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A Traveller’s Perspective: Things Every Hostel Bedroom Should Have October 4, 2011

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Travel.
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Hostels, it seems, are easier to get wrong then they are to get right. I have stayed in so many hostels now, and some have been great. Some have tried hard, yet fallen at every hurdle. Some haven’t tried at all, and it has shown with painful clarity. Yet more fall into that dull and neatly disappointing limbo between being a dosshole, and being somewhere liveable. The sort of place you sleep in, and then promptly forget about.

Personally, I don’t see what all the fuss is about. Why is it so hard to get right?! Surely a simple set of facilities and little extras can make a hostel guaranteed to be the recipient of excited reviews and positive life-choice-affirming praise?

So, let’s go through it room by room. This is what it takes to be the perfect hostel… starting in the bedroom!


1. You should be able to sit on either the top OR bottom bunk without smashing your skull on the bed above, or on the roof.
2. Beds should be long enough for people of significant height to sleep in. I’m not saying you should cater for the occasional Scandanavian giant who stoops through your doors, but for “normally” tall people, be nice!
3. Bunk ladders should be easy to climb – preferably with flat steps to reduce pain on those annoying midnight toilet runs.
4. All bedding should be changed for new guests, including the duvet covers. EVEN if you use top sheets. New bedding should ideally smell fresh and like home, on a really clean day.
5. For god’s sake, don’t charge for bedding, you tight bastards! Also, be climate suitable and have blankets available.
6. Mattresses should be firm and not lumpy. In the same vein, pillows should be of medium depth to suit the majority.
7. Please stop beds squeaking. Not only is it annoying, but it’s a surefire way to make sure everyone is awake and paying attention to the amorous couple who rolled in drunk at 3am.


1. Everyone should have a locker. Most people won’t use it, but that one person will want it and you’ll make them really happy.
2. Beds should come with a personal light. A gentle one, that doesn’t light the room up like a sun in supernova when you can’t find your tissue in the wee hours.
3. Bins. In rooms. Empty them often.
4. Every room hould have a full-length mirror with good lighting, and a silly sticker that says “Don’t worry, you look amazing” and “Remember, everyone else is travelling too”.
5. Two coat hooks on each bunk bed.
6. It isn’t vital, but a clothes horse of some description doesn’t half help. When you’ve just given yourself blisters washing socks in the sink it is really depressing to realise there’s nowhere to hang them!
7. Windows are great for letting light in. At daybreak. Give us curtains, please. If the windows can open for hot days too then that would reduce the frequency of boiled-alive syndrome in stuffy dorms.
8. Extras are always appreciated. A chair or beanbag in a corner, a little table, some pretty pictures of the local area. Anything that can make you feel a little more home when on an alien continent. Rugs are good.

Have I forgotten anything, travellers?


Sorry for the absence September 22, 2011

Posted by Lauren Cooke in RTW Trip Updates.
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1 comment so far

I am very sorry to have deserted you guys. I got a comment from my sister on my Facebook wall berating me for my lack of blogging dedication – believe me, I have been severely admonished and am writing this under pain of death or worse (and if you know Jess, you know that worse is certainly a realistic possibility!). Absence makes the heart grow fonder though, so hopefully you might all actually be at the point where you actively want to hear about my wandering!

So, what have I been up to?

Well, I finished my time in Australia, and am now currently in New Zealand. My last destination in Oz was actually one of my favourites, Sydney. The city is amazing, accessible and intuitive, the sort of place where you walk out of the station and you already feel like you know where you are going. It is also the sort of place where far too much money trickles in an endless stream out fo your account, spent on trips to the zoo and food and the buying of delicious lattes that lead to the development of a nasty coffee habit. I fought off the call of caffeine all my life, and then good old Sydney slayed me. Anyway, after avoiding seriously deadly snakes and seeing the wildlife, avoiding all the kites at Bondi’s Wind Festival, and generally knackering myself walking around and around (never wear a skirt on a windy day either guys, half of Sydney was treated to a wonderful view of my underwear!), I got on a plane and headed on the short hop over to NZ.

The gorgeous tiger at the Toronga zoo, Sydney

The gorgeous tiger at the Toronga zoo

Now, Australia is amazing, but NZ kind of blew it way out of the water. The descent into Christchurch alone was worth a million pictures, snow topped mountain caps rising from the crystal blue ocean.

Seals frolicking in the water at Kaikoura

Looksee - it's a seal!Kaikoura

I’ve gone quite a way since that first incredible flight. I started off on a high note too, in the single most beautiful place I have ever been to, Kaikoura. I’m loathe to describe it to you guys, it is the sort of scenery (all mountains and snow and pebble beaches leading into crystal water,with whales, dolphins and seals just to cap everything off) that you really need to see yourself. I walked around, and cooed and oohed and ahhed over just about everything that revealed itself around every corner I trotted round.

From there it was up to Nelson. The scenery here was of a different ilk, more about beaches and wooded hillsides and national parks stretching off as far as the eyes could see. The guys on the bus and I were exceptionally lucky here – our 12.7km walk was done in blazing sunshine with lunch on a beach, and I really think we got to see everything at its very best.

Beaches in the Abel Tasman National Park

Picture perfect beaches!

From Nelson, on to Hokitika, a quiet little place that quite literally shuts down as soon as the sunsets, like something out of a vampire novel. You can wander the streets and feel like you are totally alone, there aren’t even any cars on the streets (and yes, I have been introduced to the concept of garages… apparently they aren’t just for storing “the junk you can’t be bothered to carry to the attic”!). I loved it here – I walked on the beach, strolled arround some random museums (Sock Museum, and an exhibition on Whitebait), and generally enjoyed everything it had to offer. We even walked up to a glowworm dell, where we marvelled at the hundreds of greenly glowing lights framed from above by the dark silhouettes of trees, with just the trickle of water as an accompaniment. The stars on this walk too were worthy of remark, so great they were in number and luminescence.

Whitebait tins in the Hokitika Museum

Whitebait (in case you missed that!)Such amazing views!

The last stop before now (where, apparently, I plan to spend absurd amounts of money catching up on EVERYTHING one could possibly do online) was the glacier town of Franz Josef. I passed up the opportunity to pay for a glacier walk, and boy am I glad I did. A guy from my hostel (and my hostel in Hokitika, as it happens. And this hostel too!) and I instead did a 12km walk up to a viewing station, where just as you thought you legs couldn’t handle another upwards slope the rainforest drops away, revealing a huge expanse of ice and rock. It (and the Kea that put on a show) was incredible, and made the exhausting walk well worth it. It was very satisfying!

The Franz Josef Glacier from Robert's Point

The huge glacier!My friend, the KeaWhat a reflection!

I hope that updates you all, next you hear from me I might have lost my mind and jumped off a bridge – but don’t worry, the chances are I will be attached to a bungee cord! Wish me luck!