I discovered Air Bnb and Hostel.com a few months back and since then I am still to find a reason to go back to booking traditional “hotels” or “lodges”.
While looking for hostels I came across a name called Zostel. Zostel had really high ratings and was generally booked weeks earlier. All of this stoked me and I was waiting a chance to see why is the place so popular among backpackers and solo travelers, almost wherever I went.
Predictably I booked Zostel Rishikesh as soon as I saw availability ( and being denied couch surfing ) and it went through.
I stared to get my answers the moment I stepped into their property.
The staff is super chilled. It is as if they were traveling themselves, but decided to settle down and open a place for fellow travelers.
A routine hotel, I don’t know why, likes to test your patience and make you jump unnecessary hoops. Especially if its a cheap hotel, a bad service is certainly all that you are paying for.
So, I step to the reception. The formal meet and greet with providing photo ID is over within few seconds.
I started to look around and I discovered that this place doesn’t just provide you food and roof. It also provides you friends to hangout with, space to hangout with them, activities you can do with your new found friends, and what not.
Now, some of the readers might just hate meeting new people and their idea of chill is an escape from humans and all things social. Fair enough. Indulge yourself in the reading corner. They have space for you to meditate. They have yoga classes if you don’t know how to make peace with yourself.
One can learn to cook. Have a bash at the Bollywood dance class. Go for organized group tours to nearby attraction. Heck you have a notice board to yourself to announce and make your own plan and see strangers joining in.
I lived in a dorm. Nothing could be more value for money than that. You get a clean bed, Wifi, hot water, clean toilet and a cabinet with lock for your stuff at 400 rs a night.
I have lived in so called ‘budget’ hotels for twice the price and regretted it every minute. No hot water, dirty sheets, blocked toilets, you name it.
But, I am a skeptical guy and still reluctant to fall for the charms.
The heater of my dorm room broke and I had informed the reception Within a matter of hours the troubleshooting was sorted and I was enjoying a warm bath at the end of a long day.
Another hassle experience was hiring the scooter.
Give him ( the caretaker) a day’s fee and take the keys. It was like borrowing a friend’s vehicle. No complicated form filling, no surcharge, no license deposit, money deposit, no strict clock timings. Just the way one would like things to go. Clutter free.
Though I spent less time in the hostel, but I think it was really memorable.
The bon fire evenings are simply epic.
It the best way to meet new folks over some fire, guitar and never ending train of songs. There’s literally unlimited supply of hot water or ginger/lemon/honey tea and so on.
Another activity I enjoyed was the Bollywood dance class.It was riot. Everyone was pumped, smiling, laughing and purely having an awesome time. The sooner you loosen up, the better.
The interior of the place is also interestingly designed.
Unlike hotels which have faded pictures of tourist attractions, Zostel was live and kicking.
Quirky graffiti all over.
Movie posters, travel posters, quotes and stories ( I’m a wall art fan, hope you’ve guessed it) on every wall.
Even the rooms were numbered and named unconventionally. Like my dorm was called ‘George” of the Beatles fame. Other dorms were Ram, Laxman, Paul etc.
Alas, it was time to say bye.