Youth Hostel. It’s not a term that generally brings family-friendly to mind. For me, it always conjured up images of bunk-bedded rooms, filled to the brim with young, unwashed backpackers playing guitars. I wouldn’t have touched one with a 10-foot pole. Not even when I was 20-something and had a lower threshold for my optimum comfort level.
So, needless to say, I was a bit apprehensive when we booked a 3-night stay at the Youth Hostel in Luxembourg City. Why? Because it has the cheapest beds in town. The tiny little Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is an expensive place. I couldn’t find much of anything below $250-$300 per night. At least not within any reasonable proximity to town. But I was heartened by the on-line reviews for this particular youth hostel. “It’s more like a hotel than a hostel,” said my fellow travelers. “A good place for a family.” And, most importantly, we could get a private room with an en suite bath. Score!
So fast-forward a few months and our European extravaganza is behind us. How did this hostel rate? Well, it did not disappoint. The Marriott, it wasn’t. But for a comfortable, bare-bones experience that costs about $75 per night, you can’t beat it.
I took lots of notes while I was there, and here is my list of pluses and minuses, so you can decide for yourself if it’s a good place for your family to rest their heads.
- Cleanliness: It was clean. Might seem obvious, but you can never undervalue a clean room.
- Greenliness: They’re doing their part to make a smaller carbon footprint. There was a motion-activated light in the bathroom and water-saving faucets, although the one in the shower goes on my next list. See below.
- Private Rooms: This is considered a family hostel, so a family of three or four can stay in a private room with four bunk beds and no roommate.
- Security: All the rooms use key cards, just like in a hotel. You even have to swipe your card to access the stairway that leads to the rooms for a double layer of security.
- Restaurant: There’s an on-site restaurant with a fixed dinner menu each day. It’s a little pricey by American standards, but completely in-line with what you’d pay in town.
- Breakfast: Breakfast is included. It’s a typical, very basic European breakfast, but it’s food: sandwich meat, bread, rolls, applesauce, jams, cereal, Tang, coffee, tea, Nutella. Pretty standard.
- Location: As good as it gets if you want to explore the casements and old town, which you do.
- Sheets: Also included, although you do have to put them on yourself.
- Laundry: There is one washer and one dryer. A good thing if you can snag them when they’re not in use. On the flip side, the instructions are in German. Good luck.
- Recreation: There’s a playground out back behind the restaurant with a basketball court nearby. Several ping pong tables are available in the breezeway near the entrance, and a pool table resides in the basement.
- Library: They have one. We didn’t go in, but I’d imagine they have selections in many languages.
- Wi-Fi: They have this, too, although the best reception was in the lobby, not in our room… and even then, it wasn’t the greatest.
- Bed Bug Prevention: I give them high marks for their attention to this. The mattresses are foam, with impermeable covers. The floors are hard, the chairs and table are un-upholstered. About the only items in the room that bed bugs could live in are the pillow coverings, which I’ll get to. Read on.
- Bare-bones: This could be a positive or a negative, depending on your perspective. If you’re looking for a 3-star hotel with maid service, you’re not gonna find it here. This hostel is about as basic as it gets.
- Towels: You have to rent them for a few euros each.
- Washcloths: There are none.
- Bath mat: No.
- Soap: Not even for sale at the front desk.* (See below.)
- Tissues: Hardly anywhere in Europe, it seems.
- Hair dryer: Of course not.* (See below.)
- Air conditioning: Hah!
- Mattresses: Thin, pretty firm. Could be a downside for some.
- Noise: Can you say… one bus-load of German teenagers? Miraculously, they respected the signs that ask for quiet from 11pm to 7am. I think their chaperones put the fear of God in them.
- Pillows: Horrible, lumpy shredded foam. You know those jagged little pieces that crafters use to fill the bodies of stuffed animals? They’re not meant for bed pillows, people! Trust me.
- Shower: Remember I said the water-saving device on the shower was a negative? It’s the kind that you push and it stays on for about 10 seconds before fizzling out. Try washing your hair with that. You might think pushing it continuously will give you a comfortable, steady stream of water. Um, no. It merely scalds you. Consider yourself warned.
So there you have it. The ups and downs of our stay in a youth hostel. Did I hate it? Not at all. Do I enjoy a tad more comfort in a hotel? Absolutely. But this place was much better than I expected, and I’d recommend it to anyone going to Luxembourg, a charming city that’s totally worth a few nights of “indoor camping.”
Many thanks to Karsten from Luxembourg for pointing out that soap should be for sale at the front desk. I remember asking during our visit, and it wasn’t, but perhaps they were just out. Also, a hair dryer is available for a 10 Euro deposit, fully refundable after you turn it back in.
To read all our posts about Luxembourg, click here.
Do you have any family experiences in a youth hostel? Feel free to share them below.