I had my first hostel experience whenever I took a solo trip to Beijing a couple months ago.
A lot of people told me to watch the movie “Hostel” (which is a horror movie about hostels incase you’ve never seen it). Others were telling me I’d get kidnapped, raped, etc, but these type of remarks were only coming from people who had never stayed at hostels. Some of them had never even heard of hostels – they just thought the idea of it sounded creepy once I explained it to them.
But not me. I saw it as an oppurtunity to meet new people and save money on accommodation and that’s exactly what it was. People who stay at hostels have the “meet new people” type of attitude. Some would spend their nights at the hostel rather than going out exploring just to meet new people and I absolutely love that.
The specific hostel I stayed at was called “Happy Dragon Saga Youth Hostel“. It was the cutest little place located within a 10 minute walk from the Dengshikou subway station.
The price was my number one concern when going to Beijing. If you keep up with my blog, you know I try to go to the best places with only spending the least amount of money. Hostelworld had the best reviews of this hostel on their website while only charging about $10 a night. So I spent a little over $50 for 5 nights, that’s pretty decent (especially for how nice this hostel is). They required a 100 RMB (about $20) deposit once you get there, but that deposit is returned once you return the room key.
I stayed in a shared room with 7 other people. The room had four bunk beds. Each bed had drapes around the bed for privacy along with a locker to keep your stuff safe. You’re given a separate key for both the room and the locker. Both must be returned at the end of your stay to get your deposit back.
The people are what made me fall in love with hostels. As soon as I got to the hostel, I checked in then went straight to my assigned room. When I walked in, there was a guy getting ready like he was about to head out somewhere. He started asking me where I was from, how long I was going to be in Beijing and what brought me to visit China. After talking for a bit, he invited me to hang out with him and his newly made Belgium friend for some beer out on the rooftop. By the end of the night, we went from a rooftop on the hostel to a rooftop on one of the coolest bars in Beijing. We ended up getting a little lost, but it was all fun. The next day we went to see the Summer Palace together. Now we are still connected through Facebook and I hope to visit with him again whenever I’m in the Netherlands or he’s in Texas. Making friends made the trip so much more memorable.
There was also some people I met that I didn’t end up staying connected with in the long run but definitely wouldn’t forget. Like a guy from Canada that ended up being my tour buddy on The Great Wall and a couple from somewhere in Europe that were on a long 7 month trip around Asia. Their travel stories were amazing and made me realize just how uninformed most Americans are when it comes to geography. There were tons of countries that they were entirely informed about while I had no clue what they were talking about. It inspired me to learn more about what’s outside of the United States.
The people in the hostel weren’t the only ones that were amazing. While exploring I was sitting at the Forbidden City and a Chinese guy came up to me, assuming I knew English due to being white, and started talking to me. He had a short conversation with me then said “Sorry if I’m bothering you, I just wanted to practice my English. I study languages for fun.” Which I thought was so awesome. He knew about 4 or 5 different languages. I was more than happy that he decided to come over and have a conversation with me.
Wifi was provided for free. Each floor had their own wifi connections, all with the same password which is provided downstairs at the entrance desk. Since each floor had it’s own WIFI, you had to connect to each one depending on what floor you were on and it could cut off at different spots. It kinda sucked if you were walking around with your phone, but if you were just sitting on your laptop in a specific spot, it was fine!
The location was great. It had restaurants around every corner and was only a 10-15 minute walk to the Dengshikou subway station. From the subway, you can get pretty much anywhere around Beijing. That’s what I used to get to the Summer Palace, The Forbidden City, Wangfujing Street, Downtown Beijing and to/from the airport. Plus, there were multiple times I was walking around by myself at night to get to the hostel and felt completely safe as a solo female traveler which made it that much better.
The bathrooms were clean and plenty of room for people. It was a three story hostel and each floor had their own bathrooms. The girls bathroom had about three (american) toilets and 4 showers. This was just enough for everyone on the floor since everyone did their own thing at different times of the day. It was nice knowing I didn’t have to wait to go pee or take a shower. One of the toilets on the third floor even had a window to have a nice view while you were using the bathroom! lol
The staff were SO FREAKING NICE. I can’t even express how nice they were. Their english was good enough to help with anything I asked about and they were completely informed about all the different types of “touristy” type things that most people would ask about.
There were two different places to hang out in this hostel, which really helped bring all the people together. The first place I went to chill was the rooftop (pictures above). It was a nice place to hang out and drink during the day and was really convenient for me because my room was literally right next to the door to go out on the roof. You could see a bunch of buildings around the city (as long as the pollution isn’t too bad). The second place to hang out was the bar (below). The bar was decorated so cute. I loved that they based it off all the different countries around the world. The bar included food and drinks but I would suggest only drinking there. Take yourself to some of the restaurants nearby for food! The drinks were decently priced too. They even had a happy hour where it was buy one local beer, get one free! The bar also included TV and was probably the best area for connection to the WIFI.
A cool perk of this hostel is that they provided lots of different tours around Beijing. I personally took the Mutianyu Great Wall Tour. It was insanely cheap compared to any type of tour you would go on in the US. The great wall was about an hour and a half away from the hostel. They provided transportation to and from The Great Wall along with lunch (below) and the entrance ticket to the great wall for only 280 RMB (or about $43 USD). That’s CRAZY cheap for all of that. They provided tours to many other touristy type things around Beijing. To see the whole list of tours, click here.
Have you decided where to stay in Beijing but don’t know what to do about transportation? Check out my post How to Get Around Beijing.