescription medicine on his locker. I say my name and the country where I am from- the Philippines. "Oh, you're both from Philly. That’s cool," Brecken referred to Jake and me.
You see, here is the thing. The internet can be a terrifying place, sometimes. I mean, it is useful, alright. But even though it is where we can find almost all the helpful tips in traveling, it is also where we read about hostel horror stories. You cannot blame me for not being a fan of shared accommodation for years before finally deciding in staying in one.
But last year, I booked all my nights in Taipei and Hualien in hostels and up to now, I still believe that it was a great decision. Not only did I save dollars on accommodation expenses, but I also gained a friend. This year, however, when I traveled to Australia, I was faced with another challenge. I had to stay in a mixed hostel dormitory!
I am not allergic to boys, but as I said—hostel horror stories, you know! But for some reason, the moment I stepped in my room in The Rocks, I felt safe and secured. After all the hours that I wasted thinking how awkward it would be to share everything with strangers of same and opposite sex, the last thing I expected when I opened the door was not to feel weird. Not to mention my fear of being a victim of discrimination? When I met all those people, I felt welcomed with arms wide open. Everything I assumed after over thinking had to be thrown out at the window.
Going back, the guy that I replaced for the next three days left me the lower bunk of the room. I was incredibly lucky. I hate top beds, to be honest. I think it is a nuisance to have to go up on a ladder to get to my bed, so I hit the jackpot when I booked in this hostel. Bunk beds, in general, used to give me an impression that only light people should occupy the top bunk because heavier ones (like me) could break the bed and fall at any moment. But after spending a night of uninterrupted sleep only to realize that Jordan and Brecken slept on the same bed together the night before (on top of mine!), I dismissed my worries.
Just like in any other hostel, I was only meant to stay in YHA during the night. I mean, I usually spend most of my time outside when traveling anyway. But given that I was in Sydney during winter, I was inclined on spending more than 12 hours in the dorm. It was all right though because aside from feeling perfectly safe, I had so much room to move around. With my limited knowledge about hostels, I have always expected the rooms to look crowded and not having enough space to move. But then again, was wrong. This place was different.
There were six of us in the room. There were three bunk beds, three blocks of lockers but there was still a huge space in the middle to open up our suitcases or large backpacking bags all at once. There was even a table and two chairs below the window. Somehow, it did not feel like I was just staying in this place to crash. It was not suffocating. Instead, it seemed like a place to chill out and read books comfortably.
So, I did.
In fact, I started and finished a book (The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry) I bought in Newtown in just in two nights! I think that was because my roommates read, too! I noticed that almost everyone had books on top of our lamp and outlet boxes- which was interesting. After all, I used to stereotype hostel guests as party people only minding booze and next day hangover (and probably even sex!). I am sorry for judging- there are just too many interesting stories online.
I felt blessed with my roommates. Everybody kept their voices to a minimum when the clock hit 10 o'clock no matter if people were asleep or not. In the morning- be it 7 AM or noon, they would still talk in hushed tones not to disturb the others.
I loved it.
My #HosteLife experience in YHA would not have been complete without talking about its people. The receptionist in The Rocks found a way to make a small talk as I was checking in. He was like a Starbucks Barista way back home who would ask random questions while getting my orders. It was nice, though. For such a huge hostel chain, I did not expect them to make time or effort to engage with the guests, but they do. And it was great. It turned out that the receptionist had visited the Philippines already- he made it to Palawan, a place that I have been dying to visit for years already!
There were huge communal kitchen areas on both YHAs where I spent my nights (The Rocks and Melbourne Central) I loved the fact that it was clean.
If I were not too lazy, I would have cooked some decent meals for myself. But bed-weather got the best of me.
I made sure to spend time in the lounge though. YHA Melbourne Central has this café vibes, so it was cool- not to mention the rooftop of YHA The Rocks. I mean, who in their right minds would not want to hang out at the rooftop if it overlooks the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbor Bridge? I could not find this kind of view in other hostels—even hotels.
YHA has exceeded my expectations. Sure, they have television and game rooms, a book lounge, and a travel desk. Impressive, right?
But they even have wine and cheese nights or pancake Wednesdays! Who would not love free food, anyway? On my last day in Australia, they invited me for their Christmas in July dinner, and I still regret the fact that I was not able to join. Maybe when I come back, I would be able to join their night parties.
Most of all, YHA will always be a memorable place for me because this is where I learned most of the hostel rules that I have not even realized before. When I welcomed my first room in Melbourne, I was immediately asked by Alexandria how the place was. Was it noisy or did she have to ready herself for a late-night sleep? She was so exhausted because she had not slept much in her previous hostel due to her boisterous hostel- mates and uncomfortable bed. But she was lucky in picking YHA in Melbourne because she did not just enjoy clean sheets on her bed but she was able to mingle with well-mannered travelers. And to be honest? I felt lucky, too!
Watch the video below to see how YHA Australia looks like!
YHA Australia Sydney Harbour | YHA Australia Melbourne
110 Cumberland St. The Rocks, Sydney | 562 Flinders St., Melbourne
(+61) 2 8272 0900 | (+613) 9621 2523
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