In this post I am sharing the very first hostel I stayed in when I re-commenced travelling as a mature lady of a certain age, in other words, ‘over the hill’. This was in October 2016 so there may have been changes since then although the photos on booking.com are still the same.
I have to say I was terrified, I would be lying if I said anything different. I have lots to tell you about how I prepared for it but, as seems to me my custom at the moment, that will have to wait for another blog. If you are finding my promises of future blogs frustrating I can assure you that so am I, if only I hadn’t procrastinated for 3 years before starting this blog I could have done this in a much more sensible order.
The facade of the building and the internal courtyards
From outside the hostel is very well presented, it is situated on a hill which seems to be the norm for most places I go! Because of being on a hill the building is built on many levels, some of them are only accessible by going outside and through the internal courtyard. All doors are fitted with security locks so you have to carry your key card with you at all times. This can be a little frustrating if you have to rummage through your bag/purse to find it each time. I now travel with a lanyard and card holder which I keep around my neck at all times, even in bed. There is nothing worse than going to the bathroom in the middle of the night and locking yourself out of the dorm.
Reception and lounge area
A very well presented reception and lounge area. Very helpful and friendly staff at that time (obviously I cannot vouch for them now). You can hire towels and borrow a hairdryer. The lounge is a great place to relax and there are 2 computers available for guests. The stairs take you up to most of the rooms although they can also be accessed from outside. There was no way to reach my dorm without going outside at some point though. There is a toilet just off the lounge which is handy.
The dorm – a 4 bed mixed gender dorm
This particular hostel has a lot of private rooms which is common in many of the hostels in Portugal. As a budget traveller I opted for a dorm. The dorm was a mixed gender dorm which is also extremely common in hostels in any European country I have gone to.
The first night I was there it was 4 females and we had some great chats. The next night it was only 2 of us and the third night I thought I was going to have the place to myself but late evening the receptionist arrived up with a young guy and introduced him as my roommate for the night.
I confess that I felt like running away, I never expected to be alone in a dorm with a male, I naively imagined it would be something the hostel would avoid, but then I realised that he was probably more shocked than I was. I’m sure when he booked in he wasn’t expecting to be sharing a room with a 60 something year old woman!
It got worse when he got into bed. He was asleep in about 10 seconds and I have never heard snoring like it! I spent most of the night hiding under the duvet trying not to laugh.
The actual dorm was excellent, lovely and bright with shutters on the windows to close at night. Good sized lockers under the beds which were opened with security keys and an electric socket and light at each bed. The staff even made the bed each day which I wasn’t expecting in a hostel, in my past days of hostels, in my younger years, it was all about sleeping bags and shared tasks.
In this particular dorm there was an en-suite bathroom. It was clean and well presented. In some ways an en-suite is great because you can go in and lock the door and have it to yourself with a dry area for dressing (as opposed to a shared shower block type set up). On the other hand if you are waiting to get in to use the toilet an en-suite is not so preferable. Over the last few years I have experienced various types of set ups for bathrooms in hostels and I actually much prefer ones that are outside the dorms. When it is in the dorm everyone can hear you and it also encourages people to come in and out repeatedly to gather their bits and pieces which is not ideal if it is early morning or late at night and you are trying to sleep.
The shared kitchen
Hostels generally will have shared kitchens for the use of the guests, they vary greatly, I will be introducing you to many more. The one is accessible from the internal courtyard and is excellent.
You will often find some free food in the kitchens that people have left behind, often there is a cupboard or box or shelf in the fridge labelled free food.
This hostel has a lovely restaurant that is open to the public and was giving 10% off to guests at the time, I don’t know if they still do. It was very good, I had dinner there one night along with another girl who was sharing my dorm.
In hostels the breakfast is often included in the price. Breakfasts can vary greatly from place to place but one thing most of them have in common is that the coffee is poor and it wasn’t great here either but then I have stayed in 5 star hotels and the coffee was also pretty disappointing.
Generally speaking this was a good breakfast for the price of the hostel the cake had chunks of chocolate in it and was yummy! Other fresh fruit was available too.
The location and views
Moon Hill Hostel is in a superb location for exploring Sintra, it is an easy walk to the train station and bus stops. There are hop on and off buses that stop in the town and it is a route that will take you to Pena Palace, Castelo dos Mouros, and Cabo da Roca (the most westerly point in Europe).
There are some pleasant views from the hostel.
A few additional things to note
- Free WiFI
- Air conditioning
- Luggage storage
- Disabled facilities
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