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by Taylor Shelby
Charleston, South Carolina
March 17, 2005
For views, you can't beat Castle Rock. Located at the top of the Royal Mile, when you walk out the front door, you are standing right under the massive castle. Just to your right, a looming cathedral takes up the other view. Also, being that near the castle makes it incredibly easy to find. It is right off the royal mile, just left of the castle. You can easily walk there, but since it is mostly uphill from the bus stop, my backpack started getting really heavy.
I was very impressed with the staff at all of the hostels I stayed in, and they were no different at this one. They were always friendly and smiling and extremely helpful. The front desk also has a small selection of necesseties, and I spend quite a few pences on Dr. Peppers (they can be difficult to find in Europe).
The rooms are same-sex dorms and sleep about 14 people. The rooms are very large and breezy. Huge windows in every room assure you as much light as can shine through the dense clouds that usually cover Scotland. Some of the beds were a tad squeaky, but they were comfy.
The hostel is HUGE. For sure the largest I have ever stayed in. It sleeps about 200 people, so the social rooms are always busy and bustling. There are three different rooms, two loud ones and one "posh" one that is where people usually gather and read.
The one place I ran into problems with that is the kitchen. It was very difficult to find a place to put anything, and their complicated system of seven fridges threw me for a loop. If you don't want to fight the crowds, they do offer a nice breakfast of cereal, breads, and juices for $1.90.
Despite the size, the bathrooms were adequate. They were clean and had lovely, strong, hot showers. Sometimes that can be hard to come by in a hostel.
My one piece of advice is to bring earplugs. The noise from the street can be considerable since it is right off the Royal Mile. That advice goes for any kind of travelling, really. Prices run from 12 to 13.50 pounds, depending on the season. You can book from the website.
From journal Enchanting Edinburgh
August 24, 2004
FACILITIES: Very good bathroom facilities: spacious, enough to go around, with excellent spacious shower stalls with plenty of hot water. Two large, well-equipped kitchens. Internet room. Staff will do laundry for you (for a charge).
PEOPLE: Friendly staff, but you have to be willing to make the effort. There are lots of long-term residents, apparently, who can be clannish. However, an excellent lounge with big-screen TV and pool table, and a dining room with a large table make it easy to socialize.
NEIGHBOURHOOD: The biggest selling point! You don't get locations any better than this, especially for the Festival. Right around the corner from the top of the Royal Mile and just below the southern walls of the Castle, it's within easy walking distance of both Old and New towns. However, it's not noisy - the worst noise was from the Military Tattoo in the Castle Esplanade each night.
PRICE: £13.50 during Festival time - a bargain!
Overall, a 9/10 - pluses: decor, location, location, location; minuses: if you don't like large dorm rooms, this is probably not your place.
From journal All Around Scotland
Newcastle Upon Tyne, United Kingdom
June 29, 2003
I liked lots of things about this place. The facilities are good - internet access, games room, lounge - this tends to be busy and lively, 'posh' lounge' which is mainly very quiet and where people go to read, and guest kitchen. Breakfast is optional - £1.90 gets you juice, cereal and a croissant or scone or roll, or you can purchase the items seperately. The reception sells soft drinks, sweets, tioletries etc. You can join the Macbackpackers tours from here, and the hostel runs day tours. There are are also evening activities- a video is shown every evening at 9pm and there are other social events arranged as and when. The hostel is clean and well decorated. Reception is open 24 hours and there is no curfew or lockout.
The dorms are single sex. Each room has a name, and each bed is named according to that theme. There are paintings on the walls. The dorms are clean, spacious and the bunks are solid. However, they are not comfortable, with lumpy foam mattresses that are too thin to provide much cushioning fromthe wooden base. The bathrooms are clean and mixed sex, though there are not that many of them and I had to queue for ages for showers. However, the water is always hot.
The staff are a mixed bag of international people. Some are really friendly - I was reallly impressed that one guy remembered my name, though the hostel was really busy. Another girl however was like she just didn't have time for hostel guests at reception.
On the downside, the hostel can be quite noisy, though I guess this can only be expected when it is just of the Royal Mile on a main street and near the Cowgate with all its bars and clubs. Sleeping was not easy on weekend nights. However, I cannot blame hostel management for the behaviour of the local and visiting drunks outside.
From journal Paradise in Edinburgh