If you're looking for a hostel in the middle of it all, Kabul is the place to be. I was led there by Stray Travel, which had some dealings with the hostel. Though the hostel doesn't usually take reservations, Stray was able to secure accommodations with them and get every member of the group a bed. Others have to sign up on a list and hope for an empty spot.
The best way to describe Kabul is busy; people wander to and fro, and the dining room seating is always filled with people waiting, meeting, talking, or playing games. The one problem is that it is so busy, security can sometimes be compromised. Though you have to be buzzed in to enter, the hostel keepers have a hard time keeping track of who is staying there, so many people who aren't guests get in and hang around. Most of them are harmless, just looking for a place to meet other backpackers; however, there are occasionally sketchy dealings. While I was there, there were numerous people reporting missing items from their lockers (which are operated by electronic locks with key card access). It was said that a master key floated around. I personally didn't have any problems, but there were certainly enough stories around to cause suspicion.
The staff at the hostel are nice enough, though they do get a short fuse when too many people are making demands of them. I wouldn't suggest asking them for directions or suggestions around Barcelona unless it's not busy AND you have a good rapport with them.
Most of the rooms are filled with bunks of four to eight people. They are neat enough but pretty bare-bones. Some have balconies that overlook the busy plaza below. Rooms are cleaned thoroughly daily, by an overzealous cleaning staff who are not afraid of moving your possessions if they are in the way. The bathrooms are okay, but they can get pretty disgusting if you get up late and have to shower after everyone else. Flip flops are definitely necessary.
Kabul, being at the center of everything, can be noisy at night. It is popular among kings and queens of the nightlife, and it is located in a square that has plenty of action. Being woken up at 4am by fellow hostel-goers and then again at 7am by street cleaners is not unheard of. It is also the site for celebrations and street performers, so you're never without something to do.
Results 1-5of 5 Reviews
November 9, 2004
From journal Busy Barcelona
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
February 3, 2004
The hostel is located just off La Ramblas in a square called Placa Reial. In terms of social atmosphere, it’s pretty awesome. It's great mixing with so many internationals, but there tends to always be a few too many arrogant American college kids who think their poo doesn’t stink and consider themselves model material. Kabul has cheap drink specials there on beer and sangria almost every night in summer. Beers cost about 5 euros for a litre jug and about 4.50 euros for a litre of sangria. Along with the bar, they have a pool table, vending machines selling water and cans of beer for 1 euro, music, free internet, a common room and a holding room for your baggage.
There is no curfew and no lockout which is both good and bad. Because they only give one key per room the room is usually left open most of the day. Security is lax. When we were there in 2002, someone came home to find a homeless person sleeping in their bed. Kabul issues credit card-like devices to access lockers in each room. However, these don’t always work and one girl had her whole backpack stolen as a result. You will be kept awake by people trying to get into their locker at various times as the cards are very finicky.
Room prices are pretty standard for a European summer. There are about 200 beds. A small selection of these are bookable over the net, but most are based on a first in first served basis. A dorm costs about 20 euro a night with a 15-euro deposit (this is returned if you check out before 11am the next day). If you have a big night, which happens pretty regularly here, and you don’t check out before 11, it is assumed you will be staying another night. The price includes breakfast, but it’s not much (generally a croissant and juice). There are communal bathrooms with hardly any privacy. There are no fans or air-conditioning, which makes it really uncomfortable during summer. Basically, if you like sleep, don’t stay here.
Getting there is easy. Get the subway (Line 3 - Green) in the direction of Montbau to metro stop Liceu. This will come out at La Rambla and it’s just a short walk down and the square is on your left (near McDonalds). Inside the square turn right and you can’t miss it. La Fonda restaurant is just around the corner and is definitely a must.
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From journal Barthelona!
New York, New York
February 23, 2003
lace to collapse.
On the plus side, it's located right on the Rambla, close to both the town center (Placa Catalunya) and the beach. You're bound to meet dozens of other young travellers, especially since it's about ten people to a room.
But then, that means you're staying ten to a room. And it's doubtful any of them are early to bed, so this is not the place to expect a restful night's sleep. Also, you get a locker -- which you should use -- but it won't fit that XXX-large suitcase.
Another thing to keep in mind: the front desk is a long, narrow flight of stairs up, as are all the rooms. And in the several times I've stayed there, the elevator has always been tauntingly broken.
Bottom line, if you're a backpacker in search of more kindreds, Kabul's a good bet for not a lot of cash.
From journal My three-month weekend in Barcelona
December 4, 2000
The hostel''s location is good.... it''s off of Las Ramblas, which is the main drag (full of thieves), but the hostel has good security and a neat view of a square (where we saw a few arrests by the police).
I recommend this hostel only because I hear it''s one of the better places to stay (cheaply) in Barcelona. I hear that most other places are much worse (except one Pension that''s ON Las Ramblas we heard was really nice).
From journal Backpacking in Icky Barcelona
Green Bay, Wisconsin
September 28, 2000
From journal Barcelona: City of Color