My initial impression of Oban Youth Hostel was not good. The receptionist was very abrupt with me and then ignored me for ages. I had to ask for a room allocation, etc. I don't expect to be best buddies with
staff, but a smile and/or "hello" would not have gone amiss.
When I got up to my second-floor room, my spirits lifted. It was a 10-bedded female dorm room, but very clean and spacious, with its own shower. It was comfortable enough. The view was amazing from the windows - right across the bay. On my second night, there was a lovely red sunset.
There is a comfortable TV lounge, but it was dominated by smoochy couples - not a place to go to meet people. Conversation was nonexistent in there and not welcoming for someone on their own. The kitchen and dining area was more lively, but was mainly due to family groups. The kitchen was very well equipped for self-caterers, and the dining area was comfortable. There is a laundry. Breakfast (cereal, milk, juice, rolls, jam) was on sale for 1.85, but I didn't bother with this.
In the three nights I stayed there, I found it to be like a hospital - clean, comfortable, and warm, but somewhat lacking in atmosphere and rather sterile. There was little social interaction between guests. They tend to be groups, families and couples.
The hostel has Internet access, but I would advise you to avoid it - it costs five pounds an hour, which is very expensive compared to other places. It was also very slow. I found out the next day that you can get much cheaper Internet access in town.
The showers were hot, but the type where you push the button to get water. You must keep your finger on the button at all times - as soon as you let go, the water stops.
Dorm beds cost £12 per night (in September 2003). Check out is by 10:30am. The hostel is about a 15-20 minute walk from the ferry terminal and railway station. Keep this in mind if you have heavy luggage or an early-morning train/boat to catch. You can book it online on www.syha.org.uk or by calling the SYHA central reservations line on 0870 1 55 32 55.
In all honesty, if I am staying in Oban again, I will try one of the other hostels or B&B's. I would stay here again, but only if I was really desperate. I would recommend this to couples and families. I would NOT recommend this to lone travellers - you can do much better than this in Oban.