To start a two and a half month summer trip to Belfast, I booked a weekend at City Backpackers to get settled before finding an apartment. That weekend turned into a week, and after that week I decided to stay at the hostel for the entire two and a half months! As opposed to most reviews of the hostel, whose writers see a snapshot of what the hostel is, I have seen EVERYTHING that happens in this hostel from the different groups hosted and different situations that have arisen. For people considering staying here, read this review!
The rooms are very well kept. Beds are always fitted with clean with sheets, pillow cases and duvet covers. They are mopped and swept clean. Of course, depending on the room you're staying in, you have a varying amount of moving around space--some rooms are more cramped than others. I found myself in an 8 person room and it had plenty of space. In terms of storage, each room has a locker underneath the bed. I could easily fit a large bag (weeks of laundry, books, etc) and backpack in the locker (locks can be rented from the front desk).
John, the owner, is amazing. He is always cleaning, making beds, doing laundry, and providing advice and directions to those staying. It is very clear that he has traveled extensively (ask him about it; he's got some interesting stories!) and knows what a hostel should provide. Over my time there, I saw John give someone a ride downtown, I saw him chat with a young Italian who didn't speak English though Google Translate just to get to know him, he even bought a barbeque for the hostel and multiple times bought burgers and sausages to grill for anybody staying there who wanted them. That said, he can also be the bear you need him to be. Even after being there for a month and a half, I was yelled at for making too much noise late one night, keeping up other guests. He is very willing to help in ANY way, all you have to do is ask!
It has a GREAT location. In South Belfast, it usually avoids any sectarian issues that come with the city. While on a map it looks like it might be far away from City Center, you can walk to City Hall in about 10 minutes. There are also buses that pick you up from just around the corner from the hostel to take you into town. That said, I found myself enjoying the area around the hostel the most. The Botanic Gardens are close and Queen's uni are interesting to explore. Two small local pubs just around the corner (the Botanic and the Eglantine) make for a great night out whether you are looking to go until 1am, 3am or just have a beer before bed. Great deals on weeknights too!
Things to consider:
After staying in a hostel for so long, I saw a fair mix of crowds from families of 5, groups traveling for school of 12, a pair traveling from England or Ireland for the weekend, and solo travelers across Europe, just to name a few. Some of these groups were loud, obnoxious, and kept me up late or woke me up early. Of course,THIS COULD HAPPEN AT ANY HOSTEL!! What makes this hostel different? John will work tirelessly to fix any issues you have (including quieting a long term guest if that's what it takes), the entire hostel is clean (mopped, disinfected, wiped down), it is close to downtown, but in a much nicer area than City Center, the price is very fair, finally, the hostel's reputation brings in a lot of guests who are VERY respectful. I left my computer downstairs in the kitchen almost every night I was there and it was not touched. I also never locked anything in my room. My experience in this hostel was much more akin to staying with a friend from the city. I felt very welcome and safe inside and met some amazing people.
I would, without doubt, tell you that this is the ONLY option of lodging when considering traveling to Belfast.
New Hampshire, USA
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