The goal of this blog has always been to offer some practical information about hikes and travel. Sharing photos and details about fun activities is one thing, but as long-term travellers we also need to stay somewhere in between (ha!)! With time I’m still learning and changing the way I’m choosing my accomodations – so I will share with you some pros and cons of the places I’ve been.
Cafe Hostel – Sao Paulo, Vila Madalena
This is the first hostel we arrived at when we landed in Brazil. The hostel offers a service for airport transfer, which is cheaper than a regular taxi but more expensive than transit. The international airport in Sao Paulo is about 40min to 1h30 away depending on traffic, so after a long flight it’s nice to have that option. We payed 120R for pick-up at the airport with our names on a nice poster at arrivals.
I really liked staying at this hostel. It is very clean and feels safe, in a nice vibrant neibourhood of the city. The only thing I did not like was that the dorms doors do not lock, so anyone in the hostel can access your room. However they have large lockers for valuables within the rooms. There is also always someone at the reception and you need to buzz in the front gate for them to let you enter the hostel property. Breakfast is included, sometimes also free dinner (yes!) but no AC… and our dorm was very small for 9 persons! The staff was really helpful in finding places to go, giving maps and ideas of things to do around. Correspondence with them by email was also super fast and efficient, which for me is always a good sign. Overall I would definitely recommend staying here!
El Misti Hostel Leme – Rio de Janeiro, Leme
This was our hostel for our 6 days in Rio. Oh, where should I start! Good first: the hostel was really close to Copacabana beach, so within 5-10min you could have a nice seat at the beach! The price was also quite cheap – which will also explain some of the bad stuff. There were lots of grocery stores and small markets around which means it was easy to prepare our own food and save even more money! They also offer a free pick-up at the airport if you stay more than 4 nights (one free transfer only!). We did arrange our drop off transfer with them too, but it arrived 1h40 later than planned which made us arrive right at boarding time for our flight… so you might want to give yourself a bit of extra time as I can’t tell if other travellers had the same issue. They have AC in all the room (I would personally not stay anywhere in Rio that doesn’t have it!) and the staff was generally helpful, but that depends on who you talked to. The guys at the reception tried their best, although I found most of the time it was better for me to google whatever information I needed instead. They did not offer free maps of the city – which made it a bit tricky for us at first.
They also offer a bunch of organized tours (which I found to be more expensive than buying it from promoters around the city, which is a bit unusual for a hostel) and parties happening every day of the week (a group of people leave together from the hostel).
I found the general cleanliness of the hostel to be average – sometimes I felt like I was the only one taking the time to go to the reception and tell them that something needed attention… which they fixed or cleaned promptly when I did mention it. The kitchen was great to cook but again, as clean as the people that are staying and taking time to make their dishes! There was many strong thunderstorms during our stay, which led to 3 nights of power outage (which is out of the hostel control) and also some water leakage in the dining area (we had a nice waterfall coming down the ceiling and accumulating on the floor!).
The rooms were big enough and we had large personal lockers, which was great. It seemed like the front staff was often overwhelmed (maybe due to power outage?), and there was often confusion with rooms and beds. Some people had to change room 3 times at midnight because they were put in rooms that were already full… A guy from the staff even asked me one night when I was half asleep if some beds in my dorm were occupied as he would be checkin-in some new travellers in our room. You get the picture! The hostel also has a quiet time policy from 10PM to 6AM but do not count on it. The noise travels very easily from the ground level where people hang out at night all the way up to the rooms.
Final say : it’s a safe, convinient location to stay for cheap, but if you need your sleep and look for something a bit less of a party place, maybe this won’t be the best fit for you.
That said – my week in Brazil was meant to be a cheap fun week with a friend before my teaching contract in Argentina. I do travel on a budget, but from now will most likely invest a bit more in my hostels and accomodation to get my beauty sleep when I need it!