Edinburgh City’s oldest hostel
HIGH STREET HOSTEL is located just off the High Street in the old town area of Edinburgh and claims to be the city’s oldest hostel. When you enter the solid and prominent building you are greeted by a large, warm and homely lounge area, furnished with sofas, table and chairs, a few statues of medieval ‘knights in shining armour’ and a succession of multi-socket power adaptors which every backpacker and their laptop are plugged into. For it seems that if you don’t have a smartphone, smart tablet or laptop then you are definitely not one of the kool kids at this hostel. New age technology and medieval entrance aside, the first obvious thing about High Street Hostel is the meet and greet from the enthusiastic staff. Quick to tell you about the social aspects of your stay, the must-do pub crawls, pool nights, pizza nights and any other social night starting with the letter P; their main priority is definitely about getting people socialising rather than concerning guests with the nuts and bolts – the house rules, where the kitchen is, if you can hire towels etc.
In a place this bustling and of this size (159 beds and counting) it’s not surprising that staff don’t impose each and every new guest with the do’s and don’ts of their stay. Which, judging by a sign I clocked on one of the bedroom doors (indicating that if the occupiers are caught smoking in the room one more time, they will be prosecuted), with all the will in the world, pointing out the rules to people who’s interest is all about bending them is of not much consequence. Having said this, during my hostel tour I was pleasantly surprised to find the bathrooms and toilet areas clean and tidy, plus guests enjoy the benefits of staying in a place with machine-washable mattresses. This means that the chances of picking up any new friends, Bruce the bed bug, Felicity the flea and the likes, are minimal. Other features in the boudoir department worth mentioning include individual lockers (there is also a larger safe at reception for more valuable items), two pillows for every bed, and for the romantics and more private folk there’s a double room and two twin rooms available. Furthermore, staff kindly have guests’ beds already made upon check-in and are the ones who remove the bedding for washing upon check-out. A welcome gesture for any traveller.
From the bedrooms to the basement: the communal self-catering kitchen is to say the least, sizeable, well equipped and airy with colourful murals across the walls. Down here it’s less about laptops and more about chilling out and meeting new friends.
High Street Hostel also provides a basic breakfast; most probably the cheapest in the whole of Scotland (circa 70p for a huge bowl of particularly tasty muesli) and free tea, coffee and hot chocolate throughout the day. It’s also one of the growing number of hostels that have turned eco-friendly, with recycling bins and signs dotted about the place encouraging guests to dispose of their rubbish considerately and to turn off the lights to save electricity.
All in all I would recommend High Street Hostel for its location, social atmosphere and inclusive manner of hosting guests. For those who are heavy sleepers or like to party first and sleep later, the fast pace and business of this hostel will be an attraction. However, if travelling with a family or if you like more peace and quiet then the double or twin rooms could prove a better option. You can view a map showing hostels around Edinburgh here.