StayOn Beverly: Luxury Hostel in Los Angeles, California

The words budget traveler and luxury generally don’t go hand in hand, especially when you throw Los Angeles into the mix. However, luxury in a cozy sense of the word is exactly what you’ll be welcomed with when you punch in your personal door code and step into the StayOn Beverly located right on the edge of Korea Town in Los Angeles. Please bear in mind however, that luxury when referring to a hostel does not mean the kind of five-star service you expect to find in Hollywood’s top hotels. As we pulled up into one of the five parking spaces (already this hostel gets bonus points) in front of the Beverly I already had an idea of what to expect since Spencer had stayed at the hostel previously. Still, when I walked through the front door and onto the clean, wooden floors of the hostel, I felt as if I’d stepped into a newly built apartment complex rather than a travel accommodation. As we walked the length of the hallway in an attempt to find our room, we kept shooshing each other because the place was so quiet we felt like, even at 8 o’ clock in the evening, we might be waking someone up. Finally, we arrived at our door and I eagerly punched the code in, curious what was on the other side. As I opened the room to find a beautifully laid out double bed with a sea foam green blanket, I couldn’t help smiling. The presence of the mini-fridge, complimentary water bottle and flat-screen TV on the wall, begging to be watched, made me instantly relax. It was as if I was coming home rather than booking into a $50 per night hostel. I’ll be the first to admit that after a drink and dinner at the Bier Garten just down the street I was quite happy to come back and settle into catching up on some American TV and cuddling into my memory foam mattress. Usually, when you book into a budget accomodation, you can’t be exactly sure what you might find. In the U.S. you are pretty hard-pressed to find any room for $50 a night, let alone a room that is both private and fully-equipped. While we were traveling in Europe we booked many private rooms in hostels and often found ourselves shivering under the covers each night and creeping along concrete…

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Hostels: Love-Hate Relationship?

Whenever I make the decision to take a trip, I get a lot of joy out of researching. Exhausting all the resources to see if I can catch some tips to get the most of my destination. One very important part of planning is the hostel search. I love hostels and I’m always searching for one that can add to my already exciting experience. There are a few very important factors to consider when searching for the perfect hostel. Location is a huge factor for many people, especially in a big city. You either want to be able to easily access the most important site, and some top bars and restaurants or you want to be located in some cool neighborhood of the city that you want to get to know better. Atmosphere this is the most important factor for me when choosing a hostel. It’s a mixture of the amenities, the ‘fun’ rating and the staff rating. It takes a lot to deter me from a place, but a good overall rating is the first step to getting me to take a closer look. Helpful and friendly staff is always a bonus, although not an essential, as it’s easy to ignore them in most cases. Depending on the vibe I’m looking for, I’m usually pretty intrigued by a hostel that has a bar or even a great common room. The most important part of this jumble of ratings is the accessibility of other travelers. I would always prefer a hostel that is rating highly on fun, because chances are that means you will meet some fun people along the way. The more open and welcoming the common areas are, the merrier the party becomes. My recent very short stay in London and the last minute decision to do so led me to question the accountability of ‘reviews’ on some hostel booking websites. My booking was so last minute that I picked a place solely on location and a reasonable deal without even checking the other factors. As we got ready for our trip I looked the hostel up again for directions. That was when the fairly low rating made it’s blatant appearance. A little apprehensive, I started sifting through the reviews. The most common complaints included cold showers, dirty toilets and rude staff. The first two of which had potential of being a serious issue. Then the reviews went…

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How I Found Madrid

Before I visited Madrid, if you asked me what my favorite cities were I would have quickly said Sydney, then I would add a haphazard list of cities that I had recently visited and enjoyed. I guess I want to give every city a chance and appreciate a city that someone else has fallen in love with and see what they saw. But that’s not really realistic is it? Visiting Madrid made me realize one thing. Sydney is still my favorite city in the world, the city that I’m longing for another chance in. But there was this inkling all the while that I could see myself settling in Madrid for an undefined time period as well. Yes, Madrid had joined Sydney in it’s honorary ranks in my list of top cities. Don’t ask me to explain how three days in this city could make me believe that it should be added to my list, but there it is, and I guess that says something about it. It all started when we arrived and were so warmly greeted by our Argentinean hostel host. He was so excited that we were there and greeted us and directed us in his best mix of Spanish, Italian and English. He even came knocking on our door to inform us that the organized drinking games were starting if we were interested in joining. That’s caring about the well-being of your guests. The next day we elected to take the three-hour FREE walking-tour of Madrid. We had taken a similar tour in Amsterdam and been both entertained and respectfully educated about the culture and history of the big city. In these three hours, we were graced with the presence of the ever-excited, happy and theatrical Catiya. She started the tour off on the right foot as we stepped into Sol Square she stated her personal disclaimer that she was an unofficial tour guide, therefore offering her unofficial opinion. She began talking about all the world’s major cities and major city monuments, focusing on the Eiffel Tour and it’s significance in the Paris skyline. She then revealed that Madrid had it’s very own Eiffel Tower right in Sol Square! She did a little dance and pointed us to the disappointingly  puny bear and Modroño tree statue. She then described it’s significance to the city of Madrid and added her little punch line about the natural fermentation of…

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