When I went to France my senior year of college, the hotels in Paris and the homestay/apartment in Avignon were part of what I paid for when I gave money to my school. Therefore, I didn’t need to worry about accommodation when I left the country for the first time. It was nice not having to worry about that part, though now that I have lived through my first booking experience, it wasn’t that bad. Not like calling the doctor to make an appointment or anything.
I had two very different experiences in the two hostels I stayed in on my trip to Finland and Estonia.
I stayed one night at Hostel Diana Park in Helsinki. It took me four hours to find it after getting off the train from the airport. That’s one thing that annoys me about a lot of hostels you find on Hostelworld: their directions aren’t clear. And as someone who is terrible with directions (I still get lost in the city I’ve been living in for the past four years) and can’t always access Google Maps when in another country, it’s gives me a lot more peace of mind when I know where I’m supposed to be heading. For this one especially, as Helsinki is a bit confusing, I would say they should add more detail than “it’s a ten minute walk from the train station.” That could mean a lot of things…like walking in basically every direction until you think you’re going in circles when in fact there are just a north and south side to many of the streets and you didn’t look hard enough to figure out which direction you were supposed to go in.
Funny enough, it’s right in the city center. It’s not far from Espalandi Park and the Tourist Center. It’s just that the streets are confusing and it is on a bit of a side street in the design district. But once you get there it has a sign out front to tell you you’re there and the entire area is well lit at night and feels very safe. It has my security guard seal of approval.
It has a pretty nice set up, too. There was a wood-burning stove that I was dying to use but I knew I shouldn’t buy food for only a day. The rooms were pretty spacious as well with key card access which made it feel a bit like a hotel. I stayed in a six bed dorm but since it was still off season there were only two other people in there. They didn’t talk much. Literally just said hi to me when they came in. The bathrooms are super small, literally feel like closets, but they are clean. I’m not someone who needs to spend a lot of time in the bathroom so for me it wasn’t an issue but if you move around a lot in your hair and make up routine or anything similar it could be a bit of an issue.
I’m not sure if it was just because it was the shoulder season and therefore there were only a few people staying there that night, but the hostel was DEAD. Like door nail status. But oddly enough, I think every room had someone in it. I saw about four different people in the kitchen when I went to check it out, but they were all sitting away from one another on their phones and it seemed like they were avoiding eye contact. Not entirely sure if I walked in on the aftermath of a bad orgy or if they were all just shy, but no one wanted to talk to one another. I ended up going out that night to the sauna and a bar and had an early morning ferry to catch the next morning to Tallinn so when I got the quiet vibe, I decided not to try to push it too much to hang out, even though it was Friday night.
Just like the people, the beds were nice and quiet, didn’t squeak too much when you move around. Maybe they’re louder if you’re trying to climb onto the top bunk. They also have lockers in the room big enough for all of your belongings, just make sure you bring your own lock. I think you can buy one from reception for a few euros but since I brought my own I’m not positive.
I’ll give it a 7/10 for the location and cleanliness. Some people like a quiet place to stay and since they’re child friendly that’s what you’re gonna get here. It’s just not for me.
Which is why my stay at The Monk’s Bunk in Tallinn for the rest of my vacation was totally different from Hostel Diana Park and in my humble opinion so much better. I wrote down the directions from Google Maps this time so I wouldn’t be lost. It turned out to be basically a straight line from the harbor and I knew I had to look for a sex shop, which was next door. Easy enough.
First thing you need to know when you get there is that there are no shoes allowed in the main areas. There are shelves in the hallways to put them before you go into the dorms or the common area. So if you’re not used to going in socks or barefoot, especially if you go in the winter, make sure you bring some thicker socks or slippers. And maybe foot deodorant.
I was greeted by upbeat people at the bar and a welcome shot of 80 proof Estonian liquor. And because I was one of the few Americans checking in, Gary, one of the workers (originally from Canada) had me take another shot with him and a guy who was from Seattle to represent North America.
The workers there were mostly travelers themselves, some staying there for only a month or two, some just until they decided to leave. That romantic notion of just staying until your money or visa runs out is epitomized here. Gary was traveling and just decided to stay in Tallinn, now working on getting a working holiday visa (something I am always envious of Canadians for having). Ander from Spain and Sarah from Australia had both just applied and moved out there with no real plans for how long they were going to stay. It made me want to cancel my flight back home. Curse my responsibilities!
It took me a few days to figure out who was a guest and who was working there because the workers love to get involved with the guests, whether it’s having a drink at the bar, partying at night, or chilling on the couch with a movie. We even all went out one day on an impromptu walking tour to the harbor and abandoned prison.
My first night there was a Saturday and after about 1 am, I don’t remember much. I know I had a lot of free shots, did two grenades with Gary (a shot of liquor of your choice, a shot of Jaeger, and a shot of red bull in a regular cup. The two alcohols are in shot glasses staggered. You take the shot of liquor (tequila in my case) which causes the shot of Jaeger to fall into the red bull (like a grenade) thus making a Jaeger bomb. Now you take said Jaeger bomb. My second grenade included absinthe. I assume that was part of the reason I don’t remember much). I also know there was a beer pong game I sucked at, I ate some pizza with a German guy who offered me two slices but I have no idea if I ate the second…we played flip cup and I kept flipping the cup into myself (but my team still won), I slammed my head into the ladder of the bed and then fell out of the bunk bed, naked. Someone saw me. Had only a minor hangover the next morning. Party like a rock star…also recover like one!
Yes the hostel will get loud on the weekends. This was off season and the weekend was booked full. However by Monday or Tuesday there were only 7 of us staying there. It’s not somewhere to go if you want a quiet night with lots of sleep. However, if you drink enough, you’ll pass out and won’t really be bothered by noise anyways.
Despite it being a party hostel, it’s very clean. I never had an issue with the bathrooms, even though one was out of order, there was almost never a line for them or the showers. The rooms are always clean as well, may be partly due to us not being allowed to wear shoes in them. You get a key for the lockers, but be forewarned they are not big enough for a suitcase or backpack. I didn’t have a problem leaving my duffle back on the floor and just putting my day bag and other valuables in the locker though.
There was always someone at the reception to buzz you in if you came back from a late night of partying at Club Hollywood or Üsküisk (I really hope I spelled that right) bar. The club when I went had maybe 30 people there but they had a good DJ and a bar, so for a Wednesday I can’t complain. The bar has a 6 shots for €6 deal so a group of us went there to play jenga and enjoy going down the list. Anal Cave (cranberry and vodka I think) and Tastes Like Childhood (a bubblegum flavored liquor mixed with a yogurt) were my two favorites. I think I had about four of each. That syrup really hit me later though when we were walking back to the hostel at 3 am I decided to run after some pigeons along a fence (I’m lucky I didn’t fall off) and cartwheel across the cross walk.
Other than that, there’s always something going on. They do pub crawls on the weekends, set up outings like to the bar for jenga, ping pong tourneys (which happened to be the same night a soccer team from a university in England all checked in), karaoke, and more. It was impossible for me to be bored at night there. However, if you’re not feeling up to it, there’s no pressure to join in. They let you do your own thing if you want, but most of us did like to hang out there.
I give it a 10/10 as I obviously have high praise for this place. It was my first hostel experience really and I fell completely in love with it. I made new friends and can’t wait to come back. Obviously as I said it’s not for everyone but it was great for those who like to socialize and have fun and drink at night while exploring a new city during the day. P